White Sox

Wildcats hoping first Tournament berth is right around the corner

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Wildcats hoping first Tournament berth is right around the corner

ROSEMONT Northwesterns hopes for reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time took a hit nearly two months before its season opener.
Wildcats junior guard JerShon Cobb was suspended for the season stemming from violations of team policy, the school announced in late September. He was one of Northwesterns four returning starters.
The Wildcats feel they have other options to contend for that elusive NCAA tournament appearance.
We play a center and four guys around the perimeter, so we have a few freshmen who I think are good, Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said at Thursdays Big Ten Media Day at Hyatt Regency OHare. Kale (Abrahamson) and Sanjay (Lumpkin) and with the addition of Jared Swopshire) I think were going to be OK in the perimeter. JerShon hasto take care of business, and we will welcome him back next year.
The Wildcats will have to replace Cobb, who averaged 7.1 points, and John Shurna, the 2012 Big Ten scoring champion who led the team with 20 points and 5.4 rebounds and is currently playing for the New York Knicks.
It definitely means I have to pick up some of that scoring were missing with him, not only with JerShon but Shurna leaving as well, sophomore guard Dave Sobolewski said. With those two guys going down, everybodys going to need to step up their role a little bit. Not one person is going to be able to replace them completely, especially Shurna. But if each of us do a little bit extra, maybe score even only 4-5 points extra a game, itll add up as a team and well be OK.
Northwestern just missed the NCAA tournament last season, finishing 19-14 and advancing to the second round of the NIT.
Its not frustration, Carmody said about missing the NCAA Tournament. Maybe back then it was, but you move forward. The program has gotten much, much better over the last four years. The program so stable, so well be in the mix every year. Were getting better and better players and better players make better coaches.
I have an endorsement from our athletic director and our president, so I feel fine, he said about his job security.
The Wildcats lost Shurna and Cobb, but welcome five newcomers, including 7-footers Chier Ajou and Alex Olah and Louisville transfer Swopshire and TCU transfer Nikola Cerina. After the Wildcats lost four players to injuries last season, Carmody is enjoying added depth; he said hes comfortable playing 10 deep.
With the added size, physicality and depth, Carmody feels theres potential to be an NCAA Tournament team.
Theres always pressure to win, he said. You always want to win and keep the program where it is, but now you have to move forward, not just incrementally. You have to make a jump here. Even though you lose Shurna, people say, Whoa, that was the year. But youd be surprised at our guys. Weve got some pretty decent newcomers.
Besides the five newcomers, Northwestern brings back three starters guardforward Drew Crawford, a third-team all-Big Ten selection last season, former walk-on Reggie Hearn and Sobolewski, who was on the Big Ten all-freshman team last season. Sobolewski said competing in the deep Big Ten could help the Wildcats postseason aspirations. Three conference teams are ranked in the top five of the USA Today coaches poll, and five teams are in the top 25.
It gives us so many chances at big wins, Sobolewski said. Those are so important at the end of the year, to come out of the conference with a certain amount of big wins. With all these ranked teams and really strong teams in our conference, its just unbelievably exciting to know we have a ton of big games on our schedule and were justgonna try to get better and try to beat those teams every night we play them.

Even as the White Sox rebuild, Jose Abreu continues doing Jose Abreu things

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USA TODAY

Even as the White Sox rebuild, Jose Abreu continues doing Jose Abreu things

It should come as no surprise, but even with the White Sox working through “the hardest part of the rebuild,” watching a couple young players struggle and owning the worst record in baseball, Jose Abreu has been his typically excellent self.

Abreu’s production is easy to take for granted because he’s been so unbelievably consistent at the plate during the entirety of his time in a White Sox uniform. After becoming the third player ever to hit 25 home runs and drive in 100 runs in each of his first four major league seasons — joining the amazing company of Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols — he’s well on his way to another one of those campaigns in 2018, even as the team around him experiences growing pains in this developmental season.

