Avila shifts from No. 13 to 31 with White Sox

Club asked veteran catcher if he wanted new number

January 30th, 2016

CHICAGO -- Alex Avila wore the jersey No. 13 during his tenure with the Tigers from 2009-15. But he will be sporting No. 31 for the White Sox, as he featured during the SoxFest media session Friday at the Hilton Chicago.

"Basically, I guess 13 the other way around," Avila said. "I wore 31 when I was in Little League and that was kind of like the number I wore all the way through high school. So, just figured it would be a nice change."

Avila wasn't sure if someone had No. 13 and would have stayed with it if not for the White Sox asking if he wanted to pick a different number. No. 13 was made famous by Ozzie Guillen, who played shortstop on the South Side from 1985-97 and managed the team from 2004-11, winning a World Series title in '05.

"I'm assuming that's the reason why, otherwise I probably would have worn it," Avila said. "[No.] 31 was fine for me."

Hitting coach Todd Steverson previously wore No. 31 and negotiations were ongoing for the switch. Steverson wants a new driver, while Avila said that he'll thank Steverson for it properly by Spring Training.

• Chris Sale leads by example, as evidenced by his single-season franchise record 274 strikeouts last season, not to mention his four straight All-Star appearances. But he's also showing that veteran connection to the younger players, already taking prospect Carson Fulmer under his wing.

"Yeah, we've actually spent quite a bit of time together," said Sale of the right-hander, who was taken eighth overall in the 2015 Draft. "I was up in Lakeland, [Fla.], he came over to the house.

"A couple of weeks ago, he came down and played golf in my hometown. I've been able to spend some time with him and, not really show him the ropes, but get him prepared for what he's about to start."

• Robin Ventura won't be affected by managing in the last year of his contract. It's a point understood by general manager Rick Hahn and the players as well.

Those same players don't blame Ventura for the team's struggles over the past three years or at the close of a promising 2012 campaign.

"Robin has a huge influence on how we play, but at the end of the day, it's up to us," White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton said. "The last two years that I've been here, it's our fault.

"I've said that a million times and I'll continue to say it. When we put our big-boy pants on and come ready to play and get the job done, you guys are all going to see what a great manager Robin is."