White Sox

Jimmy Rollins' blast lifts White Sox past A's 5-4

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Jimmy Rollins' blast lifts White Sox past A's 5-4

OAKLAND, Calif. — Jimmy Rollins did something at the Oakland Coliseum on Tuesday night that he hadn’t done for 20 years.

Similar to then, Rollins and his team walked away victorious.

The Oakland native blasted a game-winning home run in the ninth inning off Oakland A’s reliever Sean Doolittle and the White Sox overcame a blown save for a 5-4 victory in front of 10,478. The White Sox are 2-0 for the fourth time in five seasons courtesy of the 386-foot drive by Rollins, who was a second-round pick out Encinal High School (Alameda, Calif.) in the 1996 amateur draft. 

[BOX SCORE: White Sox 5, A's 4]

“I’ve had a couple of big games here in high school,” Rollins said. “Found a way to win those also. So hopefully we keep that up for a couple of more days before we get out of town.”

The White Sox were mere minutes removed from their first big downer of 2016.

Yonder Alonso’s two-run single with two outs in the eighth inning made it a 4-all contest and produced the 53rd career no-decision for Jose Quintana, who struck out seven and allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

But Rollins fired up the dugout, Quintana included, when he ripped into a 94-mph fastball from Doolittle.

“The thing that is most important here is that we take the W,” Quintana said. “We got the W is the most important.

“Real excited.”

Rollins’ fourth trip to the Coliseum as a player has been the most fruitful. He grew up rooting for the A’s and all-time leadoff great Rickey Henderson, who attended Monday’s season opener. After Sunday’s workout, Rollins said he always tries to make sure to get a big hit out of the way early. He did that on Monday with an RBI single in the team’s four-run, third-inning rally.

Perhaps the season-opening hit (though it was more likely his early work in the cage on Tuesday) allowed Rollins to look for something to drive against Doolittle. He fouled off Doolittle’s first pitch, a 94-mph fastball, and swung and missed at another to even the count at 2-2 before the homer.

“(Rollins) took some swings earlier in the at-bat,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He doesn’t always do it, but a veteran guy can kind of lay in the weeds a little and get something.”

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Rollins’ previous heroics at the Coliseum came against Cal High School (San Ramon, Calif.).

In that instance, Rollins crushed a two-run, game-winning homer on a 3-0 pitch.

Rollins said fouling off the first pitch against Doolittle had him in the right frame of mind as he was confident in his timing. The homer was Rollins’ first against a left-handed pitcher since last July 8.

“I felt pretty good earlier during batting practice,” Rollins said. “And I was able to execute the move I was working for and I got a good pitch to hit. I hit it pretty good.”

Rollins wasn’t the only new player to get into one for the White Sox on Tuesday.

Todd Frazier appeared to have the White Sox in position for a nice victory when he went low and got out in front of an 0-2 curveball from Chris Bassitt and crushed it for a three-run homer in the fifth inning.

The 399-foot drive gave the White Sox a 3-1 lead and also snapped a 10-inning scoreless streak for the offense.

An inning later, the White Sox added some cushion with three straight singles from the bottom of the lineup. Brett Lawrie, Alex Avila and Austin Jackson all singled to make it a 4-2 game. Adam Eaton, who went 3-for-5, also singled to load the bases. But Rollins grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The offense’s late production appeared to have Quintana in line for a hard-earned victory. He wasn’t great, but Quintana was plenty effective. He and Matt Albers pitched out of a sixth-inning jam to preserve a 3-2 lead.

Albers pitched 1 1/3 scoreless and handed the ball to Zach Duke and Jones. Duke gave up an infield single to Josh Reddick and Jones hits Khris Davis and Stephen Vogt to load the bases with two outs. Jones stranded a pair with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan after Alonso’s first-pitch single to right.

But Rollins made up for the hiccup with his piercing drive.

“We’ve got something special, man,” Frazier said. “It’s a good team. We’re coming together as a nucleus. You see Jimmy ground into a double play, next thing you know, he doesn’t think about nothing, goes up and hits a home run. That’s just the way baseball is. He’s been doing it for a long time, and its real fun to see a guy of his caliber still dominating the game.”

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.

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.