Abreu entered Sunday’s series finale with the Texas Rangers with a .306/.374/.531 slash line, and if the season ended today, those first two numbers would be the highest in their respective categories since his Rookie of the Year season in 2014. He leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage and ranks second in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage.

It’s what the White Sox and their fans have come to expect from Abreu, who could be on his way to his first All-Star appearance since his rookie year.

“I think he’s just a mentally strong individual,” manager Rick Renteria said. “His routines are the same. He’s consistent. He doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low. I think he personifies a man that understands the complexity of the length of a major league season and doesn’t allow little valleys and or highs to affect him too much. He knows that they come and go.

“As long as he continues to do what he does on a daily basis to get ready for a ballgame, he knows that when it’s all said and done it all levels out and he’ll be able to produce and give you opportunities to score some runs.”

Despite advancing age and a decision coming on Abreu’s contract, there’s little mystery as to why the White Sox would want to keep him around through the period when the rebuild reaches its apex and the contention window opens on the South Side. The numbers he puts up on an annual basis would keep him a middle-of-the-order bat, even in a lineup that featured Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo, not to mention the guy who’s locker is right next to Abreu’s, Yoan Moncada.

And that’s another big reason the White Sox would love to keep Abreu on the roster. He’s a key figure in the clubhouse, a mentor to Moncada, his fellow Cuban, and a leader for many of the team’s young players. Having Abreu around as an example to these young guys coming up would be invaluable in helping the White Sox develop their organizational identity.

“I think he’s got enough time in here and he’s had enough success and based on the way he carries himself in the clubhouse and his daily work, I think people watch him by example and as he’s been here for a while I think he’s able to communicate with a lot of the guys,” Renteria said. “I think they trust him. I think it’s one of those things that just evolves. I think he’s been evolving into that type of leader. He’s a quiet leader, but when he has something to say, everybody listens.”

Abreu might not be a loud, vocal force like Yolmer Sanchez is inside and outside the clubhouse, but his comments about the young team around him and the rebuilding season show his outlook and his status as a veteran leader of this group.

“I think everybody knows and understands the process that we’re passing through,” Abreu said through a translator after Saturday’s win, in which he homered and extended his hit streak to 10 games, “but when you can win games like tonight it’s huge because you are letting them know, the young guys, how it is to win games and how it is to compete and to play good baseball and to have confidence with the things that you’re doing. It’s good, every victory, every win is good for us. It doesn’t matter how the score is, every game that we can win is good, it’s huge for us.

“Ricky is giving them the opportunity to play and to show that they can do and the confidence for them to show their talent. We are all excited to see what they can do and how they can help us. I think that we all belong at this level, and for us it’s an exciting moment for what all these young guys can offer.

“They all like to work. They all like to prepare, like to do their job, to show on the field what they are capable of, and I think that for me that’s something that let’s me know that they are trying to do their best, and they are trying to stay here and to help this team win games. That’s also what the front office is taking from them too, when you see the guys who are doing all the things that they ask for, and then sometimes they’re gonna rough days, but when you see that effort, you’re very glad and you’re happy because everybody is trying to do their best.”

The White Sox will have to make a decision on Abreu eventually, as he’s only under team control for one more season after the current one. But he’s voiced a desire to stay on the South Side, and it’s easy for the White Sox to forecast what they’ll get from Abreu, even as he continues to get older.

This guy’s as consistent as they come, on and off the field.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Eloy Jimenez had four hits, including a pair of doubles to boost his batting average to .322 on the season. Seby Zavala hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in a pair of runs in the 7-2 loss. Spencer Adams got the start and allowed four runs but also struck out nine in just 4.2 innings of work.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had two doubles and Evan Skoug had two hits in a 3-2 win. Big leaguer Carlos Rodon made a rehab start and struck out six, allowing one run in five innings.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and Thyago Vieira threw a scoreless inning in an 8-4 loss.