White Sox

Sox Drawer: What about Bobby?

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Sox Drawer: What about Bobby?

Sunday, May 9, 2010
11:34 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com
During spring training, I asked Ozzie Guillen a simple question.

How much rope does Bobby Jenks have this season?

Ozzie needed about a millisecond to respond.

Hes got a lot of rope, the White Sox manager said. "Hes my man. I know we have a few people in the bullpen, but Im going to give him the best opportunity until he cant anymore.

Judging by his last two performances, and comments made by Ozzie Guillen after the game, Jenks days as the White Sox closer could be numbered.

Not just because he is not retiring hitters with the ease of 2005-2008, but with the White Sox fading further and further behind the first-place Twins, they can no longer digest ninth-inning collapses like Jenks had this past weekend.

The first was a solo shot to John Buck in the ninth on Friday night, which broke a three-all tie. That was bad. But nothing like what happened on Sunday.

It being Mothers Day, it was the Mother of All meltdowns.

After coming back from a 5-3 deficit to take a two-run lead in the eighth, coupled with Jake Peavys gem over the Blue Jays on Saturday, you could feel the momentum strongly swinging the White Sox way. They had the confidence. They had the mojo. They had Bill Melton, Frank Thomas and I on the CSN Postgame set, ready to sing their praises. It all seemed to be in perfect rhythm.

But then, the needle flew off the turntable.

Or if youre under the age of 18, the iPod, like, totally crashed.

Travis Snyder doubled to center.

John Buck singled to right (I think weve seen enough of John Buck for about a decade).

And then ... the dagger.

Fred Lewis, with 17 career home runs on his resume, belted that three-run homer to right, making it 8-7, Blue Jays. They eventually won, 9-7. At least I think they did. Hawk Harrelson was so distraught he swallowed part of his microphone.

So what do the Sox do now?

After the game, Guillen hinted that changes in the bullpen are coming, at least in the short term.

We have a lot of options, and we are going to search for ones, Guillen said. Maybe the next couple of days, I might use someone different just to see if Bobby can regroup and come back to his form.

As for Jenks, who now has a 6.75 ERA this season, he disagrees. Asked if he might soon find himself out of the closer role, the struggling reliever said, No, that doesnt even make sense.

What does make sense is that a loss like Sundays has the Sox teetering perilously close to Kenny Williams danger zone. The Sox general manager wants to win, and badly. But with his team seriously deflated by this tough loss and heading into of all places, Minnesota, for a two-game series, if the Sox are unable to quickly recover and lose both games, do the math.

Theyll be 10 games out.

The season wont be over. But Kennys patience with this club might be.

Even through the fog of Sundays loss, Jenks could clearly see the magnitude of what lies ahead.

This is probably, especially this early, the most important road trip weve got coming up, Jenks said. Especially against the Twins. It might only be two games, but they are both big games. Weve got to battle back. Were behind in the division, so these are going to be big.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger 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.