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Bonding time: Keuchel treats club to dinner

@scottmerkin
March 3, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Dallas Keuchel organized a recent dinner at a Glendale steakhouse for somewhere around 125 players, coaches and assorted members of the White Sox organization, the veteran left-hander’s goal certainly was not to get publicity for the team-bonding act of generosity.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Dallas Keuchel organized a recent dinner at a Glendale steakhouse for somewhere around 125 players, coaches and assorted members of the White Sox organization, the veteran left-hander’s goal certainly was not to get publicity for the team-bonding act of generosity.

“It kind of shocked me a little bit,” said a smiling Keuchel, prior to Tuesday’s Cactus League contest against the A’s at Camelback Ranch, of the original story from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale detailing the dinner costing the southpaw approximately $25,000.

“I just think it was a good opportunity to get to know some of the guys away from the field,” Keuchel continued. “You go on throughout your day, sometimes it's hard to put a face to a name or a name to a face. And it was just nice to kind of get everybody out together.”

Keuchel originally thought of doing the dinner just for pitchers and catchers, where his focus primarily falls.

“But then I was like, well, I don't really know a whole lot of people, so let's get to know some of these Minor League guys and just kind of give them a taste of what a big league dinner is all about,” Keuchel said. “I wanted to do it in Scottsdale, but a lot of these guys were over here, so we did something over in this direction.”

White Sox director of team travel Ed Cassin helped with the invite list, and four or five days notice was given. It was a family event, so kids, spouses and significant others also were invited.

Keuchel’s mother, Teresa, provided a potential rallying cry for the 2020 White Sox when telling the group, “Playoffs or die,” during her welcoming toast. White Sox fans already have taken to the reported comment via social media, a comment featuring input from Keuchel himself.

“I love my mom to death, and we have a great relationship. But I get on her a lot from different bets that we make that she hasn't fulfilled. She fulfilled that one,” Keuchel said. “I wanted her to say a little bit more, but it was just more of like, 'Hope everybody's having a good time. Cheers to a great season.’ I had her say that, you know, it's the playoffs or die this year. And she added the choice words at the end I had her say for the sake of humor.

“I'm hoping it doesn't show up on a T-shirt just because it's incognito, but it's something I wanted my mom to do. The fear of public speaking is real for her. So, she did a good job.”

Adding Keuchel via a three-year, $55.5 million deal helps stabilize the White Sox rotation. As seen through this special Spring Training dinner, Keuchel also will be a positive clubhouse presence for this young group.

“We're all going to win together. So might as well invite everybody out,” Keuchel said. “It was a pretty good showing, too. It wasn't mandatory by any means. It was just something I wanted to do and keep under wraps until somebody blew the whistle.”

Third to first

• Right-hander Zach Putnam agreed to a Minor League deal with the White Sox. He will be in Minor League camp. Putnam, 32, played collegiately at the University of Michigan and posted a 2.71 ERA with 149 strikeouts over 139 1/3 innings in his first big league stint with the White Sox from 2014-17. Putnam also picked up six saves before undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2017.

• The White Sox had a little entertainment during their pre-workout meetings, with strains of Baby Shark coming from the clubhouse. Catcher Yermin Mercedes appeared to be on the vocals.

“They had a little fun putting it together,” Renteria said. “It was kind of odd because I’m trying to have these guys do a little Lynyrd Skynyrd. They kind of deviated from that. But it was OK.”

As for how the young players knew about Lynyrd Skynyrd, Renteria smiled and said he bought them a book.

Edwin Encarnación returned to the White Sox lineup after being sidelined by a back issue on February 27. The veteran finished 0-for-2 Tuesday against the A’s.

They said it

“Right now, you can’t feel too comfortable. You have to have confidence in yourself. You have to have confidence in your daily work. I think we are doing that.” -- White Sox starter Reynaldo López, on the 2020 team.

Up next

Right-hander Dylan Cease, who feels the best he has felt pitching-wise in a while, gets the call for the White Sox in their Cactus League game against the Brewers at Maryvale on Wednesday. The game has a 2:05 p.m. CT scheduled first pitch.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.