“Our entire family appreciates the kind expressions of concern, sympathy and compassion from so many of our friends and fans of the White Sox during this most difficult time. Minnie lived a full life of joy and happiness, surrounded always by friends and family. It is during moments like these that love matters most.
“Minnie enjoyed nothing more than to be at the ballpark cheering on his White Sox. For Minnie, every day was a reason to smile, and he would want us all to remember him that way, smiling at a ballgame. As he so often said, ‘God Bless you, my friends.’
“Thank you for respecting our family and our privacy during this trying time.”
No funeral arrangements have been announced. The White Sox are planning to honor Minoso throughout the 2015 season.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf described Minnie Minoso on Sunday as not only one of the best players baseball has seen, but an outstanding human being as well.
Minoso passed away in Chicago overnight of natural causes at the age of 90.
A career .298 hitter with 186 home runs, who finished fourth in the MVP voting on four separate occasions, Minoso has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame. That fate seemed to have bothered others more than it bothered him.
“In the 35 years I’ve known Minnie, he never complained about anything,” Reinsdorf said. “Even in the two times in recent years when we thought he was going to get into the Hall of Fame, and when he didn’t I was tremendously down. Minnie picked me up (emotionally), rather than me having to pick Minnie up. He just accepted everything.”
Reinsdorf said he didn’t get to know Minoso until purchasing the team in 1981, yet found out quickly what type of person and ambassador the seven-time all-star really was.
“The White Sox, really outside of his family, were the most important thing in his life,” Reinsdorf said. “He was incredibly nice to everybody. He’d come around the ballpark, sometimes bringing his dog, and he had something nice to say to everybody. It didn’t matter whether you were important or just a minor employee. Minnie treated everybody exactly the same.”
Former teammates recalled Minoso’s dedication to the game of baseball.
“I remember one year, Minnie hurt his shoulder very seriously,” teammate Billy Pierce said. “He played for a whole month with a bad shoulder where he couldn’t raise his arm above his shoulder and he hit .300 that whole month. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that I knew how he was hurting and he played.
“But it wasn’t just his playing, it was being there and being part of the ballclub and just being a great all-around ballplayer and a good friend. I think everybody on the team liked Minnie and he got along with everybody.”
Minoso, a left fielder, played alongside center fielder Jim Landis for four seasons.
“Playing alongside him was great, really,” Landis said. “We never messed up that way, because Minnie was a good outfielder and we never had trouble that way.”
Minoso’s death comes just over one month after Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks passed away.
“With Ernie Banks passing and now Minnie passing, in many ways, they were very similar people in their love for the game,” Reinsdorf said. “I know we are all going to go at some time, but I had gotten to the point where I really felt Minnie was going to live forever.
“There has never been a better ambassador for the game or for the White Sox. It’s only fitting that when he did pass away, it was coming from a function where he was representing baseball and the White Sox.”
Multiple reports said Minoso was found unresponsive in his vehicle early Sunday morning. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“There’s an old expression used when people die, ‘When they made this guy, they broke the mold,’” Reinsdorf said. “Well, I don’t think there was a mold for Minnie. Minnie was really a unique individual, and there was nothing bad about him.”
“He liked how we did things,” Maddon said after the Cubs were done with workouts on Sunday. “That’s what he always wanted to talk about. He liked our team, how we played, things like that. Very complimentary.”
Minoso even showed up to Maddon’s press conference when he was hired by the Cubs in November and waited for him until after Maddon had finished all his media obligations.
“I became friends with him over the last couple years,” Maddon said. “Always came by to say hello. Always upbeat, always friendly. One of my dad’s favorites.”
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts added the team “was deeply saddened” by the passing of Minoso.
“Having recently lost one of our all-time greats, Ernie Banks, we share the heartache with the White Sox organization and fans everywhere who were blessed to enjoy the talent, heart and passion of Mr. White Sox,” the statement read. “He will be forever known as an electric offensive player and great ambassador for the game of baseball.”
Maddon had been planning on spending time with Minoso in Chicago this summer.
“It’s not going to happen,” he said. “It’s sad.
“A couple of icons are gone.”
The deal came a few days after Toronto outfielder Michael Saunders tore cartilage in his knee when he stepped on a sprinkler while chasing a ball. Saunders had surgery and is expected to be out five to six weeks.
The 25-year-old Viciedo hit 21 home runs for the Chicago White Sox last season while batting .231 with 58 RBIs. The Cuban is known for his power, not his plate discipline or defense -- he struck out 122 times and drew just 32 walks last year.
"He's got some power, a right-handed bat," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "Has played some third (base) in his career, played some first. Certainly played the outfield and we'll just take a look at him for the month of March and see what we have."
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Initially hopeful that Chris Sale could return to pitch on Opening Day, the Chicago White Sox now are being more cautious with their optimism.
Manager Robin Ventura expressed doubts that Sale would be far enough in his recovery from a fracture in his right foot to pitch in the season opener on April 6 at Kansas City.
“He was slated to go for Opening Day and there is a slim chance that he would be able to do that,” Ventura said. “I would expect it not to be that way, but being that it’s his ankle, we can treat that. It’s not as though it’s his elbow, where we would really be cautious.”
