White Sox

Great offensive response lifts White Sox to victory

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Great offensive response lifts White Sox to victory

SEATTLE -- Come for the pitching, stay for the offense.

Chris Sale was outstanding yet again on Friday night in an 11-4 White Sox victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. But just as impressive was a White Sox offense that knocked Felix Hernandez out after six laborious innings and continued to work counts and drive in runs late in the game.

Both Sale and manager Robin Ventura were particularly impressed by a four-run rally in the eighth inning after Mark Trumbo’s three-run blast in the seventh got the Mariners within a run.

“To respond like that was great,” Ventura said. “(Carlos) Sanchez had another big one in there to push it ahead and the two-out ones are always big. Any time you get a two-out RBIs is a big one and we got a couple of them.”

[MORE: Chris Sale strikes out 14 more as White Sox rout Mariners]

The White Sox had six two-out hits, all from the sixth inning on with five accounting for runs.

But what was even more impressive was how quickly the White Sox rebounded after Trumbo’s blast, one that Sale said “traveled a good mile.”

Melky Cabrera singled to start the eighth and Adam LaRoche doubled with one out. Alexei Ramirez, Carlos Sanchez and Tyler Flowers all drew walks, the latter two pushing across runs as the White Sox made it a 6-3 game. Tyler Saladino singled in two with two outs to put the White Sox, who sent nine men to the plate in the inning, ahead by five runs.

Then in the ninth, Sanchez, who had earlier doubled in two runs off Hernandez to make it 4-0, doubled in another to make it a 9-3 game. Sanchez established a career-high with four RBIs. Flowers, who reached three times in five trips,singled in two more to give the White Sox an eight-run cushion.

“For our guys to get four runs off (Hernandez), it says a lot,” Sale said. “Same thing, I go right back out there and give up three and that can kind of deflate a team and we kind of took off after that. It says a lot about the guys we have in here and the team we have.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Jose Abreu -- who has 27 RBIs in 29 games -- got the White Sox on the board in the fourth inning when he doubled to right center off Hernandez toscore Saladino, who went 3-for-5. Adam Eaton also singled in a run in the fifth off Hernandez, who allowed four earned runs and nine hits over six innings.

A night after they scored eight to avoid a four-game sweep in Anaheim, the White Sox produced their fourth double-digit run performance of the season as every starter got a base hit. Three of those showings have come in the second half.

For a team that has played in one- or two-run games in nine of its last 14 contests, the additional breathing room was helpful, Flowers said.

“We know our bullpen is very capable of holding down anybody but to get a little more cushion, give a little more leniency to them and to me calling the game, you’re able to get more aggressive and trust our defense,” Flowers said. “We don’t have to be perfect on every pitch. Much less stressful. Appreciate it.”

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.”