White Sox

Mat Latos can't hold early lead as White Sox fall to Nationals

Mat Latos can't hold early lead as White Sox fall to Nationals

Mat Latos received plenty of runs early on Tuesday night and couldn’t hold the lead.

Afterward, he didn’t go very easy on himself.

Latos squandered two leads and his bullpen couldn’t slow down the Washington Nationals as the White Sox lost their fourth straight, falling 10-5 in front of 18,812 at U.S. Cellular Field. The team’s 19th loss in 25 games has it at the .500 mark for the first time all season. Latos (6-2) walked four batters and allowed six earned runs in 4 1/ 3 innings. Todd Frazier homered in the losing effort.

“I just felt like I was kind of fighting against myself mechanics-wise or whatever,” Latos said. “I walked, what? Three, four, five, six, seven, I don’t know. I just walked a s**t-ton of people. It was just a piss-poor effort, period, on my half.”

“I could care less about my ERA, strikeouts, you know, my own personal wins. The team gives you a lead like they did today and to just flat out blow it is absolutely pathetic.”

Twice it appeared as if the White Sox were in a good spot to begin a three-team homestand properly. No moment was bigger than when Frazier’s two-run home run in the second inning cleared the center-field fence to put them ahead 5-2. After a second RBI on a sac fly by Jose Abreu, who earlier singled in a run, Frazier jumped on a 3-0 fastball from Joe Ross and blasted it 408 feet for his 19th homer.

But Latos -- vying for the final spot in the rotation along with Miguel Gonzalez now that James Shields has been acquired -- couldn’t hold the lead. Latos intended to bounce a 1-2 split-fingered fastball to Anthony Rendon and instead caught the bottom of the zone with the hitter driving it out to left for a two-run shot to get Washington within a run.

In the fifth, Washington’s first three batters reached base (though leadoff hitter Michael Taylor was caught stealing) as Latos continued to struggle. He allowed a single on each side of his fourth walk of the night and yielded to reliever Dan Jennings.

Bryce Harper’s two-run double off Jennings put Washington up 6-5.

“You start out, their guy's struggling, get some runs and you give those back,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That's the part that takes the wind out of you. They hit the ball, too. But the free passes are going to come back to haunt you.

“You can't go out there and just give them those free passes.”

Latos previously surrendered the two-run lead he received in the first inning. He walked leadoff man David Murphy and issued a one-out free pass to Ryan Zimmerman. Rendon doubled in a run and Danny Espinosa made it 2-all with an RBI groundout.

Since he began the season 4-0 with 0.74 ERA, Latos has a 7.25 ERA and completed 36 innings over seven starts. He has allowed 50 hits, walked 18 and struck out 19 in that span.

“Struggled a little bit mechanics-wise,” Latos said. “I don’t even know. Horse-s**t performance, period.”

The night only got worse.

Along with a Tyler Saladino error, Matt Albers and Zach Duke combined for two walks, a hit batsmen and three hits (one courtesy of a Saladino double-pump that resulted in a single) and let the Nationals pull ahead 10-5. The inning lasted 32 minutes.

The White Sox offense had some similar lengthy efforts early against Ross, who lasted only four innings. Abreu singled on an 0-2 pitch from Ross after consecutive walks by Adam Eaton and Austin Jackson in the first to put the White Sox ahead 1-0. J.B. Shuck also had a bases-loaded walk to put his team up two.

Latos surrendered two runs in the second as Washington tied the game. But Abreu’s sac fly put the White Sox up 3-2 and then Frazier homered.

If the type of loss looked familiar it’s because it has happened quite frequently to the White Sox in this tail spin. They held leads in all three games in Kansas City before losing and had similar occurrences against Texas and the New York Yankees.

Now a team that once held a six-game lead sits in fourth place in the American League Central.

“We’re on the wrong side of things and it seems like we’ve been on it for the last couple weeks,” Eaton said. “We can’t just dwell on it. We have to be big boys and nobody is going to help us. Nobody is going to help us. We have to do it ourselves. Put a good foot forward and get going.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.