As the non-waiver trade deadline looms and negotiators determine the future address of pitcher Jake Peavy, the Chicago White Sox appear ready to get a Brazilian.
Right-hander Andre Rienzo is poised to become the first person born in Brazil to pitch in the major leagues, and he reportedly was on his way to Cleveland to start for the White Sox on Tuesday night. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune writes that, even if the Sox don’t deal Peavy by the deadline Wednesday afternoon, Rienzo is “likely” to take his turn in the rotation against the Indians on Tuesday. That has been confirmed at least one place.
The Oakland Athletics and Atlanta Braves have been identified as possible suitors, but the Braves recently traded for relief help (Scott Downs) and have welcomed Brandon Beachy back from Tommy John rehab. The A's are said to have dropped out, unwilling to meet the price or pay Peavy's salary. The Red Sox, Cardinals and Orioles reportedly remain among those interested.
Some reports Monday had the White Sox deciding to keep Peavy in order to "build around him" after getting unsatisfactory trade offers, but that could have been posturing. Peavy will make $14.5 million in 2014 and has a player option for $15 million for 2015 if he meets certain innings pitched and health criteria.
The White Sox recently traded reliever Jesse Crain to the Tampa Bay Rays for "future considerations," which presumably rely on how much work he logs after coming off the disabled list. Coupled with the earlier trade of Matt Thornton, it shows the White Sox are motivated to rebuild, at least to a degree.
In the meantime, what of The Brazilian, Rienzo? His fastball goes about 94 mph, Gonzales writes, but his out pitch is a sharp curveball. And he's athletic:
Rienzo is one of the most athletic players in the Sox’s system. Charlotte teammate Andy Wilkins has seen him dribble a baseball with his feet, and Rienzo has quick instincts off the mound.
Rienzo experienced a choppy spring training, partly because of his involvement with Brazil in the World Baseball Classic. In spring training, Rienzo allowed seven runs on six hits over three innings covering two appearances.
But he gained plenty of notoriety in the WBC when he pitched four hitless innings against Cuba before reaching his pitch count in the fifth inning of a game that Cuba went on to win.
I'd like to see him do some dribbling. Presumably it's dribbling as in Pelé with a soccer ball and not Michael Jordan with a basketball. Imagine the strength needed to bounce a baseball, even with your hands!
Regardless, hopefully all of Brazil and Portugal is tuning in Tuesday night.