White Sox

No fooling, Sox loss sets record for April futility

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No fooling, Sox loss sets record for April futility

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Posted: 9:12 p.m. Updated: 10:15 p.m.

Associated Press

No. 9 hitter Robert Andino supplied some power, aggressive baserunning and a great play at shortstop to help the Baltimore Orioles send the Chicago White Sox to yet another defeat.

Andino's antics were pivotal in the Orioles 6-2 victory Saturday night, but manager Buck Showalter pointed to the work of reliever Mike Gonzalez as the key.

The hard-throwing lefty pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam with only one run scoring in the sixth. He struck out Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski to stop a potential big inning by the struggling White Sox, who've lost 14 of 17.

"Gonzalez was the star," Showalter said. "Big momentum swing with Dunn coming up there. I said, 'Let it loose, let it hang out, let's go.'

"He's always emotionally into it. Nobody is a robot that doesn't have emotions. Everybody pulls for him. (The offense) fed off his success as much as he did."

Leading 2-1, the Orioles tacked on four runs in the eighth, an inning featuring a passed ball and error on Chicago catcher Pierzynski, some daring baserunning by Andino and a two-run single by Vladimir Guerrero.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen missed the game, completing his two-game suspension for tweeting comments about an umpire after he was ejected three nights earlier in New York. Bench coach Joey Cora ran the team for the second straight game.

With or without their manager, the White Sox can't win and finished April 10-18 - the most losses in April in franchise history. They've dropped four straight.

"The league is not going to be feeling sorry for us or wait for us or nothing. We are going to have to play and play through it and start winning some ballgames," Cora said.

Baltimore's Chris Tillman (1-2), who had to skip his previously scheduled start because of a sore groin, had a 2-0 lead and was pitching well into the sixth when he gave up singles to Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin and walked Paul Konerko to load the bases with no outs.

Showalter went to the bullpen for Gonzalez, who struck out Dunn looking. Alex Rios then hit a fly ball to medium center field and Adam Jones made a strong throw to the plate that appeared to be in time to get Ramirez, but Orioles catcher Jake Fox couldn't hold the ball, making it 2-1. Gonzalez then fanned Pierzynski to end the threat.

Phil Humber (2-3), who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his previous start against the Yankees, had another solid outing, giving up three hits and two runs in seven innings.

"Our job is to gout there and go deep in the ballgame and keep us close and give our offense a chance," Humber said. "Right now we're not scoring a whole lot of runs, but I think that is going to turn around, I really do. I've got all the faith in the world in these guys. ... Hopefully it turns around for us pretty quick."

Andino led off the third with his first homer of the season - and seventh in parts of seven major league seasons - to put Baltimore up 2-0. The Orioles took an early lead when Brian Roberts doubled to lead off the game, went to third on a fly ball and scored on Humber's wild pitch, a low delivery that eluded Pierzynski.

"I wish I could take one pitch back, the one to Andino," Humber said. "Other than that pitch and not being there to cover home in the first inning that kind of bit us there. Other than that I threw the ball pretty well."

Andino also blunted a Chicago rally in the fourth when the White Sox had first and second and no outs. He made a diving stop on Rios' grounder behind the bag and started a double play with a nice flip to Roberts.

"He's been playing good shortstop," Showalter said.

Andino singled in the eighth off Matt Thornton and stole second. When Roberts struck out, the ball got by Pierzynski, who retrieved it and threw low to Dunn at first. Dunn caught the one-hop throw but his relay to the plate was too late to get Andino, who scored all the way from second.

"I came around third aggressive," Andino said. "He might throw the ball. In this game, anything happens.... Once I saw the ball hit the dirt, I made up my mind."

Nick Markakis followed with a single and Derrek Lee walked to load the bases before Guerrero delivered a two-run single past third. Luke Scott's sacrifice fly made it 6-1 and Thornton was booed as he left the mound.

Rios hit his first homer of the season in the ninth to make it 6-2.

NOTES

The Orioles have won four of their last five. ... Guillen said he watched Friday night's 10-4 loss on TV. He said that more difficult than from the dugout because he has to watch replays and can still hear the booing. He said he was in the parking lot and then went home Friday night. "It was painful to watch as a fan," he said. ... Dunn, who underwent an appendectomy and was 7 for 61 over his previous 17 games, got his first start at first base for the White Sox after serving for 20 games as a DH. He went 1 for 4 Saturday night. ... RHP Jake Peavy (shoulder) is scheduled to make his next rehab start on May 5 for the White Sox's Triple-A Charlotte team and throw 100 pitches. ... Orioles' DL update: SS J.J. Hardy (left oblique) hit off a tee, ran the bases and took ground balls Saturday. RHP Justin Duchscherer (left hip) threw 30 pitches in batting practice and said he felt great afterward. LHP Brian Matusz (back) threw 45 pitches in a side session Saturday and reported no problems.

