White Sox

Tyler Saladino's homer helps White Sox snap seven-game skid

Tyler Saladino's homer helps White Sox snap seven-game skid

NEW YORK — Tyler Saladino delivered a sweet — and long overdue — sound to the White Sox on Tuesday night.

The shortstop capped off a career game with a two-run homer in the eighth inning as the White Sox rallied from four down and snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 6-4 win over the New York Mets in front of 32,781 at Citi Field.

Saladino’s homer off reliever Hansel Robles lifted the White Sox to their first win since the opening game of a May 23 doubleheader. He reached base a career-high four times as he also singled, walked twice and stole two bases. David Robertson capped off four scoreless innings from the bullpen with his 13th save.

“It’s huge,” Saladino said. “Losing, especially losing up here, that’s tough. It’s tough on everybody. It weighs on you a little bit. You definitely lose a little bit of sleep. But getting the win, I mean it’s a boost of morale.”

They needed the boost in the worst way.

Losers in six straight series, the White Sox appeared headed for a seventh as Mets starter Steven Matz dominated them early. They trailed 4-0 through five innings. The White Sox showed a much-needed sign of life with a three-run rally off Matz in the sixth.

Several days after manager Robin Ventura addressed them following a loss to the Kansas City Royals, the White Sox completed their comeback off Robles and two Mets relievers in the eighth.

“It can look bleak,” Ventura said. “You’ve got a guy like Matz pitching the way he’s pitching and you can just lay down but they won’t do it.

“You’re down 4-0, I think a lesser group rolls over and just gives up and they won’t do that.”

With one out and Melky Cabrera on first after a leadoff walk, Saladino fouled off three straight Robles fastballs before he ripped a 2-2 heater out to left field for a two-run homer to put the White Sox ahead for good. Saladino — who also had a three-run homer in Saturday’s loss at Kansas City — briefly looked into the visiting dugout as he rounded third.

“I’m just so pumped for the guys to take the lead,” Saladino said. “You got to give it to them. This is a team and everybody is pulling for each other. Every time you do something good, everybody is there ready to high five. It was just a team hit right there. Felt really good for the guys rounding third.”

The White Sox continued to apply pressure in the eighth as Robles walked pinch-hitter Jimmy Rollins and stole second, the team’s fourth of the game. Adam Eaton also walked again and Brett Lawrie jumped on the first pitch from Logan Verrett for a two-out RBI single and a critical insurance run.

Matz had the White Sox stymied in the early going. He induced nothing but grounders in the first few innings and didn’t allow a hit until the third. Matz, who entered with a scoreless streak of 14, cruised through the fifth inning, too.

But trailing 4-0, the White Sox finally broke through in the sixth inning.

Jose Abreu singled off the glove of James Loney and Todd Frazier crushed a two-run homer to left-center field, his 16th. After Avisail Garcia grounded into a double play, Saladino kept the inning alive with a walk. He easily stole second and third base before Navarro chased Matz when he singled just over the shortstop’s glove to get the White Sox within 4-3. Matz allowed three earned runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out three.

Pitching on seven days rest, White Sox starter Mat Latos didn’t have it easy in the early innings.

He allowed two unearned runs before yielding a two-run homer in the third to fall behind 4-0. But Latos finished strong, retiring eight of the last 10.

He handed it off to the bullpen, a group that allowed 14 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in Kansas City. The group took a big step in the right direction as Zach Putnam, Dan Jennings and Nate Jones all put up zeroes to get the ball to Robertson.

Robertson said Ventura merely implored the team to keep fighting, something it displayed in each loss at Kansas City before the bullpen’s meltdowns.

“That’s the way our whole team has been thinking,” Robertson said. “We’ve been playing hard, and things just haven’t worked out. If we hit well we didn’t pitch well, and if we pitched well we didn’t hit well. You just need things to work out for you and today they did.”

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.