White Sox

Chris Sale finally picks up 15th win as White Sox cruise past A’s

Chris Sale finally picks up 15th win as White Sox cruise past A’s

After being stuck on 14 wins since July 2, Chris Sale finally picked up his 15th victory of the season on Saturday, tossing a gem as the White Sox cruised past the Oakland Athletics 6-2 in front of 21,178 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.

Sale pitched eight shutout innings and allowed only three hits and three walks on 120 pitches, tying his season-high. The “K-Zone” was in full effect too as the White Sox ace struck out eight batters.

Sale became the league’s first starting pitcher to reach 14 wins on the season but struggled to pick up No. 15.

"It was kind of getting over the hump for me," Sale said. "My last few times out I haven’t been as good as I’ve wanted to be or as good as I’ve needed to be."

"Coming in and getting this one after a loss, we’ll fight for this series tomorrow, so it was important."

Sale barely needed any run support to pick up the win but his offense supplied it anyway 24 hours after being shut out 9-0.

Sale is now two wins away from tying his single-season record (17) set in 2012.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

In Saturday’s win, everything seemed to be clicking for the White Sox, even on offense, which scored at least one run in each of the first four innings.

Jose Abreu got his team on the board early in the first after hitting a solo homer to right field that clipped the glove of A’s outfielder Brett Eibner on its way out.

In the second, Carlos Sanchez and Tim Anderson hit back-to-back two-out RBI singles to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead.

Melky Cabrera (single) and Jason Coats (groundout) tacked on RBIs in the third, and Cabrera added another in the fourth with his second single of the night.

Sale admitted that adding those early runs helped alleviate a little bit of pressure.

"You see your guys fighting," Sale said. "I think it was the third inning, scored all with two outs. When stuff like that goes, you kinda feed off of that, and build momentum and try to execute some pitches."

The offense was quiet on both sides after that until the ninth inning when Nate Jones entered the game and allowed two runs – a solo homer to Danny Valencia and an RBI single by Eibner.

Jones recorded just one out before being relieved by David Robertson, who picked up the final two outs of the game for his 31st save of the season.

[RELATED: White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper: 'It’s either good or it’s bad' with James Shields]

The White Sox are now 58-64 on the season and have 40 games left.

But even though the White Sox postseason hopes seem to be far out of reach, there's still a "no-quit" attitude in the clubhouse.

"Nobody in here has given up," Sale said. "We have too much pride in ourselves and what we do. When you look around this clubhouse, we have some pretty good guys, guys that compete.

"At the end of the day that’s all you can ask for. Anything that happens after that, you can live with it."

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.”