White Sox

Ranking Mark Buehrle's top five starts at U.S. Cellular Field

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Ranking Mark Buehrle's top five starts at U.S. Cellular Field

The White Sox past and present aces will face off tonight when Mark Buehrle returns to U.S. Cellular Field to face Chris Sale, who with 10 or more strikeouts would become the first pitcher in major league history to have double-digit strikeouts in nine consecutive starts in a single season.

[MORE: Buehrle vs. Sale: White Sox past, present aces face off Monday]

While Sale's making a name for himself in his fourth year atop the White Sox rotation, Buehrle's 12 years on the South Side saw him reach three All-Star Games, win three Gold Gloves and win 161 games with a 3.83 ERA. He's won at least 10 games, made at least 30 starts and thrown at least 200 innings every year from 2001-2014 and is on pace to eclipse those totals again in 2015 with Toronto.

Buehrle had a lot of highlights during his time with the White Sox, plenty of which came at U.S. Cellular Field. But these five starts at 35th and Shields stand out:

5. April 4, 2005 vs. Cleveland

The White Sox bookended their 2005 season with 1-0 wins (the latter came in Game 4 of the World Series) thanks to Buehrle's mastery of Cleveland on Opening Day. He fired eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits and one walk to out-duel Indians right-hander Jake Westbrook, with Jhonny Peralta's seventh-inning error scoring Paul Konerko and providing all the support Buehrle needed.

Final line: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. Time of game: 1:51.

4. Aug. 3, 2001 vs. Tampa Bay

Buehrle's second career shutout turned out to be a preview of an afternoon eight years later. Buehrle hit Steve Cox to lead off the sixth to end his perfect game bid, and Damian Rolls broke up his no-hit bid with a single to lead off the top of the seventh. But those were the only baserunners the Devil Rays had off the soft-tossing lefty, who finished with a one-hit shutout in a 4-0 win that saw Konerko and Jose Canseco hit two-run home runs.

Final line: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K. Time of game: 2:12

[More: Five years later, Recalling Mark Buehrle's perfect game]

3. April 16, 2005 vs. Seattle

Buehrle didn't get a shutout thanks to Ichiro's leadoff triple in the ninth and Adrian Beltre's ensuing RBI groundout, but he set a career high with 12 strikeouts over his nine innings of work. What made this game special, though, is how quickly it went. Since 2000, it's the only game to last less than 100 minutes, clocking in at 1:39. The last time a game took less than 100 minutes to play before this April afternoon was Sept. 30, 1984.

Final line: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K. Time of game: 1:39

2. April 18, 2007 vs. Texas

Buehrle's first no-hitter almost feels overshadowed, given it came in a dismal 2007 season and he threw a perfect game two years later. But this was a nonetheless a historic start on a chilly night at U.S. Cellular Field, with Buehrle's only blemish a fifth-inning walk to Sammy Sosa. His final six outs encapsulate his dominance: Strikeout looking, popout, groundout, strikeout looking, strikeout swinging, groundout.

Final line: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. Time of game: 2:03

[MORE: Chris Sale does it again as White Sox outlast Cardinals]

1. July 23, 2009 vs. Tampa Bay

Buehrle's perfect game stands as one of the best games in White Sox history, with Dewayne Wise's leaping catch to take a home run away from Gabe Kapler the exclamation point on his flawless afternoon. Josh Fields' second-inning grand slam spotted him an early lead and Buehrle carved up the Rays' lineup from there, making an opposing lineup a year removed from a World Series berth look futile. This is the game that'll still be talked about long after Buehrle's career is over.

Final line: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Time of game: 2:03

Statistics and game data via Baseball Reference's Play Index

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.”