White Sox

James Shields knocked out of White Sox debut early as Nationals win big

James Shields knocked out of White Sox debut early as Nationals win big

James Shields’ first White Sox outing went much like his last before the trade that brought him to Chicago.

Poorly.

The veteran starting pitcher began his White Sox career with a clunker on Wednesday night against the Washington Nationals. Acquired for two minor-leaguers from the San Diego Padres on Saturday, Shields surrendered three home runs and only lasted two-plus innings before he exited. Things got so bad for the White Sox that outfielder J.B. Shuck pitched the ninth inning of an 11-4 loss to the Nationals in front of 15,273 at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox lost their fifth straight and dropped to 29-30, the first time all season they’ve been below .500.

“Today wasn’t a good day,” Shields said. “I didn’t do my job and I need to do better.

“You never want to come into a new team and expect to do that.”

Shields allowed seven earned runs and eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts before he gave way to the bullpen with no outs in the third inning.

The effort isn’t what the White Sox had hoped Shields would provide them when they acquired him for pitcher Erik Johnson and infielder Fernando Tatis Jr. Though they don’t expect him to be the frontline starter of the past, they hope Shields can assume the No. 3 spot in the rotation and pitch deep into ballgames. But Shields didn’t reach the fourth inning for a second consecutive start after he yielded 10 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in Seattle last Tuesday.

“Not the greatest start, obviously,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think he wanted to come in and eat up some innings and everything else and pitch a good game. They got to him early. I think he just struggled through it.

“Just not a good start. Once he started struggling, he started getting it up. The home runs came in there, but you could just tell he was struggling to get through it.”

Shields’ night began on a high note when he opened the game with a punch out of Ben Revere. After a slow trickle to start, his debut sped out of control.

Shields walked Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper beat the shift with a bunt single to third. Daniel Murphy’s bloop single put Shields down 1-0 and Wilson Ramos followed with an RBI groundout. Ryan Zimmerman launched a two-run shot into the home bullpen to make it a 4-0 game and the home crowd began to boo a club that entered having lost 19 of 25 games.

It got no easier as Stephen Drew started the second inning with a solo homer on a full-count pitch from Shields. Danny Espinosa followed Drew with a solo shot of his own to give Washington a 6-0 lead. Shields allowed two more singles before he pitched out of the jam without further damage. The right-hander’s day ended when Anthony Rendon opened the third inning with a single.

“You’ve definitely got to review it,” Shields said. “I was kind of all over the place today really. Fastball location wasn’t very good. I wasn’t getting ahead of hitters and when I did get the ball over the plate they hit it out of the yard so I’ve got to do a better job of that.

“Be aggressive with the fastball and get better location with the fastball. When I have good fastball location all my offspeed pitches are working and everything else is going good. Today wasn’t a good day. I didn’t do my job and I need to do better.”

Werth added to the team’s misery with a three-run homer off David Robertson in the eighth inning. The eighth pitcher of the night, Shuck allowed a run and a hit in the ninth.

Melky Cabrera, who had three hits, doubled in a run off Shawn Kelley in the ninth to break up the shutout. Avisail Garcia singled in two runs and Adam Eaton singled in another.

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.”