Spare Parts: Former trainer files lawsuit against White Sox

As the White Sox have drifted further away from Herm Schneider’s glory days and toward/past the league median of days lost to the injured list, they’ve made shake-ups to their training staff. This past winter, the White Sox fired longtime strength and conditioning coach Allen Thomas. The year before, they had fired head athletic trainer Brian Ball, who had been a longtime assistant for Schneider before assuming the lead role for 2019 and 2020.

On their face, the decisions could be presented and accepted as an attempt to solve the growing number of muscle strains, notable only because the White Sox are generally averse to parting with any non-uniformed personnel.

Ball, however, contends that his dismissal was a product of discrimination. On Monday, the filed a lawsuit in Cook County Court claiming he was fired due to his sexual orientation, age and disability. The Athletic reported the details, such as:

In July 2020, according to the suit, Ball was attacked by two men while getting into his car at his Chicago apartment, and they stole his car. Following the attack, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn and assistant GM Jeremy Haber told Ball that he would be placed on medical leave and his job would be there when he was ready to return. When Ball attempted to come back to work the next month, the team did not allow him to return, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges that Hahn told Ball’s colleagues that the carjacking was related to an addiction problem, and that Ball was told by an unnamed member of White Sox management that they terminated his contract because of his sexual orientation. Daryl Van Schouwen relayed other parts of the timeline, which looks like this when combined with what The Athletic reported:

  • Feb. 2018: White Sox staff learns of Ball’s sexual orientation
  • Dec. 2018: Promotion to head trainer
  • Oct. 2019: Signed two-year employment contract
  • Feb. 2020: Duties changed to administration and director role
  • July 17: The carjacking
  • July 18: Placed on medical leave
  • Aug. 28: Cleared to return to work.
  • Sept. 2020: Allegations that “Hahn made statements to other athletic training staff that Ball had a gambling, drug or alcohol addiction that was related to the carjacking.”
  • Oct. 27: Notice of termination.
  • Nov. 7 Signed a separation agreement
  • Dec. 27: Lawsuit claims a “White Sox management-level representative” contacted him and alleged he was fired based on his sexual orientation.”

Given the freshness of the lawsuit, it’s impossible to know from this distance whether there’s any merit, but there are two things that jump out to me. In July and August 2020, Major League Baseball was trying to get a shortened season off the ground during the height of pandemic concerns and restrictions, and team employees were organized into tiers to limit access and minimize interactions in the dugout and clubhouse.

The other part is that whitesox.com has a Scott Merkin story for everybody to see, more than half of which is the club’s full response to Ball’s lawsuit. It calls the allegations “baseless,” and says the club is “committed to vigorously defending the club’s reputation against Brian’s meritless allegations, including the pursuit of all remedies under the law.”

That stands in stark contrast to the official reaction to the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the White Sox and Omar Vizquel, in which the team said it would not comment further due to active litigation (and the case is still active). Then again, that Vizquel was hired and promoted in the first place suggests their HR practices are lacking, so ultimately we’ll have to wait and see whether this goes anywhere.

Spare Parts

Eloy Jiménez says his recovery from his torn hamstring tendon is progressing well, as he’s sprinting and swinging without issue. He remains on the original timetable of six to eight weeks until further notice.

The White Sox aren’t exactly death to running games, but a month into the season, they’ve stopped extending an open invitation to run on their pitchers at will. James Fegan talked to some members of the team and staff, who said a lot of the improvement is confidence in maintaining mechanics while varying times or steps.

Tony La Russa’s usage of Liam Hendriks for five games over six days (and six over eight) effectively represents a cap on a reliever’s workload, and Ben Clemens went through the game log to see whether any appearances could’ve been avoided. The answer is yes, although the dud against Cleveland was the only one that wasn’t a typical save situation.

The Royals are off to another dreadful start despite a roster that isn’t supposed to lose now, which casts doubt on Dayton Moore’s unwillingness to part with veterans like Whit Merrifield, or make major shake-ups to a coaching staff that keeps seeing players have success after leaving.

Anderson will avoid serving a second suspension over the course of one month, as he won his appeal against the league’s punishment for his flipping off a fan in Cleveland.

