White Sox

Youkilis excited to return to Fenway tonight

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Youkilis excited to return to Fenway tonight

BOSTON -- Kevin Youkilis is back in town and it hasnt gone unnoticed.

As he walked from the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park to a press conference on Monday afternoon, two female Red Sox employees whispered to each other as Youkilis strode past in his black and white No. 20 White Sox jersey.

Outside on Yawkey Way, a young fan in a Red Sox jersey and cap also spotted Youkilis as he passed an opening in the stadium and pointed. Even the grounds crew at Logan Airport chanted Youk late Sunday night when the two-time All-Star and former Red Sox star arrived from Kansas City with his new teammates.

Youkilis said hes excited to return to his former home of eight-plus seasons.
But as soon as the subject of his departure and disagreement with Boston manager Bobby Valentine surfaced, Youkilis made it clear hes here on business.

Im not here to talk, Youkilis said. I dont understand why this is still a big rift and things are going on. Im just here to play baseball and things will happen and thats all it is, going out and playing the game. Im not worried. Theres no Bobby V. vs. Kevin Youkilis or vice versa. Its about Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox and just playing baseball.

One day earlier and three months after he originally questioned Youkilis desire to play, Valentine fired off more comments about the veteran, noting Youkilis never let the comments go.

But Youkilis stood firm on his refusal to discuss the past.

There have been a lot of great moments, there have been a lot of down moments and a lot of in between, Youkilis said. So Im not going to reflect on those, Im just going to keep moving forward and playing ball and thats what its all about.

Youkilis said one of his favorite things about his new locale is the focus on baseball, that theres less drama than there was in Boston. He also appreciates how his new team has welcomed him with open arms and how hes already considering a return to the club next season.

Youkilis quickly dismissed the idea, however, when asked if he and White Sox general manager Kenny Williams have discussed the club picking up his 13 million option for next season.

I got a lot more hitting to do to get to that club option, Youklis said.
Youkilis also took several opportunities to mention his love for Red Sox fans.
Teammate Alex Rios said he was impressed how Youkilis handled a barrage of questions for 16-plus minutes.

He addressed it the right way, said Rios, one of several White Sox players who watched the press conference live from the clubhouse. It was well-played.

Youkilis mentioned that as excited he is to return to Fenway, his teammates might be more excited. On Sunday, Youkilis said he believes the fans will give him a similar reaction to the standing ovation they delivered after his final at-bat on June 24 when it was clear he would be traded.

I dont think the fans have anything bad to say about him, Rios said. It makes it exciting. Theres a lot of people who want to see how it turns out.

Reliever Matt Thornton has a pretty good idea how it will based off the way Youkilis was treated in his final game and again on the jet way at Logan on Sunday.

He was a special player for them, Thornton said. The Boston franchise and the Boston fans, they love him. Theres no doubt about it. You saw it when he was pulled out of game with the standing ovation he got when the rumors he would be traded were flying. It was pretty special. They love him. You kind of expect it.

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.