White Sox

Twins hit three homers off James Shields, rout White Sox

Twins hit three homers off James Shields, rout White Sox

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins made quick work of James Shields on Saturday night.

Shields allowed three more home runs and lasted only 2 1/3 innings as the White Sox were routed 11-3 in front of 22,274 at Target Field. Brian Dozer, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano all homered off Shields, who has a 7.50 ERA in 84 innings for the White Sox this season. Trevor Plouffe also homered for the Twins, who put the game out of reach with an eight-run third inning against Shields and Jacob Turner, who allowed six unearned runs.

Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera both homered for the White Sox.

“The way they were hitting homers tonight, it wasn’t good for us,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s a tough one, even with Jacob coming in there. He’s pitched better for us. I know he can pitch better than that. These guys on the other side, they’ve hit a lot of homers against us. We haven’t been able to solve Dozier or Plouffe.

“They’ve been hitting a lot of homers.”

It couldn’t have started much as Eaton blasted a solo homer off ex-White Sox pitcher Hector Santiago to start the game. The homer was Eaton’s 12th of the season.

But Dozier wiped it out with a leadoff homer (his 34th) for the Twins, who also overcame another deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the second inning on a two-run shot by Buxton that traveled 448 feet, according to MLB.com.

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Sano’s drive, a 438-foot blast to left, was the 26th surrendered by Shields since the White Sox acquired him from the San Diego Padres in June. Shields allowed five earned runs and five hits with four walks in 2 1/3 innings.

White Sox trainer Herm Schneider visited Shields to check on his tight back after he issued a one-out walk to start the third inning. Shields remained in the game. But Ventura said afterward the back had tightened a little on Shields, who said he felt it before the game.

Shields said he doesn’t think his back “will be a big deal.”

“It grabbed on me in the last inning there,” Shields said. “I wasn’t feeling too hot before the game, but once the game started getting going, I was fine. Then it just kind of grabbed me in the last inning there in the beginning of the inning in warm-ups and for a couple of pitches there.

“It was nothing out of the ordinary. We all get sore once in a while, but the third inning in the warm-ups, it kind of grabbed on me a little bit.

“I’ll just rest up a couple of days and see what happens.”

Michael Ynoa, Juan Minaya and Tommy Kahnle combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings pitched for the White Sox.

Jose Abreu’s consecutive games streak of reaching base ended at 29.

Santiago improved to 3-0 against his former team with three earned runs allowed in six innings.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.