CHICAGO -- There’s no question the White Sox have made decided strides from their 100-loss campaign in 2018. At the very least, the final record in 2019 will support that growth.
But that development isn’t quite what manager Rick Renteria envisioned for his team before this season began.
“We were shooting, truthfully, to try to be .500 and/or better,” Renteria said before Tuesday's series opener against the Royals. “I'd be lying if I said to you that I came in here thinking I want to have a losing season. That was not in the equation, but a lot of things happened along the way and you have to make adjustments.”
Featuring a surprising 42-44 mark at the All-Star break, the White Sox had an outside shot at reaching the goal of .500. But a 4-16 second-half start, not to mention dealing with injuries to shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jiménez and third baseman Yoán Moncada, changed that direction.
“In spite of the numbers, we're showing improvement in many aspects. A lot of players have shown growth, which is huge for us,” Renteria said. “I'm sure the organization as a whole, we're more ready now moving forward to try to put ourselves in a position to be able to compete as we move forward in the next coming seasons. That's the goal.
“None of us want to be in the same situation that we're in right now. Every one of those guys that's in that room right now is learning and gaining experience, and trying to do the best they can, but we also know we have to continue to build and add to give us an opportunity to try to win. We want it to start coming a little bit quicker for us and that's what we're building.”
Vaughn sees Chicago
Andrew Vaughn, ranked as the White Sox No. 3 prospect and No. 21 overall by MLB Pipeline, moved right into his professional career after the No. 3 pick overall in the 2019 MLB Draft agreed to a $7,221,200 signing bonus. So, Tuesday marked his first day to really explore Chicago.
“I haven’t got to see the city and the stadium, so this has been unbelievable getting able to experience this and truly be in the Windy City,” said Vaughn, as he met with the media in the White Sox dugout. “I went to the clubhouse and met almost every guy who was in there for a little bit. It was really nice to get to talk to them.”
Vaughn, 21, hit .278 with six home runs, 17 doubles, 36 RBIs, 30 walks and 38 strikeouts over stops with the Arizona Rookie League White Sox, Class A Kannapolis and Class A Advanced Winston-Salem this season. He tired out a bit at the end after playing a full college season previously, but he still had a good indoctrination into pro baseball.
“It’s every day and different than being in college, playing on the weekends,” Vaughn said. “Getting to experience that in Kannapolis and Winston-Salem was truly awesome, and I didn’t have to go to school after that, so it was kind of a nice feeling.”
Getz gives high marks
Director of player development Chris Getz liked what he saw from the organization’s Minor League system in the third year of the rebuild.
“If you break it down just organizational wide throughout the Minor Leagues, I felt pretty good about it,” Getz said. “We had plenty of really, really good stories in Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Jonathan Stiever, guys that really took steps forward, kind of separated themselves. All things considered, as a PD head, I feel pretty good about that.”
Right-hander Lucas Giolito and catcher Zack Collins visited patients and their families at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital on Tuesday morning as part of the organization’s support of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Players visited with children in the oncology/hematology unit, delivering White Sox-themed Starlight Brave hospital gowns and Love Your Melon beanie hats. Team representatives also presented physician-in-chief Dr. John M. Cunningham, with a $30,000 check to support the hospital’s pediatric cancer efforts.
It also was a special evening for Shane Callaghan, the soon-to-be 15-year-old ardent White Sox fan who has been battling cancer. Callaghan was at the ballpark on Sept. 15, 2016, already having been diagnosed with bone cancer, when he met Jose Abreu and asked him to hit a home run. The first baseman obliged in a 2-1 victory over the Indians.
Since the last time he visited, Callaghan was diagnosed two more times with cancer and lost his leg the second time, according to his father.
“In August he was diagnosed again. It’s in his lungs,” Casey Callaghan said. “This was on his bucket list. The White Sox went over the top, gave us a suite and a baseball bat, and players signed for him on the field. The whole family is here, and he’s in heaven.”
Callaghan was at first base in a wheelchair when the kids took the field pregame at each position. Abreu warmly greeted Shane and his father and signed their baseball.
Sporting an uncomfortable looking sling to support his right arm, Renteria returned to action Tuesday after having rotator cuff surgery on Friday. Renteria planned to travel on the team’s upcoming road trip to Seattle, Minneapolis and Detroit, but added he would be getting checked out by doctors again on Tuesday.
“The first couple of days, I was probably a little bit out of it, but nobody likes leaving doing their job anywhere at any time,” Renteria said. “In this case it was just something I had to do. But I missed being here and seeing the guys, and [bench coach] Joe [McEwing] and the staff. All of them do a great job so I wasn't really worried about it.”
Renteria said wear and tear basically caused the injury, but there was one extra throw from Spring Training putting him over the top. He intends to return to throwing batting practice when cleared to do so.
Pitching coach Don Cooper had a minor procedure done on his hand and he was absent Tuesday. With Renteria not making pitching changes at this point, that job went to bullpen coach Curt Hasler.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.