White Sox

White Sox crushed by Tigers in series opener

White Sox crushed by Tigers in series opener

DETROIT (AP) — After a rough start to the season that included an ankle injury and a prolonged hitting slump, James McCann thought he had a solution earlier this week.

Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus gave McCann a couple days' off to work on a mechanical tweak to his swing, and it turned out to be the best move he could have made.

McCann returned to the lineup Friday night with three hits, including a triple and a homer, and the Tigers went on to beat the Chicago White Sox 10-3.

"He thought he had a mechanical breakthrough, so we sat him down for a couple days to try to make the fix," Ausmus said. "It bore fruit pretty quickly, because he had really been struggling, and that's the best he has looked all year."

McCann hit a solo homer in the second, added an RBI double in the sixth and a triple in the eighth.

"Things obviously haven't been where I needed them to be, so I've been trying to find something that would get me back on track," said McCann, who raised his batting average from .150 to .179. "I eliminated my leg kick, and that seems to have worked."

The Tigers, who won for the second time in seven games, lost Miguel Cabrera in the seventh inning to lower-back tightness. The team listed him as day-to-day.

"He told us it tightened up on a swing in the fifth, and they worked on it, but it got worse in the seventh," Ausmus said. "I'll check with him in the morning, but I expect him to play tomorrow."

Jordan Zimmermann (8-2), who hadn't pitched in 12 days due to a groin strain, lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and five hits. He walked two and struck out three.

"I was a little rusty, and when you are coming back from that much time off, you are a little worried that the next pitch is going to aggravate it," he said. "It felt really good, though, and I was able to help us get a win."

Carlos Rodon (2-5) allowed four runs, seven hits and three walks in six innings. He allowed two homers — his ninth and 10th of the season.

"He was a little erratic, and then he seemed to calm down, but when you can't hit the outside corner, the homers are going to get you," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.

The White Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second on Avisail Garcia's RBI single, but the Tigers moved ahead in the bottom of the inning on McCann's second homer and a run-scoring single by Ian Kinsler.

Martinez made it 3-1 in the third with a solo homer, but Jose Abreu's double pulled Chicago within 3-2. Jose Iglesias made a sliding stop on J.B. Shuck's grounder, preventing the tying run from scoring, but Zimmermann walked Brett Lawrie and was replaced by Alex Wilson.

Wilson struck out Jimmy Rollins to end the sixth, and McCann's bloop single made it 4-2 in the bottom of the inning. The Tigers added two more runs in the seventh, and four more in the eighth.

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.”