Pitching coach Don Cooper said Sunday morning that top prospect Carlos Rodon will get the first crack at Sale’s spot in the rotation when he pitches in Friday’s Cactus League game.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Rodon will be on the Opening Day roster if Sale starts the year on the disabled list. Cooper also brought up the names of Brad Penny, Scott Carroll, Francellis Montas and Chris Beck.
“I think all of the guys that I’ve mentioned have a shot at making the rotation if (Sale) is not ready to go,” Cooper said. “And then we’ll make some adjustments to the schedule. Maybe it’s me, but it feels like we’ve dealt with stuff like this before. That’s OK, it is what it is. It sucks and I wish it didn’t happen, but there are a lot of things people wish didn’t happen. This is one with Chris and we’ll deal with it.”
Jeff Samardzija, who pitched on Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs the past two seasons, said he would be ready to pitch in this season’s opener if asked. Jose Quintana would also be a candidate to replace Sale in the opener.
“I think coming into this situation it was nice because before there had been a lot of talk of, ‘When are you gonna pitch,’ and this and that,” Samardzija said. “Chris is so established it was nice to come in here and just get ready for the season. Nothing changes. Be ready to go. It doesn’t matter what game. As long as you hand me the ball, I’ll be willing to take it and just do my best.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Minnie Minoso figures to one day be elected into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, although the shame of it now is that he will not be alive to see the honor.
The Chicago White Sox legend passed away early Sunday morning at the age of 90.
Minoso batted .304 with 135 home runs and 808 RBIs over his 12 seasons with the White Sox. He played 12 of his 17 major league seasons with the club. He hit 186 home runs over his career with 205 stolen bases.
The latest opportunity to enshrine Minoso in Cooperstown came this past December, but he was not elected by the Golden Era Committee, which also overlooked former White Sox players Dick Allen and Billy Pierce.
Chairman Jerry Reindsorf was immediately at odds over the decision, especially in the case of Minoso and Pierce.
“I’m very disappointed Minnie and Billy didn’t get in because they clearly deserve to get in,” Reinsdorf said during the baseball winter meetings in San Diego. “I don’t know what player out of the era of the 50s and early 60s would be more deserving than Minnie. You look at the stats and the only people that did better than Minnie did in every category are already in the Hall of Fame.”
Minoso was a regular in the White Sox clubhouse over the years, ready to offer advice, especially to Latin-born players, and always armed with a quick wit. Last season, when Alejandro De Aza hit two home runs on Opening Day, Minoso greeted the outfielder the following day by calling him “Babe Ruth.”
Jose Abreu had formed a tight bond with Minoso last season as the two Cuba natives shared stories about life and baseball. Abreu took the news of Minoso’s passing hard Sunday and declined all interview requests.
Backup catcher Adrian Nieto, who also was born in Cuba, said conversations with Minoso were priceless.
“Very nice guy, very humble,” Nieto said. “He’ll go to everybody’s locker and say, ‘Hi,’ one by one. And he’ll ask how your family is doing, which says a lot about the person when they ask you about your family.
“I’ll never forget that he says when he’s up there in the stands, he lives that at-bat with us. If we got a hit he said it was like he got a hit. If we got out, it’s like he got out. Just to listen to him say things like that tells you what kind of person he really was.”
But you didn’t have to be from Cuba to have an appreciation for Minoso.
“He was around the clubhouse all the time when we were home,” John Danks said. “You could tell he followed us and wanted us to win as bad as we wanted to win. He had a heck of a career, he was a heck of a person and we’re just feeling for his family right now.”
Jeff Samardzija is only in his first season with the White Sox, but grew up a fan of the club and had the chance to talk to Minoso on occasion.
“It’s a tough loss, especially for the White Sox family, but moreso for the baseball family,” Samardzija said. “Minnie was one of those guys that came out and played it for the right reasons and loved the game. It’s just a shame.
“Hopefully when something like this happens you’re able to reflect on all the great things and all the great moments that people like (Minnie) gave you, and those memories, and then you enjoy them and apply them to your own life and hopefully you can learn something from them.”
CHICAGO -- Minnie Minoso, who hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat when he became major league baseball's first black player in Chicago in 1951, has died, the Cook County medical examiner said Sunday.
The medical examiner's office did not immediately offer further details. There is some question about his age but the White Sox say he was 90.
"We have lost our dear friend and a great man," White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a release. "Many tears are falling."
Later Sunday, in a conference call, Reinsdorf said that Minoso "was always upbeat."
"I don't think he ever had an unhappy day. At least if he did, he never let anyone know he was unhappy," he said. "He was always upbeat. He always had a smile. He always had something nice to say to somebody. He never hesitated to sign an autograph. He never hesitated to try to answer people's questions. He never complained."
The White Sox also tweeted tributes to Minoso on Sunday morning.
President Barack Obama released a statement on Sunday, saying Minoso "will always be 'Mr. White Sox.'"
Minoso played 12 of his 17 seasons in Chicago, hitting .304 with 135 homers and 808 RBIs for the White Sox. The White Sox retired his No. 9 in 1983 and there is a statue of Minoso at U.S. Cellular Field.
