White Sox

Chris Sale picks up win No. 14 of year as White Sox beat Astros

Chris Sale picks up win No. 14 of year as White Sox beat Astros

HOUSTON (AP) -- Chris Sale wasn't patting himself on the back on the day he became this season's first 14-game winner.

"To be honest I probably had the least to do with this win today," Sale said.

Dioner Navarro drove in a season-high four runs, Sale settled down after a shaky start to pitch seven-plus innings and the Chicago White Sox beat the Houston Astros 7-6 on Saturday.

Sale (14-2) allowed four runs in the first three innings before settling in to yield just two hits and an unearned run the rest of the way. He allowed six hits and tied a season high by fanning nine.

He said the key to locking in after his early struggles on Saturday was simple.

"Just trying to pull my weight," he said. "My guys picked me up right from the start. So I felt like it was my time to give them some support back. It was a grind from the get-go. My guys pulled me out and we got ourselves a win."

He became the first AL-pitcher to get 14 wins before the All-Star break since David Wells went 15-2 in 2000.

[SHOP: Buy a Chris Sale jersey here]

Navarro drove in a pair with a triple in the second inning to put Chicago up 2-1. The White Sox were trailing in the fifth when his two-run single made it 5-4.

J.B. Shuck hit a solo homer in the fourth and had an RBI triple in Chicago's two-run eighth inning.

Rookie A.J. Reed hit his first career homer off David Robertson to make it 7-6 with two outs in the ninth before Robertson struck out Colby Rasmus for his 22nd save.

Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs for the Astros, who had a five-game winning streak snapped.

Houston starter Doug Fister (8-4) allowed nine hits and five runs while walking five in 4 2/3 innings for his second straight loss.

"He ran into a couple of things. He had a high pitch count early," manager A.J. Hinch said. "They made him work. He wasn't very sharp. The five walks hurt him and the home run."

Altuve gave Houston a 1-0 lead with his home run to the seats in right field with two outs in the first.

Chicago took the lead with Navarro's one-out triple. Avisail Garcia walked after that, but Navarro was tagged out at home on a fielder's choice before Fister retired Tim Anderson to limit the damage.

[MORE TEAM TALK: White Sox tie franchise record with 15 straight solo home runs]

The White Sox had a chance to pad their lead in the third, but Adam Eaton couldn't beat the throw home on a two-out single by Brett Lawrie. Eaton leaped over the head of catcher Evan Gattis on the play, but Gattis was still able to apply the tag.

Danny Worth drew a walk to start Houston's third before a bunt single by Jake Marisnick. Houston tied it at 2-2 when Worth scored on a sacrifice bunt by Marwin Gonzalez and took the lead on an RBI single by Altuve.

After a short coaching visit to the mound, Carlos Correa pushed the lead to 4-2 on a run-scoring single.

Sale settled down after that, retiring 13 of the next 14 batters he faced, until George Springer singled to start the eighth. Gonzalez reached on an error by Todd Frazier after that to end Sale's day.

"He just finds a way to finally find a groove," manager Robin Ventura said. "Once he got the lead you just knew he was going to be able to extend it and get through it."

Sale, who tossed a complete game against Houston on May 19, improved to 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 65 strikeouts in six career starts against the Astros.

Shuck's two-out home run to the seats in right field got Chicago within 4-3 in the fourth.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

mickeradolfo.jpg
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?

0223-rick-renteria-rick-hahn.jpg
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.”