TCS Morning 5: The games have started

1. The White Sox played something resembling a baseball game against another professional team Thursday for the first time in 2016, and got righteously tuned up by the Dodgers 6-1, in a game that would have seemed especially lifeless if it wasn't, you know, the first Spring Training game of the year.

John Danks, who gets knocked around constantly in the regular season and still just manages to keep being his solidly below-average self, got knocked around, then said that basically everything was fine afterward. This is a good reminder that Jake Peavy freely admits he just grooves fastball for the first part of Spring, and that being crisp in early March is so important that Chris Sale won't bother making a start for another week and a half.

A wave of meaningless results are coming and since the Sox are hiding their best starters a lot, most of it will be bad. Jerry Sands, however, is apparently the 2016 AL MVP.

2. Don Cooper had a rather transcendent appearance on Buster Olney's podcast, where his efforts to refrain from profanity fell apart pretty quickly into his first Billy Martin story. Cooper beat his chest a bit about the Sox ability to avoid Tommy John injuries, reiterating "injuries are not acts of God, injuries are not bad luck," and that elbow problems are the result of bad deliveries, mechanics and arm action. As far as how you maintain good arm action and avoid all that, "you gotta pay for that information."

There's a certain grotesqueness to this. While the reasons Cooper withholds the Sox method is obvious and has given them a large competitive advantage, the idea that kids are blowing their elbows out and ruining their careers while small pockets of the industry cling to information that could prevent is unsettling at a larger level.

While touting the Sox record for avoiding injuries, Cooper pointed out that the notion that Tommy John injuries are accelerating needs to account some for them being more easily diagnosed, and that old school types who point to the heavier innings loads of earlier eras ignore all the guys who disappeared after their first injury.

The delight of the show might just hearing how Cooper talks about dealing with Sale, who is alternately depicted as a rageaholic and a giddy, wide-eyed kid at different points, and Quintana, who is apparently the ideal teacher's pet.

3. Something to possibly keep an eye on is the progression of Adam Eaton's shoulder. He is being held out of playing center field is still working through his shoulder strength program after getting nerve reconstruction surgery at the very beginning of October.

There wasn't a timeline set on his recovery plan when the surgery was first reported, but Eaton did expect to be "casting fishing lines in three weeks."  Now he's still doing throwing circuits to build back strength five months later. He sounds like he's pushing himself in workouts and has another month still to be cleared to play center, but he could also reduce his throwing load by being pushed to a corner by Austin Jackson.

Eaton's shoulder strengthening program probably seems a lot more innocuous if not for Jeff Keppinger.

4. In talking about the offseason's accomplishment and roster remolding efforts, Rick Hahn gave a pretty telling quote about the budget ceiling the Sox ran up against.

‘I probably irritated [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] at multiple times this offseason in terms of pushing and trying to keep the focus on potentially stretching for things that were beyond our means,’ Hahn said. ‘He’s as competitive as anybody, so when we had the opportunity to improve ourselves with Latos or recently with Rollins, we were able to make that stretch.

’I’m guessing somewhere on a few occasions this offseason, he was probably a little tired of hearing from me about stretches beyond our means,’ Hahn said.
— Scott Merkin

A time-tested solution for luring free agents who have a preference to stay home--which they usually do since they have personal lives and families to relocate--is to place the highest bid, maybe even by a significant margin. Since free agency is usually a last desperate resort for talent acquisition, anyone expecting to get a bargain on top-flight talent is foolish. Hahn, who refers here to extending one-year deals to Latos and Rollins for a combined $5 million as "stretching," clearly didn't have that flexibility extended to him, which given how clear he's been about the need to capitalize on the primes of Sale, Abreu, Quintana and Eaton, is really a shame.

5. The White Sox signed right-handed reliever Kameron Loe to a minor league deal. If you really love home runs, and not just like it when your team is hitting the home runs, you have to cheer this signing. Loe, a six-foot, eight-inch sinkerballer, gave up 11 bombs in 26.2 innings during his last major league action in 2013. He will be bullpen depth in Charlotte.