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A couple of site announcements:
No. 1: This week marks the start of the Sox Machine Podcast expanding to five days a week. In between Monday’s big show and the midweek live show are three “White Sox Wake-Up Call” episodes that inject some White Sox talk into your morning routine.
No. 2: Like every other baseball writer of note, I’ve joined The Athletic to write a White Sox column on Mondays. The loose concept of “Sox is Singular” is a review of the week that was, but with only two games to play with, I wrote about Hawk Harrelson’s detectable absence in Kansas City.
Two-plus years after he telegraphed this moment by slashing his schedule to 81 games, it’s only now starting to sink in. Reduced workload or not, Harrelson called White Sox-Royals games in Kansas City since the 1980s. No matter where the Sox started, he staked his claim to Opening Day. He ceded plenty of other dates, but the broadcast booth remained Hawk’s barber shop, and even if you thought Jason Benetti gave a better haircut, he was still just renting a chair.
But by calling an Opening Day … on the road … Benetti is painting his name over the door.
Long story short, I wanted to hear Harrelson gloating over Welington Castillo winning a game on a 3-0 count.
Rany Jazayerli, who also writes a column on The Athletic about the Royals, covers the White Sox’ rebuilding effort. It’s a great overview of the White Sox’ timeline for fans who haven’t been following closely. For those who are living it in real time, the context alongside the Astros and Cubs is more worth noting, along with the sympathy he thought he’d never feel for a hated division rival. (2005 Happened t-shirts are still available, and just $15.)
- Two games in, the Royals’ bullpen looks like it’s going to be a headache for Ned Yost — The Athletic
In case you’re wondering what the White Sox left behind in Kansas City, it’s a whole lot of apprehension about the late innings. I mean, look at this:
Before Maurer coughed up the two-run lead, Royals manager Ned Yost had lined up his tentative back-end procession in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
It began with veteran right-hander Justin Grimm, who was released by the Cubs during spring training and posted a 5.53 ERA last season.
The ulnar nerve repositioning surgery Nate Jones underwent last year allowed him to feel air on his fingertips, so it stands to reason that he should have better feel for his pitches, too.
When he was with the White Sox, Tyler Flowers was always a great interview for those who liked talking about catching. Here, Ben Lindbergh picks his brain about advantages catchers might have as hitters — smaller strike zones and facing pitchers they’ve caught in particular. I loved his quote about homering off Chris Sale in his return to Chicago:
“It was beautiful,” Flowers says. “Just hearing all of Chicago boo as I rounded second, I couldn’t get the smile off my face.”
- As Adam Eaton receives NL player of the week award, concerns about his workload surface — Washington Post
Because Adam Eaton tore up his knee during the first month of 2017, it made it really easy to consider the trade that netted Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning a steal. Eaton looks hellbent on balancing the scales, going 8-for-13 with two homers, two doubles, a walk, seven runs scored and five RBIs in the opening series against Cincinnati. The question from here is how much activity is too much for his repaired knee at so early a stage.
Sam Miller looks at Brian Dozier’s complaints about Chance Sisco bunting against the shift in the ninth inning with the Orioles trailing 7-0 and sees gamesmanship.
That’s the wrong way to think about unwritten rules. Unwritten rules are a scam that players run on each other to trick their opponents into acting against their own self-interests. They are stupid, of course, but more than that, they’re brilliant, on multiple levels, and they seem to work — and ever since I realized this, I’ve been a lot less annoyed.
Shohei Ohtani’s fastball averaged 98 mph in his debut, which is a real fine way to start. The splitter is legit, but the slider had problems.