White Sox

Chris Sale improves to 8-0 as White Sox top Yankees

Chris Sale improves to 8-0 as White Sox top Yankees

NEW YORK -- With another big cushion courtesy of his offense, Chris Sale cruised to his eighth victory in eight starts on Friday night.

Sale took advantage of two early crooked numbers and the White Sox rebounded from a pair of tough losses with a 7-1 victory over the New York Yankees in front of 34,264 at Yankee Stadium. Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run homer and Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu each drove in two runs for the new-and-improved Sale, who became the fourth White Sox pitcher to ever win his first eight starts. Sale, who at one point retired 15 straight batters, needed only 99 pitches for his second complete game of 2016.

“Any time Chris gets (run support) he’s going to be extremely tough,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Tonight, not gearing it up [unless] he had to. He can go get it, but for him this is a different guy. He can strike people out, but you’re seeing a more effective guy who can go deeper into games. The last couple of years he wouldn’t have been able to do this, finish off games.”

The White Sox haven’t had much of an offense to brag about the past few seasons.

While more proof is needed, and another left-handed bat would be swell, the White Sox have been a tough out the past 17 games. Entering Friday, they scored 94 runs in a 16-game span after only producing 61 in their first 19 contests.

The White Sox broke through in the second inning against Yankees starter Luis Severino (0-6), who needed a nice defensive play with two outs in the first inning to rob Melky Cabrera of an RBI single.

Alex Avila got them going with an RBI double in the second inning and Abreu singled in two more with two outs to make it a 3-0 game.

The White Sox poured it on in the third inning when Eaton, who reached base in four of five trips, doubled in two and Rollins followed with a second-deck homer to right to make it 7-1. It’s the fourth straight start in which the offense has produced at least six runs for Sale, who entered ranked 26th of 147 starting with a per game run support average of 5.47.

“You’re not going to hear me complain,” Sale said. “When the guys go out there and do that, it takes the pressure off you and your main goal after that is just throwing strikes. I was using my defense and I started getting to where I was abusing them a little bit.

“It takes the pressure off of you as a pitcher.”

Sale makes it sound as if he has eased off the accelerator.

He hasn’t.

He continues to attack the strike zone and keep hitters off balance by adding and subtracting fastball velocity to go with a nasty slider and changeup. The combination has produced a lot of weak, early contact and a plethora of quick innings.

Sale allowed a Chase Headley homer in the second inning to make it 3-1, but bounced back fast.

He retired the side in order in the third inning on five pitches and never looked back. Sale needed only nine pitches in the fifth, 11 in the sixth and 11 in the eighth. The low pitch count and an overworked bullpen made it an easy decision for Ventura to send Sale back out for the ninth inning.

“It's something we had talked about in spring training, as far as adding that,” Avila said. “A guy like him, he can strike guys out. You want him to take that next step where he can be that ace, going out for that seventh, eighth, ninth inning is huge. It's huge over the course of a season, being able to give the guys in the bullpen a blow, being that guy that stops a losing streak. There's gonna be times where he's gonna need to just air it out. That's the way it is. But being able to pitch at different speeds gives him another pitch, we're able to get quick outs that way and kind of pick and choose when you need to go get a strikeout.”

After Brett Gardner’s second-inning single, Sale retired 20 of 21 batters into the ninth. He allowed a run and six hits with no walks and six strikeouts.

Sale joins Eddie Cicotte (who won 12 straight in 1919), John Whitehead (eight in 1935) and Jon Garland (eight in 2005) as the only White Sox to win their first eight starts.

“I wouldn’t be here without these guys,” Sale said. “When your team puts you in a position like that, it makes it a little bit less stressful.”

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.