White Sox

White Sox drop fifth game in six tries, fall to Astros extras

White Sox drop fifth game in six tries, fall to Astros extras

The White Sox dropped another winnable game on Tuesday night.

General manager Rick Hahn spoke of his disappointment before Tuesday’s contest because he thought the White Sox should have had a more productive road trip. A 6-5 loss in 11 innings to the Houston Astros in front of 13,481 at U.S. Cellular Field probably didn’t make Hahn feel much better.

Though the first-place White Sox continued to fight despite playing without cleanup man Todd Frazier, they missed out on several key scoring opportunities and stranded nine runners in all. Evan Gattis made them pay with a two-out, two-run homer off Matt Albers in the 11th that sent the White Sox to their fifth loss in six games.

“From a big picture standpoint, we feel good,” Hahn said. “From a day-to-day standpoint, frankly we should have done a little better on the last road trip and I think everybody feels that way in there right now. We were in all six games, but wound up winning only two of them.”

The White Sox bullpen has been at the center of those struggles after an incredible run to start the season. The unit has a 5.03 ERA in 39 1/3 innings in May after posting a 1.69 ERA in April.

With the go-ahead run at second, Gattis fell behind Albers in the count 0-2. But Albers left a 92-mph sinker up and Gattis crushed it.

Zach Putnam also allowed a run in the eighth inning.

“That one pitch, you’d like to get it back,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “(Albers has) been pitching great for us and these last couple haven’t been what he’s been doing previously. But you still see it there, there was some zip on it and Gattis got the one he needed.”

The White Sox scored twice off the Astros’ bullpen.

Adam Eaton’s two-out RBI double off Tony Sipp in the 11th got the White Sox within a run. But Sipp struck out Alex Avila to strand the tying run.

Tyler Saladino also had a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning as Houston closer Luke Gregerson blew the save. But Gregerson extended the contest to extras as Jose Abreu grounded out and stranded a pair of runners. Abreu, whose fourth-inning solo homer off Dallas Keuchel got the White Sox on the board, stranded seven runners overall.

The White Sox seemed to have Keuchel on the ropes in the seventh inning as he walked the first two batters he faced on eight consecutive balls.

Even so, the White Sox immediately called for a sacrifice bunt from Saladino, who fouled off the first pitch and then laid one down just in front of home plate, which led to a force out at third base. Working with men on first and second, Keuchel couldn’t work out of the jam as he then walked Eaton on four pitches to load the bases.

But Ken Giles took over and struck out Jimmy Rollins and Abreu consecutively to strand the bases loaded.

“I don’t think you sit there and count on (Keuchel) going to continue to just throw balls, but once we got guys in scoring position, you feel like you have a chance,” Ventura said. “We got ourselves in a good situation and then they bring in a guy (Giles), that he just blew a couple of guys away.”

In an attempt to challenge more hitters, White Sox starter Carlos Rodon worked at a higher fastball velocity all evening and had some success. He hit 98 mph on the radar gun and struck out seven batters and only walked one.

But Astros first baseman Tyler White met two of Rodon’s challenges, homering to nearly the same spot in left field on both. White’s homers came on 3-2 and 3-1 counts, respectively.

Rodon allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits in six innings.

The Frazier-less White Sox had few early chances against Keuchel, who retired 11 straight until Abreu’s homer.

The White Sox pulled ahead in the bottom of the fifth on four consecutive two-out hits. Dioner Navarro and Saladino doubled, which made it a 2-2 game. Eaton then singled in a run to put the White Sox ahead and Rollins singled. But Keuchel struck out Abreu to strand the pair.

“We left a lot of guys on base today, a lot of opportunities,” Ventura said. “Any time you lose like that you feel like that.”

The White Sox are 7-7 in May. They lead the division by 3 1/2 games, but have to feel like it could be larger. Avila said the solution to the team’s woes is simple.

“Win,” Avila said. “It’s pretty easy. Just get a good outing from your pitcher, make some clean plays in the field and get a timely hit when you need it. We battled today. Best way to do it is win.”

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.”