White Sox ink Jenks, Quentin to one-year deals

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Thumbnail image for bobby jenks white sox.jpgThe White Sox and reliever Bobby Jenks avoided arbitration on Saturday by agreeing to a one-year, $7.5 million contract.
Jenks, who turns 29 in March, will receive a $1.9 million raise over a
2009 season that saw him post a 3.79 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 27 saves in 35
chances.

Jenks fought a very public battle with the White Sox over the past few
months about his conditioning, a conflict some thought could lead to
him possibly being traded or even non-tendered in December. Amid
concerns about his weight, Jenks was sidelined during the season with
kidney stones and missed the final 12 games of the season with a
strained calf muscle.

2009 was mostly a reversal of fortunes for Jenks, as his strikeout rate
rebounded (8.27 K/9 from 5.55 K/9 in 2008) and he saw some more
giddy-up on his fastball, but he gave up a career-high nine home runs
in 53 1/3 innings, ultimately inflating his ERA. Pretty fluky, really,
since he’s primarily a groundball pitcher. Still, the conditioning angle is
something to watch this spring, as the White Sox have Matt Thornton and
J.J. Putz at the ready should Jenks continue to fall out of favor in
the organization.

The White Sox also avoided arbitration with outfielder Carlos Quentin
on Saturday by agreeing to a one-year, $3.2 million contract. Limited
to just 99 games last season due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot,
the 27-year-old Quentin batted .236/.323/.456 with 21 homers and 56 RBI.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.