Minoso made his major league debut with Cleveland in 1949 and was dealt to Chicago in a three-team trade two years later. He made his White Sox debut on May 1, 1951, and homered in his first plate appearance against Yankees right-hander Vic Raschi.
It was the start of a beautiful relationship between the Cuban slugger and the White Sox.
General manager Rick Hahn was the first to reveal that Sale suffered an avulsion fracture of his right foot while unloading items out of his truck.
Perhaps fueling the minds of the conspiracy theorists was Sale’s tongue-in-cheek tale about how the injury happened.
“There was a guy who broke into my house and it was pretty dark,” Sale said with a straight face when asked what happened. “I grabbed my throwing star. I missed him, so I hit him with a roundhouse, tied him up, threw him by the curb. That was the end of it.”
Asked about it again, Sale had a hard time breaking character.
“Well, yeah, by looking at the other guy’s head when I kicked him, it didn’t look good,” Sale said. “Initially I was a little worried, but after the x-rays and all that stuff, it worked out.”
Sale never did confirm the true story, only saying it was something he had done “a million times.” Perhaps fueling the impromptu comedy act was that while a fracture was revealed, he was relieved to know it would only take three weeks to heal. Sale compared the injury to a sprained ankle.
The consensus among the coaching staff, the front office and Sale himself is that the left-hander should be ready to go at some point during the first week of the season. That might not necessarily mean Opening Day, but he isn’t expected to be out of action past the first week to 10 days of the season.
“It’s not the best news you get in the morning when he twists his ankle and he’s out three weeks,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It could be worse. We are just going to get him back on track and get him going. But it’s just an unfortunate mishap at home, and you just go on after that.”
The team announced Sunday that their projected Opening Day starter suffered a right foot fracture and will miss three weeks of baseball activity.
The decision suggests that the White Sox remain hopeful that Sale will return by the April 6 season opener at Kansas City.
Jeff Samardzija, Jose Quintana, John Danks and Hector Noesi will remain in their regularly scheduled starting spots, and if Sale isn’t ready to go by the opener, an adjustment can be made later in the spring.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cuba could be a spring training destination once more.
Major League Baseball is considering playing future spring exhibition games on the island nation and baseball hotbed, which used to routinely host American teams in the days before Fidel Castro came to power.
Baseball players' association president Tony Clark said Saturday there have been "ongoing" discussions about playing in Cuba, which recently renewed diplomatic ties with the United States. Clark said there were conversations about Cuba hosting games this spring, but there wasn't enough time to finalize details.
"We weren't able to put those pieces in play this go-around," Clark said following his annual union meeting with the Cleveland Indians. "It is conceivable somewhere down the road that there may be a spring training game played in Cuba, but it's hard to tell when at this point in time."
The Baltimore Orioles played a spring exhibition in Havana against the Cuban national team in 1999, ending a 40-year gap since the last visit by a major league team.
Major league teams regularly held spring training camps in Cuba in the 1940s and `50s. The Cincinnati Reds had a Triple-A affiliate on the island, the Havana Sugar Kings.
Sale suffered an avulsion fracture to the lateral side of his right foot Friday at his spring training residence in Arizona, but the pitcher declined to reveal how the injury happened.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Sale landed "awkwardly when he got off the back of his truck," while unloading items.
"It was really just a freak incident," Sale said. "I've just done it a million times and this time it didn't work out so well."
The White Sox say the left-hander's status for Opening Day will be determined at a later date. Sale already was scheduled to pitch in the first game of the season, but a return on March 21 would leave him just 16 days to prepare for the season opener at Kansas City.
"We'll have to assess how much arm strength he can build up prior to the opener," Hahn said. "Due to off days early in the season, we do not need a fifth starter -- so to speak -- potentially until April 12, so that would buy you another week before going to that spot.
"But we'll see. The most important thing is that this should heal completely in three weeks and then we'll go from there."
With his foot wrapped in ice and covered by an elastic bandage, Sale remained easygoing while talking about the injury, even joking that he fought off an intruder in grand superhero fashion.
"I mean, it's essentially a sprained ankle; I'll be fine," Sale said. "They aren't going to have to cut it off. It's still here. I'll be walking on it in a few days and just doing therapy."
The White Sox announced the club has sold 50 percent more tickets than they did after the opening day of sales last season.
The most popular games were those that were expected: Opening Day, Paul Konerko's jersey retirement May 23, the World Series reunion weekend in July and the three-game White Sox-Cubs cross-town series.
White Sox home attendance has declined every year since the team drew a record 2.96 million fans in 2006, the season after they won the World Series. The White Sox drew 1.65 million fans last season, their lowest total since the 1999 season. They last drew two million fans in 2011.
The White Sox wasted little time taking advantage of the solid ticket-sales numbers, encouraging fans to purchase seven-, 14- and 81-game season ticket packages in order to secure tickets for the most popular home games.
Tickets were available Friday only over the phone or via the internet at whitesox.com. Tickets can be purchased in person starting Saturday at 10 a.m. CST at the Chicago Sports Depot, adjacent to U.S. Cellular Field, as well as the phone and internet options.