Rookie catcher Seby Zavala’s bat and batting gloves are going to the Hall of Fame, and he can’t wrap his mind around it.
“It still hasn’t hit me that I’ve done something nobody else has ever done,” Zavala told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Zavala became the first player to hit his first three career home runs in one game when he went 4-for-4, including a grand slam, in a 12-11 loss to the Indians on Saturday. He was also the first catcher in White Sox history to hit three homers in one game.
“It’s a crazy feeling knowing my gloves and bat will be in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “That place is reserved for the best baseball players to ever play. I feel honored that they would ask me for anything.”
While Zavala’s bat and hitting gloves are going to Cooperstown, his catcher’s mitt and pitch-calling skills are why his playing time is on the rise. He has made 13 starts since being recalled from Triple-A Charlotte on July 6 after Yasmani Grandal landed on the injured list with a torn tendon in his knee, including seven of the last nine games. Zack Collins, who has caught 15 of Lucas Giolito’s 22 starts, caught Giolito on Wednesday against the Royals.
“All through his minor-league career, Seby made pitching a priority,” said coach Jerry Narron, who oversees Sox catchers. “He’s a catch-first guy, and that’s what got him to the major leagues. Really smart, really prepared. Pitchers throwing to him here for the first time have become very confident in him real quick. When veteran pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Lance Lynn trust him — and right away — that says a lot about his ability.”
Zavala is batting .229/.341/.543 with five extra-base hits in 43 plate appearances.
‘Hawk’ in the house
Ken Harrelson returned to Guaranteed Rate Field for the second time since calling his last game in 2018, throwing out the first pitch 11 days after being honored by the Hall of Fame with the Ford C. Frick Award.
Harrelson was accompanied by two grandsons. He said the best thing about winning the award is that his grandkids will one day take their kids to the Hall where he is honored.
“That’s probably my biggest joy,” he said.
Tony La Russa greeted Harrelson on the field and posed for photos. As Sox GM in 1986, Harrelson fired La Russa. They mended fences when La Russa managed the Athletics. La Russa, Bob Melvin and Terry Francona “are the cream of the crop of managers,” and La Russa is the right man to lead the Sox to their goal of a World Series, Harrelson said.
“When this club gets healthy, there is not a team that I’ve seen that will be better than they are,” Harrelson said.
Four games vs. Cubs on 2022 schedule
The 2022 schedule opens the season with the Twins visiting Guaranteed Rate Field on March 31 and includes four crosstown games against the Cubs. The Sox play the Cubs on May 3 and 4 at Wrigley Field and on May 28 and 29 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The interleague schedule features the National League West, with games against the Dodgers (June 7-9 at home), Giants (July 1-3 at Oracle Park), Rockies (July 26 and 27 at Coors Field and Sept. 13 and 14 at home), Diamondbacks (Aug. 26-28 at home) and Padres (Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at Petco Park).