White Sox

Streak struck - Sox starters no longer unscathed


Streak struck - Sox starters no longer unscathed

Saturday, March 5, 2011
4:43 p.m.
By Brett BallantiniCSNChicago.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. All good things come to an end, even when the good things are happening in spring training, untelevised and on the down low.

But indeed, the Chicago starters' streak was snapped with two outs in the first inning of the Cleveland Indians 5-3 win over the White Sox on Saturday.

Physically, I felt great, Gavin Floyd said of his rough two-inning, four-run outing. Youd like to make an adjustment early, especially when youre missing up in the zone; I just didnt make the adjustment You want to go out there and get your pitches in and be consistent with it. Today, it was a little hit or miss.

He was off a little bit, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He couldnt find the strike zone; I expected him to make an adjustment right away, but he was up in the strike zone. But as a second outing, theres no panic, he threw the ball well, velocity was good.

The Wahoos did all their damage in the first three frames, pushing across five runs, aided by one of two throwing errors by Mark Teahen in his six innings of play. The White Sox mounted a minor comeback in the fifth, pushing across all three of their runs on hits by Omar Vizquel, Lastings Milledge, and Gordon Beckham.

Floyd gave up only two hits, but walked another two batters and hit Jason Donald, who immediately left the game for x-rays. Floyd also was drilled in the leg (just a flesh wound) by the second batter of the game, Asdrubal Cabrera, and was wearing an ice wrap after he left the game.

It didnt bother me until the trainers got in there, Floyd said. They had to spread the swelling out. You press a couple of thumbs in there and it kind of hurts a little bit. Its there, but its no big deal.

When he got hit in leg, that bothered him a little bit, Guillen said. Im not going to make that excuse, but he got hit pretty good.

After compiling a 3.68 ERA through five spring games through Friday, White Sox hurlers coughed up six earned runs vs. Cleveland. And somebody noticed.

Thats the worst our pitchers have been in spring training, Guillen said. This one was pretty ugly. We walked a lot of people. But this is what the sixth game? We should start playing better after the split-squad Monday. I expect them to pick it up. Right now, Im just letting them play and get ready, get their stuff together.
Teahens troubles

It would be remiss to call Teahens effort on Saturday his worst game as a member of the White Sox, but given whats at stake for hima starting position at third, and possibly even a roster spotit was a devastating effort. Not only did he make two poor throws for errors and stumble over the bag at third on an inning-ending popout, he was thrown out trying to score from second base by right fielder Chad Huffman in the fifth inning.

Weve got to give Teahen a shot, but obviously, weve got to make plays, Guillen said. Our biggest friend to a pitcher, especially when a pitchers in trouble, is defense. But Teahens only been out there for a couple of games.

Clearly, however, while just a week into Cactus League play Guillen is worried about how his roster pieces will fall together with Teahen in the mix.

Ive got to talk to our coaching staff and GM Kenny Williams in the next meeting and see what were going to do, if were going to give him a shot at third base or move him all over the place. Thats the next step, because its not fair for him or anybody. It will clear his mindwill I be at third or not? Weve got to try to make the decision as quick as we can and go from there.

No relief

While Chisox hurlers have been generally strong in the first week of play, two pitchers bidding for bullpen stops continued to struggle on Saturday. Kyle Bellamy came on to relieve Floyd in the third and wasnt fooling anyone with his sidearm delivery. His ERA in two spring training innings remains 9.00. Freddy Dolsi has also struggled, today surrendering three runs (two earned) in 1 23 innings, kicking his spring ERA over 2 23 innings to 10.13.

Bright spots?

According to Guillen, there were indeed bright spots to todays worst spring training effort of the season. Just not one youd expect.

The White Sox batboy beating the Indians batboy was the highlight, Guillen said with a loud laugh. Thats how bad the game was. That was the only excitement we had in the game.

There was a friendly competition between batboys when hustling for foul balls early in the game. Guillen and bench coach Joey Cora were yelling on every foul ball, both for their own ballboy to hustle and for the opposing, older batboy to slow down and not treat fouls back to the screen as if at Wimbleton.
The LAST word on the streak

Indeed, Floyd claimed he only became aware of the hitless, scoreless streak by White Sox starters this springthe streak he started back on Mondayyesterday, when his fellow rotation members were warning Jake Peavy not to screw it up. Predictably, Floyd played off caring much about seeing the streak snapped.

Its whatever. Its spring, Floyd said with a smile. Im sure Ill be texting them saying Im sorry I screwed it up for them.

Still, Floyd recognizes that the sort of buzz created by a relatively meaningless spring training streak is indicative of the kind of talent the White Sox rotation possesses.

Thats what were capable of, he said. Thats the kind of starting rotation weve got. Were capable of feeding off and encouraging each other. We have the talent to do something pretty good. Im not surprised, but you know the streak was going to end some day.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

White Sox name James Shields as Opening Day starter

White Sox name James Shields as Opening Day starter

The White Sox have announced who will toe the rubber when the season begins later this month.

As expected, James Shields will be the team's Opening Day starting pitcher when the White Sox kick off the 2018 campaign against the Kansas City Royals on March 29 at Kauffman Stadium.

The starting rotation's elder statesman at 36, Shields seemed the logical pick for the first start of the season.

It's been a rough go for the one-time All Star since he came to the South Side in a trade with the San Diego Padres in the summer of 2016. In two seasons with the White Sox, he's got a 5.99 ERA with 181 strikeouts and 58 home runs allowed in 231.1 innings. Last season, he made 21 starts, finishing with a 5.23 ERA and 103 strikeouts and 27 home runs allowed in 117 innings.

While that trade still smarts considering the player the White Sox gave up, Fernando Tatis Jr., is currently ranked as the No. 8 prospect in baseball, Shields brings plenty of value to the 2018 rotation as a veteran mentor for young major leaguers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, as well as pitchers making their way to the big leagues like Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen and Dylan Cease.

If Shields could rediscover some of the magic that made him a great pitcher during his best years with the Tampa Bay Rays and the aforementioned Royals, with whom he made World Series trips in 2008 and 2014, respectively, and have a strong couple months out of the chute, he could provide Rick Hahn's front office with a midseason trade piece, someone who could potentially fetch a prospect or two that could help advance the franchise's rebuilding efforts.

The Royals have announced that it will be Danny Duffy opposing Shields on Opening Day.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?

What’s there to know about the Houston Astros?

They’re the best, that’s what there is to know.

The Astros are the defending world champions for a multitude of reasons, and it’s all those and more that will have them as a favorite to repeat in 2018. Yes, the Cubs and New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians will all have something to say about that. But right now, no team is better on paper than the team the just won the big enchilada not five months ago.

The best 1-2 starting-pitching in combo in baseball? It belongs to the Astros. Justin Verlander was sensational for them after coming over in a late-summer trade with the Detroit Tigers. All he did was post a 1.06 ERA in five regular-season starts and a 2.21 ERA in six postseason outings. Justin Verlander. Again. And then there’s his running mate Dallas Keuchel — who doesn’t like the Cubs very much, apparently — has been just as good. He had a 2.90 ERA last year and won the American League Cy Young in 2015 with a 2.48 ERA and 20 wins.

Get past those guys and you’ll have to face the new guy. Gerrit Cole is now an Astro, as well, the reigning champs bolstering their already excellent rotation by importing one of the National League’s best pitchers. Cole saw his numbers jump last year (4.26 ERA) but still almost had 200 strikeouts and now has a much better roster around him than the one he left in Pittsburgh.

Charlie Morton? He threw four one-run innings in Game 7 of the World Series. Lance McCullers? He had 2.1 shutout innings in Game 7 of the World Series. This rotation is a force that could mow down the AL. There are questions, sure, but this five is entering 2018 as the best collection of arms in the Junior Circuit.

And we haven’t even gotten to the hitting. Oh, the hitting! The Astros scored 34 runs in seven World Series games. They banged out 56 hits. They hit 15 home runs. This after they were baseball’s best offense during the regular season.

The names are obvious to anyone who watched the postseason. Jose Altuve, surely tired of all the short jokes, is arguably the best player in baseball, and he won the AL MVP last season with a ridiculous .346/.410/.547 slash line. Carlos Correa, perhaps baseball’s best young shortstop, had a .315/.391/.550 slash line. George Springer, your World Series MVP, hit 34 regular-season home runs and got on base at a .367 clip before hitting five homers and slashing .379/.471/.1.000 in the Fall Classic.

Then there’s Alex Bregman and Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez, who were all very good to great in 2017. They shouldn’t all be expected to do what they did last season — you need look no further than the Cubs to see what a deep World Series run can do to a team, especially early. But is there a better lineup than this in the AL? Anyone? Bueller?

It’s hard to repeat, and “hard” is becoming one heck of an understatement considering no one’s repeated in almost two decades. The Yankees last did it when they beat the broken-bat-throwing Mike Piazza and the New York Mets in the 2000 World Series. Since then, no one’s done it twice in a row.

Last year, most of us looked at the Cubs and said, “They have the best team, they are favorites to do it again.” And then they were not even in first place in the NL Central at the All-Star break. A similar fate could await the Astros. But right now, they look like the best team the AL has to offer.

Houston, you are clear for takeoff ... again.

2017 record: 101-61, first place in AL West, World Series champions

Offseason additions: Gerrit Cole, , Joe Smith, Hector Rondon

Offseason departures: Carlos Beltran, Cameron Maybin, Mike Fiers, Tyler Clippard, Luke Gregerson, Francisco Liriano

X-factor: The Astros now count one-time Cubs closer Hector Rondon among their relievers now, but the X-factor pick here is Bregman. After a fine but nothing special first half, he was one of baseball's best after the All-Star break last year, slashing .315/.367/.536 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 71 games in the second half.

Projected lineup:

1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Josh Reddick, RF
6. Marwin Gonzalez, 1B
7. Brian McCann, C
8. Evan Gattis, DH
9. Derek Fisher, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Justin Verlander
2. Dallas Keuchel
3. Gerrit Cole
4. Lance McCullers
5. Charlie Morton

Prediction: First place in AL West

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants