White Sox

Indians, Shaun Marcum send White Sox to 4-3 loss

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Indians, Shaun Marcum send White Sox to 4-3 loss

After two games of hard heat from Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer the White Sox offense couldn’t adjust to soft tossing Shaun Marcum.

While they belted a pair of solo home runs on Wednesday night, Marcum otherwise held the White Sox in check as they fell to the Cleveland Indians 4-3 in front of 15,146 at U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox dropped back below .500 as Marcum and two pitchers combined on a six-hitter. Cody Allen pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth against the White Sox, who are now 2-16 when they score three runs or fewer.

“It’s such a change of speed between Bauer and Kluber,” said leadoff man Adam Eaton, who accounted for the team’s first run with a 404-foot solo homer. “(Marcum) mixes his pitches. You never know what’s coming in certain counts.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“My third at-bat, I could have sold the house he wasn’t going to throw me a heater in. I figured something soft away. He hit his spot and you kind of tip your cap to that. “That’s kind of how the day went.”

Making his first start since July 2013, Marcum didn’t allow more than one batter to reach base in an inning. Bringing a much softer approach than Kluber and Bauer, Marcum allowed only a single his first time through the lineup.

Eaton did get the White Sox on the board first with a two-out, solo home run in the third inning, his first since April 12, 2014. But Marcum settled in and retired 12 of the next 13 batters until he surrendered a solo homer to Conor Gillaspie with two outs in the seventh inning to allow the White Sox back within two.

Marcum limited the White Sox to four hits and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings.

“We were swinging at a lot of stuff off the plate and Marcum did a good job of getting us to do that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.

[MORE: Eaton crushes rare home run in loss]

The White Sox scored a run in the ninth after Allen gave up a single to Jose Abreu, who extended his hitting streak to 15, and walked Adam LaRoche and Avisail Garcia. Gillaspie popped out on the first pitch he saw before Alexei Ramirez’s infield single drove in a run. But Allen struck out pinch hitter J.B. Shuck.

The effort was similar to the first two games of this series and the first 20 of the season when the White Sox offense has sputtered. In their first 20 games, the White Sox scored 64 runs, a trend they seem to have reversed this month until Cleveland came to town.

The Indians did most of their damage in the seventh against the White Sox bullpen. Dan Jennings issued a leadoff walk in the seventh and threw wide of second on a fielder’s choice. One out later, Jose Ramirez singled in the go-ahead run off Jennings and Michael Brantley doubled in two more to put Cleveland ahead 4-1.

“You're just giving other teams opportunities,” Ventura said. “You clean that up and you probably have a better chance to win that game. The guys fought back there in the ninth, but really I think on our pitching side you're just giving them too many opportunities.”

The Indians couldn’t break through against Carlos Rodon, who walked six batters in his previous start, and issued five more free passes on Wednesday night. But unlike last Friday in Oakland, Rodon managed to work around his walks until his last inning, when he walked two.

Rodon -- who has walked 19 batters in 22 1/3 innings this season -- allowed a run, four hits and struck out four over six innings.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

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

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USA TODAY

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.