White Sox

Morel powers White Sox past Indians

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Morel powers White Sox past Indians

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011Posted: 10:52 p.m. Updated: Friday, Sept. 9, 12:16 a.m.

Associated Press

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Read: Lillibridge breaks hand, out for rest of season
Sox Drawer: Thome close to finish line?
Watch: The White Sox and Yankees remember 911

Brent Morel is finding his power stroke.Morel hit two homers and Paul Konerko had a grand slam, lifting the Chicago White Sox to an 8-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night.Morel hit a solo shot off Indians starter David Huff (2-4) in the third and a three-run homer off Frank Herrmann in the seventh - both on the first pitch. It was Morel's first career multi-homer game and his four RBIs were a career-high."I was fortunate enough to get a couple of good pitches there and I didn't miss them," Morel said.Three of Morel's five home runs this season have come in the last week."I would have liked to have hit a little bit better," Morel said. "I'm not really going to worry about it, just worry about finishing strong."Konerko's 10th career grand slam tied Robin Ventura's White Sox record and capped Chicago's seven-run seventh."I was just trying to get the ball up and get something out to the outfield," Konerko said. "Just one of those, he threw and I hit. You don't really know what you did."Gavin Floyd struck out four and held Cleveland to one run and five hits in 5 23 innings. Matt Thornton (1-4) retired all four batters he faced, striking out three.Huff gave up three runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings, striking out five, as the Indians lost their fourth straight."You leave the ball up and these guys are going to hit it out," Huff said. "I told him (Hermann) to keep his head up and you'll probably be in there tomorrow or the next day and be ready to go."Both clubs were recently swept by first-place Detroit, giving the Tigers a commanding lead in the AL Central and virtually reducing this weekend's series into a battle for second place.Putting a further damper on a matchup that had lost its once-anticipated luster, a misty rain began to blow across the field during the top of the third and fell for much of the game.The small, subdued crowd at U.S. Cellular Field saved its biggest cheers for Cleveland's Jim Thome, whose RBI single in the first scored Asdrubal Cabrera for the game's first run.The White Sox honored Thome in a ceremony before the game in recognition of his 600th career homer, which he hit on Aug. 15. Thome, who played for Chicago from 2006 to 2009, also received a standing ovation before his first plate appearance."Last couple of weeks, this guy is swinging the bat a lot better," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "More power and most consistency. The ball is jumping off his bat right now."Morel tied the game with a homer to left-center in the bottom of third. Later in the inning, Juan Pierre singled for his 2,000th career hit, also earning a nice ovation as he tipped his cap. Pierre, 34, became the 268th big-leaguer to reach the milestone."Juan is probably consistent guy I've ever been around, as far as the way he comes to prepare every day to play," Konerko said.Despite holding the Indians to one run, Floyd fell behind a number of hitters working from a slippery mound, running up his pitch count. At one point in the sixth, he requested that the field crew come out and apply sand around the pitching rubber.Floyd departed after throwing 112 pitches, giving way to Will Ohman, who got Thome on an inning-ending grounder with a runner on first."You look up and you've got like 70 pitches in the third inning, you're kind of scratching your head," Guillen said. "In the meantime, sometimes you have to just (forget) that pitch count and go out there looking for zeroes. That's what he did."Huff pitched into the seventh, when he allowed a walk and a single to begin the inning. He struck out Tyler Flowers before giving way to Herrmann, whose first pitch Morel hammered into the left-field bleachers.Herrmann allowed a walk and a single before being replaced by Josh Judy, who hit Brent Lillibridge with a pitch and gave up Konerko's grand slam. The White Sox scored seven runs on just four hits in the inning.The White Sox's win was muted by the postgame news that Lillibridge suffered a broken bone in his right hand when he was hit and will miss the rest of the season.
NOTES: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said that RF Carlos Quentin (sprained left shoulder) will likely return to the lineup over the weekend. ... Cleveland rookie 2B Jason Kipnis, a Northbrook, Ill., native, singled in his first big-league game in his hometown. He was injured the last time the Indians were in Chicago. ... Indians manager Manny Acta said 1B Matt LaPorta would likely be back with the club in the "next couple of days." The former first-round pick was sent to Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 29 after struggling to a .238 average in 97 games. ... Cleveland's Jeanmar Gomez will square off against Chicago's Mark Buehrle on Friday. Buehrle allowed a season-high eight runs in his last outing.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: