White Sox

Early homers doom John Danks, White Sox in loss to Angels


Early homers doom John Danks, White Sox in loss to Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. — John Danks surrendered a pair of first-inning homers on Tuesday night and the White Sox never recovered.

Kole Calhoun and Albert Pujols went deep early and Garrett Richards had more than enough to send the White Sox to a 5-3 loss against Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium. Danks allowed five runs (four earned) and five hits in seven innings as the White Sox lost for the fourth time in five tries.

“Any time we started getting momentum, Richards was good,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “The groundball was kind of unkind. It seemed like any time we got guys on and got something going, that sinker he can throw any time, he was good. We couldn’t get over that hump and get the momentum back.”

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Los Angeles created a large mound before their fifth batter had stepped to the plate.

Danks — who allowed one homer in his previous 47 1/3 innings — hit Shane Victorino to start the game and Calhoun followed with a massive, two-run homer to center to give the Angels a 2-0 lead. One out later, Pujols hammered a 0-1 curveball for his 33rd homer and a three-run lead.

Danks would settle in from there — “the stuff is there,” he said — but the damage had been done. He only allowed five hits over seven innings, allowing the White Sox to attempt a rally.

But they couldn’t make up enough ground and went on to their sixth straight road loss.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“It’s still a bad night,” Danks said. “I showed up to the ballpark to win a ballgame. I wasn’t able to do that. In the position we are in as a club, we can’t afford to get too many back. It still stings. But it didn’t do anything to my personal confidence going into my next start.”

The White Sox pushed against Richards but he never broke.

They got a run in the second on an Alexei Ramirez RBI groundout and Jose Abreu doubled in a run in the sixth to make it a 4-2 game. Adam Eaton’s RBI fielder’s choice in the seventh got the White Sox back within two with Abreu up but Joe Smith induced an inning-ending groundout.

“It’s frustrating when we have two-run ballgames, one-run ballgames,” Eaton said. “We come back late sixth, seventh and eighth, but we fall short, it’s difficult. We know it’s there that we can continue to push but we just ran into a good pitcher tonight that had good stuff. Smith comes in, gets a guy and then I roll a ball over, scored a run, but we’ve got to do some damage at that point and make up some time. But hats off to them for pitching it and a couple of key home runs for them, too.”


Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension


Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.

Jose Abreu has already begun mentoring Luis Robert


Jose Abreu has already begun mentoring Luis Robert

As the White Sox have added young Cuban stars in the making in Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, Jose Abreu's long-term role on the team has shifted.

The 31-year-old first baseman has been looked at as something of a mentor for the two young Cubans. He seems to be delivering on that so far.

Abreu picked up Moncada from the airport when he first was called up to the White Sox last July. Now he's helping Robert in the batting cage.

The Cuban trio is expected to play a big part of the White Sox future in the coming years. 

Robert has already stated his goal of making it to the majors this year to join Abreu and Moncada, but that may be an overly ambitious goal. Either way, plenty of eyes will be on him throughout 2018 as he marches towards the White Sox roster and his Cuban teammates.