The White Sox doubled their spring training win total with a 6-5 victory over the Angels on Saturday, but they’d already registered a triumph by getting Yasmani Grandal’s name on a lineup card.
Grandal made his first appearance in Cactus League play as a DH after spending the first couple weeks of spring training dealing with a twisted knee. He went 0-for-3 with a flyout to right and a strikeout against Shohei Ohtani, then drew a walk off Jesse Chavez. Nothing momentous, but Grandal was the last White Sox regular who hadn’t yet made it into a game. Now he just needs to start seeing some action behind the plate.
On the pitching side, with Carlos Rodón pitching on Friday, Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease are the last remaining stragglers. Cease will get his first chance on Monday, and he’s champing at the bit.
“I think the biggest difference is just filling up the strike zone,” Cease said Thursday. “I haven’t pitched in any (Cactus League) games yet, but in my (live batting practice sessions), I’ve mostly been filling up the zone. I’ve been able to attack with my stuff, which is really refreshing.
“I’ve kind of had stretches where I’ve gotten in really good rhythms that I haven’t felt in a long time. That’s one of the biggest areas I’m noticing. I’ll go through an inning where I’m throwing pretty much all my off-speed for strikes and having decent command of the fastball. Just putting together more consistent outings.”
The newly engaged Keuchel isn’t yet on the schedule, but he threw live batting practice on Saturday, so it appears as though his workload is just lighter than the rest.
The start of the New Tony La Russa Era gets the national treatment from Tyler Kepner, who elaborates on the themes from his previous stops that made me think that managing the White Sox clubhouse wasn’t going to be the issue.
As for handling the clubhouse, La Russa has always been effusive in support of his players. Already during this spring training, he has compared Abreu to Pujols and Anderson to Mookie Betts. Communicating across cultures comes naturally; the White Sox have several Latin American stars, and La Russa has spoken Spanish all his life.
Some of the White Sox, like Anderson, play with a kind of edgy joy, a demonstrative streak that tends to rankle longtime baseball men. But this is La Russa, remember, whose A’s were the flashiest group of their time.
“Do you think he ever told Rickey not to pimp those home runs, or tell Eck to not fist-pump?” Duncan said. “No. Tony was at the cutting edge of all that cool stuff.”
James Fegan writes a good origin story, and here’s one on Andrew Vaughn, who went from lightly scouted in high school to the draft’s best hitter largely because weight training hadn’t been emphasized until he attended Cal. All the other ingredients seemed to be there.
La Russa also seems to enjoy being cagey with the press, as he’s thus avoided the obvious decision of naming Lucas Giolito his starter for Opening Day.
“Never too early to ask. It could be too early to answer,” said a smiling White Sox manager Tony La Russa prior to Giolito’s start. “Make it official? It won’t be long. But I think speculating is part of the fun of the game. You can speculate as much as you want. But we’ll make it official pretty soon.”
A shortage of spring data makes it too soon for sweeping declarations, but if the new baseball is both deader and has thicker seams, sharper breaking balls might make it harder to generate repeated useful balls in play.
A reminder to support the places that you want to see in your town.
Caine knows that taking on Amazon can seem daunting, but he points out that supporting small businesses is not. Congress may well reform antitrust laws and enforcement, but, until then, individual consumer decisions really do matter enormously. “Purchasing a Margaret Atwood book from an independent bookstore instead of Amazon won’t make much of a difference for Amazon,” he writes, but “it could be the difference between a profitable day and an unprofitable day for the indie bookstore.” The same is true, of course, for your local hardware store, electronics store, or toy store—all the independent businesses that define our downtowns, or used to.
And finally, remember acclaimed baseball eccentric Munenori Kawasaki? Here he is holding court on the equally idiosyncratic Mark Buehrle.
(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)
La Russa also stated his preference for the team generating contact like it’s the 00s. I can’t tell whether it’s the hubris of “that’s the way we used to do it” or he’s saying he knows how to get more productive contact in today’s game in spite of all the things working against it.
I don’t know if that’s an outdated mentality necessarily. The modern equation for success is (1) try to hit home runs + (2) limit strikeouts + (3) draw walks.
If you have a team that seems to be pretty good at (1) and is not great at (2) or (3), making either of those things a point of emphasis could be the best way to improve.
It’s more that with all the obstacles to making more contact does he have an actual solution or is making it a point of emphasis just old man yells at cloud?
I like Daylight Savings Time. The one thing I don’t like is Sox spring games starting an hour later. Just had to get that off my chest.
Okay the Munenori Kawasaki video was great
You gotta like the pitching line for today’s 1-0 win vs the A’s. 9 innings, no runs, 2 hits, 15K’s. That works.