White Sox

Kotsay wills White Sox to win over Tigers

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Kotsay wills White Sox to win over Tigers

Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010
Updated: 6:35 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT The game didnt begin as the biggest endorsement of Ozzieball. It turned on another setback for Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. And it ended with hitting heroics from the unlikeliest of sources, Mark Kotsay.

Kotsays 11th-inning triple drove in two to pace a 6-4 win, heroics that validated his managers faith on a day where a new name (idle free agent Carlos Delgado) was being rumored to replace him.

Before the game, I said we needed more production out of Kotsay and Andruw Jones at DH and they did it today, Ozzie Guillen said. You have to go out there and make things happen. For most of the year, Kotsay has been hitting the ball very well, but with no luck. This game is about results, and today he came up big. We needed that.

Kotsays eventual game-winning triple in the 11th was preceded by what appeared to be an insurance two-run homer in the ninth.

Today felt great because there were some results in the at-bats as opposed to having a good at bat but making outs, he said. It felt good to have a couple of balls fall in.

Kotsays heroics were made necessary when the Detroit Tigers tied the game on a bottom-of-the-ninth, two-out, three-run homer by Ryan Raburn off Jenks, who has now blown three games since the All-Star break, two of them on the heels of quality starts from Freddy Garcia.

As Jenks left the field in the ninth with four decisive expletives, the speculation on who would replace him as closer immediately began. Fortunately for Jenks, the White Sox pulling out the win in both the game and the four-game series takes some of the onus off him.

You know what, ask Bobby what he wants to do, I dont know, Guillen said, with more bewilderment than anger. I wont say weve lost confidence, but if youre the closer, you can give up one run. But now were talking about the last three of four times you blow the game, giving up three or four runs. With Bobby as our closer, our bullpen is better, but right now Im not sure what were going to do for the next couple of days.

Jenks was remorseful after the game, not so much about his home-run pitch to Raburn but the 1-2 curveball that broke in and down, drawing a piece of Ramon Santiago (hitting .262 from the left side) to put a second baserunner on and set up Raburns dramatics.

Natch, the closer wants to keep his job: Changing things, thats not up to me. Being strong is a key with anybody thats in this role. If youre not, youre not going to last very long.

While many have doubted Guillens aggressive offensive philosophy, which can be summarized as a constant, multifaceted, old-school assault by bunt, steal or hit. And with runners thrice caught stealing and the teams bunting on the fritz early, it looked like this could be the most egregious example of erroneous offensive strategy yet.

But true to form, in a season where everything wrong turned right again, a game the club was determined to run itself out of took a twist in the fifth inning, when Chicago rallied for two runs, providing what looked to be more than enough support for the Detroit Tiger killer, Garcia.

Guillen opted not to send shaky basestealer Alexei Ramirez to second with a steal attempt after he led off the inning with a walk, and was rewarded with runners on second and third with none out after Ramon Castros double down the left-field line. From there, Chicagos speed and aggressiveness paid dividends. Detroit starter Max Scherzer struck out Gordon Beckham, but not before the distraction of Ramirezs active legs at third drew a run-scoring wild pitch out of the sequence. Then, with Castro at third and Chisox third-base coach Jeff Cox rain-dancing possible squeeze signs down to Juan Pierre in the batters box, Scherzer was thrown enough to offer up an easy, run-scoring single up the middle to Savior Pierre.

Garcia was his extraordinary self, allowing just four hits over six innings before Don Kelly clocked a home run to lead off the seventh to break up the shutout. Garcia then punished Gerald Laird and Austin Jackson for Kellys sins, striking both out on 16-inch softball tosses that corkscrewed the clubbers. Matt Thornton then came on to extinguish pinch-hitter Raburn on a groundout. Though Raburns home run erased Garcias winning effort, hes 8-0 with a 2.64 ERA in his last nine road starts at Comerica Park.

It happens, Garcia said. Its bad luck, but things happen. Im going out and doing everything I can to help the team win. A no-decision is better than a loss, right?

Thornton made things exciting in the eighth, walking both Johnny Damon and Miguel Cabrera to lead off the inning. But the lefty fireballer dialed his fastball up to 97 to obliterate Brennan Boesch on a three-pitch strikeout before giving way to J.J. Putz. The setup ace induced a shotgun blast of a grounder to short, which felled Ramirez but not enough to prevent a 6-4-3 double play to extinguish the threat.

Way back in the first, Pierre stole his 500th career base, prompting a standing ovation from Beckham on the bench and Castro motioning for Pierre to pull the base out of the ground as a keepsake. But the speedster otherwise had some mixed results on the gametwice caught stealing and a failed sacrifice bunt on the negative end, an RBI single and a spectacular, one-handed, double-bobble catch on the run in left to rob Boesch in the sixth to his credit.

Fortunately, given the team effort and heroics from Kotsay and Sergio Santos, who pitched a strong two innings of relief after Jenks and earned his first major-league win, the team was in high spirits as it motored away from the Motor City.

Itll be a better mood, Santos said of the comeback win to end the series. The plane ride to Baltimore will be a lot of fun.

Even Jenks found a way to uptalk one of his toughest games of the season: Today was what it is. Ill be ready to go out there tomorrow. I know its clich, but the important thing is we did get that win today. In the big picture, that ninth inning means nothing as long as we won the game.

And while Guillen seemed genuinely confused over the role hed assign his ace closer for the time being, the skipper was proud of the way the team rallied around Jenks and never lost grip of the game.

The team played very well after the ninth, Guillen said. Those types of games can get you down right away. A lot of teams can sit back and feel sorry for themselves, but we keep fighting. The bullpen kept us in the game, and the guys continued to swing the bat.

Losing this game, it would have made for a long flight, and a lot of long faces. But the guys didnt give up.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

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.”