Kevan Smith spent his 30th birthday catching 13 innings for the White Sox during their game against the Twins on Thursday.
Playing for the Sox this season was always part of Smith’s plan, even after he found himself at Class AAA Charlotte after losing the competition for backup catcher to Omar Narvaez coming out of spring training.
“I kind of looked at it from a positive outlook,” Smith said before the Sox’s 2-1 loss. “I went and showed up every day and worked hard and enjoyed each day with the guys down there and just kind of let things fall into place.”
Starter Welington Castillo’s 80-game suspension on May 24 for violating baseball’s drug policy opened the door for Smith.
“Opportunities have come every year for me, whether it be an injury or with what happened to [Castillo] this year,” Smith said. “There were two times this year when [Castillo] was pulled out of the lineup and I was like, ‘All right, here we go.’ But anytime, anything can happen.”
Smith went 1-for-6 with a stolen base and saw his batting average drop from .375 to .352.
“I just have to keep going out and competing and just enjoying my team here with these guys,” he said. “I love this clubhouse, I love this organization, I love what we stand behind, [and] I love what we’re doing here.”
Sox infielder Yolmer Sanchez left the game in the 13th inning after a collision with Twins first baseman Logan Morrison that left him with a bruised left quadriceps. Sanchez is considered day-to-day and will be re-evaluated Friday.
Before the game, the Sox unveiled a POW/MIA Chair of Honor in the left field concourse. The special seat will remain perpetually unoccupied in honor of the more than 82,000 U.S. service members who are or were prisoners of war, declared missing in action or unaccounted for from previous wars.
“In spite of all the things that go on, this is the greatest country in the world, and for us to be able to remember those who have given their lives, it says a lot about the organization,” manager Rick Renteria said.
It was 83 degrees at game time, a welcome change from the miserable weather that has plagued many of the Sox’ home games this season. Now that warm weather has apparently arrived, the ballpark plays differently, Renteria said.
“It does seem like when we have a little more warmer weather, the ball carries a little better,” he said. “We’ve all seen how [when] the dampness and the coolness and the wind changes a little bit, it can change the outcome of the fly ball. As long as we keep the ball in the ballpark from the other side and do what we can to put the ball out of the ballpark when we can, it puts us in a good position.”