White Sox

Abreu, Soto homer as White Sox rout Red Sox for sixth straight win

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Abreu, Soto homer as White Sox rout Red Sox for sixth straight win

BOSTON — Know how you can tell things have gone well for the White Sox this week?

Mookie Betts made a spectacular running catch to rob Jose Abreu of extra bases on Tuesday night but dropped the ball after falling over the bullpen fence and hitting the ground — which, upon review, resulted in two-run homer.

Thems the breaks, and suddenly the White Sox have stumbled into a bunch. Abreu and Geovany Soto homered, and the White Sox scored five more first-inning runs en route to a 9-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox in front of 38,063 at Fenway Park. Granted a huge early cushion, Jeff Samardzija did the rest as the White Sox won their sixth straight game to improve to 48-50. The White Sox have outscored their opponents 45-17 on the trip with two games left.

“It feels normal,” said Samardzija, who allowed four runs over eight-plus innings. “I think this is what we’ve been looking for all year. This is the faith we’ve had in our team to do this all year.

“This is the time to push.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: GIFs: Highlight-reel catch turns into two-run homer for Jose Abreu]

Though Samardzija described it as normal, there has been a strange sensation in the White Sox clubhouse unlike anything they’ve previously experienced in 2015 aside from a few games here and there. Confidence that the team can score runs is oozing in every nook and cranny, and the White Sox have reveled in it. That’s what happens when a team on pace for one of its lowest-scoring averages in franchise history puts up 12.7 percent of its season-long run production in half a dozen games.

Designated hitter Adam LaRoche said the mood has shifted from: “I hope we are going to score a bunch to showing up and we are probably going to score a lot of runs today.”

For the second straight game, the White Sox started to score early and didn’t stop. Red-hot Melky Cabrera — who has six straight multi-hit games, the most by a White Sox hitter since Jermaine Dye in June 2009 — doubled in a run off Wade Miley, Avisail Garcia chopped singled in another and Soto ripped a two-run double to make it 4-0. Emilio Bonifacio, who later left the game with a rib injury, doubled in a fifth run. The outburst didn’t impress Red Sox fans, who began to chant for Pedro Martinez, whose number was retired by the team before the game.

Coupled with Monday’s four-run first, the White Sox scored at least four runs in the first inning in consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 2-3, 1996 at Texas, according to Stats, LLC.

[MORE WHITE SOX: PHOTO: Geovany Soto's homer broke some guy's windshield]

“You just keep going and don’t try to think too much about it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You just keep going and swing the bats. It’s a good feeling.

“Right now, they feel like it’s going to continue until the last guy bats.”

Even though they put six men on over the next four innings, the White Sox wouldn’t score again until Abreu’s deep drive in the sixth was overturned after replay officials determined Betts didn’t have control of his body as he fell into the home bullpen and the ball popped out.

Betts would eventually exit the game and was later examined for concussion-like symptoms.

Abreu’s 16th homer extended the lead to 7-2, and Soto’s shot, which broke the windshield of a car parked beyond the Green Monster, gave the White Sox a six-run lead. Soto finished 2-for-2 with three RBIs and three walks.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Abreu doubled in Adam Eaton, who reached base three times and scored twice, in the eighth inning. Cabrera, who tripled, doubled twice and singled, flew out to left in the eighth as he sought to complete a cycle. Eaton also fell a homer shy of the cycle in Monday’s win.

The White Sox are hitting at a .322/.368/.555 clip on this road trip and averaging 7 1/2 runs per game. The team also has recorded nine or more extra-base hits in consecutive games for only the second time since 1914, joining the 2003 White Sox.

Samardzija made easy work of the Red Sox as he made his 10th straight start of at least seven innings. The right-hander, whose availability for a trade seems smaller by the day, gave up a two-run homer to Pablo Sandoval in the second inning as Boston cut the lead to 5-2. But with the help of his defense, including a nice catch by Cabrera and several nice stabs by Abreu and Tyler Saladino, Samardzija retired 20 of 21 batters into the eighth.

“We’ve had five new guys in this lineup all year trying to learn how to play with each other so it takes time and I think you’re starting to see all that pay off now,” Samardzija said.

Said Cabrera: “This is one of the best moments of the season for us.”

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.