White Sox

Chris Sale strikes out 10 as White Sox rally past Royals

Chris Sale strikes out 10 as White Sox rally past Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chris Sale always has a strong desire to finish his starts, but Carlos Sanchez delivered even more momentum late on Friday night.

Sanchez blasted a go-ahead, three-run homer off Kelvin Herrera in the eighth inning to put Sale in front and he did the rest as the White Sox topped the Kansas City Royals 7-4 in front of 29,218 at Kauffman Stadium. Sale --- who retired the first 13 men he faced -- struck out 10 in a 119-pitch effort for his sixth complete game of the season and earned his first victory since Aug. 20 and only second since June.

“I threw my arms up in the air,” Sale said of the Sanchez homer. “I was just, it was crazy. That’s your team fighting for you right there. It’s your team fighting back against one of the best (Herrera).

“It changes the complete landscape of the game honestly. You are looking at, we were down two and then we scored one, and then we hit a three-run homer. All you have to do is go out there and not mess up too bad.”

Sanchez’s second straight game-winner arrived three batters after Todd Frazier jump-started the stunning rally. Frazier had taken umbrage to an inside fastball near his head with one out in the eighth from Herrera and the Royals ahead 4-2. Frazier barked at Herrera before catcher Salvador Perez played the role of peacemaker.

After play resumed, Frazier doubled to left field and instantly scored on a one-out RBI single by Alex Avila. Avisail Garcia walked in front of Sanchez, who sat on a fastball and skied a 3-2 heater out to right to put the White Sox ahead 6-4.

Melky Cabrera blasted a solo homer in the ninth off Peter Moylan to stretch the lead to three runs.

“It’s really good when your pitcher pitches a really good game, to get the win,” Sanchez said. “I just tried to get the ball good and bring one run in and I feel really good.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura had no qualms bringing Sale back for the bottom of the eighth inning. Working efficiently, Sale had thrown 90 pitches through seven innings and rebounded nicely after he allowed four runs (three earned) between the fifth and sixth. Sale needed only 11 pitches to get through the eighth after a leadoff single and convinced Ventura with a quick chat to bring him back for the ninth. Though he walked one, Sale ended the game with a strikeout of Paulo Orlando on a 95-mph fastball. His six complete games are the most by a White Sox pitcher since Bartolo Colon had nine in 2003.

“He was going back out,” Ventura said. “It was nice for him to finish it off. Early on he was real sharp. They got to him in the middle there. Even at the end, talking to him, he felt great. We had been talking about how strong he is, his endurance, and this is another example of that.”

Sale looked like he had the stuff perfect games are made of in the early going.

He had pinpoint command of his fastball and buckled knees with sliders. Sale had no close calls in the first 13 hitters and was efficient. He struck out one batter in each of the first four innings and only needed 43 pitches to set down the first 12.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

But Salvador Perez fouled off an 0-2 slider in the fifth inning and singled to start a barrage of Royals hits. By the time it was over, Kansas City had gone 7-for-10 and went from trailing by two to leading 4-2. Sale escaped the sixth inning with a double play and set down the side in order in the seventh inning. HIs 11-pitch eighth meant Sale has pitched at least eight innings in six straight starts, the most by a White Sox pitcher since Jack McDowell had seven from July 10-August 8, 1994. He recently attributed the run to a plan he and pitching coach Don Cooper devised in spring training to work more efficiently. Sale also credited his catchers and his manager for trusting him.

“You got to give credit to my team, my catchers and not only that, but to Robin,” Sale said. “He’s letting me get extended a little bit. A lot of people are afraid to let guys get over the 110-pitch mark. We go based on feel -- if I’m feeling good. He came up and asked me after the eighth. I know how I felt and we went from there.”

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.”