Following up: Probing the White Sox’s effort to solve strains

Camelback Ranch, White Sox spring training home
(Ron Vesely/Chicago White Sox)

A White Sox fan can be reassured by the White Sox running away with the division in 2021 despite getting fewer than 100 games from three of their four top outfielders, their star catcher and their up-and-coming second baseman.

Another White Sox fan can wonder if the stunning overall health of the pitching staff and fluke performances at the DH spot means it’d be hard to absorb such a high injury toll yet again.

This is one area where the White Sox were proactive, because they replaced longtime strength and conditioning director Allen Thomas with Goldy Simmons, who served in that role in the minor leagues to better recent results.

They just couldn’t talk about it because of the lockout, and then it ended up being buried by everything that’s happened post-CBA agreement.

Fortunately, James Fegan circled back to the move. Simmons himself isn’t going to elaborate on any changes he intends to make from the Thomas era — “there but for the grace of God go I” comes to mind — but Fegan is able to flesh out (soft tissue joke) a bit of a track record thanks to success stories on the farm. Jake Burger and Gavin Sheets both cited Simmons as integral in reshaping their bodies to increase athleticism:

“I hate to see AT go because I loved AT, but when I saw Goldy was taking his place, I was fired up,” said Gavin Sheets, who also said Simmons was instrumental in helping him become lean and quick enough to play the outfield. “The most important thing, especially for longevity during the season, is that everybody’s different or their body moves differently. Everybody has different deficiencies, strengths, and so when he can pick those out and make individual programs, that’s huge for all of us.”

So far, the only spring casualty is Yermín Mercedes, who will miss six to eight weeks with a fractured hamate bone, but that kind of injury isn’t under Simmons’ jurisdiction.

Keith Law tends to be lower on the White Sox’s prominent Cuban signings than other evaluators. Part of it is that Law doesn’t like to take other people’s words for it, and other people are the only ones who saw guys like Oscar Colás and Yoelqui Céspedes in recent seasons. It wouldn’t be that noticeable in most cases, but the cautious reads stick out more in a system that’s expecting such players to be contributors in the near future.

Law liked Colás well enough to rank him third on his top prospect list, but he came away more enthusiastic about Colás’ skill set after seeing him in person for the first time.

Some good news for White Sox fans, though – Oscar Colas, who signed for $2.7 million in January after three years in the Japanese minor leagues, is playing in High-A games and showing some plus tools. He’s got bat speed and plus power, homering to lead off his game on Friday. He also shows good plate coverage with some chase but the ability to hit some pitches out of the zone, at least at this level. He’s not as explosive as Luis Robert, to whom he will inevitably be compared as another Cuban outfielder signed by Chicago, but he has easy 20 homer power and a plus-plus arm (he’d been up to 95 mph on the mound in the past), and if he shows he can handle better breaking stuff this year, he could be a fast mover in a diminished White Sox system.

Law also said Bryan Ramos has incredible bat speed and might have 25-30 homer upside,” in case anybody else wants to get on this bandwagon.

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Despite the lost opportunity of the offseason, despite the miserable performances of many key players, despite the injury to big acquisition Joe Kelly, I’m oddly optimistic this morning. This article only reinforces my optimism.


Will a new conditioning coach be able to prevent Eloy from running into a wall or another player sometime this season, or before it starts?

Last edited 2 years ago by jhomeslice

I’m very optimistic that the Sox will win the AL Central and will make their first 3 consecutive year playoff run in team history!


Cool, the White Sox are using that PitchCom system today. That allows the catcher to input the pitch selection (or other strategy sign, such as pitchout) via a control pad on his wrist, and the pitcher and a few fielders get an audible voice telling them what it is. I’m glad to see them trying that. If there are any doubts about a team like Houston being on your signs, this should help combat that.


Andrew Vaughn made a great diving catch, then hit the ground on his leg pretty hard. Was able to get up, but then seemed to realize that he was really hurt. He was carted off.


Was this just one of those things or the look of a guy who doesn’t belong in the OF?


I think more the latter. He didn’t really slide when he hit the ground. Part of it is body type, part of it is technique I imagine.


I felt it was a great play … within his limited range. An outfielder with normal speed wouldn’t have had to dive. He’s just not fast out there. It’s almost like he’s a first baseman or something.


He is also learning RF which added a new challenge