White Sox

White Sox can't finish off late rally, allow 16 hits in loss to Orioles

White Sox can't finish off late rally, allow 16 hits in loss to Orioles

Even after allowing seven runs and 16 hits, it looked as if the White Sox would have an opportunity to make a stunning comeback against the American League’s best bullpen.

But some questionable base running made sure the comeback wouldn’t get completed.

Carlos Sanchez and Dioner Navarro got mixed up in the midst of an eighth-inning rally, resulting in a double play that halted the White Sox comeback in a 7-5 loss to the Orioles on Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

After the game seemed to slip away from the White Sox when reliever Tommy Kahnle allowed a 4-2 deficit to grow to 7-2 in the top of the eighth, the White Sox offense struck against Baltimore relief man Darren O’Day in the bottom of the inning. The Orioles entered with a 3.05 bullpen ERA, best in the AL, but the first three batters reached against O’Day, allowing two runs to score when Avisail Garcia grounded into a fielder’s choice and Baltimore second baseman Jonathan Schoop made a throwing error. Another run came home on Sanchez’s double two batters later, erasing the damage done in the top of the inning and restoring that two-run margin.

The rally, though, was halted in its tracks when Adam Eaton grounded out to first. Chris Davis made the play at first and then fired to third when base runners Sanchez and Navarro got mixed up, Sanchez having to hustle back to second after sprinting toward third and Navarro called out at third when he slowly retreated back to the bag.

After a review, the call was upheld: inning- and rally-ending double play.

Sanchez took the blame after the game, though it seemed there was enough blame to go around.

“It was my mistake,” Sanchez said through a translator. “That's something that is unacceptable. That can't happen again. It's my fault. … You have to keep your focus, and you have to know the game situation, the moment. Like I said, it's my mistake. It can't happen again, and it's not going to happen again.”

“They had the infield back in the middle, and Sanchy came down too far and it started pushing Dio out there. Sanchy has to know not to come down there on that,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It has to be up the middle for him to go.”

Of course — if you’re into playing the “what if” game — it was possible those runs could’ve given the White Sox a late lead if not for Kahnle’s woes in the top of the inning. He gave up a monster solo home run to Pedro Alvarez — his second of the night — and an RBI single to J.J. Hardy before exiting, after which Adam Jones tacked on another run with a sac fly.

Regardless, White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez admitted he had a little extra adrenaline flowing while facing his former team, and he surrendered four runs on 10 hits in his six innings of work. He gave up Alvarez’s first long ball of the evening and a two-run double to Manny Machado, and he was also present when Machado scored on a Tyler Saladino throwing error.

It was Gonzalez’s seventh straight quality start — at least six innings and three or fewer earned runs allowed — but he’s won just once during that stretch.

“It really meant a lot to me. And we came up short,” Gonzalez said of facing his former squad. “A lot of things went their way. It’s part of the game, a game of inches. Can’t do anything about it.

“I know what they are capable of doing. They have a great lineup. You can’t give in. You’re behind in the count, bad things are going to happen. They’re going to capitalize. That’s why they have a good team out there. Manny Machado, he’s been hitting the ball really good. I was behind in the count both times, and he was able to capitalize. You tip your hat to them, you move on.”

All in all, it was a night with some positives — Gonzalez with another quality start, Jose Abreu homering for the second time in as many days and Garcia driving in two runs to continue a recent hot stretch — but it didn’t result in a win, and the White Sox couldn’t build on Thursday’s victory in Detroit that snapped a three-game winning streak.

And so the White Sox have dropped six of their last eight games and have a 7-15 record since July 10.

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.