White Sox

Carlos Rodon, White Sox rocked by Pirates on road

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Carlos Rodon, White Sox rocked by Pirates on road

PITTSBURGH -- The White Sox have entered one of those free falls where nothing seems to go right.

The current downward spiral is now four games old with three more contests upcoming against the red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates.

On Monday night, rookie starter Carlos Rodon got hit hard early and the bottom fell out in an 11-0 White Sox loss to the Pirates in front of 24,536 at PNC Park. Losers of four straight, the White Sox made three errors and dropped to six games below .500. Rodon allowed a career-high seven runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings and former White Sox pitcher Francisco Liriano twirled a gem against his former team, striking out 12. Liriano and Rob Scahill combined on a two-hit shutout as the White Sox struck out 13 times.

“We get a good hustle play from Eaton getting on base (to start the game) and after that I don't know what we did well,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We didn't do anything well after that. It's that simple.”

Rodon (2-1) looked out of sync early.

One of the biggest positives of the 2015 season so far, Rodon struggled immediately as he issued a leadoff walk to Josh Harrison in the first inning. The left-hander then gave up five straight hits, including a two-run triple to Francisco Cervelli, as the White Sox fell behind 5-0.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Rodon got out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts and a Tyler Flowers caught stealing and pitched around singles over the next two frames. But Rodon only lasted into the fourth as he surrendered a leadoff double to Jordy Mercer and Harrison followed with one of his four singles to make it 6-0. With the game out of hand, the White Sox yanked Rodon after 69 pitches. Harrison stole second and Starling Marte, who had four hits, singled off Daniel Webb to close the book on Rodon. On the play, Jose Abreu dropped the throw he cut off.

“Fastball command wasn’t too great, leaving balls over the plate and balls were getting hit,” Rodon said. “That was a good hitting club. It’s the big leagues, anybody can hit. You’ve just got to forget about today and go on to tomorrow. Q’s going to give us a good start. He’ll turn this thing around.”

Hector Noesi took over and immediately issued a pair of walks, one scoring on Mercer’s double to make it 8-0.

An inning later, Harrison singled with one out ahead of three straight doubles that made it 11-0. Marte’s double resulted in a Little League home run as Emilio Bonifacio’s relay throw to third got away from Gordon Beckham, who was charged with an error. Alexei Ramirez also had an error for the White Sox, who entered the game second to last in the league in Defensive Runs Saved, according to fangraphs.com.

The White Sox offense was no match for Liriano, who struck out 12 over eight scoreless innings. Liriano -- who appeared in 12 games (11 starts) for the White Sox in 2012 -- had a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Melky Cabrera singled up the middle to break up the no-hit bid, only his sixth hit in 54 at-bats against left-handed pitchers this season.

[MORE: Gillaspie adapting to new role with White Sox]

Liriano (4-5) struck out the side in the fourth and sixth innings. He threw strikes on 69 of 100 pitches and limited the White Sox to two hits and a walk.

It’s the 12th time this season the White Sox have lost by at least five runs.

“It went downhill pretty quick,” center fielder Adam Eaton said. “You hope you can get more than two hits offensively. Defensively you have three errors and throw the ball around and its not a good sign. But this is a good team. We’ve got to continue to work hard and try to compete every game and every at-bat. But we need to start doing it a little more frequently and grind out at-bats and same thing on the mound and defensively it has got to be much better.”

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.