White Sox

Inconsistent offense continues to sink White Sox in loss


Inconsistent offense continues to sink White Sox in loss

NEW YORK -- The offense fooled Robin Ventura once this season.

But aside from a seven-day stretch of gaudy production that will keep the White Sox from being one of the worst offenses in franchise history, the rest of the season has been filled with frustration.

One day after his club officially was eliminated from the postseason, the White Sox manager again pointed to his offense Sunday as the aspect most responsible for an underwhelming season on the South Side. Minus seven straight wins in late July when they scored 54 runs and gave Ventura hope of turnaround, the White Sox offense has averaged 3.7 runs per contest, including Sunday’s 6-1 loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

“You could see things turn around offensively,” Ventura said. “We kind of tweaked it a little bit roster wise and it started to work. We were pitching, playing some defense and getting some runs.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“We could never keep up that offensive production to that extent but you expected a little bit more out of that. When you are inconsistent offensively, and there will be games where you don’t do it, it just wasn’t consistent enough.”

Sunday was the 79th time this season the White Sox have scored three runs or fewer in 156 games (50.6 percent). It was also the 57th time they’ve scored two or fewer runs. And the White Sox -- who are guaranteed a sub-.500 finish in a third straight season and have missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 years -- have been shut out 11 times. They only avoided a 12th shutout Sunday when Avisail Garcia crushed a pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning.

This isn’t the kind of production the White Sox expected from their offense this season. Not with the way they invested in what they believed would be an upgraded roster this season.

While Melky Cabrera (three years, $42 million) has exceeded last year’s RBI total, he hasn’t quite been the on-base machine the White Sox hoped he would be. Adam LaRoche hasn’t offered the type of middle-of-the-order protection for Jose Abreu the White Sox believed he would when they signed him to a $25-million contract.

Alexei Ramirez has somewhat salvaged his season but is way down from when he was a Silver Slugger winner in 2014.

And Garcia hasn’t developed quickly enough to help the White Sox overcome their other issues -- namely minimal offense at catcher, second base and third.

[MORE: What's next for White Sox in 2016?]

But for those seven days in July, the White Sox put on quite a show as everyone throughout the lineup hit. The run got the White Sox within a game of the .500 mark, had them in the thick of the wild-card race and prevented general manager Rick Hahn from parting with Jeff Samardzija before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.

While the White Sox have been markedly better in the second half -- they have scored 4.52 runs per game since the All-Star break and averaged 3.4 prior to it -- it hasn’t been enough.

“Any time you see a run like that, you get guys that, we were young in certain spots,” Ventura said. “But once you see the guys that have a history and you expect them to go on a bit of a run just to kind of even it all back up and it just never got over the hump once we started going in the right direction. It never was sustainable. That’s probably the part you just sit there and look at and try to figure out.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


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?


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.”