Hello! Welcome to the White Sox Beat newsletter. Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.
CHICAGO -- Ethan Katz provided enough information to fill up two newsletters and a sidebar during his Zoom session Thursday afternoon. So, here are three hurlers discussed by the White Sox pitching coach during that 18-minute conversation.
The right-hander had surgery on his right knee at the end of September to fix a painful issue he dealt with through much of his first full season as a starter in 2022. Kopech is currently in Texas and going through his rehab, according to Katz, which is going well.
“It’s going to be a little slower progression than we originally thought, but he’s still on track to be ready for spring full go,” Katz said. “We have it mapped out for him breaking camp, being able to finish camp at five innings and 85 pitches, which would put him in a good spot to start the season.”
Kopech made 25 starts and pitched 119 1/3 innings in ’22, posting a 3.54 ERA and 105 strikeouts against 57 walks. That year of starter’s development, along with being healthy, should put him in an even better place for ’23.
“He’s in a good spot,” Katz said. “He just has to keep crushing his rehab. He’s doing well and we expect him to have a normal offseason here shortly.”
In Katz’s mind, starting isn’t realistically in the cards this season for the left-hander working his way back from Tommy John surgery, which he had prior to the ’22 campaign.
“In the bullpen you have a better opportunity to manage him a little bit more, to take care of him and he can get multiple ups so he’s still getting a workload under him,” Katz said. “But it’s a little bit more controlled, whereas starting you have to take care of the other guys on the team as well.
“Starting for me personally, this is me speaking, I think it might be a little bit tough next year. Kind of see where things unfold after that.”
Crochet is currently throwing from 120 feet, but the White Sox haven’t gone as far as to lay out a ’23 plan for the southpaw.
“When you're dealing with Tommy John, guys come back in 10 months, 12 months. Some guys take 14, 16 months,” Katz said. “Obviously, he's very important to what we do in the big leagues and whatever role that is, that's to be determined.
“Right now, he needs to get through his rehab and that's going well. He should be an impact in some sort of way next year.”
Don’t look for López to return to the rotation, where he was the team’s top starter in ’18. He’s now an extremely valuable bullpen component.
“Ultimately his goal is to be a closer one day,” Katz said. “That’s where I feel like his mind is, and the conversations I’ve had with him, he likes that environment.
“We haven’t had conversations about him starting. He enjoys the role he’s in. If he wants to talk about starting again, we can, but I think he’s happy where he is.”
• Dylan Cease finished second in the 2022 BBWAA American League Cy Young voting, highlighting a truly ace-like, elite season for the right-hander. Now think about those high-level mound achievements, coupled with equally strong production at the plate during the same season, and we have Shohei Ohtani. I marvel at what Ohtani has accomplished, and Cease seems equally impressed.
“The fact he’s that talented in both areas is very freakish,” Cease said. “I’ve never seen anything like that. All the hype he gets, it’s very well deserved. Yeah, he’s fun to watch and he’s definitely really good for baseball.”
Cease is 3-for-8 lifetime as a hitter, with all three hits coming against the Reds during a dominant outing on May 4, 2021, in which he allowed one hit and struck out 11 over six innings.
“I do miss hitting,” Cease said. “I wouldn’t mind my 15 or 20 at-bats a year, but it’s out of my hands.”
• They are both 11-0. They are two of the best college football teams in the country. Michigan/OSU this Saturday, and I think you all know where my allegiance lies -- Go Blue. I asked people on Twitter for the greatest rivalry in any sport in conjunction with this game, but I’m curious what opposing team do White Sox fans relish winning against the most?
• Half the White Sox fans think it’s time for José Abreu to move on because of current roster configuration. Half want him back at all costs. But 100 percent know how much he has meant and always will mean to this organization.
On Sept. 3, 2022, Cease became the second pitcher in White Sox history to lose a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth when Minnesota’s Luis Arraez singled to center in a 13-0 White Sox victory. Who was the first White Sox pitcher to lose a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth?
A) Mark Buehrle
B) Ken Brett
C) Freddy Garcia
D) Rich Gossage
“The White Sox gave the job to Pedro, and I know the way he likes to work. I know the players … They're going to be happy. He's a great guy. He's not going to have any problem communicating with the players, and I think that's the key, keep everybody together and that's the way teams win.” -- Royals catcher Salvador Perez, praising new White Sox manager Pedro Grifol, who he worked with for 10 years in Kansas City, during a Thursday Zoom
“If you are going to let it fuel you, then it’s all right to dwell on it. I’m just eyes forward, preparing for next year. Last year was disappointing for all of us. We all expect a lot more out of ourselves. Unless we are using it for fuel, we have to just let it go and move forward.” -- Cease, on focusing on the future following a disappointing '22 season
Danny Mendick was pretty much ready for any challenge the White Sox could throw at him, including throwing the ball off the mound. The hard-nosed Mendick, who is working his way back from ACL surgery in his right knee and was non-tendered by Chicago on Friday, played every position but catcher and first base over four years. Here’s his scoreless inning at Fenway Park on April 19, 2021, when Yermín Mercedes also threw an inning.
During a game on May 26, 1976, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Brett had his no-hitter attempt thwarted by Jerry Remy’s infield single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Brett wouldn’t have earned the win even if he completed nine hitless, as the game was scoreless. The southpaw allowed two hits over 10 innings, yielding Bill Melton’s single in the 10th -- yes, the great Bill Melton of White Sox lore -- but ultimately earning the win in an 11-inning, 1-0 victory. Kudos to White Sox media relations and STATS for this tidbit.
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