White Sox

Facing sweep, Sox seeking consistency

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Facing sweep, Sox seeking consistency

A month ago, the White Sox finished off a sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Their 6-0 victory over their reeling crosstown rival was their fourth win in a row and part of a stretch in which the Sox won 14 of 16 games.

But those two weeks of good feelings have since come to a halt, as the White Sox have dropped five consecutive series to Toronto, Houston, St. Louis, Los Angeles and now the Cubs. And on Wednesday, they send a struggling Gavin Floyd to the mound looking to avoid being swept for the first time this season.

"I think I said it when we were in the midst of our nine-game winning streak, teams are going to win five, six, seven in a row and lose five, six, seven in a row," Adam Dunn explained. "And that's just kinda part of it. Hopefully we can go out today and kinda salvage something and get ready for this weekend."

The Sox won nine straight games in late May and early June in large part thanks to their offense, which tallied 72 runs during that winning streak. In recent games, the Sox have struggled to support stingy outings from Jake Peavy and Jose Quintana.

"When we were putting up 10 runs a game, that's just not going to happen all the time," Gordon Beckham said. "We've just hit a little lull where we just aren't getting the big hit or the runs we need in. We just gotta pick it up. It'll change, it'll definitely change, we just need to make it sooner rather than later."

There's still plenty of time left for the White Sox. Wednesday's game is No. 69 on the season, meaning there are 93 more left. There will be ups and downs, and consistency is often difficult to achieve.

"I don't think there's a lot of teams out there that can say they've played consistently month in and month out," Dunn said. "If we have more wins than losses, we'll be pretty good."

Heading into Wednesday's game, the White Sox have two more wins than they have losses. They haven't been swept all season, as Beckham pointed out. But if Floyd can't find a way to get better results, that may change tonight. Manager Robin Ventura hinted before the game that most of Floyd's issues are in his own head.

"Frustrating is just one of those words that's thrown around but he's the one that has to go through it," Ventura said of Floyd. "As a team, I think that's part of him pitching is the pressures of not letting people down and things like that. Those are probably bigger than just the frustrations, is he's trying to do a lot and he just needs to be himself."

As Floyd's ERA has ballooned to 5.63, it's been easy for some to forget how good he was to begin the season. In Floyd's first seven starts, he struck out 42, walked 13 and allowed four home runs with a 2.53 ERA. In his last six outings, Floyd has struck out 30, walked 10 and allowed 11 home runs with a 10.38 ERA. The Sox are 1-5 in those starts.

Dunn says, though, that Floyd's recent issues don't put any added pressure on the offense and him.

"As position players and hitters, we don't worry about out pitching because there's nothing we can do -- if we score 10 runs, we're probably going to win," Dunn said. "Our goal is to score 10 runs a game. That's probably not going to happen on a consistent basis, but I can promise you if we score 10 we'll win."

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.”