I want to personally congratulate Kelly Thesier, the onetime MLB.com Twins beat writer and the White Sox associate reporter during the 2005 World Series championship season, who is getting married this weekend. And now back to baseball.
CHICAGO -- There have been no ironclad American League Central title predictions coming from members of the 2015 White Sox, much like Anthony Rizzo did for the Cubs a few weeks back with the NL Central crown.
While the White Sox haven't been as publicly confident as Rizzo -- an admirable quality for any player who believes in his team -- they feel exhilarated by the eight offseason moves made by general manager Rick Hahn. Confident enough that a case could be made for the White Sox jumping from 63 wins in 2013 to 73 wins in '14 to the playoffs this season.
CHICAGO -- Gordon Beckham has returned to the White Sox ... after a very brief absence.
The White Sox announced on Wednesday that they have agreed to terms on a one-year, $2 million contract with the sure-handed, right-handed-hitting infielder, with outfielder Dayan Viciedo designated for assignment. The 40-man roster remains at 40.
After an offseason filled with transactions and intrigue, Spring Training is fast approaching. That means it's time for the unveiling of the latest MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.
The annual preseason ranking of the Top 100 prospects in baseball will be revealed tonight, with the Top 50 being unveiled during a one-hour special on MLB Network and MLB.com beginning at 9 p.m. ET, and the entire list on MLB.com. The show, hosted by Greg Amsinger, will feature analysis from MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, as well as MLB Network analyst Bill Ripken.
CHICAGO -- There's a chance Dayan Viciedo will still turn out to be a consistently productive player at the Major League level.
That chance just won't happen with the White Sox, who designated the outfielder for assignment on Wednesday to make room for Gordon Beckham on the 40-man roster. Beckham and the White Sox agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal.
MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.
The top two players from the 2014 list of top shortstop prospects graduated: Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox and the Cubs' Javier Baez. So did the last two on that top 10: Luis Sardinas, then of the Rangers, and Chris Owings of the D-backs.
Last season, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu became the first player since Ichiro Suzuki to win a Rookie of the Year Award as a 27-year-old. Today, Abreu became ... a 28-year-old.
In his first MLB season, Abreu slugged 36 home runs and drove in 107 RBIs while maintaining a .317 average. He belted 10 homers in his first month in the bigs and hit safely in 39-of-40 games during a stretch through June and July.
CHICAGO -- Tadahito Iguchi was invited to the July 17-19 weekend honoring the 10-year-anniversary of the 2005 White Sox World Series championship, when the weather would be much warmer in Chicago and the promising 2015 squad would be in action against the Royals.
There was just one problem. Iguchi joins A.J. Pierzynski, Mark Buehrle, Juan Uribe, Brandon McCarthy and Brian Anderson (Minor League deal with the White Sox) as the only currently active players from that historic team. So the first baseman for the Chiba Lotte Marines brought his whole family from Japan to Chicago this past weekend to take part in SoxFest's first pitch for the anniversary celebration.
CHICAGO -- For the immediate future, Adam Eaton is more than satisfied to serve as the catalyst at the top of the White Sox batting order and anchor center field for what looks to be an up-and-coming team in 2015.
But on Tuesday in Phoenix, the charismatic Eaton got thrown into the fire in a new profession as part of Super Bowl Media Day at US Airways Center. Eaton, an outstanding interview in his everyday baseball venue, and his wife, Katie, served as correspondents for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
CHICAGO -- Conor Gillaspie has spent the past two seasons as the White Sox primary third baseman, but that appears likely to change in 2015.
The last of Chicago's major deals this offseason was inking super utility man Emilio Bonifacio, who -- along with playing all over the diamond -- could form a platoon with Gillaspie at the hot corner.
MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at the Top 10 prospects at each position.
Graduations to the Major Leagues have taken a heavy toll on this list in the past year. Six of the second basemen on last year's preseason Top 10, including the top four, have lost their rookie eligibility, creating room for several newcomers.
CHICAGO -- Evaluating Avisail Garcia's bright future simply by judging his past results must be done so with a couple of caveats in mind.
Remember that the talented right fielder had only 51 career regular-season plate appearances before playing his first postseason game with Detroit in 2012. Remember that he missed important development time from April 9 to Aug. 16 last season due to a torn labrum and avulsion fracture in his left shoulder, suffered when diving for a fly ball in Colorado. Remember that Garcia also will be a mere 23 years old when the White Sox open the 2015 season in Kansas City.
CHICAGO -- The past two SoxFests weren't exactly filled with the sort of venomous anger once witnessed in Chicago City Council meetings. Yet there were more than a few fans who had questions for general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura that began with, "I've got a lot of problems with you people."
Not SoxFest '15, which concluded Sunday afternoon at the Hilton Chicago. It was almost exclusively messages of thanks and visions of grandeur toward the team's second playoff appearance since they won the World Series 10 years ago.
CHICAGO -- In honor of SoxFest and the start of the 10-year anniversary celebration for the 2005 World Series champions, here's a brief primer on that very special White Sox team.
The White Sox sat atop the American League Central for every day of that season, tying a franchise record with 99 victories. After surviving a late-season scare from the Cleveland Indians, they won five straight to close out the regular season. That finish was followed by an 11-1 run of postseason dominance that included four straight complete games from Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Freddy Garcia and Jose Contreras to win the AL Championship Series.
Jeff Samardzija is a pretty good baseball player. He's also a pretty decent football player. But do you know what his best sport is? Pop-a-shot.
CHICAGO -- The name of Mr. Cub appropriately was attached to Ernie Banks during the 19 years he played on the North Side of Chicago, and pretty much for eternity after he retired in 1971.
But White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf believes that description for the Hall of Famer, who passed away at the age of 83 on Friday, should be expanded to a broader baseball spectrum.
CHICAGO -- With all due respect to Geovany Soto, who has proven to be a more than capable everyday player behind the plate when healthy, Tyler Flowers doesn't plan on giving up his starting job as the White Sox catcher.
Flowers made that statement, supported by pure confidence and an eagerness to be pushed by the competition beginning when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 17, during this weekend's SoxFest festivities.
CHICAGO -- The White Sox announced a significant addition to their organization Saturday morning at SoxFest without making any sort of change to their 40-man or active roster.
Vince Coleman will join the team as a baserunning coach, advisor and consultant, working this season at the big league and the Minor League level, per general manager Rick Hahn. Coleman, who had 752 career stolen bases in 929 attempts, begins his new job in Spring Training.
CHICAGO -- When Jeff Samardzija was traded by the Cubs to the A's on July 5 of last season, he had to say goodbye to the team that originally drafted him and the team with which he spent parts of seven successful seasons.
Ties had to be cut. Samardzija had a new West Coast office, and a new fanbase and team for whom he had to perform.
CHICAGO -- One by one, Jerry Reinsdorf, Ken Williams, Geoff Blum, Bobby Jenks and Joe Crede recounted their favorite moment from the 2005 White Sox World Series championship during an entertaining seminar celebrating the 10-year anniversary of this title at SoxFest on Friday night.
Reinsdorf, the White Sox chairman, pointed to Scott Podsednik's walkoff homer in Game 2 of the World Series sweep of Houston, humorously adding that he had just finished cussing at Podsednik in his suite during the top of the frame when the left fielder didn't throw out Chris Burke at the plate as the game-tying run with two outs. Crede also went with Podsednik's blast, marking his second shot of the postseason, after not hitting one in the regular season.
CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodon is a pitcher, a very talented pitcher, at that.
He's not a politician, campaigning for a spot on the White Sox Opening Day roster. And he's certainly not a prima donna athlete, despite his pedigree as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft and his standing as the White Sox No. 1 prospect per MLB.com.
CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn readily admits that the October 2014 version of himself might not believe it if you told him how the club's offseason would go.
"If I'm being honest with where my head was at three months ago when this process started, I think we're mildly surprised it wound up the way it did," Hahn said Friday at SoxFest at the Hilton Chicago.
Just how good can the White Sox be this season?
They lost 99 games two years ago and 89 games last season. Can they bounce back from such a depth to make the playoffs?
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
CHICAGO -- It didn't have quite the impact of Michael Jordan's press release from 1995. But Jesse Crain used Jordan's same two words in conjunction with his Bulls comeback to confirm his return to the White Sox through social media Thursday afternoon.
"I'm back," Crain tweeted at the White Sox account.
CHICAGO -- The White Sox expect approximately 16,750 autographs to be signed and 3,425 photos to be taken by and with their players during weekend SoxFest activities starting Friday afternoon at the Hilton Chicago. But the sold-out festivities will feature more than these usual staples.
Earlier Wednesday, the full SoxFest schedule was released with the opening ceremony running from 4-4:45 p.m. CT. Friday. Friday seminars begin at 5 p.m. with the 2015 White Sox, a town hall meeting of sorts with general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura.
CHICAGO -- The focus of SoxFest this weekend will quickly jump from Carlos Rodon's potential role on the 2015 squad to Jose Abreu's follow-up to his 2014 American League Rookie of the Year campaign to the seven new additions made by general manager Rick Hahn among the many White Sox-driven topics.
But before the attention falls upon baseball, autographs and photographs, White Sox manager Robin Ventura, right fielder Avisail Garcia and left-handed reliever Dan Jennings made a trip Thursday morning that figures to be their most important moment of the next four days. The trio visited with young patients and their families at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, delivering White Sox gifts to get fans at Comer ready for the 2015 season.
Thank you for attending SoxFest 2015 -- it's going to be an amazing weekend for every White Sox fan!
To get you ready for all the fun and excitement as we kick off the 2015 White Sox Baseball season at the Hilton Chicago, check out the event schedule below -- as well as a list of 15 things to see and do at SoxFest. You won't want to miss a thing.
TOP 15 THINGS TO DO AND SEE AT SOXFEST 2015
1) GET SOCIAL: Play games all weekend long -- even against current and former White Sox stars -- at the #SoxSocial Lounge, located in Salon A. You don¹t have to know a tweet from a pin -- just be prepared for a fully interactive area where surprises await.
2) SEE WHAT'S NEW: Salon A is also where you'll find the new White Sox Museum & Video Lounge (featuring the 2005 World Series trophy), as well as an entertainment stage, a green-screen photo booth, a 100-square-foot 2005 World Series logo (great location for selfies!) and more.
3) ASK AWAY: Have a burning question about the magical 2005 World Series run or the 2015 season? Here's your chance to get answers by attending a variety of always-entertaining, often-hilarious seminars in the Continental Ballroom.
4) SNAG 'GRAPHS: Be prepared for lots of autographs: Attendees scored an average of 10 autographs at last year's SoxFest. There will be six autograph stages this year, located in Salons A, B, C and D.
5) SEE THE "X" MEN: See, because X = 10. Anyway, did we mention it's the 10-year anniversary of the unforgettable 2005 World Series Championship? Re-live the magic with key members of the team, including Geoff Blum, Jose Contreras, Joe Crede, Jon Garland, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Tadahito Iguchi, Bobby Jenks, Scott Podsednik and Aaron Rowand.
6) SAY CHEESE: Get your photo on as you're decked out in your best Sox gear at the two photo stages, located in Salons B and D.
7) GET READY: Psyched for 2015? Share that excitement with all of the current team members scheduled to appear, including Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, Jose Quintana, Alexei Ramirez, David Robertson, Jeff Samardzija, manager Robin Ventura and many others.
8) LET KIDS BE KIDS: Kids love having fun at U.S. Cellular Field -- and the same goes for SoxFest! Salon A features fun interactive games in the #SoxSocial Lounge as well as the Bulls/Sox Academy Little Sluggers Field, while Southpaw's Suite and other kid-friendly locations and activities are located in Salon B.
9) EAT 'N DRINK: With so much going on, who has time to be hungry or thirsty? Visit the Miller Lite Lounge or Food Court in Salon A as well as a beverage concession stand in Salon C. Plus, If you're spending the weekend as a SoxFest hotel guest, make sure to attend the SoxFest Family Party on Saturday night from 5-7 p.m. CT in the Continental Ballroom and featuring live entertainment, complimentary pizza and a cash bar.
10) MEET A LEGEND: Yep, we've got those, too! No fest is complete without historical White Sox players like Bo Jackson, Ron Kittle, Carlos May, Bill Melton, Minnie Minoso and Billy Pierce.
11) HELP OUT: While you're having a good time, help out a great cause, too! The annual Chicago White Sox Charities Garage Sale has loads of items from the 2005 season -- and both Charities and Southpaw's Suite are located in Salon B.
12) GET REWARDED: Looking for the perfect 2015 ticket plan to lock in your seats? The first 250 SoxFest attendees to purchase a plan will receive a Paul Konerko bobblehead -- and one lucky fan will be selected to receive an autographed Abreu jersey! Ticket options for the 2015 season and Spring Training are available in Salon D, along with Chicago Sports Depot, the exhibitor hall and 670 The Score's live broadcasts.
13) BE PATIENT: Don't forget to pack your patience -- and comfortable shoes! -- as the lines may be long, but totally worth it! Plus, this year there will be televisions spread out among the autograph lines so that fans can watch White Sox video highlights while they wait.
14) SEE THE FUTURE: Who is the next White Sox star on the horizon? Catch a glimpse of the future with White Sox prospects Tim Anderson, Courtney Hawkins, Micah Johnson and Carlos Rodon.
15) HAVE FUN: It is a fest, after all -- so just enjoy an amazing White Sox weekend as we count down together to Opening Day!
Visit www.whitesox.com/soxfest for social updates, videos and more all weekend long.
CHICAGO -- Even if White Sox general manager Rick Hahn had made only a few offseason moves to somewhat improve the 2015 squad, this weekend's SoxFest still would hold plenty of interest.
The 10-year-anniversary celebration of the 2005 World Series champions officially begins Friday evening at the Hilton Chicago, including players from that team scheduled to appear in Geoff Blum, Joe Crede, Tadahito Iguchi, Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, Bobby Jenks, Scott Podsednik and Aaron Rowand.
CHICAGO -- The White Sox announced on Wednesday their player-development staff assignments for the 2015 season, with a few changes from '14.
Tim Esmay and Cole Armstrong stand as the new managers in the organization, with Esmay taking over at Class A Winston-Salem and Armstrong at advanced Rookie-level Great Falls.
CHICAGO -- Individual game tickets to 2015 Chicago White Sox home games at U.S. Cellular Field go on sale to the general public on Friday, Feb. 27, at 10 a.m. CT on whitesox.com or by calling 866-SOX-GAME. Tickets will be sold online and by phone only on Feb. 27.
On Feb. 28 and March 1, tickets can be purchased at the Chicago Sports Depot located on 35th Street adjacent to U.S. Cellular Field and at Ticketmaster locations throughout Chicagoland. Tickets can be purchased at the Chicago Sports Depot from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. that Saturday and Sunday.