White Sox

Chris Sale has second straight rough start as Rays drub White Sox


Chris Sale has second straight rough start as Rays drub White Sox

It hasn’t been pretty for the White Sox since their winning streak ended, and Tuesday night was downright ugly.

Chris Sale had a second straight poor start, and the Tampa Bay Rays took advantage as they dispatched of the White Sox, 11-3, in front of 18,499 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Sale allowed seven runs, including two of the four home runs hit by Tampa Bay. Since they won seven straight games, the White Sox have lost five of six games, including two by Sale, and have been outscored 51-26. Avisail Garcia hit his first homer since June 8 in the losing effort.

“I've been the weak link (the last) couple times out,” Sale said. “I'm not leaving my team a chance to win; I'm not doing my job at all. It's tough. It sucks sitting in here for four innings watching what you've done just unravel and putting guys in situations they shouldn't be in. That's tough. It really sucks, honestly.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Avisail Garcia works through struggles at plate]

What had been a controlled burn turned into a five-alarm fire in the top of the sixth inning.

Already ahead by two runs, Tampa Bay put the game out of reach with Sale’s help. The All-Star pitcher loaded the bases with no outs as Asdrubal Cabrera singled in between walks to Logan Forsythe and Richie Shaffer.

Sale struck out Mikie Mahtook, whose fifth-inning solo homer gave the Rays a 3-1 lead. But Kevin Kiermaier dumped one into shallow center to drive in a run. On the play, Adam Eaton retrieved the ball and his throw home dribbled between the legs of Tyler Flowers, which allowed Cabrera to score, as Sale wasn’t there to back up the throw. Flowers was charged with an error. Daniel Webb took over, and three more runs scored before the inning was out as the Rays grabbed an 8-1 lead.

“Some sloppy ones that got through there tonight that we are not accustomed to the last week,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I thought we were over that, and we’ll handle it tomorrow.

“There’s always worse. But that’s just stuff we work on. We’ve been doing that since spring training so definitely clean that up.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: The Robin Ventura-Nolan Ryan fight story you haven't heard]

Sale — who allowed 12 hits and seven runs in his previous start last Thursday in Boston — allowed six earned runs and six hits with three walks in 5 1/3 innings. Forsythe had a two-run blast in the first off Sale, who struck out nine. His earned-run average has climbed from 2.85 to 3.52 in his past two starts.

“We all just expect him being an ace and how talented he is to just dominate every time, and the reality is he’s human,” Flowers said. “He’s just showing he’s human like the rest of us and he makes mistakes, too. We all know he’s going to work hard, figure out whatever it is and be better next time.”

Tyler Saladino hit a solo homer in the third, but the White Sox couldn’t otherwise solve Chris Archer, who struck out seven and allowed two runs in seven innings.

This is the latest round of a season-long habit by the White Sox, who have developed an M.O. for falling off the mark for a half-dozen games, correcting their poor play and winning until the verge of the .500 mark only to drop off yet again. Previous instances occurred in mid-May, mid-June, at the All-Star break and again last week before the non-waiver trade deadline.

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The most recent instance couldn’t have come at a worse time for the club and its fans as it likely prevented the White Sox from trading Jeff Samardzija. At the same time, the White Sox also reportedly flirted with bringing in a big-name bat to help maintain the team’s offensive uprising. Ultimately, general manager Rick Hahn determined it was best not to pay a heavy ransom to bring in a rental player when his club’s chances mostly are limited to a potential spot in the wild-card play-in game.

Tuesday’s loss dropped them to 4 1/2 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays, who hold the second spot in the wild-card race. Five teams stand in between Toronto and the White Sox, who had crept within 2 1/2 games last week.

“It's tough,” Sale said. “It seems like I'm the one that always puts us in the opposite direction. I've had a chance to get us closer to .500 or even be at .500. I'm just not doing my job. It's as plain and simple as that. I've got to be better. I have to be better. They need me to be better, and I need to be better for myself and for this team.”

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.”