CHICAGO – White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf recently got a subscription to minor league baseball TV. That’s how things are going for Chicago at the major league level.
While Eloy Jimenez batters Double-A pitching and Michael Kopech throws his triple-digit fastball for Triple-A Charlotte, the White Sox are piling up losses at a rapid rate while almost assuredly barreling toward a sixth straight losing season. It’s the worst run for the three-time World Series champions since they had a losing record for seven straight years from 1944-50.
The White Sox had dropped nine of 10 and 22 of 28 heading into Thursday night’s game against Texas. They began the day with a major league-worst 10-29 record for the poorest 39-game start in franchise history. They had just three wins in 18 home games heading into the matchup with the Rangers, also a franchise record for worst home start.
While the future looks bright – Chicago’s farm system is widely regarded as one of the best in the game – the present is a tough spot for the rebuilding White Sox, their front office and their 82-year-old owner.
“It’s hard, especially periods like this, it’s hard for anyone who cares about the team, or any fan or any executive or player, whatever, when you’re not performing,” general manager Rick Hahn said, “but Jerry in particular has for 30-plus years committed himself to putting this organization in a position to win and win quickly.
“So early on it was pretty clear it was going to be probably most difficult on him and as we lose, it’s hard. It’s hard on all of us, and it’s hard on Jerry. At the same time, he remains committed to the long term.”
Reinsdorf also owns the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, another franchise with a proud history working on a rebuilding project. He rarely grants interviews, but Hahn mentioned he recently got on MiLB.TV “at someone’s encouraging,” according to the GM.
Now Reinsdorf can keep a closer watch on Jimenez, one of baseball’s top hitting prospects. The 21-year-old Jimenez is off to a terrific start with Birmingham, and Hahn hinted at a promotion to Triple-A for the slugger.
“Without getting too specific, in general, the All-Star break of those seasons tends to be a normal time for a guy to make progress,” he said. “Again, guys who are making big ballparks look small tend to accelerate that timeline on you. Nothing is currently imminent but it certainly is something we’re discussing.”
Luis Robert, another touted slugger who sprained his left thumb during spring training, is hitting in cages and doing defensive drills at the team’s facility in Arizona, Hahn said. The Cuban outfielder is expected to play in some extended spring training games by the end of the month and then join a minor league affiliate once extended is over.
But Jimenez likely won’t make it to the majors until the end of the season at the earliest and Robert is years away from Chicago. In the short term, the White Sox are looking forward to the return of outfielder Avisail Garcia and left-hander Carlos Rodon.
Garcia, who is out with a strained right hamstring, did some fielding drills in the outfield before the game against the Rangers, but Hahn said he still feels the injury and the team plans to go slowly with him. Rodon had arthroscopic left shoulder surgery in September and is scheduled to pitch Saturday for Class A Kannapolis in his first rehab start with an affiliate.
“Carlos at spring training you could see was different than he was a year ago, that he was feeling good, he was without restriction and he knew it was more just building back up,” Hahn said. “Obviously it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods until the guy’s back at the big league level, but certainly he feels real good about where he’s at and how this has progressed.”
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