White Sox

To stay in the hunt, White Sox need Sale to stay strong

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To stay in the hunt, White Sox need Sale to stay strong

KANSAS CITY There are two ways to look at it: You can focus on how far Chris Sale has come in the last two years, or how much he still has to do in the second half.

Sale rocketed through the system after the White Sox took him with the 13th overall pick in the 2010 draft. It took only 11 games in the minors to go from Florida Gulf Coast University to the big leagues. Its not going to slow down.

There was Sale on Monday at Kauffman Stadium, taping the Top Ten Fun Facts about the All-Star Game for David Letterman. Sale followed Justin Verlander and Joe Mauer at No. 8: After the Home Run Derby, there's now a Weak Grounder to Third Derby.

It does get kind of crazy at times, Sale said Tuesday, but you kind of learn to deal with it and go along with it and just have fun with it.

Yes, the Late Show appearance was pretty sweet. But Sales Q rating is only going to increase if the White Sox continue to prove the experts wrong and stay in first place, and the left-hander with the nasty slider puts up more numbers (10-2, 2.19 ERA).

This will be the next frontier: Sale has already thrown 102.2 innings after accounting for 71 out of the bullpen last season.

Were just going to kind of play it by ear, Sale said, and just go on how I feel and how my stuff is. Well cross that bridge when we get there.

The White Sox never seem to get much love or hype from Baseball America and the prospect rankings. But they have now developed a 23-year-old frontline starter, and enough homegrown talent to come out of the All-Star break with a three-game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central.

How Sale responds to the heat of a pennant race and how the White Sox protect their investment will be telling.

Jake Peavy has emerged from his own physical issues to return to the All-Star Game for the first time since his Cy Young season with the San Diego Padres in 2007. This is the underlying tension.

I understand Chris Sale has got to be looked after, Peavy said. Hes a prized possession for any organization to have. At the same time, when I look back and think about when I got into the league in 2003, my first full season, (and guys like Roy Oswalt), we were throwing around 200 innings.

For us to win, Chris Sale is going to have to start. Its going to be interesting to see how that plays out. Well just leave that up to the organization and what they feel is best. They certainly know. But the biggest thing comes down to him taking care of himself and his body.

There may be nothing more fragile or expensive than elite starting pitching. The Washington Nationals intend to shut down All-Star Stephen Strasburg in September. The Cubs dont have a hard limit, but they are targeting around 180 innings for Jeff Samardzija, who has a body that was built to play in the NFL. Sale is listed at 6-foot-6, 180 pounds.

Obviously, Im trying to do everything I can to put on weight, but its something that I dont think is in my control, Sale said. The main thing is just trying to stay strong and get my shoulder right and make sure everythings feeling good. (Its) getting stronger so I can do what I need to do for this team.

General manager Kenny Williams thinks big and likes to be aggressive. The Detroit Tigers appear to be gathering momentum and are only 3.5 games out. Maybe Kevin Youkilis was only the start for Williams.

Hes going to do what he has to do to help our team in whatever way, Sale said. Going and getting Youkilis was a big part of that. I dont mean having him on the field. Having him in that clubhouse, too, has made our team that much better. Hes fit right in and hes an unbelievable guy.

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.”