Kemp, traded by the Dodgers in the offseason, lined a single to left over a shift in the first. He flied to center and legged out an infield hit before exiting in the fifth, two days after going 0 for 3 in his spring debut.
Kemp dropped a shallow fly in a stiff wind to right in the second, but recovered to get a force out at second.
Rodon, the third pick in the 2014 draft, struck out four and hit a batter in two scoreless innings. The left-hander started in place of injured ace Chris Sale.
Photos of Minoso’s life, both as a White Sox player and ambassador, adorned the aisles of Holy Family Church in Chicago, while members of Minoso’s family greeted visitors. Everybody who came to pay their respects received a prayer card that also doubled as a Minoso baseball card, with a heartfelt thank you from the family on the back.
“Our entire family appreciates the kind expression of concern, sympathy and compassion from so many of our friends and fans of the White Sox during this most difficult time,” the back of the card read. “Minnie lived a full life of joy and happiness, surrounded always by friends and family. It is during moments like these that love matters most. Minnie enjoyed nothing more than to be at the ballpark cheering on his White Sox. For Minnie, every day was a reason to smile and he would want us all to remember him that way, smiling at a ballgame. As he so often said, ‘God Bless you, my friends.’”
The front of the card was of Minoso in his playing days, in full uniform, with his hands on his hips.
Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday at Holy Family Church.
Former White Sox slugger Ron Kittle, who also served as a team ambassador with Minoso, was one of the first to arrive at Friday’s visitation.
“You know, he’s instrumental in my life,” Kittle said. “He tried me out in 1978 just to be on the Sox, and if I fail, I’m not a ballplayer. He was there. It’s heartbreaking, but this is a celebration. This is a guy who had a tremendous life, loving everybody. I’m going to miss his hugs. I’m going to miss that ugly Cadillac with those streamers flying as he went to the ballpark.”
Brooks Boyer, team vice president of sales and marketing, confirmed that White Sox players will wear patches on their sleeves this year with Minoso’s No. 9. That number has long since been retired by the team. Other remembrances and celebrations of Minoso will follow this summer during the upcoming season.
“There is no question when you look at what he did on the field, he’s a Hall of Fame player, but for us he’s a Hall of Fame person,” Boyer said. “There is no better way to honor him than to do things at the ballpark in his memory. … Hopefully, it’s one of those things where Minnie, watching down on our ball team from heaven, will put us into where we want to be in October.”
Christine O’Reilly, White Sox vice president of community relations, said she met Minoso on her first day of work with the club as a senior in high school when she worked in the information booth at the old ballpark. When she pulled up for her first day, Minoso was one of the first people to greet her. They remained close friends through the years.
“Who in this city does not have two autographs from Minnie Minoso? But wouldn't you get in line and wait for another one?” O’Reilly said. “It’s just the spirit that he exuded. I just don't think we'll ever find another ambassador of baseball, ambassador of the White Sox, like him. They say no one is irreplaceable, but Minnie is irreplaceable.”
Along with Kittle, other former White Sox players to attend Friday’s visitation were Donn Pall and Dan Pasqua. Illinois governor Bruce Rauner was also in attendance Friday.
A procession immediately after Saturday’s funeral services will lead past U.S. Cellular Field, as well as near home plate of old Comiskey Park, which is located in the parking lot just north of the new park.
The team is suggesting that fans interested in observing Saturday’s procession gather in the area that marks home plate of old Comiskey Park.
Kershaw struck out three, including White Sox slugger Jose Abreu looking on a slow curve.
"It felt good. The first one is just good to get out there and make sure you feel good physically," Kershaw said. "The results are obviously something that you look for, but maybe not the most important thing.
Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner at age 26, was 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA for the Dodgers last year when he also won the National League MVP.
Four runs in the first three innings led to a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In those early three innings, Alexei Ramirez had a stolen base, Adam Eaton went first to third on a single and even Jose Abreu got into the act when he scored from first base on a double by Adam LaRoche. In Tuesday’s intrasquad game, Micah Johnson stole three bases and Conor Gillaspie legged out two triples.
It hasn’t exactly been St. Louis Cardinals circa 1985, but with Vince Coleman now on hand as the club’s new roving base-running coach, there was an aggressive flavor about the way they played.
“It’s not necessarily home runs,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Home runs are great, we do like those, but you’re seeing guys moving around the field, running around the bases, and it looks good. It feels good, too.”
There is plenty of improvement for the team to make on the bases. Not only was overall base running an issue last year, but the club was 19th in baseball in both stolen bases (85) and stolen-base percentage (70.25).
Based on how aggressive they figure to be this season, the total number of steals is certain to increase. If that steals percentage goes up, as well, all the better.
“We’ll be better than last year,” Ventura said. “How much so, I don’t know necessarily, but we feel the speed we have, the versatility we have, we will be better than we were last year.”
Coleman hasn’t been shy about preaching an aggressive style. He says it’s smarts and not necessarily speed that makes a great base runner.
“It's a mental approach,” Coleman said. “If you want to be great, it's not a destination that can be reached, it's a process, day to day. How good you want to be is a matter of how early you come to the ballpark and put in the work and minimize your negatives and maximize your positives. If you want to be one of those great athletes, you got to have a great work ethic.”
Call it a somewhat dramatic approach, but it has inspired guys like Eaton and Johnson to put in the work. Now they get the chance to test what they have learned in games.
“Moving runners over, double steals, going on balls in the dirt, scoring from second base, those are the things that you try to focus on,” Coleman said. “It’s not just hitting home runs. I played on a (Cardinals) team that only had one power hitter, and that was Jack Clark. And so the rest of us had to check our egos in at the door and know that we had to pitch well, play good defense and run the bases well. We did that consistently.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana pitched two perfect innings, Alexei Ramirez drove in three runs and the Chicago White Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 on Wednesday in the exhibition opener for each team.
Ramirez, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia had two hits apiece for the White Sox, who are looking for a big year after a productive offseason. Adam LaRoche, who agreed to a $25 million, two-year contract with Chicago in November, had a two-run double in his first game with his new team.
Quintana struck out two while throwing 20 of his 26 pitches for strikes.
Joc Pederson, one of the majors' top prospects, had two hits for Los Angeles, and Jimmy Rollins singled in the third for his first hit with the Dodgers. Rollins was acquired in a December trade with Philadelphia.
Erik Bedard allowed one run and two hits in two innings for Los Angeles. The veteran left-hander is in camp on a minor league deal and likely will begin the year at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Quintana had just the Cactus League start he was looking for Wednesday when he pitched two hitless innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener for each team. He had no walks with two strikeouts.
While the outing was short, it was long enough to deliver these impressive numbers: Quintana threw 26 pitches, 20 for strikes.
“It’s time for preparation, throw good pitches, more strikes the first time,” Quintana said. “The first hitter I was a little bit nervous because I wanted to throw a good pitch, but I feel really good. I threw the fastball in and out really good.”
The assumption if Sale can’t start on April 6 at Kansas City is that Jeff Samardzija would move up from his No. 2 start in the rotation and grab the Opening Day honor. After all, the pitched in the opener for the Chicago Cubs in each of the past two seasons.
But Quintana has pitched well in each of the past two seasons, and he does have more history with the White Sox than Samardzija.
“I don’t have control over that,” Quintana said. “I would like one time, but I think Sale is the first guy here, and we need him to throw the Opening Day, and we want him to come back healthy.”
Known for not getting any run support from the White Sox offense over the last two years, seeing four runs in three innings brought a smile to Quintana’s face.
“I think I throw a lot of tough games, sometimes you have to look for runs, but you need to keep the team in the game,” Quintana said. “I think this year is better, with better hitters, and we have a chance this year.”
It wasn’t just that Johnson had three hits in four at-bats during Tuesday’s intrasquad game, he also used his speed to cause all kinds of trouble for the defense and was able to score three runs.
“That’s my job to get on base any way possible,” Johnson said. “Yesterday I just tried to work on a few bunts and stuff and then get to two strikes, then just figure out how to get on base then. I was just working on stuff, and when I get on base my next job is to figure out how to score anyway possible and to put pressure on the defense.”
Johnson not only stole two bases, he was on the run a third time and ended up turning the play into another run.
“Probably my favorite play yesterday was 3-1 count, I was on first and Trayce (Thompson) hit a ground ball to short when I was stealing,” Johnson said. “They threw the ball away, and I was able to score on that. That’s just another way to score a run right there. Or (Emilio) Bonifacio bunts when I try to steal second, Melky (Cabrera) hits a ground ball and (Adam) LaRoche hits one in. That’s beautiful baseball man. It’s unbelievable.”
Johnson’s main competition for the Opening Day second-base job figures to come from Carlos Sanchez, with Gordon Beckham available if either falters. Sanchez got the start in Tuesday’s Cactus League opener.
“He just makes stuff happen when he’s out there,” manager Robin Ventura said of Johnson. “That’s part of the draw of him when you see him on the field, you’re drawn to him, he makes a lot of stuff happen. Everything seems to be going 100 miles an hour when he’s out there. He just creates havoc, can put it in play and that means runs because he makes stuff happen.”
And to think, Johnson didn’t start using his legs to his advantage until two years ago. He ended up stealing a combined 84 bases on three different minor league levels. Last season, his leg issues reduced him to 22 steals.
“In college I was more of a power hitter, I guess,” said Johnson, who is completely recovered from hamstring issues. “I hit double-digit home runs. I just never ran as much. Then I realized what you can do to a game with speed. I realized that God gave me the ability to run, and I have to use it now. I never really used it before.”
If he keeps having days like he did on Tuesday, he’s going to use those legs to run all the way to the Opening Day lineup.
“You have to stay consistent,” he said. “Every day can’t be good and every day won’t be bad. The bad days help you appreciate the good ones, and the good ones will help serve as a reminder during the bad days. You have to wash it away.
“You have to stay humble and realize that this game can be taken away at any second. Realize that it was a good day is a good day now but you can go cold quickly.”
“It’s something that’s very painful for all of the Cubans that are here and for the fans of the White Sox, the organization and everyone,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It’s something that’s very difficult. He was an incredible person. I learned so much from him.”
Minoso was one of the greatest offensive players in White Sox history and broke the color barrier with the club when he played in the 1951 season. He has yet to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.
“Outside of the field, I learned so much from him,” Abreu said. “As a person, he taught me so much. I felt really close to him. This is a very difficult time for me. He was always there for us.”
Minoso was often present at U.S. Cellular Field, even until last season. He was in attendance for Abreu’s introductory press conference with the team last winter. Abreu said that even though they had only been acquaintances for a year, Minoso had become like family.
“He said so much, but one thing I’ll always remember and something he always said was to respect the organization you are with,” Abreu said. “We talked a lot and he would always tell me that every day.”
After struggling emotionally, Abreu said it was good to start playing in games again, even if he did go 0-for-2 in Tuesday’s intrasquad contest, grounding into a double play in his first at-bat. He appeared to slip out of the batter’s box during his first at-bat.
“I slipped a little bit that’s just something that happens on the field,” he said. “The ground was a little loose, but that’s just something that happens to us out there. It’s nothing.”
The 11 pitchers who agreed to deals are, Maikel Cleto, Raul Fernandez, Onelki Garcia, Dan Jennings, Erik Johnson, Frankie Montas, Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam, Eric Surkamp, Daniel Webb and Michael Ynoa.
Catchers include Rob Brantly, Adrian Nieto and Kevan Smith, while the infielders include Matt Davidson, Leury Garcia, Conor Gillaspie, Tyler Saladino, Carlos Sanchez and Andy Wilkins. The four outfielders are Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, J.B. Shuck and Trayce Thompson.
All members of the 40-man roster are now under contract for the 2015 season.
The first-year White Sox starter did admit to looking down at his uniform top Tuesday, just to confirm it was real, but he has always had an appreciation for his line of work no matter if it was with the Chicago Cubs, the Oakland Athletics or now on the South Side.
“I look at the front and go from there,” Samardzija said. “I’ve said many times, it’s just an honor to have a big league uniform on. I’m lucky to have had some ups and downs in my career so you appreciate every chance you have to put one on and you represent it well. Any time you’re on the mound you act like it’s your last time up there. That’s how you have to treat it.”
