Roberto Clemente makes a huge splash with a spring training performance at Fort Myers, Fla. against the White Sox. The rookie clouts a third-inning triple some 425 feet off of the center field fence, the deepest spot in Terry Park. The good news for the White Sox? Clemente attempted to stretch the hit into an inside-the-park home run, but was thrown out at home with ease.
In a completely under-the-radar swap, the White Sox send Clay Carroll to St. Louis for Lerrin LaGrow. That minor transaction would pay major dividends for the 90-win 1977 White Sox.
LaGrow, at the time mostly a starter in his six-year MLB career, moved into the White Sox bullpen and ended up as the South Side Hit Men closer, finishing 49 of the 66 games he appeared in (after finishing 20 in his career to that point) and earning 25 saves. His ERA a stellar 2.46, LaGrow’s 98 2⁄3 innings resulted in him racking up an extraordinary 4.2 WAR, tied for 55th in major league history for a full-time reliever. That WAR also ranks fourth in White Sox history for a full-time reliever.
Alas, LaGrow (like the Hit Men) could not repeat the success in 1978, suffering a setback of a -0.6 WAR before a staggeringly bad -1.3 WAR in just 11 games to open 1979 saw him sold to the Dodgers in May.
The White Sox traded Ken Williams (who later became the club’s GM) to Detroit for pitcher Eric King.
Williams never achieved any measure of consistency in the big leagues. King, at least, had a spectacular 1990 campaign, going 12-4 with a 3.25 ERA for the “Doin’ the Little Things” White Sox that shocked baseball by compiling 94 wins in 1990.
Future White Sox first baseman José Abreu hit his 33rd home run, on the final day of the Cuban Serie Nacional season. Both he and Yoennis Céspedes broke the two-year-old Cuban home run record of 32.
Amazingly, Abreu produced 33 home runs and 93 RBIs despite missing a quarter of the season. His slash for the 2010-11 season was a remarkable .453/.597/.986. For those of you a little short with math, that’s a 1.583 OPS.