MLB: Chicago White Sox-Spring Training Media Day

South Side Morning 5: Baseball in Cuba

It would be understandable if the day’s events made it feel like a Spring Training game involving the Tampa Bay Rays was not the most transformative thing going down Tuesday. Luckily, the White Sox have Jose Abreu‘s perspective on hand.

1. “Thank you President Obama, MLB, MLB Players Association for making a dream come true for my generation.”

-Jose Abreu

Dan Hayes spoke to Abreu, who recalled his father “temporarily purchasing” a black and white TV to watch the Cuban National Team play the Baltimore Orioles in 1999. 17 years later, Abreu soaked in the game from the clubhouse Tuesday on a…much nicer TV.

Between this and his reunion with family and his young son during a goodwill trip this Winter, Abreu has had a surprising opportunity to reconnect with the life he feared he was leaving behind forever.

But he thanked Obama for all this, so his Twitter mentions are a tire fire.

2. Thanks to the weekend heroics of Dilson Herrera and his dramatic eighth inning home run Sunday, Colombia is going to the World Baseball Classic next year.

And Jose Quintana wants to go.

Maybe time has softened my value-grubbing, risk-averse clutching of the innings White Sox pitchers have stored in their arms, and made me more concerned about their self-actualization, but my God they absolutely need to let Jose Quintana pitch in the World Baseball Classic.

Quintana is the best Colombian pitcher of all-time. Not ‘players are bigger and better nowadays’ best, but the actual most prominent and successful Colombian pitcher of all-time. It’s him and Julio Teheran, and if he has a long career at this level of play, he’ll be the best Colombian baseball player ever. This is not an idle two-week exhibition, it’s an experience that will be more memorable for Quintana and for his country than, well, pretty much all of the 2013 White Sox season at the least. The Sox should tolerate the risk of a few starts to enable a defining moment in Colombian baseball history.

3. The momentum to get Jerry Sands an actual, real life major league roster spot is building every day in the wake of Adam LaRoche‘s retirement. Enough to get a Dan Hayes article focused on him, at least.

Sands is having the typical Quad-A outfielder dream Spring: he’s standing out just for a few dingers (.242/.257/.545) hit in an insane offensive environment and has made a series of impressive and remarkable but possibly not very athletic catches in the outfield corners. In a quote probably more revealing about Triple-A baseball than Sands’ chances for mid-career rescue (he’s 28), he said a major league gig would force him to “remember how to hit a fastball again.”

But Sands is a lefty-masher. Taking a flier on him to do more at this point is foolish. And while he could be a very good lefty masher (multi-year TAv .275), he doesn’t replicate what LaRoche offered to provide to the roster.

The best lefty bench bat the Sox have floating around camp is Travis Ishikawa and the slap-hitting, reverse-splits J.B. Shuck, which is to say they do not really have any lefty bench bat options at all.

4. Count out Andre Ethier as a possible external option for a left-handed bat as well. The platoon beast is out for 10-14 weeks with a broken leg, which if nothing else clears out some of the glut keeping Trayce Thompson from a Dodgers roster spot. But for the Sox, with Ethier and Justin Morneau both going down until midseason, the odds that they break camp with what they got and keep an eye out for trade options is one or two steps below inevitable.

5. Mat Latos made his Cactus League debut Thursday, and Erik Johnson‘s fastball command must need some serious work, because Latos is very much a work in progress.

Latos pumped in lot of strikes early, flashed a nice overhand curve and had a decent first four innings, but he really fell apart in the fifth and got hammered for two home runs and five across total, stayed in the low-90s and still has this short stride on his surgically repaired knee that doesn’t grant him very good extension. Then he blamed his fifth inning struggles on “a blonde moment,” so the full Latos experience was had, for better and worse.

It was his first start off the backfields all Spring and he’s going through mechanical adjustments, but he’s at a very tenuous spot to be winning rotation slots without contest.

Lead Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri // USA Today Sports Images


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1 comment on “South Side Morning 5: Baseball in Cuba”

Polish Sausage

I know everyone will have visions of TOOTBLANs dancing in their heads, but a De Aza trade would make a ton of sense.

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