White Sox

Tigers bite back with additions of Infante, Sanchez


Tigers bite back with additions of Infante, Sanchez

The White Sox may have gained a half-game on the Tigers Monday, but the current AL Central leaders came out of the day as winners despite their idle status. Detroit, in keeping with their going-for-broke strategy, dealt prized pitching prospect Jacob Turner, two other minor leaguers and a competitive balance draft pick to Miami for starter Anibal Sanchez, second baseman Omar Infante and the Marlins' competitive balance pick. In the short term, the deal is a major win for Detroit.

Kenny Williams has already made a pair of shrewd moves, acquiring Kevin Youkilis, Brett Myers and two fat wads of cash for fringe major-leaguers and low-level pitching prospects. Youkilis has already made a positive impact, while Myers should help out a fairly young bullpen down the stretch.

Detroit finally punched back on the trade market Monday, and while they may ultimately regret dealing away Turner, Sanchez and Infante, the deal will make the Tigers a much better squad for 2012.

Second base has been a gaping hole in the Tigers' lineup this season. The Brandon Inge experiment failed pretty quickly, and Ryan Raburn is hitting .172 in 208 trips to the plate. Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth have been the best of the bunch, but their successes (about a .215 batting average and a slugging percentage well below .300 between them) have been Pyrrhic victories at best.

Offensively, Infante is an upgrade even though he comes to Detroit with a .312 on-base percentage for Miami. But perhaps more importantly, Infante brings a plus glove to the Tigers' infield, an asset from which one of the baseball's worst defenses will certainly benefit.

But the real get in the deal for Detroit is Sanchez, a 28-year-old righty who's developed into one of baseball's more successful starters over the last two and a half seasons. Since the start of the 2010 season, Sanchez has a 3.69 ERA and the consummate FIPs to prove that number isn't a mirage.

The concern for Detroit regarding Sanchez is that he's untested pitching in the American League. That's a fairly common issue for pitchers coming from the National League to the circuit with a designated hitter, but given Sanchez's high strikeout and low walk rates coupled with fair success keeping the ball on the ground, he seems like a decent bet to continue his success in the different league.

Sanchez has the added benefit of moving to a field that plays similar to Marlins Park in Comerica Park -- he's not going from Petco Park to U.S. Cellular Field (although that transition wasn't why Jake Peavy struggled through his first few years with the White Sox).

As Drew Smyly hit a wall and then the disabled list, Detroit's fifth starters -- which included Turner -- struggled to keep opposing teams off the board. Sanchez gives the Tigers a legitimate No. 2 to back Justin Verlander, and if Max Scherzer, Rich Porcello andor Doug Fister (who may be the best bet of the three) can turn things around, the Tigers will have a formidable rotation for the stretch run.

The reality of late July is that the Tigers are, finally, looking like the club everyone thought they'd be back in early April. Adding Sanchez and Infante without subtracting from the major-league roster certainly makes the team stronger.

That doesn't mean the White Sox are doomed to a second-place finish. Ask anyone on the team, they'll say they're only concerned with that they can control. Detroit getting better, at least on paper, is out of their control.

Plus, the White Sox already have got better this season with Youkilis and Myers. Consider this Detroit's rebuttal.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


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?


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.”