White Sox

Jeff Samardzija, White Sox blow early lead in loss to Tigers

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Jeff Samardzija, White Sox blow early lead in loss to Tigers

The White Sox couldn’t add on to a Sunday lead and Jeff Samardzija and his defense didn’t hang on to it, either.

Instead of earning what could have been a nice series victory over the slumping Detroit Tigers, the White Sox blew a three-run advantage and lost 6-4 in front of 29,059 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Samardzija allowed six runs, including three on two sixth-inning homers, as the White Sox dropped to five games below .500. Avisail Garcia had a three-run homer in the team’s second straight loss as the White Sox finished with six hits, including only one over the final four innings.

“Obviously no one’s happy,” said Samardzija, who has given up at least five runs in five of 12 starts. “We’ve got to win those games. I put that on myself. Get four runs, you’ve got to take advantage of that and hold them to less than that and get the win.”

This wasn’t entirely on Samardzija as his defense gave away at least one run, if not two.

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But Samardzija had no answers for the middle of the Tigers lineup in the sixth inning as a two-run lead quickly turned into a 5-4 deficit. The right-hander looked as if he had found an escape hatch in the sixth when he erased an Ian Kinsler leadoff single by inducing a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Miguel Cabrera.

But a 1-0 offering from Samardzija caught enough of the plate for Yoenis Cespedes to hit an opposite-field solo shot to cut the White Sox lead to 4-3. Tyler Collins, who went 3-for-3 with an RBI, singled and J.D. Martinez blasted a cut-fastball out to center. Cespedes singled in an insurance run past the dive of Conor Gillaspie in the eighth off Samardzija, who gave up 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Samardzija also surrendered another first-inning run on a two-out single by Collins. And Garcia’s misplay of a Collins hit in the fourth -- he slipped and turned a single into a triple -- helped Detroit cut it to 4-2 on a Martinez single.

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“For the most part (Samardzija) has been stronger as the game goes on,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He gets through those first couple innings and he seems to be able to usually put it away. This one, I think we gave them an early opportunity with the ball in right field and you give away little things like that and the home runs end up hurting you. 

“This is a tough lineup and they got him.”

The White Sox got to Detroit starter Alfredo Simon early but never put the game out of reach despite several chances.

Trailing 1-0 in the first, they took advantage of a Cabrera error as Garcia crushed a three-run homer with two outs to pull ahead. An inning later, Adam Eaton had a two-out RBI triple to push the lead to three runs.

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But the White Sox ran into a pair of outs in the fourth inning as Geovany Soto, who doubled, was cut down at third on Carlos Sanchez fielder’s choice. Sanchez was then caught stealing to end the inning.

Eaton doubled to start the fifth but advanced no further as Simon retired Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu and LaRoche in order.

“He had his plan from the beginning and he executed very well,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “In the first two or three innings some pitches were up in the zone, but then he made an adjustment and he did well.”

Simon set down the final 12 batters he faced, allowing four runs (one earned) and five hits in eight innings. He struck out seven.

Though Simon was effective, Ventura said he had help, pointing to the offense’s effort in the fifth after Eaton’s double.

“He was just good down in the zone, getting guys to chase,” Ventura said. “Not a lot of real good swings after that. We have to be better and probably more selective. Any time you’re throwing up that many zeroes late, he just shut us down and you have to be a little more selective and make things happen, but you have to capitalize. I think we had Eaton leading off with a double and didn’t get anything out of it. “Those always seem to come back and bite you.”

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.”