A revamped, and somewhat expensive, lineup was supposed to electrify the White Sox offense in 2015 and become a perfect complement to a dominant pitching staff that boasts the likes of Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana.
But the sluggers on the South Side have yet to flip the switch and see what this offense truly looks like when it’s clicking on all cylinders on a consistent basis.
White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was thought of as an ideal No. 2 hitter in the lineup when he signed this offseason, has only hit .245/.293/.277 with one home run and 15 RBIs. Designated hitter Adam LaRoche (.218/.358/.355, four home runs, 16 RBIs) has yet to find his home-run stroke between Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia in the lineup.
The South Siders entered Sunday’s showdown with the Minnesota Twins tied for last in the majors with 26 home runs. They also ranked second-to-last in runs scored (146), ahead of only the Philadelphia Phillies (145). White Sox manager Robin Ventura has faith in the veterans in the clubhouse and knows what his group is capable of doing at the plate.
“It’s not been what we have wanted so far,” Ventura said. “But you’re looking at guys and their track record and what they’ve done in their careers, you expect some more home runs out of them. Hopefully when it warms up, we have a chance to do that.”
[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get a Jose Abreu jersey right here]
One of the reasons the White Sox power numbers have been down so far this year is the hitting of Abreu. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year hasn’t necessarily struggled at the plate, as he’s hitting .283 with a .812 OPS, but the home runs haven’t come just yet. In his rookie campaign, he hit 15 home runs in his first 44 games. Over 40 games this year, he only has six.
Ventura isn’t worried about his star hitter because of the quality cuts he’s been putting on the ball. But with the secret out that Abreu is a mature and dangerous hitter, he’s been seeing every hurler’s best pitches.
“He’s gotten into that category where people give their best stuff when he’s up,” Ventura said. “He’s going to see the guy’s best slider, curveball, best fastball running him in. You have to be in an elite category for that, and he’s earned it.”
With eight games over the next seven days on the road, White Sox hitters will need to support a pitching staff that could see a lot of arms being used. Ventura knows from his playing days that it might be a late-game hit that could get the whole lineup going and heading in the direction that everyone envisioned at the start of the season.
“This last home stand we’ve had some one-run games where you have the chance to win the game in your last at-bat,” he said. “Some we did, and some we didn’t. You want that confidence to keep going. You want it to feel like you’re going to do it every time, but you’re not going to. You have to keep your level of confidence and professionalism as you go along then you’re going to make it happen.”