White Sox home page after Dylan stops trading

The White Sox turned another page on Wednesday, trading ace Dylan Cease to the San Diego Padres.

The deal was the topic of discussion Thursday at Camelback Ranch. In exchange, the Sox acquired pitchers Drew Thorpe, Jairo Iriarte, and Steven Wilson, and outfielder Samuel Zavala. Thorpe (No. 5), Zavala (No. 7) and Iriarte (No. 8) are ranked among the Padres' top 10 outfielders by MLB.com.

Meanwhile, the Cubs have not made any decisions on how they want to fill the final two rotation spots, one of which will replace right-hander Jameson Taillon, who will likely start the season on the injured list due to lower back tightness. The Rescuers are expected to begin playing in back-to-back games by early next week to prepare for the regular season, which begins March 28 in Arlington, Texas.

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Trade talk has become a reality for Sox players

Sox players were well aware of the possibility of stopping the trade. That became a reality Wednesday when he was dealt to the Padres.

“We're excited, there are new opportunities for him (and) for the players we have back,” pitcher Michael Kopech said. “It's going to be different. I reached out to Dylan in this organization. It's been a long time coming. He and I have become very close. I've had a lot of good conversations about the game and about life.

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“And I would wish him nothing but the best. As far as work goes, I'm sure he'll take advantage of his talents and do what he needs to do in San Diego and have a great career for himself.”

Andrew Vaughn played behind Cease the past three years at first base and in the outfield.

“There's been speculation about this almost all year,” Vaughn said. “He's a great guy, and I definitely wish him the best of luck in San Diego. Elite stuff. It's going to be tough to see him go, but we've got to get over the hump and keep pushing.”

White Sox vs. Marlins

Joon J. Kim/Chicago Tribune

White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn awaits a home run by Dylan Cease on June 9, 2023, at Guaranteed Rate Field. (Jun J. Kim/Chicago Tribune)

Catcher Korey Lee said Cease's influence will remain even after the trade because of his influence on other members of the staff.

“We lost someone, but we still have a lot of knowledge,” he told me.

Vaughn didn't get a chance to delve deeper into the extras, but he played summer baseball in college with Wilson.

“Great guy, I'm looking forward to having him on our team,” Vaughn said. “I look forward to seeing what these young men bring.”

The Cubs are trying to balance how to clarify roles

As manager Craig Counsell continues to learn his team and the players who are expected to help the Cubs over the next six months, communication is an important part of the process.

One element of relationship building is defining roles to give players clarity and how this might develop.

“I don't think there's a hard and fast way to do this,” the advisor said. “As people, we like to know exactly what we are going to do, but at the same time, it is not always best for the group to define it that way. Sometimes it is a little more difficult and we need a big effort from our players, right? And we desperately need a staff.” Our training is where it's not quite as specific because the game doesn't always present itself in that clearly defined way.

Cubs right-hander Hector Neres in spring training on February 20, 2024, in Mesa, Arizona (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)
Cubs right-hander Hector Neres in spring training on February 20, 2024, in Mesa, Arizona (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

The Cubs bullpen is expected to feature a lot of veterans, led by newcomer Hector Neres. Early in camp, Neris pointed out the importance of relievers being flexible in their roles and noted that if pitchers don't take care of their jobs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, the chance to save in the ninth inning won't exist. Neres saw during his two seasons in Houston how that team mentality paid off on the bullpen, winning a World Series title in the process.

It's a philosophy that reflects Counsell's big-picture approach.

“That's why, that's where we start, with all the pitchers, is our job is to get out,” Counsell said. “And if we start from there, but we definitely work on being more specific, I think that's the best place we can be.

“It makes the players more open that this is our mission. Our mission is to get 27 points as a group. How we get them, I don't think it matters as much as getting 27 points as a group.

Number of the week: 8

He struck out shutouts in 3 1/3 innings in his final appearance in a Sox uniform Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. He has 14 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings this spring.

Next weekend: Cubs

  • Friday: at White Sox, 3:05 p.m
  • Saturday: vs. Royals, 3:05 p.m., marquee; On the Angels at 3:10 p.m
  • Sunday: vs. Rangers, 3:05 p.m., Marche
Cubs left fielder Ian Happ at media day at spring training on February 20, 2024, in Mesa, Arizona (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)
Cubs left fielder Ian Happ at media day at spring training on February 20, 2024, in Mesa, Arizona (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

Ian Happ (left hamstring) remains on track to be ready for Opening Day despite not playing in Cactus League action. Happ continues to take batting practice on the field and has had a live BP in minor league backfields. Council said on Thursday that Happ is in good condition and “definitely” will participate in the games next week.

“We look good,” the advisor said. “He's running, so we don't really have to worry. I mean obviously we can't have setbacks but we don't have any concerns at the moment about the timeline.

Nick Madrigal's early-season status is a bit less certain. Madrigal (right hamstring) was also taking BP but is behind Happ's schedule. The advisor admitted that there was a chance that Madrigal could start on the injured list.

“The other thing we'll have to decide at some point is that the IL assignment means he'll miss (five) regular-season games because of the back history, so it's not something that's going to have a big impact,” Counsell said.

Watch the live stream: Cubs vs. White Sox at Sloan Park

Next weekend: White Sox

  • Friday: vs. Cubs, 3:05 p.m., NBCSCH
  • Saturday: vs. Giants, 3:05 p.m., NBCSCH; At Mariners at 3:10 p.m
  • Sunday: Athletics at 3:50 pm
White Sox pitcher Michael Kopesh delivers the ball against the Cubs during a Cactus League game on March 1, 2024, in Mesa, Arizona (Matt York/AP)
White Sox pitcher Michael Kopesh delivers the ball against the Cubs during a Cactus League game on March 1, 2024, in Mesa, Arizona (Matt York/AP)

Kopech has made 52 appearances over the past two seasons. The Sox announced Thursday that the right-hander will move to the bullpen. He has a relief outing scheduled for Sunday against the San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch.

“It's just a nice opportunity,” pitching coach Ethan Katz said of the move. “You don't know what it's going to be like in our bullpen and we don't necessarily have a closer. That doesn't mean it can be him. It can't be him, we don't know, but obviously having that aggressive approach and that mentality can be something Really good.

Kopech made 40 relief appearances and four starts in 2021 as he returned after missing 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery and 2020 when he opted for the pandemic-shortened season for personal reasons.

What we are reading this morning

Quotable

“It's a really good group. We're back and we lost a really good player. We're excited about the group that's back.” — Sox manager Pedro Grifol talks about Dylan Cease trade

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