Facing White Sox hitters, he gave up two runs in the first inning, one on a ground out from Melky Cabrera and another on a sacrifice fly from Adam LaRoche. The speedy Micah Johnson had led off the game with a soft-hit single and Emilio Bonifacio followed with a bunt single.
Samardzija settled down from there, giving up his two runs on three hits over his brief two innings of work. He isn’t scheduled to make his Cactus League debut until Sunday.
“Right into midseason form pushing into that sixth inning when the first two guys get on and you’re protecting a one-run lead,” Samardzija joked about the start to his outing. “That’s the exciting thing about facing live hitters, and in this case a scrimmage, but you know, spring training you can throw as many bullpens as you want but you don’t get the same experience as live games.
Like all spring training stadiums around baseball, Camelback Ranch got a brand new digital timer in order to keep things on point. The giant red digits, similar to what one might see at a basketball arena, will be used to monitor the time between innings.
The new clock will not monitor the suggested 20 seconds between pitches. That 20-second clock will debut at Triple-A and Double-A parks this season, but will not be used in the major leagues, at least for now.
Consider Chris Sale a fan of the proposed changes to speed up games.
“I like it; get the ball and throw it,” Sale said at the start of camp. “It’s pretty simple. This is a culture and generation of right now. People don’t feel like sitting through four-hour games. We are not too fond of them either. Anything to pick up the pace and get it going will be good.”
Catcher Tyler Flowers thinks it’s no big deal.
“The timers in between innings, I think that's more just to find the accountability for who's delaying the games and such,” he said.
Originally scheduled for a seven-inning game, manager Robin Ventura hinted that a couple of more innings could be added after Monday’s scheduled 4½-inning game was called.
The highlight of the game figures to be the brief outing from right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who will make his first appearance in a White Sox uniform in a game setting.
Ventura will be a keen observer, but he will turn over the managing duties to Triple-A skipper Joel Skinner and Double-A manager Julio Vinas. Skinner appears to have the most major league ready team of the two. The game has been dubbed Shirts vs. Skins (for Skinner).
The lineup for the visiting Skins: Adam Eaton, CF; Gordon Beckham, 2B; Jose Abreu, 1B; Conor Gillaspie, 3B; Avisail Garcia, RF; Andy Wilkins, DH; Tyler Flowers, C; J.B. Shuck, LF; Tim Anderson, SS.
The lineup for the home Shirts: Micah Johnson, 2B; Emilio Bonifacio, CF; Melky Cabrera, LF; Adam LaRoche, 1B; Alexei Ramirez, SS; Matt Davidson 3B; Tyler Saladino, DH; Geovany Soto, C; Michael Taylor, RF.
The White Sox will kick off their Cactus League schedule Wednesday afternoon at Camelback Ranch against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jose Quintana will start for the White Sox.
Micah Johnson finally gets a chance to show what he can do at second base, while Carlos Rodon is taking advantage of the injury to Chris Sale to get in some action in big league games. Beginning Wednesday, the White Sox have 32 scheduled games in 31 days, including an exhibition at Triple-A Charlotte on April 3.
“It’s just time to see what you’ve been working on,” Johnson said Monday after a workout cut short by rain. “It’s a little different being in the [covered batting cage] than against live pitching, just a different situation. So now it’s a chance to see what you’ve been working on every single day in the offseason and early in spring training and see the team out there working on stuff.”
“Some days I take more ground balls than are planned on the schedule because that day I didn’t feel a certain way,” Johnson said. “Right now it’s about being real picky and meticulous with your work. If you’re slightly off a little bit, focus-wise, just get back out there and finish what we didn’t accomplish.”
Rodon is just 11 days into his first big league camp and won’t pretend he knows the details of how it all works. He is confident with his pitching, though, and until he learns the intricacies, he will let his left arm speak for him.
“You’re in front of everybody; you’re throwing against big league hitters, getting experience,” Rodon said. “I’m looking forward to that and I’m ready to make my start.”
