White Sox

Baltimore unrest puts things in perspective for White Sox

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Baltimore unrest puts things in perspective for White Sox

BALTIMORE -- The pending issues the White Sox faced when they arrived in Charm City three days ago seem trivial now after several days of rioting and canceled baseball games.

Rather than worry about what’s to come of the five-game suspensions doled out to Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija, the White Sox -- who are set to play the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday afternoon in front of an empty stadium -- have been thrust into the middle of chaos as citizens continue to vent their anger over the April 19 death of Freddie Gray, who died a week after he was taken into custody by the Baltimore Police Department.

Instead of thinking about when Carlos Rodon might make his first start or if Alexei Ramirez is in need of a day off, the White Sox have watched the horrifying images form Monday’s riots that resulted in more than 200 arrests, 159 vehicles and structures burned, 20 police officers injured and the deployment of 500 National Guard troops, according to the Baltimore Sun.

“For anyone who’s around or watching it on TV or seeing it outside your window, it helps put in perspective a lot of things,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said shortly after Tuesday’s game was cancelled and plans for Wednesday’s contest were unveiled. “You realize the more pressing and serious issues than what you’re going to do with your rotation or how you’re dealing with suspensions.”

Aside from an afternoon workout, the White Sox have spent most of their time tucked away in the team hotel, awaiting word on whether or not the series would resume. With a need for law enforcement resources elsewhere, the Orioles and Major League Baseball announced the teams would play Wednesday’s game at 2:05 p.m. behind closed doors. The decision is another reminder of the past week’s events in a town will be thrust into a weeklong citywide curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting on Tuesday night.

“You don’t normally see this anywhere you go,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after he watched a number of National Guard vehicles roll into town. “When you’re there, it’s different. You’re seeing these vehicles you normally don’t see rolling through a city, it can get scary.”

[WATCH: Rick Hahn, Sox doing whatever it takes to get games played]

Even though the curfew and decision not to play has left the team holed up in its hotel, White Sox players and management agreed with the decision to cancel the first two games of the series.

“You can’t help but feel terrible for what’s going on, and at the same time feeling helpless,” White Sox reliever Zach Duke said. “It’s a different feeling and it’s not a good one.

“With so much terrible activity going on in the city, it’s hard going out there trying to entertain and take attention away from it.”

Not that the team would be entirely comfortable doing so, either. Hours before Monday’s riots began, law enforcement officials bulked up security around Oriole Park at Camden Yards and collected all the garbage cans in the area in anticipation of an event like Saturday’s when fans attending an Orioles-Boston Red Sox game were required to stay in the facility for an inning for safety reasons.

Several helicopters could be seen hovering over downtown during batting practice on Monday. There were also reports of looting taking place within a half mile of Camden Yards.

“To be in the thick of it, at a hotel a half mile or so away, we were taking BP and we could smell burning, whatever was burning nearby,” outfielder Adam Eaton said. “A little surreal. We were happy to stay in the hotel (Monday) and (Tuesday).”

Monday’s contest was canceled 50 minutes before the scheduled first pitch. Players received a police escort back to their hotel and were told to stay put. Many watched the events unfolding from their rooms.

“When you look out the window and see this is really happening right here, it's a little scary,” catcher Tyler Flowers said.

Outfielder Avisail Garcia likened the situation to what he witnessed in Venezuela in early 2014. Those protests ravaged the country and reportedly led to more than 3,000 arrests and 43 deaths, according to Reuters.

“Hopefully everything will get better,” Garcia said. “Hopefully nobody will die because that’s a situation that we have in Venezuela. It’s bad and hopefully everything gets better.

“That’s nothing good about it and hopefully everything will get better and people stay safe.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Once the situation calms down, the White Sox -- who head to Minneapolis for four games after Wednesday’s contest concludes -- will resume worrying about the aspects of the season most important to them.

But for now, baseball is of distant importance.

“It gives you that sense of perspective, which is good,” Hahn said. “And hopefully once we start playing ballgames again we can provide the important role that baseball plays in terms of providing entertainment and distraction and people a little bit of escape from these rough couple of days we’ve had around us here.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

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AP

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”