Category Archives: Baseball

Jimenez Says Contract With White Sox Is Dream Come True

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Chicago White Sox think Eloy Jimenez is going to be a big-time slugger.

They are so sure they gave the young outfielder a record-breaking deal.

The 22-year-old Jimenez is looking forward to the upcoming season after finalizing a $43 million, six-year contract with Chicago, nearly double the amount of the previous high for a player under club control yet to make his major league debut.

“It’s something I was dreaming when I was a kid,” Jimenez said Saturday at Camelback Ranch. “The dream’s come true and I feel really proud and happy for this moment. This is a moment I’m never gonna forget.”

The agreement announced Friday includes team options for 2025 and 2026 that if exercised would raise the total to $75 million over eight years.

Jimenez was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on March 13. If he stays in the minors for the first 20 days of the season, it would push back his free-agent eligibility by one year until after the 2025 season. If either of the contract options is declined, he would be eligible for either salary arbitration or free agency based on whether he has six years of major league service at that point.

Jimenez was a key part of the trade that sent pitcher Jose Quintana to the crosstown Cubs during the 2017 season. Jimenez hit .337 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs at Double-A and Triple-A last season.

“Both of us are looking forward to opening day and Eloy getting started in his White Sox career,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “It’s a very happy day for us in the organization.”

Hahn referenced Mark Buehrle and Chris Sale as previous White Sox players who earned multiyear contracts early in their careers. He said Jimenez’s talent is the biggest reason for his unusual deal, but there were other factors.

“It does extend beyond that,” Hahn said. “Whenever we have attempted to do this, it has always been with a player whose makeup and work ethic we trusted, one that we felt was not going to change with the security that a long-term contract brings, one that ideally is a potential leader in that clubhouse.”

Jimenez was batting .154 with two doubles and a home run in Cactus League play when he was sent down the minors. He later admitted he was pressing in his bid to make the major league roster.

Jimenez, joined in Arizona by his parents and his brother Enoy — an infielder in the White Sox organization — is one of the majors’ best prospects. Hahn stressed that the contract is about the future of the rebuilding White Sox, who went 62-100 last year in their sixth consecutive losing season.

“There’s going to be ups and downs over the course of the next several months,” Hahn said of Jimenez’s upcoming rookie season. “This is about the long term, not about just the next few weeks or how the major league debut goes.”

Jimenez isn’t worrying about it now.

“I’m gonna handle it, because I’m not gonna put pressure on me,” he said. “I’m going to play hard.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Play Ball! Sacramento River Cats Announce First Home Scrimmage

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento River Cats hit the field for the first time on April 1 for an inter-level scrimmage.

The team will take on the San Jose Giants at Raley Field in what’s being called a ‘prospect-packed’ game.

The San Jose Giants team is the Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.

Players expected to take the field are:

  • Joey Bart
  • Heliot Ramos
  • Shaun Anderson
  • Chris Shaw
  • Aramis Garcia
  • Tyler Beede

The first pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. General admission tickets for the special scrimmage start at just $5. Tickets are available now at rivercats.com.

Black Sox Opera Premieres In Minnesota

(AP) — Joel Puckett was in the stands at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on July 4, 1985, for the famous rain-delayed 19-inning game that ended with the New York Mets beating the Braves at 3:53 a.m. followed by postgame fireworks.

“I had a long history of pulling for terrible teams,” he said.

Puckett’s contribution to baseball won’t stretch for nearly as long.

He composed “The Fix” to mark the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Black Sox agreeing to throw the 1919 World Series, a work that premiered Saturday at the Minnesota Opera in St. Paul. The two acts run 2 hours, 15 minutes, including an intermission.

