After a tough stretch beginning around mid-March (or, depending on how you judge such things, mid-March, 2018), the Chicago White Sox have enjoyed a bout of better days as the final full week of spring training comes to an end.
Yesterday, before an 11-2 Camelback Ranch thrashing at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks, news leaked that Eloy Jiménez, of the Santo Domingo Centro Jiménezes, had committed to the White Sox rebuild to the tune of six years, $43 million, or eight years, $77.5 million, or maybe even something in-between.
Our mood at SSS was tempered by, well, something scientists might term The Last Six Years of Being a White Sox Fan, thus response to the deal ranged from the whatever of our otherwise sunshiny local barrister larry to the dulcet rantings of Fancy H. Yancy, who singlehandedly Bluto Blutarskied SSS into a cheer halfway rousing, halfway Bronx. But, undeniably, sun busted up the clouds just a smidge.
Hellfire, Melvins, that set up Thursday to be a bonafide hootenanny of hilarity. Not only had the White Sox not come out and said the Eloy extension was some sort of 51 Weeks to St. Paddy’s Day shenanigans (although, to be fair, the team hasn’t dog-and-ponied up any of the press conference, testimonials, future HOF projections, Power Point presentation, or cheekily named fan seating section that would normally confirm the deal, either), but the White Sox drilled the Texas Rangers, 12-2.
Iván Nova took clear offense to a cheeky gamethread that subtly questioned his fitness for a major league rotation, by bristling up for 5 2⁄3 innings of three-hit, one-run ball, with five whiffs and no walks. It was the hardest a White Sox hurler had kicked ass all spring. But don’t take my word for it. Listen in, via DVS:
Ivan Nova was really good today. pic.twitter.com/k4kAzmllOV— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) March 22, 2019
And some proof, sookie-sookie:
Sticking with the pitching, yeah, the kickassery rolled through nine innings. All four arms active today (Alex Colomé, Kelvin Herrera, Jace Fry and José Ruiz) will be in the pen come Opening Day, and this afternoon’s action saw the relief corps getting the job done: 3 2⁄3 innings, four hits, one run, one walk, four Ks. The apparent advantage of acquiring both Colomé and Herrera was, in tandem with the excellence (fingers crossed) of the incumbent Fry, to shorten games to seven, even six innings some nights. Though the corps weren’t rolled out in such a fashion today, if those three can perform to expectations, a bullpen that looked like some drunken game of pin the tail on the donkey at the dawn of the year could transform into the strength of the team.
On the offensive side, the White Sox finally defrosted their bats (recall, just yesterday, the South Siders were kept off base into the seventh inning by whatever ragtag assortment of arms the Diamondbacks ran out at them), to the tune of 12 hits and 12 runs. During the recent lumber slumber, what hits the Sox tapped were nearly all one-basers, while today, the Camelback Hit Men placed seven for extra bases.
Leading the assault is a man clearly ready to have the “L.” dropped from the back of his jersey, Leury García. In a spring that’s seen several Sox slugging superbly — James McCann, Tim Anderson, Yoán Moncada, Yonder Alonso, José Abreu and even Cactus League crackerjack Adam Engel among them — García has emerged as the whip-smartest of all.
Given that many of us were ready to trim Leury once Manny Machado signed and relegated Yolmer Sánchez to a superutility role, or even vault the superutility muscle of José Rondón in front of the oft-injured L. García, the minimite’s brutal artistry this spring has been inspiring. García is not only hitting as well as he ever has, he’s been playing all over the place, as a guy who can legitimately field six positions on the diamond. Entering today, García’s average opposing pitcher quality was 7.9, which is basically Triple-A (to be fair, that’s probably the average quality the White Sox have faced so far this spring, so it’s not like LG is getting special matchup favors), but unless the veteran turns back into a pumpkin come April, this is a promising start indeed on a team that should have no shortage of starting opportunities for a guy who is at least average at bat, in the field, and on the basepaths.
Long story short, García went 4-for-4 today, with a homer, stolen base, and four runs scored from the leadoff spot. García’s spring average is up to .432, OPS to 1.063. Essentially, he was perfect.
Other hometown heroes include Abreu, who was 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. Abreu is dining very well on Cactus League arms, as he now has 17 RBIs in 16 spring games.
José muscles it fair to drive home two! pic.twitter.com/AcjnRRFIUA— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 21, 2019
Also, proving the whole Manny welcome wagon thing was just a masterful dupe, Alonso remained prodigious, going 2-for-4 with a double and his fifth homer (and third oppo taco), with four RBIs.
Spring Training home run no. for @YonderalonsoU! pic.twitter.com/TmubOMO6AU— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 21, 2019
All in all, it was a very good day.
Tomorrow, the White Sox travel to Tempe Devil Stadium in Tempe for another contest with the Angels. Carlos Rodón gets his final spring tuneup before Opening Day in K.C. next Thursday. Perhaps the bats will stay scintillating. Perhaps the Sox will announce the Eloy inking for real. Perhaps a fairy godfather will grace SSS with operating capital. Maybe all three.
Hey, it’s a random late Cactus moment, let’s roll with it.
Game’s on NBC Sports Chicago, 3:10 p.m. CT. Any day now, they’re gonna roll out Ozzie for pre and post, and it’s gonna be a hoot. As I tweeted at him yesterday:
Congratulations to @OzzieGuillen on the new gig.— South Side Sox (@SouthSideSox) March 21, 2019
He will make pre- and postgame must-watch TV, and 1,000 times more enjoyable.
Espero que te traten mucho mejor que a mí, mi hermano. ¡Buena suerte! https://t.co/VzT8c0Pa3T
Catch you tomorrow, compadres.