White Sox

Brett Lawrie's homer paces White Sox in win over Indians in Game 1

Brett Lawrie's homer paces White Sox in win over Indians in Game 1

Brett Lawrie and Mat Latos made a long Monday a little easier for the White Sox.

Latos had his best start in a month and Lawrie made it hold up when he blasted a three-run homer in the fifth inning to propel the White Sox to a 7-6 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of a doubleheader at U.S. Cellular Field.

The homer by Lawrie, who also singled and walked three times, put Latos (6-1) ahead for good. Todd Frazier also homered and David Robertson stranded the tying run on second in a scoreless ninth as the White Sox moved back to 3.5 games in front of the Indians in the American League Central.

“Fantastic,” Latos said of the homer. “We got everybody up off the bench, put a little life in the dugout. He just told me, ‘I’ve got to have you shut them down here right here to keep us here.’ And we were able to get a W.”

Latos took to his designated hitter’s instructions seriously.

While he made a few mistakes — Mike Napoli and Marlon Byrd homered on hanging offspeed pitches — Latos produced his top start since April 24.

Some of his best work came near the end.

Working with improved fastball command — he threw strikes on 58 of 83 pitches — Latos induced plenty of weak contact. He cruised through four of his six innings.

But he also twice surrendered the lead, including allowing a two-run homer to Byrd in the fourth to tie it at 3.

Lawrie gave Latos one more opportunity with two outs in the fifth inning.

Shortly after Jose Abreu popped out with two on, Lawrie fell behind Indians starter Steve Clevinger 1-2 in the count. Lawrie laid off two offspeed pitches and launched a 3-2 fastball for a three-run homer and a 6-3 lead. Lawrie went 2-for-2 with three walks.

Latos made it count.

Not only did he strand the go-ahead run in the fifth after Michael Martinez doubled with no outs, Latos struck out two in a 1-2-3 sixth inning. He allowed three earned runs, five hits, walked one and struck out four in six innings and offered his club much-needed stability from the back end of the rotation.

“(Latos) was locating,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “They got him a couple times, but I thought he did enough for us to get it to the bullpen.”

White Sox relievers nearly made the opener a much longer affair.

Zach Duke, who pitched a scoreless seventh, walked Carlos Santana to start the eighth and Jason Kipnis doubled. Matt Albers retired the first two men he faced with an RBI groundout by Napoli making it a 7-4 game. But Nate Jones was needed to record the final out of the inning after Albers lost a 10-pitch battle with Jose Ramirez, who crushed a 3-2 sinker for a two-run homer to right to get Cleveland within a run.

Robertson walked Rajai Davis to start the ninth inning before he pitched out of it. Davis stole second but Robertson struck out Marlon Byrd and Martinez and got Carlos Sanchez to ground out.

The White Sox offense jumped all over Clevinger.

Frazier’s first-inning solo homer, his American League-leading 14th homer, made it 1-0. Frazier reached base in four of five plate appearances.

Two innings later, Jimmy Rollins regained a 2-1 lead for the White Sox with a one-out RBI single to right to score Austin Jackson, who doubled. The White Sox added a run in the fourth on Jackson’s two-out, RBI single to score Lawrie, who opened the inning with a single and a stolen base.

The White Sox tacked on another run and appeared to pull away in the seventh when Jackson — who also had three hits — forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk to make it 7-3.

While a number of stranded runners and the bullpen’s struggles made it close, the White Sox emerged with a big victory.

“It’s important to win the first one,” Lawrie said. “It sets the tone and allows us to roll right into the next one.

“It’s a long day. You know especially going into the second game, you are not going to have the full firepower that all nine guys had in the beginning.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


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?


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.”