White Sox

White Sox: Chris Sale lets his pitching make his All-Star case

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White Sox: Chris Sale lets his pitching make his All-Star case

Chris Sale is content to speak softly and carry a big fastball.

The ace left-hander stated his case to start Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati with seven innings of one-run ball as the White Sox beat the Cubs, 5-1, Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Sale struck out 10, giving him double-digit strikeouts in 10 of his 17 starts this year. Over his last dozen games, Sale has a 1.76 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 92 innings.

But Sale declined to do any post-start politicking to attempt to influence American League All-Star manager Ned Yost’s decision.

“I do the same thing I always do,” Sale said. “Just shut up and do what I’m told.”

A White Sox pitcher hasn’t started an All-Star Game since Mark Buehrle did in 2005, two years after Esteban Loaiza started for the American League at U.S. Cellular Field.

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Sale’s main competition to start the game likely will be from Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (11-4, 2.23 ERA), Detroit left-hander David Price (9-2, 2.38 ERA) and Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer (9-6, 2.74 ERA). Sale (8-4) doesn’t have a sparkling win-loss record, though that’s hardly his fault. On Saturday, the White Sox scored more than four runs for Sale for the first time since June 3.

He does have a 2.72 ERA and the most strikeouts (157) in the American League, though.

The 26-year-old Sale pitched in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 All-Star Games, with his 2013 appearance lasting two innings. Manager Robin Ventura, like his pitcher, didn’t try to publicly influence Yost’s decision but wouldn’t mind if Sale got the ball to start Tuesday night at Great American Ballpark.

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“He’s done it in the past and I know he gets a big kick out of it,” Ventura said. “You want the best pitchers to pitch in that game. … I know he’s deserving of pitching at any point in that game.”

Sale, as usual, heaped credit on catcher Tyler Flowers for putting together a gameplan the pair successfully executed on Saturday. Flowers, who’s caught Sale’s last 43 starts, said Sale was a little bit too pumped up early on — he was throwing plenty of upper 90’s fastballs in the first few innings — but settled down against a patient Cubs lineup and only issued that one walk.

“A lot of teams go outside their typical gameplan when they face Sale or another top of the line starter,” Flowers said. “That’s on me to quickly recognize whatever it is they are trying to do and adjust the gameplan accordingly.”

Sale has drawn comparisons to Randy Johnson — Cubs manager Joe Maddon was the latest person to draw that parallel over the weekend — and tied a major league record set by Pedro Martinez this year. Both those pitchers will enter the Hall of Fame at the end of the month.

While Sale isn’t too concerned with personal accomplishments and isn’t into promoting himself, he nonetheless has an appreciation for his impending fourth consecutive All-Star Game appearance.

“I've always enjoyed it. It is an honor,” Sale said. “You don’t get these opportunities a lot, so I definitely want to soak it all in and take it in. My friends and family always have a good time out there. So I’m really looking forward to it.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

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?

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AP

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.”