So obviously I had the opportunity to meet Jose Abreu recently, first at dinner Monday night and then Tuesday at the ballpark as we announced his signing and introduced him to the media and Sox fans.
I was impressed. While our communication was limited, he smiled easily and his eyes lit up from time to time.
There were about 12 of us at dinner Monday night in a private room at Maestro’s, eating steak, seafood and watching the World Series game on television. Jose followed the game, talking to Alejandro De Aza (he’s still in Chicago awaiting the birth of a child) about swings and plays and letting out a “Wow” as a home run soared over the center field fence.
Yesterday, Jose signed his contract and then walked down to the Conference & Learning Center at U.S. Cellular Field for his press conference. Just outside the door, he took a moment to gather himself before stepping inside to begin a very different life in a very different world.
Known by his childhood nickname of “Pito” (whistle), Jose said he started to play baseball at the age of eight or so with the help of his dad. When he was named to the Cuban National Team, he asked his mother, Daisy, about what number to wear. She suggested “79” because it was unusual, would stand out and people would remember whoever wore it. So Jose will become the first Sox player to wear uniform No. 79 in a regular season game.
Following yesterday’s press conference, we walked Jose out onto the field. Our scoreboard crew ran a cool video showing the great tradition of Cubans and the White Sox (Minnie, Jose Contreras, El Duque, Alexei, Dayan and others) and the ribbon boards around the entire ballpark read “Welcome, Jose Abreu.”
Jose took a walk down the third base line in a brand-new ballpark (for him). He wiped away a tear, I imagine thinking about his familia.
“If my mother could see this …” he told a friend.
My guess is it is a moment Jose and his mom (even though she was only there in spirit) will never forget, which was what Daisy Abreu intended when she chose 79 for her son.
“He cares about this,” offered an observer. “He really cares.”
Better Be Right
One funny moment on Monday night came when Alejandro De Aza remembered an important mission. His pregnant wife, due soon, had asked him to bring her home some chocolate cake.
When the dessert menus arrived at the table, Alejandro had three choices of chocolate cake, as well as the restaurant’s signature butter cake.
Flummoxed, he reached for his cell phone to check with the boss.
“Better not screw this one up,” a fellow dinner joked.
Alejandro smiled. Big.
Baseball America has released its 2013 draft report cards with multiple White Sox draftees receiving top honors in various categories.
Right-hander Tyler Danish, who was selected in the second round by the Sox, was tabbed by the publication as the No. 2 Player Closest to the Majors among high school draftees in 2013. Danish posted a 1.20 ERA (4 ER/30.0 IP) with 28 strikeouts over 15 games (one start) between Advanced Rookie Bristol and Class A Kannapolis.
The Sox first-round pick (17th overall), Tim Anderson was ranked to have the Third-Best Pro Debut among junior college players, while shortstop Toby Thomas was ranked fifth. Anderson batted .277 (74-267) with 10 doubles, five triples, a home run, 21 RBI and 24 stolen bases over 68 games with Kannapolis. Thomas hit .319 (67-210) with 10 doubles, four triples, four home runs and 30 RBI over 51 games with Bristol.
Outfielder Adam Engel, who was drafted in the 19th round, was named the Fourth-Fastest Runner and Fourth-Best Athlete in the draft. Engel led the Pioneer League with 31 stolen bases, including stealing a season-high three bases on three separate occasions.
Third-round pick, Jacob May was rated by Baseball America to have the Fourth-Most Intriguing Background in the 2013 draft. May’s father, Lee Jr., is currently serving as the Mariners hitting coordinator, his grandfather, Lee Sr., was a three-time all-star outfielder and his uncle, Carlos, was a two-time all-star and a former first-round pick of the White Sox in 1966.
Below is Baseball America’s 2013 White Sox draft report card:
Best Pure Hitter: Tim Anderson
Best Power Hitter: Trey Michalczewski
Fastest Runner: Adam Engel/Jacob May
Best Defensive Player: Adam Engel
Best Fastball: Brad Goldberg/Thaddius Lowry/ Tyler Danish
Best Secondary Pitch: Tyler Danish
Best Pro Debut: Tim Anderson/Toby Thomas/Adam Engel/Brad Goldberg/Tyler Danish
Best Athlete: Tim Anderson
Most Intriguing Background: Jacob May/James Dykstra/Cody Yount
Closest to the Majors: Tyler Danish/Brad Goldberg
Best Late-Round Pick: Matt Ball
Friday, October 17, 2013
There’s never an end to baseball action, even when you aren’t playing in the postseason in October.
Hawk Harrelson raved about the Avisail Garcia trade on a teleconference call with White Sox season ticket holders yesterday, saying it had a chance to be the “best trade the White Sox have ever made.”
Only time will tell, but you can read more about the call here: http://www.csnchicago.com/white-sox/hawk-raves-about-best-trade-white-sox-history
Adolfo Turns Heads
In White Sox farm system news, Micker Adolfo is already making a splash. The 17-year-old, who signed a $1.6 million bonus in July, has been working in the instructional league in Arizona.
The Chicago Tribune reports more on his progress here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/whitesox/ct-spt-1013-afl-white-sox-chicago-20131013,0,4924051.story
The offseason is only a couple days old, but we received some good news already with word that Ken “Hawk” Harrelson has advanced as one of 10 finalists for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2014 Ford C. Frick Award.
The Frick Award is presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and Hawk has the chance to become the fifth White Sox broadcaster to win the award, joining previous honorees Bob Elson (1979), Jack Brickhouse (1983), Harry Caray (1989) and Milo Hamilton (1992).
Hawk just completed his 21st consecutive season in the Sox television booth and 29th overall, and his catchphrases have become common terminology among baseball fans not only in Chicago, but throughout the country.
Check out a remix of some of his most famous phrases: http://wapc.mlb.com/cws/play/?content_id=30679589&query=hawk
The other nine worthy finalists are: Joe Castiglione, Jacques Doucet, Bill King, Duane Kuiper, Eric Nadel, Eduardo Ortega, Mike Shannon, Dewayne Staats and Pete van Wieren.
The winner of the 2014 Frick Award will be announced on December 11 at the Baseball Winter Meetings and will be honored during the July 26 Awards Presentation as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 in Cooperstown. To read more about the final 10 candidates, visit www.baseballhall.org.