White Sox

James Shields makes history in White Sox loss to Athletics

James Shields makes history in White Sox loss to Athletics

James Shields put his name in the record books twice on Mark Buehrle Day. 

Making his second start since returning from injury, Shields became the 81st pitcher in major-league history to record 2,000 career strikeouts. He then became the first pitcher in major-league history to allow three players to hit their first career home run in a single game. 

Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman and Franklin Barreto each tagged the White Sox pitcher for their first career blast, as the Athletics jumped out to a 6-0 lead.

"I wasn’t hitting my location with my fastball," Shields said. "Fastball command wasn’t very good today."

The A's held on to a sizable lead all game, notching a 10-2 victory in front of 38,618 at Guaranteed Rate Field. 

Shields' day was done after three innings. He allowed seven hits, six earned runs, three walks and struck out five. 

"Today I didn’t do my job," Shields said. "I didn’t go out there and go deep in the game. I was behind in the count. Lot of walks. We need to clean that up. We need to make Ricky’s life a little easier on making decisions on keeping us in the ballgame."

Despite getting knocked around, Shields still had the time to take in his 2,000th strikeout.

Only five players have whiffed their 2,000th batter in a White Sox uniform - the last one being Javier Vazquez in 2008. Shields fanned Khris Davis in the second inning to reach the milestone. And although he's never been known as a dominant swing-and-miss pitcher, the accomplishment speaks to his longevity and ability to go deep into ballgames. 

"I’ve never considered myself a strikeout pitcher in my career," he said. "I’ve logged a lot of innings but to be able to get that accomplishment is pretty special. Not too many guys have done that."

With the bats, the White Sox didn't give Shields or the bullpen nearly enough runs to stay in the game. The offense picked up one unearned run in both the third and fourth inning, thanks to two infielding errors. Melky Cabrera singled home Yolmer Sanchez, who reached on a Barreto miscue. The following inning, Tim Anderson roped a sac fly to center, plating Todd Frazier. 

In the seventh inning, Frazier picked up his first ejection in 855 MLB games for arguing after umpires called and reviewed that Jose Abreu had slid off the bag while stretching for the third baseman's errant throw. For the second time in as many games, Rick Renteria followed suit, getting the boot for slamming his hat while vehemently disagreeing in the middle of the infield.

"I thought it was quick," Frazier said of the ejection. "I said some things that were borderline I guess."

Olson homered immediately after the ejections - this time off Jake Petricka - to extend the A's lead to eight runs. 

Alen Hanson, who improved his batting average to .333 in a White Sox uniform, was the only player with multiple hits in the Sox order. He went 2-for-4 with two singles. Frazier recorded the team's lone extra-base hit when he delivered a double in the fourth. 

But Saturday exemplified the same rotation problems the White Sox have had for the last month. It marked the 25th time in 31 games that a South Side starter has failed to make a quality start. 

"We’re taxing the bullpen right now and the starters need to do a better job of going deeper in the game," Shields said. "I definitely didn’t do my job today, going deep into the game, and that’s something I’ve always prided myself on. At the end of the day we need to pick those guys up."

Michael Kopech goes to minor league camp as White Sox continue to trim roster


Michael Kopech goes to minor league camp as White Sox continue to trim roster

White Sox fans' dreams of seeing Michael Kopech on the team's Opening Day roster were never very realistic. Tuesday, they were officially dashed.

The White Sox announced Tuesday morning that Kopech, the organization's top-rated pitching prospect and the No. 10 prospect in baseball, has been assigned to minor league camp.

This is not surprising news, of course, but it brings what was a hit-or-miss spring to an end for the 21-year-old hurler with huge expectations.

Kopech finished with a gigantic 11.57 ERA in four spring outings, showing that the decision to start him at Triple-A Charlotte makes a lot of sense. Kopech started off great in Cactus League play, with no earned runs allowed in his first two outings, which featured six strikeouts over 4.1 innings. But he was roughed up in his final two outings, allowing five runs in 2.1 innings against the Kansas City Royals and a whopping seven runs (four earned) in just a third of an inning against the Oakland Athletics.

While Kopech's talent had some thinking there was an outside shot he could do enough this spring to make the team's Opening Day roster — he did, after all, strike out 155 batters in 119.1 innings at Double-A Birmingham last season — it figure he'd begin the 2018 campaign at Charlotte after making just three starts at the Triple-A level in 2017. General manager Rick Hahn told reporters earlier in spring training that Kopech would begin the season in the minors, with that official roster move coming Tuesday.

Hahn has said repeatedly this offseason that a good developmental season for Kopech and other highly touted prospects like outfielder Eloy Jimenez could mean them not seeing the big leagues at all. But if Kopech pitches like he did last season, you'd have to predict that he'll get his first taste of the majors at some point during the 2018 season.

Joining Kopech in minor league camp is Jacob May, the White Sox Opening Day center fielder a season ago. The moves brought the White Sox big league camp total to 36 players.

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Can Carson Fulmer carve out a spot in the rotation of the future?


Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Can Carson Fulmer carve out a spot in the rotation of the future?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

Spring stats aren't supposed to mean much. But when they're really bad, do they mean a little more?

Carson Fulmer has had a bad spring. He entered Monday's outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks with an astonishingly high 18.90 ERA. Things got a little better Monday, when he had his best outing of the spring, throwing four scoreless (and hitless) innings.

Fulmer, the No. 8 pick in the 2015 draft, was supposed to be a big piece of the White Sox future coming off an excellent season at Vanderbilt. But with just 15 big league appearances under his belt and now this poor showing in spring training, it's worth wondering how big a piece he'll be when this rebuild reaches its apex and the White Sox are planned to be contending on an annual basis — or if he's going to be a piece at all.

Moved quickly to the majors in 2016, Fulmer was roughed up for an 8.49 ERA in eight relief appearances. Last season, he was crushed in a spot start in August, allowing six runs in 1.1 innings. But he came back at the end of the season and showed some promise, turning in a 1.64 ERA in six appearances. Four of those were starts, and in those he allowed just three runs in 17.1 innings.

That end-of-season performance figured to earn Fulmer a spot on the young-and-getting-younger White Sox starting staff, giving him the opportunity to prove that he could be a part of a rotation of the future. Instead, the spring has been a bumpy ride.

His first outing against the Cubs: four runs in an inning. His second outing against the San Diego Padres: four runs in an inning. His third outing against the Padres: two runs in three innings. His fourth outing against the Milwaukee Brewers: seven runs in 1.2 innings.

That's a hideous list of results for a guy trying to work his way into a rotation spot. Monday, his fifth outing, got him back on track a bit, and it still looks like he'll stave off Hector Santiago — signed to a minor league deal at the outset of spring training and looking like a shoo-in for the long-relief role in the bullpen — for the fifth spot in the rotation. The obvious thing going for Fulmer in that battle is his age and his one-time expectations, good enough reasons to give him every opportunity to earn a spot in a rotation of the future.

Thing is, that future's coming fast. The rotation of the future is a crowded one, with Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dylan Cease, Dane Dunning and Carlos Rodon all fighting for jobs, along with Fulmer. So this year offers a unique opportunity for Fulmer to show the White Sox at the big league level that he can be one of those guys.

But he's got to get there first. It makes sense that he would, because even if his spring struggles move over to the regular season, the White Sox aren't expected to be contending for a championship in 2018.

The window to impress might not be huge, but it does exist. In 2018, we'll see what Fulmer can do.