This image released by the Minnesota Opera shows the cast during the world premiere of “The Fix,” at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minn. Joel Puckett composed “The Fix” about the Chicago Black Sox agreeing to throw the 1919 World Series, a work that premieres Saturday at the Minnesota Opera. (Cory Weaver/Minnesota Opera via AP)

With a libretto by Eric Simonson, the opera has a cast that includes tenor Joshua Dennis as Shoeless Joe Jackson, the famous Chicago outfielder, and baritone Kelly Markgraf as Ring Lardner, the renowned writer.

“He’s just he’s just a wholly different character than I’ve ever done,” Dennis said. “Especially as an opera singer who sings a lot of very proper languages, diving into his linguistics and that kind of — I don’t want to say backwards — but that kind of uneducated Appalachian linguistics, it’s been a really interesting study for me.”

The Minnesota Opera has been a leading force for new music, presenting premieres that include “The Grapes of Wrath” (2007) by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie; “Silent Night” (2011) and “The Manchurian Candidate” (2015) by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell; “Doubt” (2013) by Douglas J. Cuomo and John Patrick Shanley; “The Shining” (2016) by Paul Moravec and Campbell (2016); and “Dinner at Eight” by William Bolcom and Campbell (2017).

Dale Johnson, the Minnesota Opera’s artistic director, decided Puckett would pair well with Simonson, who grew up a Milwaukee Brewers fan. They even share the same birthday, June 27, when Puckett turns 42 and Simsonson 59.

Simonson wrote “Lombardi,” which had an eight-month Broadway run in 2010-11, and also “Magic/Bird” in 2012 and “Bronx Bombers” in 2014, which both lasted less than two months.

He was familiar with “Eight Men Out,” both Eliot Asinof’s 1963 book and John Sayles’ 1988 film.

Jackson and the other seven White Sox players who accepted money from gamblers to lose the 1919 World Series against Cincinnati were acquitted at a criminal trial in August 1921 but were banned from the sport for life the following day by Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first baseball commissioner.

Even though Jackson accepted a $5,000 bribe, he hit .375 in the Series with six RBIs in six games.

Jackson had a $6,000 salary from White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, a pay structure that prompts teammate and fellow conspirator Chick Gandil to sing: “Here’s your headline: ‘Skinflint Comiskey gets pennant at rock bottom prices.’”

“I felt like he made a mistake that he regretted,” Simonson said. “And once he made that mistake there was no one there who was going to forgive him or let him correct his mistake, and that’s heartbreaking.”

Operas about sports are rare but not unprecedented. Daniel Sonenberg’s “The Summer King” about Negro Leagues star Josh Gibson, premiered at the Pittsburgh Opera in April 2017 after more than a decade of development.

Puckett spent three years working on his first opera, and he has a distinctly American sound with echoes of Aaron Copland and Charles Ives. He enjoyed composing “sort of nefarious, dark” music for the gambler characters Arnold Rothstein, Bill “Sleepy” Burns and Abe Attell.

“That kind of New York 1920,” he said.

Simonson views this as a great tragedy and wants the audience to come away with the same feeling they might when leaving Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” ”King Lear” or “Macbeth.”

“Our heroes are celebrities that come from anywhere,” he said. “They’re not kings. They might be somebody like Shoeless Joe Jackson. And what I want them to feel is that we’re susceptible to the same human frailties that Joe Jackson is. It’s in a sense a cautionary tale: make the right decision. If somebody comes up to you and wants to ask you to conspire against the public to lose the World Series, don’t do it.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Old Giants Spring Training Home Could Have Been A Baseball Paradise

CASA GRANDE, ARIZONA (KPIX) – The road sign says Candlestick. Never mind that the sign is exactly 806 miles from the site where the baseball stadium used to sit.

I am more taken aback by the immediate surroundings. Dirt fields that stretch for miles, and cactus that remind me that I’m not in San Francisco anymore. Then, just beyond the sign, a hotel. The Francisco Casa Grande, standing alone in the middle of the Arizona desert.

It almost looks like a mistake. Like something you’d see in Old Town Scottsdale 54 miles to the north, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of spring training.