His first Cactus League action is set to come Friday, taking the spot that otherwise would have been occupied by Sale, who is out for three weeks with a fractured bone in his right foot.
“Just stay on the path I’m on and keep trucking along day by day, keep working,” said last year’s first-round draft pick. “Nothing changes, like I said. I’m hoping Sale comes back as soon as he can -- a quick, speedy recovery for him.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura admitted that Rodon has been a major topic of conversation with the coaching staff, but this week that talk will be replaced by an actual inning or two of pitching against major league-caliber hitters. More innings are expected as the spring progresses.
“Yeah, there is an opportunity there for him as well as some other guys,” Ventura said. “How far that’s going to go, we don’t know. We want to see him get out and pitch and do well just like everybody else. There is an opportunity with Sailor going down. Who fills in at that spot? It’s going to take some time. We’ve got a lot of time down here to figure that out and have guys pitch.”
Monday’s 4½-inning intrasquad contest was rained out, giving the White Sox just one day of game play before opening the Cactus League schedule Wednesday.
Other key pitchers set to take the mound in Tuesday’s scheduled seven-inning game include Zach Duke, Scott Carroll, Maikel Cleto and Michael Ynoa, who the White Sox also acquired in the Samardzija trade with the Oakland Athletics.
“We hope it’s dry enough and nice enough to be able to get out there to play before Wednesday,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Because we didn’t play today, we could get some extended innings tomorrow.”
The White Sox will send Jose Quintana to the mound in Wednesday’s Cactus League opener, while John Danks starts in Thursday’s game. Both games are at Camelback Ranch against the Los Angeles Dodgers. National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is expected to pitch Thursday for the Dodgers.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -– A glutton for punishment, Nate Jones says he has been watching his teammates’ bullpen sessions this spring, even though it pains him that he is unable participate.
“That’s the little bit of the tough part, because I love throwing bullpens,” Jones said. “It’s a little bit tough that I can’t get on a mound and do it myself, but I know my time is coming. We need to do it one day at a time and check it off and I will eventually get there.”
Now in recovery after Tommy John surgery last summer, Jones is throwing at 120 feet off flat ground. On the days he isn’t doing his flat-ground work, he is participating in soft toss. At some point soon he will advance to 150 feet and only then will he get to progress to bullpen sessions.
By then the team will be getting ready for the regular season. When Jones’ White Sox’s teammates start packing their bags for the long season ahead, Jones will be just halfway through his Arizona stay. He says he probably will remain at extended spring training through May.
Despite the plodding rehab routine, Jones says he is inspired to work hard every day.
“The track record of success (with Tommy John surgery) is what keeps you going,” he said. “They’ve got it down to where they exactly know what to do. It’s encouraging to see it.”
And while progress has been slow to track, Jones does have his teammates to feed off of, especially Jesse Crain, who is a little bit further in his rehab process. Crain isn’t expected to be ready at the start of the season after biceps surgery in 2013, but he is progressing faster than expected as camp closes in on the two-week mark.
“He had to go through what I’m going through with long toss to build up arm strength,” Jones said. “To see him progress to that is pretty awesome because I know I’ll be there at some point.”
There is no telling how effective Jones will be upon his return. If he has set-up man stuff, the White Sox would be thrilled to no end, but what they really need is just a solid contributor during the second half.
And while Jones is only throwing on flat ground now, he says his throws are fairly firm. He estimates he is throwing at about 70 percent of full speed and remains patient with his rehab, even though he gets the urge to push things at times.
“You get out of it what you put into it, so boom, from the first day I’ve been getting after it for that day and just making sure I get through that day healthy and check it off and move to the next,” Jones said. “(But) you can’t get going too quickly, that’s when problems start. You have to let the biology of the healing of the body take over when you’re going through this rehab. They talked about that too, just stay the course and not get too far ahead of myself.”
So Jones continues to take it slow, even though that is the exact opposite trait for somebody that used to throw in the upper 90-mph range. He won’t return at 90 percent or even 99 percent of peak health. He will wait for the proper time.
“I want to come in when I’m healthy and want to be able to do my job and that has to be 100 percent,” he said. “So when you see me I’ll be ready to go.”