White Sox

Jeff Samardzija hit hard again as White Sox fall to Royals

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Jeff Samardzija hit hard again as White Sox fall to Royals

KANSAS CITY -- Jeff Samardzija has had a rough August.

The White Sox haven’t been any better.

Fantastic in July, Samardzija has allowed 16 earned runs in his past two starts, including seven Saturday as the White Sox fell to the Kansas City Royals 7-6 in front of 39,302 at Kauffman Stadium. Jose Abreu hit two solo home runs and Adam Eaton singled in two more, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the White Sox from their seventh loss in nine tries. Once 2 1/2 games out in the wild-card race, the White Sox are now seven back.

“When we get six runs, we should win those games,” Samardzija said. “Our offense has been doing great. We’re playing great defense. I’ll speak for myself -- you have to go out and be a little better than the last couple of times, and we will for sure.”

White Sox starting pitchers have a 9.60 ERA in the team’s past nine games.

[MORE: Jammed shoulder doesn't slow down Adam Eaton]

Samardzija -- who was 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts last month -- appeared to be on track to do something about that figure, as he was perfect through three innings.

But right after his team gifted him a two-run lead, Samardzija gave it back.

And while there were a few dinks and dunks in the bunch, Samardzija had no leeway after he issue a pair of walks. Alcides Escobar led off the fourth inning with a single and Samardzija quickly loaded the bases with walks of Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain.

From there the bottom dropped out.

In between the fourth and fifth, Samardzija walked the two, hit another and allowed six hits, including three with two outs as he fell behind 7-2. Kendrys Morales’ RBI double on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the fifth ended Samardzija’s night. Over his past two starts, Samardzija has allowed 16 earned runs and 14 hits in 9 2/3 innings. His earned-run average has skyrocketed from 3.94 to 4.62.

“He was working from behind a lot … and he’s always better when he’s jumping ahead and getting guys chasing or locating the fastball if they’re sitting on that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Those two innings especially he kind of put himself in trouble.

“You know guys are going to have a bump here or there.

“It’s our job to try and stop them and right now it’s not happening.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]

The middle innings wiped out a strong effort by White Sox hitters. After they stranded a man on third in the third inning, Abreu got the White Sox going with a solo homer to left off Jeremy Guthrie (six earned runs, 10 hits allowed). Melky Cabrera, who doubled, scored on an Adam LaRoche double play to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the fourth.

Even after they fell behind 7-2, the White Sox continued to battle, though a base running mistake by Geovany Soto ended a possible rally in the fifth when he was picked off with Abreu up and two aboard.

“Especially with Josey at the plate you have to make sure that guy goes home,” Ventura said. “I’m sure he’s kicking himself.”

Abreu began the sixth inning with a solo homer to make it 7-3. Carlos Sanchez singled in a run with two outs and Eaton sliced the lead to a run with a two-run single off Luke Hochevar. But Ryan Madson, Kelvin Herrera and Greg Holland combined for three scoreless innings to hold off the White Sox.

“It has been tough for us to combine the defense with the pitching with the offense,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It’s hard to get wins when you can’t combine that. But we have to try hard every day. This is a long season and if you want to win you have to be consistent in all areas.”

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.”