White Sox

LIVE: Dunn's 2-run blast pulls Sox within 4-3

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LIVE: Dunn's 2-run blast pulls Sox within 4-3

Friday, April 15, 2011
Posted: 11:15 a.m.

(AP) -- Another rough outing for his struggling bullpen has Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen steamed. A matchup with one of the hottest pitchers in baseball may only increase his frustration.

The White Sox look to bounce back from blowing another lead when they face Jered Weaver and the Los Angeles Angels at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday night.

Chicago's relievers have faltered in the late innings three times in the past week, and a 7-4 defeat to Oakland on Wednesday left Guillen particularly angry.

The White Sox (7-5) led by three going into the ninth, but Chris Sale gave up three runs and closer Matt Thornton allowed three more in the 10th. Thornton has four blown saves in five appearances.

"There's nothing to even describe it right now. Frustration is pretty high," Thornton said. "Confidence isn't the problem. It's my frustration right now. It's the most frustrated I've been in a long time. I can't remember a run of games like this where I haven't gotten the job done that many times in a row."

Guillen said he doesn't know who he'll use to close. He sarcastically added that he might call former teammate Bobby Thigpen, who saved a then-major league record 57 games in 1990.

"I don't have any closer. I don't," Guillen said. "You are just scratching your head and second-guess yourself what you are doing wrong, bringing people to the mound with three-run lead ... and we can't hold the lead. That's not a good sign."

Judging by Weaver's first three starts, the White Sox might not have a lead to protect Friday.

Weaver (3-0, 0.87 ERA) had a career-high 15 strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings of his last outing, a 3-1 victory over Toronto on Sunday. He has walked nine and struck out 27 in 20 2-3 innings.

"I'm not going out there trying to strike everybody out," Weaver said. "I'm just trying to get a first-pitch fastball over for a strike and trying to get ahead in the count and trying to keep my team in the game. And if it takes a couple of strikeouts here and there, then that's what it's going to take."

The right-hander is 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA in seven career starts against the White Sox, though he lost both starts versus Chicago last season with a 4.85 ERA. He is 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Angels (7-5) are seeking a season-high third straight win and seventh in nine games, but they've lost seven in a row to Chicago.

The White Sox will try to extend that streak behind Phil Humber (1-0, 3.38), who had a strong outing in his first start with the team.

Subbing for the injured Jake Peavy, the right-hander allowed one run and four hits over a career-high six innings of a 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Saturday.

"It's just about relaxing, allowing yourself to get out of the way," Humber said. "A lot of the times I've put too much pressure on myself. Now I feel a lot more relaxed and let my ability work."

Humber has faced the Angels once, allowing two hits in two scoreless innings of relief Aug. 10 while with Kansas City.

Los Angeles swept a two-game set at U.S. Cellular on May 19 and 20 but suffered a four-game sweep there July 5-8.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: