White Sox

David Robertson's blown save denies Jose Quintana win No. 10

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David Robertson's blown save denies Jose Quintana win No. 10

Despite his consistent, durable pitching, Jose Quintana still hasn’t won 10 games in a season. On Thursday, that baffling statistic had everything to do with David Robertson’s blown save and nothing to do with how the 26-year-old left-hander threw.

Oakland Athletics designated hitter Billy Butler’s go-ahead three-run home run off Robertson in the top of the ninth dealt the White Sox a 4-2 loss in front of 12,406 fans at U.S. Cellular Field. Quintana was in line for what would’ve been his 10th win of the season before Robertson blew his seventh save in 36 tries this year.

“I’m just furious with myself,” Robertson said. “I just screwed up another win for one of our starters who pitched his (expletive) off. And I keep (expletive) doing it.”

Quintana turned in his 23rd quality start of the season — the second-highest total for an American League starter, only behind Houston’s Dallas Keuchel — by limiting Oakland to one run on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts over seven innings of work. He’s never won more than nine games in a season despite a career 3.51 ERA in 720 innings entering Thursday.

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Instead, Quintana’s major league tenure has been defined by the 50 no-decisions he’s been saddled with, including Thursday’s.

“I never feel (like I have) bad luck,” Quintana said. “It’s part of the game, it happens. (You) try to continue. Sometime that’ll change.”

Quintana’s lack of wins, for the most part, isn’t his fault. The White Sox are averaging 3.63 runs of support for him this year, slightly lower than 2014’s average (3.84) and 2013’s (3.73).

“We know he's a good pitcher,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You don't question that at all. Whether he's going to get some run support, that's the other question. Going out there, he's the same every day, he brings it every day. He's just very consistent about how he goes about his work, how he pitches, attitude, all that stuff that you'd like to see he does that every day. He doesn't hang his head on things like this, he knows guys are out there trying.”

Robertson’s disastrous ninth inning began with Brett Lawrie’s one-out double and an ensuing Danny Valencia single. Butler — who entered Thursday with the fifth-worst WAR among qualified hitters — then served an 0-1 cutter deep to right, with Avisail Garcia leaping to near robbing it. Garcia caught the ball in the webbing of his glove, but it was dislodged into the right field bullpen when he slammed into the fence.

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Over the last three seasons, Quintana has the 10th-most fWAR, racking about 13 WAR through consistent effectiveness over 200-inning seasons (Quintana is 10 innings away from reaching the 200-inning mark for the third straight year). But for whatever tough-luck reason, he hasn’t had the same success racking up wins in the old-school baseball sense.

“Q deserved that one, this team deserved this one,” Robertson said. “I did a terrible job. … He’s one of the hardest workers on this team. He gets a quality start almost every time he takes the ball. You can’t say enough about the guy.

“His record should be better. I can think of a couple of occasions and now I’ve messed one up for him again. It’s frustrating for me. I’ve got to be better.”

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.”