White Sox

LIVE: White Sox wrap up set with Indians on CSN

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LIVE: White Sox wrap up set with Indians on CSN

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Posted: 9:09 a.m.

READ: Buehrle happy to rebound after poor startsWATCH: Ozzie says De Aza is White Sox best playerFOLLOW: Brett Ballantini on Twitter

(AP) -- The Chicago White Sox can't blame their play on the road as the reason they've underachieved this season.

Having already secured a winning record away from home, the White Sox look for a third straight win over the Cleveland Indians to conclude the road portion of their schedule Thursday night.

A preseason favorite to win the AL Central, Chicago (76-79) instead is trying to surpass the Indians for second place in the division. While the White Sox's 33-42 record at home is one reason they'll miss the playoffs, they've been able to remain relatively competitive by going 43-37 away from U.S. Cellular Field. It's the second straight season they've posted a winning road record.

Chicago moved one-half game behind second-place Cleveland (76-78) with an 8-4 win Wednesday. Rookie third baseman Brent Morel hit a two-run homer and drove in three as the White Sox won for the third time in four games and improved to 6-2 at Progressive Field.

Morel has hit seven of his nine homers and driven in 17 of his 39 runs in his last 19 games.

Outfielder Alejandro De Aza added two hits with two RBIs and is 5 for 13 with six RBIs in this series. He's hit .350 with 20 RBIs in his last 32 games.

"Right now, he's our best player overall when it comes to fielding, running, hitting," manager Ozzie Guillen said of De Aza.

While Morel and De Aza continue to contribute, teammate Adam Dunn struck out twice Wednesday to increase his season total to 167. Dunn's strikeout total continues to be higher than his batting average (.166).

It's uncertain if Dunn will be in the lineup against scheduled Cleveland starter Jeanmar Gomez (4-2, 3.78 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 1.88 ERA since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 30.

The right-hander has allowed two runs in each of his last two starts, the latest over 6 2-3 innings of a 10-4 win at Minnesota on Saturday. Gomez yielded two runs in six innings of an 8-4 win at Chicago on Sept. 9.

Travis Hafner hit a two-run homer Wednesday for the Indians, losers of three of four. The slugger is 6 for 18 with two home runs and eight RBIs in his last five contests.

Cleveland could have All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera back after he missed the last two games with a back strain. He's hitting .274 and set career highs with 24 homers and 87 RBIs this season.

"I think I'll be in there (Thursday) for sure," Cabrera told the Indians' official website.

Cabrera is 1 for 4 against Philip Humber (9-8, 3.59), who takes the mound for the White Sox trying to bounce back from his latest outing. The right-hander allowed two runs in 14 1-3 innings while going 1-0 in his previous three starts before he matched a season high by giving up six runs in six innings and did not factor in the decision of a 7-6 loss at Kansas City on Friday.

Humber has no record and a 2.45 ERA in two starts versus Cleveland in 2011

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: