Alex Rios is no stranger to strong starts with the White Sox -- this season qualifies as his third -- but he's seldom received recognition for them. That's mostly his own doing, because these strong Aprils and Mays were preceded by awful seasons, making any kind of rebound easy to write off as a fluke.
But here we are on May 22, with Rios well on the way to putting together his ninth consecutive baseball month of excellence. He's hitting .306/.369/.559, and the middle number is the most surprising. He's had power and speed his whole life, but he's found a way to be the most selective he's ever been, too. Either that, or teams are nibbling around Rios to take their chances with Adam Dunn or Paul Konerko, and Rios isn't biting.
Whether a byproduct of a refined approach or underperforming teammates, Rios is seventh in the AL with a .394 wOBA. His previous career high? .366, so this is exciting new territory even for those of us who have watched him complete one of the more drastic image reversals in recent memory.
"It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had with a hitter," said Manto, who initially proceeded cautiously with Rios as the team’s new hitting coach last season. "It was a blast, an absolute blast working with him.
"We both decided that maybe getting taller would be better. He wanted to do certain things with the ball. We both felt that, in the position he was in, it wasn’t going to work as well. Through basic conversation, as the days went on, he got taller and taller in the cage.
"One day he said, ‘I want to do it tonight.’ I said, ‘Do it tonight? You can’t do it tonight. Let’s work on it a little bit.’ But he said, ‘I want to do it tonight.’ So I had to explain to (manager Robin Ventura), ‘He jumped the gun. This is what you’re going to see tonight.’ But it was a lot of fun.’"
- Jerry Reinsdorf: Staying True - SportsBusiness Journal
- Closer look at Reinsdorf’s influence, achievements - SportsBusiness Journal
- Jerry Reinsdorf suggests selling Chicago White Sox in succession plans - ESPN Chicago
- Reinsdorf outlines future ownership plans for White Sox | CSN Chicago
Jerry Reinsdorf received the SportsBusiness Journal/Daily Lifetime Achievement Award, which is as prestigious as its name is unwieldy. He's the first team owner to receive the honor, which is in its fourth year. You may have already seen the first link since Larry dropped it in the comments, but if you missed it, it's an excellent profile of how he's grown into a position of great influence in both Major League Baseball and the NBA.
Since he's 77 and this is a lifetime achievement award, the focus naturally turns to what happens after. The rough plan is that Reinsdorf's son, Michael, will take over the Bulls while his family sells his share in the Sox, but that's subject to change. Reinsdorf plans to be around to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the All-Star Game, so that takes care of the next 19 years. As you were.
It's graduation season, and Robin Ventura and Mark Parent will be stepping out in early June to attend ceremonies for their kids. That means the Sox will have three different skippers for their three-game series in Seattle. Parent will manage the first game and Ventura will return for the last, but since they'll both be out on June 3, it's unclear how the middle game will work:
"We are still going over how we are going to do it on the third," Ventura said. "My first choice would be to have Joe (McEwing) do it, but he likes to coach third. We have Coop (pitching coach Don Cooper) who has done it. I am not going to have Joe manage and coach third base at the same time. We will figure it out."
Sale's primary goal this year is to pitch 200 innings and lead the White Sox to the playoffs. He also aspires to break the record for most cheesesteaks consumed by a visiting player in Philadelphia when the White Sox play there in July. The current record for a three-game series is 14, held by New York Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello.
"He said he's going to eat like 35," Dunn said. "We'll see. He'll beat it. If he's not pitching, he'll definitely beat it. Definitely."
Jorge Arangure Jr. spent plenty of time talking to Jose Contreras at the beginning of his MLB career. Now he catches up with the 41-year-old Cuban as the end of his playing days are in sight. He never quite met the immense hype that accompanied the bidding war between the Yankees and Red Sox, but look at it this way:
But when his career is over he'll end up as a World Series winner with the Chicago White Sox, and he'll have a full pension once he retires as a result of his decade in the majors. Contreras' life has actually turned out better than he could have imagined. He won't be a Hall of Famer, but he's survived a life-risking move to the United States with his family not only intact, but thriving. His three children all attended school in the United States, and they have essentially become Americans, which was Contreras' wish all along. He wanted a free and unencumbered life for his children and he's gotten that. A man can ask no more.
- Ned Yost vows to remain patient with Mike Moustakas and others - KansasCity.com
- The Royals instant gratification crutch - Royals Review
A 2-for-38 slump has sent Mike Moustakas' line crashing down to .180/.252/.309. Over that time, the Royals went 3-7, dipping below .500 for a game before bouncing back to even with a victory over Houston on Tuesday. The combination has made the natives restless, and Ned Yost issued a strong defense of his third baseman:
"You know what?" Yost said. "Maybe when we get home, I can go to the third base tree and pick another third baseman. … Obviously, third basemen who can hit and hit with power, they must grow on trees. [...]
"There is no third baseman tree. You don’t go grab another one. You let him develop. Look at Gordy (Alex Gordon). When I came over here (in 2010), all I heard (from fans) was this kid is never going to be anything.
"No. You’re wrong. Give them time to develop. But I understand it. I know what the fans want. They want it, and they want it now. Instant gratification just doesn’t work (in baseball)."
White Sox fans know first-hand about the lack of a third baseman tree, but we can't quite relate to the frustration of watching a team post 19 losing seasons in 20 years and being blamed for wanting "instant gratification." And as Craig Brown points out, that's far from the first time that line has been deployed.
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