White Sox

White Sox defeat Twins, win series

832449.png

White Sox defeat Twins, win series

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tyler Flowers had already scanned Jake Peavys vitals before Robin Ventura reached the mound in the eighth inning Wednesday and knew he was good to go.

The White Sox catcher was convinced his starting pitcher was more than capable of handling the games biggest make-or-break moment even though he had thrown 112 pitches. Flowers heard it in Peavys voice and saw it in his eyes and supported the decision to go after Joe Mauer with the tying run only 90 feet away and the go-ahead run at first and two outs.

Also convinced, Ventura left Peavy in and he didnt disappoint as he retired Mauer and led the White Sox to a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Flowers and Alejandro De Aza scrapped together just enough offense and Addison Reed closed out a series victory for the White Sox and a 4-2 road trip with his 18th save in 21 tries.

The biggest thing is, how are they mentally? Flowers said. How are they feeling? Are they still confident? Are they still being aggressive throwing pitches and not finessing strikes in there because thats when you get hurt. Hes fired up.

Ventura didnt need much to be convinced.

The Twins were only in their fortuitous position after Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis committed an error with two outs to put runners on the corners for Mauer.

Before the eighth inning, Peavy had shown few signs of weakness aside from Danny Valencias second-inning solo homer.

Ventura walked to the mound, heard what he needed to and headed for the dugout even though left-hander Leyson Septimo was ready to face the lefty Mauer.

He still wanted it, Ventura said. I trust him. If I go out there and you hear the right thing, you are going to keep him in there. Late in the game, thats the guy you want in there.

Peavy needed only two pitches to prove Ventura right. After he missed with a fastball, Peavy came back with inside another heater and Mauer popped out to shallow left.

Peavy, who limited the Twins to an earned run and five hits in eight innings, gave a quick fist-pump as he left the mound with the lead intact. He struck out eight and walked two.

This guy is hitting .330, Peavy said of Mauer. You dont want him up in a situation like that. Robin came out to make sure I was comfortable facing him in that situation. We had Septimo ready. But I really was (comfortable) simply because of how we pitched him earlier. Decided to stay hard in and try to get him to hit the ball in the air, and fortunately we were able to do that.

The combination of De Aza and Flowers was fortunate enough to get Peavy enough support.

De Aza opened the game with a single off Twins starter Scott Diamond (9-5) and quickly stole second base. He then alertly moved to third base when Valencia had to dive to retrieve Youkilis grounder and De Aza scored on Adam Dunns sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.

Then Flowers got involved.

After a single in his first at-bat, Flowers tied the game with an RBI groundout in the fifth inning -- his first RBI since May 20.

But Flowers wasnt finished.

He led off the eighth inning with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Orlando Hudsons grounder. His work on the bases became critical when De Aza, who finished 3-for-4 and 7-for-13 in the series, lined the ball off Diamond for an RBI single and a 3-2 lead.

Flowers -- who has struggled to produce consistent offense because of his limited role off the bench -- said he was pleased to contribute in ways other than handling the pitching staff and on defense.

Its tough not getting regular at-bats, Peavy said of Flowers. When he got some regular at-bats what hes done, especially a power guy with a long swing, to go up there and keep his feel (is good).

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

mickeradolfo.jpg
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?

0223-rick-renteria-rick-hahn.jpg
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.”