Once upon a time, the sounds of baseball were here. The lonely, quiet desert oasis was home to Horace Stoneham’s dream. The former Giants owner who brought the team from New York to San Francisco, envied Branch Rickey’s Dodgertown in Vero Beach.

Stoneham brought this plot of land and built his version of Dodgertown beginning in 1959. He built one of the longest golf courses in the country. The parking lot was shaped like a catcher’s mitt, the hotel roof formed in the bill of a baseball cap and the swimming pool looked like a baseball bat.

For the business-minded Stoneham, the Francisco Casa Grande would be far more than a spring training site for his major and minor league players. Stoneham envisioned his desert paradise as a destination for stars, fans, and those who just wanted to escape to the peace and tranquility of the desert.

John Wayne always stayed in room 804. He used the hotel as his home-away-from home while shooting westerns. He would hang out at the lobby bar and he’d buy guests drinks and tell the bartender to keep the change.

John Wayne’s suite at the Francisco Casa Grande Hotel.

Among Wayne’s hotel neighbors was Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, the only two Giants allowed to stay in the high rise. The rest of the roster was confined to what pitcher Jim Barr called, ‘the barracks,” small rooms with two bunk beds.

A walk down the hotel hallways takes you back in time. All those Giants greats adorn the walls. Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda and the two Willies.

Outside are the remnants of all the baseball fields that surrounded an observation tower where the Giants brass could watch their talented players.

I stood on the observation tower for several minutes. My favorite Giants played here. They were my heroes. I imagined seeing a young Al Gallagher at third base or Ken Henderson in left field or Tito Fuentes flipping his bat at home plate. I wondered what their conversations were like. It was the glorious days before free agency where you literally grew up with these guys and the only player movement came in the morning paper with a headline, “Giants Trade Willie Mays!”

The observation tower at Casa Grande

The baseball mecca that Stoneham envisioned never really materialized. The freeway that he thought would be built next to his resort was constructed miles away. The Giants left for Scottsdale in 1982.

Today, the Francisco Casa Grande is a golf resort. They tell me former players still come back to take their own trips down memory lane. Baseball fans sit at the bar and tell stories.

To me, the Francisco Casa Grande stands as a monument to Horace Stoneham’s dream.

Simpler times. Baseball. Just baseball.

Chicago Cubs Surprise Pediatric Patients With Spring Training Trip

CHICAGO (CBS)– Seven pediatric patients were surprised with an invitation to Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona.

The Chicago Cubs partnered with Advocate Children’s Hospital and American Airlines to sponsor the all expenses-paid trip. The trip includes personal time with the team, behind-the-scenes experiences and tickets to the Cubs’ first Spring Training game on Feb. 23, according to a press release.

The children, all battling various illnesses, were surprised with a video message from Cubs player Kyle Hendricks on Monday.

Hottovy Brings Analytics Approach To Cubs

Chicago (CBS) — Tommy Hottovy is in his fifth year with the Cubs, but this is his first as their pitching coach. The 37-year-old was previously the team’s run prevention coordinator. He brings a more modern, analytics approach.

Hottovy has been working with pitchers on assessing their spin rates and using data to help them with their mechanics.

“We use a lot of information,” Hottovy said. “Now, what data tells us a lot of times is what we can’t see with the naked eye.”

Cubs pitcher Steve Cishek said last year was “eye-opening” for him.

“I started using a four-seam fastball a lot more,” Cishek said. “I saw how it benefited me, pitching up in the zone.”

It certainly helps that Hottovy played in the majors briefly for the Red Sox and Royals not that long ago.

“I can sit and we can talk about a change we want to make and then I can literally go out and throw with them,” said Hottovy.

Hottovy was in Las Vegas this past December where pitcher Brandon Kintzler lives, so he went over and watched Kintzler throw at his house. Kintzler was blown away. He said he’s never had a coach ever do that before in his eight-year career.