04/26/2013 8:59 PM ET
White Sox familiar with Bears' top pick
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Doug Laumann was in Cincinnati, at a Perfect Game baseball showcase during the summer of 2007, when the White Sox director of amateur scouting saw a young man walking in the bleachers who "looked like Paul Bunyan."
That particular young man was Kyle Long, whom the White Sox drafted in the 23rd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, and whom the Chicago Bears made their top selection at No. 20 in Thursday night's first round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
"My son, Jackson, was with me, he was 13 at the time, and we were both like, 'Who is this dude?'" said Laumann, speaking Friday morning in the midst of one of his scouting trips in preparation for the June 6 First-Year Player Draft. "We figured he was a college football player from the University of Cincinnati and watching the Perfect Game showcase.
"We started asking around and found out he was a player. He was a man amongst boys, throwing 95 or 96 [mph] from the left side."
Laumann went on to explain that the University of Cincinnati baseball field measured 385 feet to right field and then there was another 40 feet beyond the fence until you reached the six-story building housing the basketball arena. Long was hitting baseballs off the top of that building, some 440 feet from home plate.
"A can't-miss first-round pick for that next year," Laumann said.
When Long, the son of former NFL great Howie Long, returned to high school for his senior season, though, Laumann said that he didn't throw a pitch over 86 or 87 and he couldn't make any contact. The White Sox took Long as basically a draft-and-follow in Round 23, but Long understood the White Sox simply wanted to follow his summer progress and didn't seem to have much interest in coming aboard, instead attending Florida State University.
"There was an unbelievable amount of strength in that body," said Laumann of Long. "It's hard to turn away from 95 or 96 from the left side.
"He probably went home from that showcase and got ready for high school football season. He was probably playing baseball at 235 [pounds] that summer to 270 or 275 playing football. I don't think he ever got his body back loose enough to play again."
Back spasms keep Keppinger out of lineup Friday
CHICAGO -- White Sox second baseman Jeff Keppinger was out of Friday's lineup against the Rays because of lower back spasms, a problem that started for Keppinger at the end of Thursday's 5-2 victory.
"You try to treat it overnight and today," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "But he's not going to be ready by game time.
"Injuries happen. We have a couple of them that are unfortunate with Gordon [Beckham], [Angel] Sanchez and [Dayan] Viciedo. But again, teams deal with injuries and you keep going. Put another guy in there and go. You have to find a way."
Tyler Greene got the start at second and batting second, with Ventura hopeful that Keppinger would be available later in the game. It was an especially tough time to lose Keppinger, who was coming off three straight multi-hit efforts.
"That's why you have extra guys," Ventura said. "You get them in there and play and make due. It's one of those things you get him healthy first. There's no sense in sending him out there if he's not feeling good."
Dewayne Wise, who was scheduled to start in center field, was scratched from the starting lineup with a stiff neck and is day to day. He was replaced by Jordan Danks, leaving Tyler Flowers and Blake Tekotte as the only remaining bench players.
Strained oblique slows prospect Mitchell's progress
CHICAGO -- The White Sox announced Friday that outfielder Jared Mitchell was placed on the disabled list with Double-A Birmingham because of a strained right oblique.
General manager Rick Hahn said that Mitchell's injury came during a game for the Barons and did not contribute to his rough start to the 2013 campaign.
Mitchell, the team's top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft and the club's No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, earned rave reviews for his work in last October's instructional league and had the same positive response from those who watched him during Spring Training. But Mitchell opened 7-for-53 with 27 strikeouts for Triple-A Charlotte and was moved down to Birmingham to get back on track.
"His struggles were surprising, yeah," Hahn said. "He was in such a good spot in Glendale (Ariz.) and in instructional league. We certainly expected him to get off quick and get off well. There's a few alterations we felt in his swing that were going on in Charlotte that were to his detriment and he was having trouble correcting them.
"Again, it was more he was struggling and he looked a little different back when he was having success. It was more trying to get him back to where he was. Part of going to Birmingham was hoping to be able to iron them out there."
This oblique strain will slow Mitchell down for a couple of weeks, but the White Sox haven't lost faith in the talented athlete.
"Once he gets back from that, we are hoping he'll be able to pick up where he was at the end of spring," Hahn said. "He'll get there. We all saw it, it's in there. It's a matter of him being able to access that more consistently."
Hahn wants balance between 'TWTW' and sabermetrics
CHICAGO -- Ken "Hawk" Harrelson's stance against sabermetrics during an interview with MLB Network's Brian Kenny on Thursday afternoon already has spawned a new "TWTW" T-shirt available at U.S. Cellular Field.
"TWTW" was explained by the popular White Sox television play-by-play announcer as his own metric known as The Will to Win. It's one of the intangibles Harrelson believes gets overlooked in a reliance on numbers.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn couldn't help but enjoy the whole debate, but believes a balance of the two sides is what's needed. He also gave a perfect summation of Harrelson's commentary.
"First off, I think this whole thing is extremely entertaining," Hahn said. "But look, Hawk is great and just as people who may approach the game from a more objective standpoint want to have their voices heard and their opinions respected, I think given a man who has accomplished what he has in the game over seven different decades, he deserves the same respect and the opportunity to air his opinions.
"Even if they happen to differ from mine or how the club is run on a daily basis, it doesn't mean that there's not a great deal of value in that kind of point of view," Hahn added.
That high level of respect for Harrelson didn't stop Hahn from having a little fun with the new metric in association with the White Sox.
"You'll be happy to know that we've run the numbers and we rank extraordinarily high on the TWTW metric right now," a smiling Hahn said. "As you know, it has proven over the years to be a harbinger of good things to come."
Third to first
• Robin Ventura has no immediate plans to move Adam Dunn from the middle of the White Sox order.
"You consider everything but again, he's swinging it better. I like him in that spot," said Ventura of hitting Dunn fourth. "He does walk.
"If he's going to do that and put up the good at-bats that he's had the last few nights, you have Paulie [Konerko] and [Conor] Gillaspie coming up behind him. He can be dangerous where he gives [Alex] Rios some pitches. Right now it's a good spot for him."
• Left-handed pitcher Leyson Septimo, who has been on the disabled list since March 26 (retroactive to March 22) with a left shoulder strain, has been assigned to Charlotte on an injury rehab assignment.
• The White Sox have made a Major League best 893 quality starts since 2003, four more than the Angels.