White Sox

Quintana pitches nine innings, but White Sox fall to Royals in 10

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Quintana pitches nine innings, but White Sox fall to Royals in 10

Jose Quintana did everything he could Wednesday night to earn a 10th victory for the first time in his career.

But one mistake to Mike Moustakas and a boatload of stranded White Sox base runners left him one win shy of double digits for a third straight season. Quintana pitched nine strong innings only to watch the White Sox fall to the Kansas City Royals 5-3 in 10 innings. Eric Hosmer’s two-run homer off David Robertson in the 10th lifted the Royals to the victory.

Jose Abreu hit his 30th homer in the losing effort.

“It doesn't diminish what Q did out there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It comes down to we don't score enough for him. That's pretty obvious. Again, that means nothing as far as how good he is. We know how good he is and we just wish we'd score more for him.”

Quintana completed nine innings for only the second time in his career.

He gave up a third-inning homer to Alex Gordon that tied the score at 1. And he left a curveball up to Moustakas in the sixth that was hit for a two-run homer as Kansas City pulled ahead 3-1.

But that was it.

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He threw strikes on 71.8 percent of his pitches (that’s good) and allowed three runs and five hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. But the effort ended Quintana up shy of what he considers an important victory once again as he earned his 13th no decision of the season and 52nd of his career.

“It’s important for me because I’ve never had it,” Quintana said. “But my point is to try to get as many wins as you can for the team. Everything is about the team. I’ll try to keep going. The season is done for me right now, but I’ll try to focus on the next season. I’ll rest right now and work hard for the next one.”

Quintana finished the season 9-10 with a 3.36 ERA in a career high 206 1/3 innings. He started 32 games and struck out 177 against only 44 walks. Quintana’s 1.92 walks-per-nine total is the lowest of his career.

When he surpassed 200 innings in the third, Quintana became the first White Sox pitcher to reach 200 innings, 30-plus starts and 160-plus strikeouts in three straights seasons since Javier Vazquez in 2006-08.

“He just doesn’t get rattled out there,” Robertson said. “He just keeps going, he pounds the zone. He keeps the ball down. He’s a competitor. He’s the kind of guy you want out there every five days because you know he will give you something special.

“I haven’t helped him out. I’ve blown a couple of his games so he should have 10. It’s unfortunate. I wish I would have been better at my job so that he had 10 wins but, his innings, his ERA, strikeouts, walks, everything shows he’s a quality pitcher and he gets the job done.”

The White Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI single by Adam Eaton — one of the team’s six singles in the first two frames. But Edinson Volquez didn’t break as he left the bases loaded in the first and struck out Abreu and retired Melky Cabrera on a hard groundout in the second.

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The White Sox stranded two more in the fifth inning, another in the sixth and two in the eighth.

Volquez did surrender Abreu’s solo homer in the seventh inning as the White Sox pulled within a run.

With his homer, Abreu became the first American Leaguer, and third player ever, to hit 30 in each of his first two seasons. Abreu’s blast helped him match the starts of Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun. With his next RBI, Abreu would join Pujols as the only players in baseball history to start their careers with 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons.

Abreu had an opportunity in the bottom of the eighth to break the 3-all tie, pick up his 100th RBI and help Quintana to his 10th victory but grounded out with the go-ahead run at third with two outs.

The White Sox stranded 11 base runners in the loss.

“(Quintana) was great, outstanding, you can use all of them,” Ventura said. “We thought we had a chance there to get him one. Again, just his consistency is always the impressive part and you feel bad because this guy pitched great. He always goes out there and gives you a chance. It's unfortunate.”

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.”