ST. PETERSBURG -- When Luis Avilan recorded the final out in Thursday's victory over the Royals, the White Sox southpaw immediately asked for the baseball from first baseman Jose Abreu. Avilan had picked up his first MLB save in career appearance No. 378.On Saturday, it was Thyago Vieira with the
ST. PETERSBURG -- When Luis Avilan recorded the final out in Thursday's victory over the Royals, the White Sox southpaw immediately asked for the baseball from first baseman Jose Abreu. Avilan had picked up his first MLB save in career appearance No. 378.
On Saturday, it was Thyago Vieira with the demonstrative postgame celebration after recording his first career save by shutting down the Rays in the ninth. Eight different pitchers have saved games this season for the White Sox, and with closer Joakim Soria moved to the Brewers before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, that role will remain fluid for the South Siders.
"When it's about helping the team, it doesn't matter who is going to have the ball in their hand," said Vieira through interpreter Billy Russo. "We all have to be ready for the opportunity because our goal is to help the team to win the game."
"I'm always ready for when the manager is trying to get me in the game," Avilan said. "I've never been on a team besides the closer, where any [other reliever] has a role. It works better like that because you are going to be prepared for every single situation."
Avilan has been in the same bullpen as two of the best closers in the game in Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen. He spoke of how late-inning presences such as those two would have the confident look of being locked in somewhere around the seventh in potential save situations.
It's a challenge Avilan would like to face again.
"I never even had the opportunity to go in a save situation before," Avilan said. "To get that means a lot because when you are a relief pitcher, obviously you want to get that opportunity. I was pretty excited."
Moncada's support system
Yoan Moncada lives approximately eight minutes from Tropicana Field in the offseason. So he was expecting a big support system in the crowd for Sunday's series finale.
"It's like an army coming. It means a lot for me," said a smiling Moncada through Russo. "It's going to be the first time I'm going to be able to play in front of them."
That group includes David and Jo Hastings, Moncada's close friends and advisors from St. Petersburg. They have been with the White Sox second baseman since he came to the U.S as part of the Red Sox organization.
"They are my family here," said Moncada, whose mother, father, sisters and brother remain in Cuba. "They are the ones who have been taking care of me in my time here in the U.S. and they are the ones who are teaching me about things here.
"Even though it's not a blood family connection, they are my family. It's motivation. I wouldn't say it's pressure. You are trying to do your best in front of them to be able to give them some joy, too."
Cease leaves lasting impression
Dylan Cease's season-long dominance continued Saturday night, as the right-hander threw six scoreless innings for Double-A Birmingham against Mobile. The White Sox No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline allowed one hit with nine strikeouts, having posted a 2-0 record with a 1.00 ERA and 51 strikeouts over his last 36 innings.
"His stuff's good, but I think it's a lot of his demeanor," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria, who watched Cease during Spring Training. "He has a quiet confidence about him, you can see it when he gets on the mound.
"He knows what he wants to do. As young as he is, he has a good feel for how he will attack, what he has and how he will use it. Very polished emotionally, and a very thoughtful individual."
Third to first
• Renteria did a spot-on, albeit abbreviated, chest-pounding impersonation of Vieira's postgame celebration Saturday during his interview session Sunday. Vieira joined Atlanta's Luiz Gohara as the only Brazilians in Major League history to record a save.
"I did enjoy it," Vieira said. "It was a very important victory for the team and an important moment for me. That was the way I could express my happiness."
• Nick Madrigal, the White Sox top pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and fourth pick overall, struck out Saturday for the first time in his professional career in his 73rd plate appearance and 20th game. Madrigal also had two hits and walked once for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem.
• Right-handed pitcher Zack Burdi struck out one and walked one over two-thirds of an inning for the White Sox Arizona Rookie League team Saturday. It marked the first appearance for the 23-year-old potential future closer since July 9 of last season following Tommy John surgery.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.