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Sox coach Allen Thomas takes field trip to watch his son play in Class A California League

Sox notebook: Mike Schur has unenviable task of following Bill Walton in broadcast booth

Eloy Jimenez
=Chicago White Sox’s Eloy Jimenez, right, celebrates his two-run home run with teammates during the third inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif.   
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

ANAHEIM, Calif. — White Sox director of conditioning Allen Thomas was told not to be on the bench the last two nights, with the order not as ominous as it sounds.

With the Sox in Southern California, the trip lined up perfectly so Thomas could take a couple of games away on Friday and Saturday to see his son Alek play for the Visalia Rawhide in a series at Rancho Cucamonga in the Class A California League.

“It was skip [manager Rick Renteria] making me go,” Allen Thomas said. “Oh, yeah. He said, ‘If I see you on this bench tonight, it’s your behind.’ ”

The younger Thomas was promoted to Visalia earlier this month from Class A Kane County, and although that club was in close proximity to Chicago, the elder Thomas said he was only able to make four of his son’s games there. He considers his two games in two days in California to be a bonanza.

Alek used his physical gifts and knowledge of the work ethic needed to sustain a major-league career to become a second-round draft pick by the Diamondbacks last year out of Mount Carmel.

With two rookie-league teams last year, he batted a combined .330 with 14 doubles, six triples, two home runs and 27 RBI, not to mention 12 stolen bases in 56 games. In 101 games at the Class A level this year, for Kane County and Visalia, he is batting. 302 with nine home runs and 50 RBI.

“Speaking for him, I think he has a big-time advantage because the old-school guys talk about this game being 90-percent mental,” said Allen, himself a former minor-league outfielder. “It’s a cliché, but the advantages he’s had of being in the [clubhouse] and listening to a [Jim] Thome or an Andruw Jones or a [Ken] Griffey Jr., you can’t get that anywhere. I can’t give him that.”

Allen has done his pregame work with the club each day in Anaheim, but left well in advance of first pitch to make the 37-mile drive north. On Friday, he was greeted with the typical Friday evening Southern California-area traffic crush, with his drive taking 80 minutes. It was well worth it.

“Think about it, being away from home and getting to see two [games],” Allen said. “It speaks to the staff we have and the type of organization we have that values family. Just allowing me to go has been invaluable.”

Tough act to follow

Award-winning television producer Michael Schur was in the Sox’ television booth Saturday, one day after basketball legend Bill Walton made waves with his unique broadcasting style.

Schur, whose production credits include “Parks and Recreation,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Good Place,” knows the value of a good lead-in show. But this is show business so he also knows about tough acts to follow. What is it like to follow Walton’s attention-getting evening in the booth?

“Well, look, if tried to actually follow Bill Walton, that’s a fool’s errand,” Schur said from the field before Saturday’s game. “I have been watching baseball, and talking about baseball, and thinking about baseball my whole life so I’m just going to do those three things and try to put out of my mind what happened last night, because I don’t have anything in me that would match that performance.”

Schur is no baseball novice. He was a media critic with a baseball focus, working under the name “Ken Tremendous” for the well-regarded website, which no longer publishes new content.

This and that

Left-hander Manny Banuelos, who has been on the 60-day injured list with shoulder inflammation, started a rehab assignment at Class A Winston-Salem, with no timetable for a return to the major-league club.

† Right-hander Carson Fulmer, who is on the IL and has not pitched since Aug. 2, continues to feel tightness in his strained right hamstring, according to Renteria, limiting his activity.