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

Robinson Cano sees superstar potential in Yoan Moncada

Robinson Cano sees superstar potential in Yoan Moncada

The greats know greatness.

Looking across the field this week at Yoan Moncada, 8-time All-Star Robinson Cano not only saw a lot of himself in the White Sox second baseman, he believes he was witnessing a future baseball star. 

“I can see a guy who’s going to be a superstar in this game,” Cano said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “He can field, he can throw, he can hit. In the first game against us, he was a hit away from the cycle. He can hit right now. Imagine when he’s in the league two or three years and is facing the same guys for the last couple years. Then you have a different approach. The guy that I see, you just got to give it time and keep working hard because I think he’ll be a superstar.”

Cano had heard the comparisons between himself and Moncada, but until this week, he had never seen his protege play baseball in person.

The two of them hadn’t even met until Monday when they encountered each other at of all places—second base. Moncada had just doubled for his second hit of the night. That gave Cano a close look at the swing that happens to be identical to his.

“I was watching that the other day on second base and I was like, ‘Wow, it’s the same swing,’” Cano said.

Growing up in Cuba, Moncada idolized Cano. He didn’t just play the same position and copy his swing, he wore Cano’s jersey number and even named his son after him.

“It’s something you can’t describe because as a player it’s the first time that’s happened where you see a player name their kid after you,” Cano said.

Despite their similarities, Cano admits there are some differences that favor the young Moncada.

Who hits the ball harder?

“I would say him. He’s stronger.”

And speed?

“He’s got something I never have. He can run. I was slow, always.”

Moncada’s biggest problem right now is strikeouts. He has 38 this season, second most in baseball. Cano, who has only 14, provided some advice for Moncada.

“The only thing I can give him for that is making the game simple and try not to swing so hard,” Cano explained. "The thing is when we swing too hard and try to hit a homer, we chase pitches. When you try to stay simple, try to make contact and use the whole field that’s when you can minimize the strikeout.”

Cano was 22 in his rookie season. Moncada is currently 23. A player’s first few seasons in the majors is mainly about learning and maturing, which Moncada is essentially doing every time he comes to the plate. Often times his talent just takes over like it did on Wednesday when he homered in the first pitch he saw against Felix Hernandez. After that, he struck out three times.

Moncada’s offensive game has so far been quite boom or bust. Over time that should level out. When it does, look out. 

In the meantime, more wisdom from Cano:

“Sometimes as a kid, you want to go out and all you think is about putting out numbers compared to playing the game that you know how to play. You need to let the numbers come to themselves, not try to get a hit every time, or I’ve got to hit a homer or want to swing hard. Just go out and try to win a game.”

Cano didn’t learn this on his own. It helped having former Yankees teammates like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield show him not just how to play, but how to win.

“When you have someone who can help you in this game, that’s the best thing to happen to a player,” Cano said. “When someone can be there for you and say, “In this situation I think you’re wrong.’ Someone who can tell you something you don’t want to hear.”

For Moncada, one of those players right now is Jose Abreu.

“Having a guy like (Abreu) who can help is good especially since they’re from the same country.”

At one point during Wednesday’s game, Moncada and Cano crossed paths between innings. They smiled at each other before going their separate ways. Cano to second base where the 35 year-old is in the twilight of his career. Moncada to the White Sox dugout where most of his career awaits.

“He’s going to be great in this game,” Cano said about Moncada. “He just needs to stay healthy and keep working hard. People don’t realize that this game is more about time.”

That was Cano's way of saying: be patient White Sox fans. A "superstar" is here. His time will come.

White Sox record isn't pretty, but Yoan Moncada has provided a shiny silver lining of late

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USA TODAY

White Sox record isn't pretty, but Yoan Moncada has provided a shiny silver lining of late

The silver linings aren’t always a joy to find during this rebuilding season. “Well, at least …” can become a somewhat tired refrain as the White Sox sit at 5-16.

But that’s the reality for the rebuilding White Sox, for whom brighter days surely lie ahead. The stocked farm system keeps delivering news of prospect achievements, and the young players at the major league level are providing their own positive signs for the years that are coming.

The South Siders wrapped a 1-5 homestand Wednesday afternoon with their second straight one-run defeat to the visiting Seattle Mariners. They only had one hit after the third and saw the last 13 hitters go down in order. James Shields walked four more guys to bring his season total to 17 in six appearances. The White Sox starting staff leads the majors with 65 free passes issued.

Well, at least … 

Wednesday, it was Yoan Moncada’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the first, a ball that was absolutely crushed into the right-field seats. The distance and power were strong signs for a player expected to be at the center of all that future success. But perhaps of greater note to those who have watched his still-nascent big league career was the fact that the homer came on the first pitch Felix Hernandez threw, a departure from the long at-bats Moncada has been famous for working in his first two seasons on the South Side.

But perhaps it’s just as strong a showing of his hitter’s eye that he was able to do what he did with that first pitch.

“I was trying to be aggressive in that at-bat, swing at the first pitch,” Moncada said. “It was a good pitch for me, and I put the barrel on the ball and made good contact. That was it.”

Moncada, to add luster to this silver lining, has been mashing of late. In the last nine games, Moncada is slashing .333/.421/.848 with eight extra-base hits, four home runs, eight RBIs and eight runs scored. His five home runs rank second on the team, behind only Jose Abreu. And he's just two days removed from coming a single short of the cycle in Monday's win. Yes, he’s also struck out 14 times in the nine-game span, a constant concern for a guy who’s right around the major league lead in punch outs. But he’s also drawn five walks and stolen four bases.

Yes, the White Sox went 1-8 in those contests. But if the 2018 campaign is about developing the players who will power future contenders, then this recent surge by Moncada, one of the rebuild’s biggest stars, ought to please the front office and fans alike who have bought in to the rebuild but remain eager for the strategy to translate into big league success.

“As experience and time give him more opportunity to gain more knowledge of himself and the opponent, and what he’s capable of doing, he’s barely scratching the surface of who he is,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There’s no way that any of us believe in any way, shape or form that he’s a finished product. He continues to develop his skill set, continues to learn, make adjustments as do most players, but one as young as he is, with the skill set he brings to the table, you hope that it ultimately winds up playing really big dividends, which I believe we expect that in the near future.”

“I agree with Ricky,” Moncada said. “I also think that I’m just in the learning process. It’s step by step. I think that I have a lot of talent and I can be a much better player overall. I agree with him. It’s just a process. I try to improve and get better every day.”

An interesting question might be how many leadoff home runs Moncada will have a chance to hit when the oft-projected 2020 lineup takes full shape. Moncada was seemingly entrenched in the leadoff spot when this season began, though Renteria has already moved him out of that spot against left-handers, opting instead to put Tim Anderson at the top of the lineup. Moncada’s got just one hit in only four at-bats outside the leadoff spot, more an indication of his struggles against lefties, against whom he’s batting .130 with 12 strikeouts in 23 at-bats.

Though with his increased power display in the last week and a half, it sparks curiosities of Moncada being more of a middle-of-the-order bat than one that is parked at the top for the remainder of his career.

“He has an extremely good eye,” Renteria said. “Right now, as you see, we’ve mixed and matched him with Timmy now the last two or three days maybe to give him the best chance to have the most positive outcomes possible. We know that right now against righties, he’s very, very good. And right now he’s working on improving his approaches against left-handed pitchers. Seems to me the last couple of days he’s shown some pretty good signs against lefties in his at-bats, contact, swings, approach, and so we’re going to try to continue to develop whatever we need to do in order to maximize the confidence he can gain and the opportunities he gets in any situation.

“And then at some point, I’m sure it will be defined as to what he is ultimately from both sides of the plate and if he’s going to be ultimately a leadoff hitter from both sides of the plate against anybody. His eye says to me that he’s capable of doing that. But sometimes you want to give him the best matchup and you also want to, within the construct of the lineup that you have and the guys that you have, maximize what those guys are capable of doing.”

Moncada and the White Sox both have a long way to go until they transform from 5-16 to the planned contender this rebuilding effort is supposed to yield. But if this season is about anything at the big league level, it’s about Moncada’s development. It’s a small sample size, yes, but of late, Moncada has shown some signs of a guy who could be one of the reasons the South Siders are contending one day.