White Sox

White Sox: Alexei Ramirez unhappy with performance but hopeful


White Sox: Alexei Ramirez unhappy with performance but hopeful

Alexei Ramirez has room for improvement and he knows it.

But after a dismal first half of play, the White Sox shortstop has had a little more to smile about of late, including a sterling defensive effort in Friday’s 1-0 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Ramirez has looked almost nothing like the Gold Glove finalist and Silver Slugger award winner he was in 2014, carrying a career-worst .547 OPS and poor defensive statistics into Saturday’s game. He’s hopeful that both he and the White Sox can change their fortunes in the second half of the season.

“I’m not happy with my performance in the first half, but I think it’s going to turn around in a good way for me,” Ramirez said through an interpreter. “The break and the All-Star Game is going to help me readjust and to think about what we can do in the second half.”

“You feel very happy after a game like (Friday) because you did what you have to do to help your team win a game.”

[MORE: White Sox trust in J.B. Shuck continues to grow]

Over the first seven seasons of his career Ramirez averaged 2.7 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

This season that figure stands at minus-1 WAR -- the worst in baseball.

Much of that can be attributed to his bat as Ramirez has a .226/.252/.295 slash line with 15 doubles, two home runs and 26 RBIs in 323plate appearances. Though the White Sox need Ramirez to hit to be successful, they could absorb some of those struggles as long his glove was near to what he has done in his career and that hasn’t happened.

Ramirez heads into Saturday’s game ranked 20th of 26 among shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved with minus-5 and 18th in Ultimate Zone Rating, with a minus-1.1 rating. Several misplays have cost the White Sox severely early in the season, specifically in Toronto and Tampa Bay.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

White Sox manager Robin Ventura, however, has seen improvement lately and called Friday one of the team’s best games of the past few seasons. Critical in the effort were two spectacular double plays turned by Ramirez, the first with a diving stop and flip to Carlos Sanchez to rob Starlin Castro in the second inning. Five innings later, Ramirez also retrieved Castro’s one-hopper headed for center, tagged the runner and fired to first for another double play.

“Any time you don’t catch it, it’s tough,” Ventura said. “Any time you look at it, it just doesn’t look right. I think concentration, everything else that goes with it, has to be there to play good defense. And right now he’s playing good defense.”

Ramirez missed Thursday’s game after he fouled a pitch off his left foot but feels good. He is aware his future is uncertain after this season as the White Sox hold a $10-million club option but said he tries not to worry about things he can’t control.

Which leads back to his play, something he has begun to feel better about. Ventura believes Ramirez, who has a .247 average on balls in play, is due for a bit of a market correction back toward his career mark of .291. But as long as he provides better defense, the White Sox are able to better absorb his offensive woes.

“The most important thing is we won like a team because the defense did what its supposed to do and that was very important,” Ramirez said. “I feel good because I was able to help the team to get that victory.”

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.”