White Sox

Bullpen falters in Youk's return to Boston

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Bullpen falters in Youk's return to Boston

BOSTON --- Kevin Youkilis returned to Fenway Park in a big way on Monday night. Unfortunately for the White Sox, so did Adrian Gonzalez.

The slugger hit his first home run since June 24 --- the same day Youkilis was traded to the White Sox --- to power the Boston Red Sox to a 5-1 win over the White Sox in front of 38,334 at Fenway.

Gonzalezs three-run, opposite-field blast against left-handed pitcher Leyson Septimo (0-1) spoiled a warm and fuzzy homecoming for Youkilis and evened the White Sox record at 2-2 on this 10-game road trip.

Septimo entered a game tied at 1 in the seventh inning and stranded a runner when he got Jacoby Ellsbury to pop out.

But the rookie walked the first two batters he faced in the eighth inning --- Carl Crawford and David Ortiz --- before he fell behind Gonzalez 2-1 in the count. His 93-mph fastball caught too much of the plate and Gonzalez deposited his first home run in 66 at-bats over the Green Monster to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.

Youkilis return wasnt quite as impactful, but had a fairy tale feel throughout.

Cheers and Youk chants began for the White Sox third baseman 20 minutes before first pitch when he hit the field to warm up.

They continued as he stood in the on-deck circle in the first inning and the largest Red Sox crowd of the year erupted in a standing ovation when Youkilis stepped into the batters box to face Aaron Cook.

Youkilis stepped out, raised his helmet and paused for 30-to-45 seconds before he began his at-bat, which ended with a single to center. The veteran then displayed the heady style that made him popular with Red Sox Nation when he took advantage of the shift against Adam Dunn. Dunn hit a slow chopper to second and with nobody covering third, Youkilis cruised over. Gonzalez saw Youkilis advance and attempted an ill-advised lob that went for a run-scoring error.

Youkilis doubled in his next two at-bats but struck out against Vicente Padilla (3-0) with the game tied at 1 to end the top of the eighth inning.

Three days after he threw 31 pitches in a win at Kansas City, White Sox starter Dylan Axelrod showed no signs of rust against the Red Sox.

Per the norm, the young right-hander struggled in the first inning. He allowed three straight one-out singles with Adrian Gonzalezs tying the game at 1.

In nine first innings, including relief appearances, Axelrod has allowed nine earned runs for a 9.00 ERA. But Axelrods struggles end there as he has a 3.26 ERA in his 47 other innings pitched.

True to form, Axelrod settled down. He struck out Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end the first inning and was magnificent from there.

He set down 11 of 12 batters and 17 of the last 21 he faced.

Axelrod struck out the side in the fourth inning and tied a career-high with eight strikeouts.

Those efforts were matched, however, by Red Sox starter Aaron Cook. Cook was efficient and needed only 97 pitches to limit the White Sox to an unearned run and five hits in seven innings.

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.

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.