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Tyler Saladino homers but White Sox fall to Cardinals

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Tyler Saladino homers but White Sox fall to Cardinals

Tyler Saladino’s major league career is off to a nice start.

But even the rookie’s hot bat couldn’t help the White Sox dig out of a massive hole Tuesday night as they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-5, in front of 29,728 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Saladino went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, but Carlos Rodon allowed seven earned runs, including a Matt Holliday grand slam as the White Sox lost for the fifth time in six games. Despite a .355/.355/.613 start to his career, Saladino was more concerned with a play he didn’t make on Stephen Piscotty’s hard shot ahead of Holliday’s grand slam.

“If I come up with that ball it could be a different inning,” Saladino said. “I’m not going to sleep well because of that. It’s over and done with so you have to move on from it, but at the same time, that home run means nothing to me because we didn’t win. I didn’t make the play, and if I come up with it you don’t know how that outcome will be.”

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St. Louis already led 3-0 when Holliday stepped in to face Rodon with one out in the third inning and the bases loaded. Rodon had walked Mark Reynolds, allowed the infield single to Piscotty and hit Kolten Wong before he got Randal Grichuk to pop out. But Holliday ripped a first-pitch slider 430 feet to left field to give the Cardinals a seven-run lead.

Rodon (3-3) — who had retired the side in order in the first on 10 pitches — allowed seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts in four innings in his first start since he pitched six scoreless innings against the Cubs on July 10.

“I felt comfortable coming out of the warm up and started off the game pretty good, and it just didn’t work out,” Rodon said. “The stuff is there, you’ve got to throw it over the plate and let your fielders make plays for you.

“Just try to forget about this one and on the next to one.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox SS Alexei Ramirez on Cuba: 'Thanks, Obama']

St. Louis took an 8-2 lead in the fifth inning when Reynolds homered off White Sox reliever Daniel Webb, who pitched three innings.

The White Sox offense finally woke up in the fourth inning after Michael Wacha retired the first nine batters he had faced. Adam Eaton drew the first of his three walks, and Saladino produced his team’s first hit, a single. Jose Abreu singled in a run, and Melky Cabrera had a sac fly to cut the deficit to 7-2.

Geovany Soto blasted a solo homer in the fifth inning off Wacha, and Saladino followed a two-out walk of Eaton with a two-run homer to left, hissecond.

Eaton and Saladino — who continues to play a nice third base — almost triggered another rally in the seventh as the leadoff man drew a one-out walk and Saladino reached on a fielder’s choice with two Cardinals errors putting men on second and third. But Abreu hit a comebacker, and Cabrera struck out.

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“Adam was very patient tonight, being able to take the walk and get on there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Sal, he continues to grind out at-bats and get on even there in the last inning just to be able to beat something out. But we need to get some guys on and knock them in, too. We did enough to get going, but we didn’t have enough to get over the top.”

Saladino’s two-out infield single in the ninth inning off Trevor Rosenthal extended the game and brought Abreu to the plate as the tying run. But Abreu grounded out to end it.

Though it has only lasted eight games and 33 plate appearances, the White Sox like what Saladino has brought to them so far. Whether its his speed, his approach or glove, Saladino has impressed his coaching staff and teammates.

“He does bring something to it,” Ventura said. “I just think he has knowledge of what he’s doing. He adjusts. You can see him take a ball to right field and the next at-bat he’ll hit a homer. Just a nice feel for the game and adjustments. He’s been able to do that while he’s been up here.”

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.