White Sox

Poor pitching, outfield play hurts White Sox in loss to Tigers

Poor pitching, outfield play hurts White Sox in loss to Tigers

Austin Jackson’s injury has significantly impacted the White Sox for a second straight night.

A combination of bad starting pitching and poor outfield play in the absence of their injured center fielder was too much for the White Sox to overcome on Tuesday in an 11-8 loss to the Detroit Tigers in front of 17,403 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Miguel Gonzalez struggled and misplays by Avisail Garcia and Melky Cabrera didn’t help the White Sox any as they lost for the eighth time in 11 games. A night after James Shields allowed seven runs in five innings, Gonzalez yielded seven more and lasted only 3 1/3 frames. Tyler Saladino homered in the losing effort and drove in four runs.

“The good news is we had some offense,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “The bad news is we couldn't stop their offense. It's tough when early on it goes that way. At least our guys came out swinging, that's a good sign. That's a rough start, two days in a row. It kind of wears on your bullpen, multiple-inning guys and being able to survive that.”

It was pretty apparent from the outset that Gonzalez wasn’t on his game.

The Tigers scored a run in the first and twice more in the second to grab a 3-0 lead.

But Gonzalez battled and appeared to retire Miguel Cabrera on a routine fly to the right-field corner after he started the third inning with a leadoff walk of Jose Iglesias. Garcia misjudged the ball, however, and it dropped on the track and bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double.

The misplay came a night after Garcia had at least three other poor plays, including an error when he kicked away a Miguel Cabrera double. It also paved the way for an extremely painful inning for the White Sox, who had to stay with Gonzalez even when he ran into control issues. Ventura said it’s a possibility the White Sox would play J.B. Shuck in the field over Garcia in Wednesday night’s series finale.

With their bullpen taxed having pitched 28 2/3 innings over the previous seven days, the White Sox needed length from Gonzalez. But he walked four batters in the frame, including one with the bases loaded to fall behind 6-2. Gonzalez almost walked Ian Kinsler with the bases loaded, too, but got a called third strike to avoid further damage.

Gonzalez was knocked out of the game in the fourth when Miguel Cabrera doubled with one out.

“When I was ahead I couldn’t finish hitters,” Gonzalez said. “It was pretty frustrating. First couple innings you try and set the tone and early in the game it didn’t happen. The ball was up, I made mistakes and they capitalized.

“We put up eight runs and don’t get the win. Me, I have to do a better job keeping the team in the game and minimizing damage.”

Matt Purke took over and immediately issued a walk and yielded one of three doubles by J.D. Martinez to make it 7-2. In a repeat of Monday’s game, Melky Cabrera misplayed Justin Upton’s base hit into a two-run triple.

It’s the second straight poor outing turned in by the White Sox outfield since Jackson was placed on the disabled list on Friday with a left meniscus injury. With Adam Eaton now in center instead of right field, where he has produced a major-league high 16 Defensive Runs Saved, the White Sox have looked out of sorts.

The White Sox expect Jackson will miss at least six weeks.

“We had it where it was going pretty good when we had Austin out there and Adam was in right,” Ventura said before the game. “It becomes something that you notice right away — when one piece is missing it seems a little off kilter. We're just going to have to get better.

“(Garcia is) just going to have to work on it. He's going to have to get better and find a way to get past that.”

Purke recovered and delivered 2 2/3 innings for the White Sox. Rookie Michael Ynoa followed with two scoreless innings in his major league debut. Dan Jennings allowed a run in the ninth.

Those efforts allowed the White Sox another chance to attempt an epic rally against Tigers pitching.

Trailing 1-0, the White Sox plated two runs against Jordan Zimmermann in the first inning. Tim Anderson doubled and scored when Eaton’s bunt base hit was thrown away by Mike Aviles. Eaton scored on Melky Cabrera’s sac fly.

The White Sox rallied for three runs — all with two outs — in the fourth off Zimmermann. Shuck singled in a run and Saladino blooped in two more to make it 10-5.

The White Sox added a run in the fifth when Eaton tripled and scored on a Jose Abreu sac fly. But Zimmermann settled in and retired eight of the last nine he faced to hold the White Sox at bay.

Down five, the White Sox continued to apply pressure in the ninth as Shuck doubled and Saladino homered off Mark Lowe.

“(The deficit) is tough, but you’ve got to embrace that, you gotta enjoy that kind of stuff,” Saladino said. “We do. That’s part of competition. If you’re not on top or you are on top, you keep trying to bury them. If you’re down, you get back on top. It’s just competition. Get after it every day.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

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AP

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”