White Sox

Sox Drawer: Game one Dunn

Sox Drawer: Game one Dunn

Friday, April 1, 2011
Posted 10:30 p.m. Updated 10:50 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio - When you stand 6-foot-6, weigh 280 pounds, and can hit a baseball into different area codes, you can carry a baseball team.

Judging by his first game with the White Sox, Adam Dunn is ready to carry his teammates, his coaches and maybe the entire South Side of Chicago on his back in 2011.

Dunns Sox debut was a smashing success. He went 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs, including a towering home run in the third inning that was hit so high that, according to NASA, should touch down sometime around September.

You know it was a 3-2 count, (Fausto Carmona) threw me a backdoor breaking ball at my first at-bat and made me look foolish, Dunn said on Galaxie White Sox Post-Game Live on CSN. I was really just trying to protect the plate, and he was trying to throw me a nice little sinker, and I just touched it.

Thats right. Dunn said he touched it. Imagine where the ball would have gone had he crushed it. A different planet I suppose.

His two-run blast gave the White Sox a 4-0 lead, and set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Sox took a whopping 14-0 lead by the fourth inning. Yes, the pitching staff broke down after that, getting outscored 10-1 the rest of the way.

But the damage had been done. Thanks to Dunn.

That was great. I mean, offensively we came out swinging the bats well. It was a great game, a typical American League game Im assuming, Dunn said with a smile.

15-10 scores were made for a guy like him.

As a first time, full-time designated hitter, this is new territory for the former National Leaguer. Dunn is used to playing the outfield or first base, not pacing the dugout for 98 percent of the game waiting for his turn to bat. He says that learning how to pace himself for nine innings is his biggest challenge with the White Sox. But on days when the offense tilts the scoreboard like a pinball machine, its an easy adjustment to make.

Today was very easy because it seemed like I was up every inning, Dunn said. I really didnt do anything different today just because of that. I had four at bats in five innings, so I just really didnt change anything, just sitting there, still sweating from the last one.

Dunns home run in his Sox debut is nothing new for South Side sluggers. Looking back several decades, you have to wonder if going deep in his first game was actually written in the mans contract.

Al Simmons, Dick Allen, Minnie Minoso, Carlton Fisk, Sammy Sosa, Albert Belle, Paul Konerko and Jim Thome all homered in their Sox debuts. After signing that huge 56 million dollar contract in the off-season, Dunn could have struggled with the pressure out of the gate.

Clearly that didnt happen.

I think its good for him, Ozzie Guillen said. Hes coming from a new team and a lot of expectations. All the people in Chicago expect him to do well, and this takes the monkey off his back.

So how many dingers will the Big Donkey hit this year? Hes currently on pace for 162. Dont think hell reach that.

But if this monster of a man continues to mash like this, baseballs will be pelted, A.L. pitchers will frequently be punished, and for a White Sox team hoping to contend, anything is possible.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

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AP

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant sound like characters from your kid’s favorite show (or your favorite show, if you happen to be a kid).

But instead they’re the duo South Side baseball fans have been waiting for.

You might know them better as the Cuban Connection, an alliterative and far less confusing nickname that describes Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu, who in Monday night’s 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners combined for seven hits, three home runs, a double, a triple, six runs scored and four RBIs.

It was a welcome sight after the White Sox offense slumbered through a weekend series with the Houston Astros in which they mustered just two runs. Heck, this offense has been hard to find during the entire month of April. Entering Monday, it’d produced just 16 runs in its last seven games (with 11 of those coming in a single contest).

But then came Monday’s show, in which Abreu launched a pair of homers and Moncada came a single short of hitting for the cycle. That had to be a proud moment for Abreu, who’s taken his countryman under his wing since Moncada arrived in the majors last summer.

“I’m really mad at him because he had two chances to do it and he couldn’t,” Abreu joked with the help of a translator. “Seriously, I’m really happy for him. I know today was a special game for him. I know he couldn’t hit for the cycle today. But he’s going to have more chances in the future. He’s going to be good.”

This is what White Sox fans have been hoping for. It’s what they’re still waiting for, considering much of that oft-discussed team of the future is still developing in the minor leagues. But Moncada is the story of 2018 at the major league level, how development will continue for the player White Sox fans drooled over at this time last year, when he was ranked as baseball’s top prospect.

Moncada got a lot of early attention for his high strikeout total, and with another punch out Monday he’s now got 34 on the season, still one of the highest totals in the league. But his numbers are looking good in many other facets. He raised his batting average .026 points Monday alone, and he’s now slashing .240/.345/.493 on the still-young season.

Abreu, of course, is the White Sox best hitter and has been ever since he arrived from Cuba before the 2014 season. For a team in such an offensive rut, Abreu’s four-hit night Monday raised his batting average up over .300, to .308. He’s now got six homers on the season, the most on the team and one of the higher totals in the American League. While Moncada and others will spend 2018 showing the White Sox what they will be in the future, this was expected from a guy who’s been one of baseball’s most consistent hitters in the last half decade.

But the future comes into play with Abreu, too, whose consistency at the plate and his presence in the clubhouse as a mentor to Moncada and other young players make him as believable a part of those planned future contenders as any of the organization’s highly rated prospects. A contract decision will need to be made at some point, obviously, but the White Sox will tell you any day of the week how much they value Abreu, who knows exactly where this franchise is and is excited as anyone about where it’s going.

“Everybody knows we are in the process, and everybody knows what this process is about,” Abreu said. “We have a lot of young talent, a lot of young players. They are going to hit some bumps and have some struggles as a team. But I think we all know how we have to play this game. (Manager Rick Renteria) has taught us how to play this game, how to play this game representing the White Sox organization and how they play this game.

“I feel really happy. We prove today that we are able to play a good game and to show the rest how we win games. That is the way we like to play.”

Monday was a bright spot in what’s been an otherwise very tough start to the 2018 campaign. But for a team where the future is what matters most, this is what fans have been waiting to see. A game like this might not be commonplace as the summer rolls on on the South Side. But for those dreaming about Moncada and Abreu teaming to lead those contenders of the future, this was one heck of a glimpse into the crystal ball.

“That’s our goal to have big games together for this team,” Moncada said. “Having the opportunity to play with Abreu — ‘The Big Elephant’ as we call him in Cuba — it’s good for me. It’s a big honor. I feel really happy when we have these kinds of games.”

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

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AP

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

So, anyone out there still worried about Yoan Moncada?

The White Sox second baseman, who at this time last year was the top-ranked prospect in baseball, was the subject of much social-media frustration through the season's first few weeks. But it's safe to say he's "redeemed" himself in the eyes of fretting fans.

Monday night, he led the White Sox offensive eruption with a three-hit night that brought him just a single shy of the cycle in a 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners.

Moncada started the offensive outburst with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning. He doubled to start the bottom of the second and launched a solo homer to begin the bottom of the fourth. He scored all three times.

Moncada entered the game with a .214/.329/.400 slash line, though he's been hot of late. In the last seven games, he's got nine hits, six extra-base hits and three homers. He still has 34 strikeouts on the season, one of the highest totals in the majors, but he's putting up some good numbers elsewhere.

Abreu also had a red-hot Monday night, picking up four hits with a couple of homers, the 12th time he's bashed multiple long balls in a single game.

It was quite the performance for a White Sox offense that has mostly been quiet so far in 2018. They scored just two total runs in three straight blowout losses against the Houston Astros over the weekend. And while they plated 11 in that 14-inning marathon in Oakland, the three road games prior to that featured a grand total of three runs.

Monday night that all changed with the White Sox banging out 18 hits, including seven straight to start the bottom of the first, the first time that happened in the big leagues in four years.