White Sox

Buehrle deferring Opening Day start to Danks?

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Buehrle deferring Opening Day start to Danks?

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
Posted 11:31 a.m. Updated 12:40 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz The first day with a full squad at spring training bore a strong resemblance to the triumphant Chicago White Sox offseason: no drama, big smiles, optimism oozing from every corner of the clubhouse.

Lastings Milledge was nestled into a locker stall next to White Sox veteran Juan Pierre, where the outfield leader had already embarked on mentoring the teams fourth outfielder hopeful.

Mark Buehrle pedaled laps on a stationary bike with a smile, having fully swayed from offseason uncertainty over being traded to his potential to start his franchise-most ninth Opening Day game.

Manager Ozzie Guillen held court loudly, jostling with Tony Pena with his custom blend of loud talk and wild gesture.

Buehrles Hurling

After letting on that he has something on Paul Konerko that will serve him handily during the course of the season, when teasing can turn to blackmail, Buehrle addressed the possibility of making a ninth Opening Day start, which would extend his team record.

Ozzie hasnt mentioned it to me, no, Buehrle said. But what will I do, tell him no?

Buehrle theorized that it would be between me and John Danks as to who should be the Opening Day starter, but with a bit of smirk acknowledged that for the last couple of years, hes been better than me. The lefthander was gracious enough to admit that if consulted, hed recommend Danksie for the Opening Day assignment.

The chances of Buehrle failing to start the season opener on the hill, of course, is virtually nil. Guillen as much as confirmed that on the opening day of an eerily tranquil camp.

Right now, Buehrle is my Opening Day starter, Guillen said. I might get the rotation drawn up in the next couple of days to see. We face Cleveland, and hes always pitched good against the Indians early in the season. So I dont see why Buehrle wont start on Opening Day.

Ill save that news for when were boring and nobody is talking about the White Sox. Then Ill say Buehrle is my Opening Day starter.

Buehrle went 13-13 in 2010, with a 4.28 ERA and Buehrle went 13-13 in 2010, with a 4.28 ERA and 3.90 FIP, bringing in 15.2 million in value on the third year of his four-year, 56 million contract. His Opening Day, 6-0 shutout of the Cleveland Indians a year ago both set a team record for most Opening Day starts and saw the two-time Gold Glove winner author the most spectacular fielding play of his career, a hockey kick-save, football-hike assist on a Lou Marson slap through the box.

Buehrle has been a preposterously consistent pitcher, never falling short of 30 starts as a rotation member, winning double-figure games in 10 straight seasons, and falling short of a .500 record just once (12-13 in 2006). While many players might see a dramatic rise in their numbers in a contract year, Guillen dismisses such a notion in Buehrles case.

A lot of managers like to manage a guy in the last year of a deal because they think theyre going to get their best playing for the next contract, he said. But youre going to see the same Buehrle, no matter what. Hes not going to changehell be the same with a 10-year deal or a two-month deal.

Qs Cues

Few White Sox have been as hyper-speculated over as mercurial rightfielder Carlos Quentin, who has pledged to bring a lighter attitude tothe 2011 campaign.

Quentins intensity, which is held in awe bordering on apprehension bythe teams administrators, was in traditional seriousity in his firstmedia address of the season, with a dry admission he was absolutelythrilled at the White Soxs offseason additions.

As for what hes done to re-channel his infamous intensity for 2011,the slugger was coy: Just worked on some things to come backstrong, knock on wood, and enjoy this game a little better.

For Quentin and the White Sox, its been somewhat of a slow descentsince his near-MVP season of 2008, when a temper flare at the plateresulted in a broken wrist and being sidelined for the last month ofthe season. After slugging 36 homers and driving in 100 runs in justfive months in that shocking breakout campaign, hes averaged just 115games over the past two seasons.

Despite hitting 47 home runs over his past two seasons, Quentin understands his production has been disappointing.

Any time you go out and perform like I did in 2008, you thinktheres more out there, he said. You had the opportunity to build onthat, and you feel like you didnt, you feel a little disappointed.

At the end of 2010, both Guillen and GM Ken Williams underscored toQuentin that while they adored his intensitysingling him out as aninspirational team leader by exampleboth advised the outfielder toease up on himself. From the sound of things, Q has listened.

To succeed in the future, youve got to learn from some things youvedone and make them right, Quentin said. I would be foolish not tolearn from some negative things that have been consistently repeatedin my life.

With a burgeoning salary and legitimate questions about his durability,the White Sox brain trust has yet to seriously entertain swappingQuentin away. Williams has mentioned, with a knock on wood, he hasnttraded away many SportsCenter guysplayers he fears hell have to seeon highlight reels nightly, wearing other than a White Sox uniform.Clearly, the GM feels Quentin in one such guy. Guillen hasnt betenbashful about the esteem with which he holds Quentin, and the feelingis mutual.

I talked with Ozzie a lot last year about things Ive done, thingsto be accountable for, Quentin said. Pressure is always somethingthats been self-inflicted by myself, its something Ive worked on tolighten up and enjoy this game.

The slugger got a little short when pressed about the self-inflictedpressure problems hes dealt with in the past: Of course, the effortis there when you work on things, you just never know how theyllturn out, always knowing every day is a grind, not just physically butmentally, and keeping myself in the right place.

Quentin did smile when asked about the status of his knee, which wasbanged up in multiple instances in 2010, contributing mightily to hisroutine, ice-wrapped, Michelin Man appearance postgame. In addition tosome healing time, the rightfielder reported putting in a lot of workto stabilize his hip and a high volume of explosive lifting.

I responded very well, he said. Im excited with my weight rightnow. I feel like Im in a good place mentally, and ready to go.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

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.”