We haven’t heard much about Shelley Duncan since the White Sox hired him in a new position of analytics coordinator, so this interview provides some helpful detail beyond “Tony La Russa needed a Duncan.”

“What we’re going to see — what we’re starting to see now — is that a lot of teams are utilizing KinaTrax [and] Hawk-Eye, giving them an ability to really analyze the biomechanics of a swing. We’re getting to the point now where we’re not going to be attacking hitters, we’re going to be attacking swing profiles. We’re going to be looking at people’s swings and understanding how to attack them.

“Hitter are starting to learn that they’re going to need different types of swings in their toolkits, and what swings work with what type of pitches. We’re going to see all-around pitchers. We’re going to see pitchers who master two types of fastballs, and hitters that have the ability to hit two types of fastballs. The game is growing, and the technology and information is helping it grow at a faster rate.”

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Default image
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3566
21 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ForsterFTOG

Not sure why those two things would jump out at you.

Wayne

2 big questions pop into my head:
– Why was he moved from “hands-on” head trainer to more director of care and administrator after 2 years of being out?
– Who told him he was fired for sexual orientation in December 2020?

joewho112

I too wasn’t sure what Jim was getting at with the point about the carjacking happening during the shutdown.

The second point about the difference in the comments on the two lawsuits seems straight forward.

knoxfire30

Story sounds really flimsy and I am pretty surprised to see a lot of people running with it before the facts come out. I don’t see the sox and or Hahn being the type to terminate someone based on something that could be conveyed as discriminatory

Sf52

Don’t sell Reinsdorf’s management short. Didn”t TLR recently insinuate fans who were calling for top tier difference makers as “disloyal”?

I don’t put anything past that loathsome owner and his whatever that is that passes for his management team.

calcetinesblancos

Sorry Brian, this team can only employ one alcoholic at a time.

GrinnellSteve

Game cancelled by covid. Let’s hope everyone is all right. Get your boosters, folks!

dwjm3

Not a bad deal for us…Maybe we don’t have to pitch Keuchel against the Yankees now?

soxfan

Why did I even bother “working” from home this afternoon?

Torpedo Jones

Meh. I’m still going to “work from home” just as hard as I otherwise would have. Now, I can focus on my hour of blocked time for ideation (nap).

CaptainEuphemism

I think Cleveland should have to forfeit, but that would likely devolve into quite a large argument.

Joliet Orange Sox

I think Cleveland should have to forfeit today’s game and also Monday’s game retroactively! (What epic collapse? Never happened!)

Last edited 3 months ago by Joliet Orange Sox
soxfan

I don’t think they should forfeit, but I think they should be required to play with whatever 26 man roster they can cobble together from negative testing team employees. If Francona has to catch and the bat boy has to play second base, so be it.

joewho112

Francona is one of the positives

The team announced that manager Terry Francona, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, other uniformed personnel and some traveling support staff all tested positive Wednesday morning, prompting the postponement

https://www.mlb.com/whitesox/news/guardians-white-sox-game-postponed-may-11

OldMMJ87

Wasn’t the NFL considering doing this? I guess you’d have to agree to that through the CBA though, and that would be hard. Plus if these are breakthrough cases it gets tricky too.

CaptainEuphemism

I imagine you’re correct on this being handled by the CBA, and there’s enough diversity of opinion on both the player and owner sides of this that it probably wouldn’t go through.

Good point on breakthrough cases as well. My goal was to punish teams that didn’t have as high of vaccine uptake, but that could hit people that have done everything “right”. Having had a case pre-vaccines, I should probably let the disease be the punishment.

roke1960

After seeing the lineup Tony was throwing out there, I’m glad it’s cancelled. Now remove Keuchel from the Yankees series.

chipporter

Seems odd that they’d cancel because coaches and support staff tested positive.

soxfan

I thought the announcement said the postponement was to allow for additional testing. So the players may not be positive but may be close contacts and it’s better to nip it in the bud rather than passing it on. I’m sure the white Sox will be testing everybody too and wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with someone in protocols.

shaggy65

I feel like I have noticed more Sox pitchers varying their timing to the plate. And we certainly seem to be working on the daylight pickoff play at 2nd