White Sox

White Sox earn series victory behind Mat Latos, Jose Abreu

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White Sox earn series victory behind Mat Latos, Jose Abreu

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Mat Latos is hopeful he’s over a rough two years and is ready to move ahead with his new team.

The White Sox pitcher tapped into some of his past success on Thursday afternoon as he exceeded expectations in his 2016 debut. Latos delivered six scoreless innings and Jose Abreu homered as the White Sox poured it on late in a 6-1 victory over the Oakland A’s in front of 12,577 at the Oakland Coliseum.

Injured the past two seasons and unpopular with some former Cincinnati Reds teammates after he made critical comments, Latos made a strong impression on the White Sox, who at 3-1 are off to their best start since 2005. Though he still feels as if he has more work to accomplish, the right-hander is pleased after he allowed only one hit and walked one against the A’s.

“Last year I had some bad karma from past stuff that was said,” Latos said. “I took it and then get kind of mentally messed up and kind of battling through something that I wasn’t used to with the knee. I’m used to having my legs under me and then really not understanding that I really have to work twice as hard if not more to get back to where I need to be.

“I’m healthy, but I still feel like there’s more I could do. I still have to strengthen. I wouldn’t say I necessarily have 100 percent of my legs under because of that. But I’m good, I’m healthy. I’m strong and I think it shows today. It’s great to turn the page from last year and start off really well.”

[MORE: White Sox must quickly acclimate to new surroundings]

Latos’ spring offered few hints of what was to come Thursday.

He built off Friday night’s outing in San Diego, one manager Robin Ventura described as encouraging. But even then, Latos only pitched 4 1/3 innings before he surrendered three earned runs.

Thursday was different.

Six of the first 13 hitters Latos faced hit ground balls as the right-hander kept his pitches down in the zone. Working with a fastball that ranged from 87-91, Latos used his entire arsenal to keep the A’s off balance. Through four hitless innings, Latos didn’t yield any hard-hit balls.

“He did a great job getting ahead, which is the most important thing,” catcher Dioner Navarro said. “He mixed his pitches really well. He spotted his fastball really well.

“He’s done it before, he’s been in that situation before. He knows what he has to do. I just try to guide him the best I can.”

Latos gave all credit to Navarro for the way he handled him. When he arrived in camp, Latos said one reason he signed with the White Sox was to once again work with Navarro, whom he briefly played with in Cincinnati in 2012. Latos trusts Navarro and said he only shook him off once during an 88-pitch effort, only to step off the mound and go back to the veteran catcher’s gameplan.

“I had a good pitch, or what I thought was a good pitch,” Latos said. “He kind of paused and kind of tilted his head at me and I stepped off the mound and was like ‘Whatever you want. Ok, boom let’s go.’ Called the pitch and we went after it.”

[MORE: White Sox bullpen busier than normal to start regular season]

Latos wouldn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning and even that took a misplayed fly ball by J.B. Shuck (he dropped a foul ball) and a 3-2 single by Chris Coghlan with one out.

Latos, who didn’t complete five innings in any of his three spring training starts, looked as if he could be in trouble in the fifth when he issued a two-out walk to Marcus Semien. But Brett Lawrie made nice diving stop up the middle and flipped in time to second base for the force to get out of the jam.

Lawrie made another diving stop in the sixth inning and Latos rode it to another perfect frame, one of four 1-2-3 three-up, three-downs.

“There are a lot of things you see (in Arizona) that might not happen when you get to the regular season,” Ventura said. “So we didn’t really know. It being for real and being out there, the competitive part came out of him. You just tip your cap to him the way he did it.”

The White Sox offense offered its own belated round of applause.

After they were stymied by Oakland starter Kendall Graveman for five innings, the White Sox finally broke through.

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Melky Cabrera, who earlier singled, drew a four-pitch walk to start the sixth inning and Abreu destroyed a 91-mph sinker down the middle, driving it out to right for two-run homer.

The offense came to life in the ninth inning when Avisail Garcia opened with a single against reliever Liam Hendriks. Pinch runner Austin Jackson stole second and moved to third on Lawrie’s bloop single. Navarro ripped an RBI single off the right field wall to make it 3-0. Tyler Saladino and Cabrera also had RBI singles and Abreu’s sac fly made it 6-0.

Adam Eaton also singled in the rally and is 9-for-16 to start the season. Eaton is the first White Sox player to open the season with four straight multi-hit games since Nellie Fox in 1955.

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Would potential bargains like Mike Moustakas or Carlos Gonzalez make sense for White Sox?

The 2017-18 baseball offseason continues to be, well, the 2017-18 baseball offseason, even with spring training games being played in Arizona and Florida.

A bunch of names remain on the free-agent market, including All-Star players who thought they would be in for big multi-year contracts. But as teams continue to deny the wishes of guys who expected to get big deals, the suggestion that those players might end up needing to take one-year offers if they want to play during the 2018 season is becoming a more common talking point.

So with potential bargains to be had for some pretty big-name players, do the White Sox jump into the waters and try to lock up a potential future piece on the cheap? Though they aren’t expected to contend this season, the White Sox have been mentioned in a pair of recent reports surrounding a pair of All-Star position players: Mike Moustakas and Carlos Gonzalez.

MLB.com's Jon Morosi wrote last week that the White Sox are a potential fit for Moustakas, who has sat and watched as former Kansas City Royals teammate Eric Hosmer received a huge contract from the San Diego Padres. Moustakas set a new Royals record last season with 38 home runs but has yet to find a team.

The White Sox, connected to Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado earlier this offseason, seem to have a current big leaguer or highly ranked prospect locked into almost every position on the diamond for the foreseeable future, but third base isn't necessarily one of them. Jake Burger was last year’s top draft pick, though there’s speculation he could slide over to first base. The team still envisions him as a big league third baseman, for what it’s worth.

Moustakas is 29 and already has seven big league seasons under his belt, including a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of trips to the World Series, including the Crowns’ championship back in 2015. His 38 homers and 85 RBIs in 2017 were both career highs. He slashed .272/.314/.521, the final of those three numbers the best mark of his career.

Moustakas has rarely hit for average or reached base at too high a clip, though those recent power numbers would be intriguing at a hitter-friendly park like Guaranteed Rate Field, where he has 10 career dingers, 26 career RBIs and a .249/.308/.456 career slash line as a visitor.

Certainly Moustakas would be a buzz-worthy addition, and if the White Sox could get him for a good value thanks to this slow-moving market, that adds incentive to bring him aboard. A short contract would have even more incentive for the rebuilding White Sox, who would have the option to either sign him to a long-term deal or deal him away in a deadline deal depending on his immediate production levels.

But for fans hoping the White Sox will spend big on a third baseman in one of the next two offseasons — Machado is a free agent next winter, and Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado is set to hit the market the winter after next — slotting in an outside addition at the hot corner now could impact those plans.

Gonzalez is a completely different story, a three-time All Star during his 10-year big league career who is just three seasons removed from a 40-homer campaign in 2015. The 32-year-old Gonzalez also has a trio of Gold Gloves to go along with his 215 career home runs. FanRag’s Jon Heyman listed the White Sox as a possible landing spot for CarGo this weekend.

But his walk year in Colorado was not a very good one by his standards. In 136 games for a Rockies team that ended up in the playoffs, he slashed .262/.339/.423, all those averages way down from his usual level of production. And his power numbers plummeted to 14 homers and 57 RBIs after he combined for 65 homers and 197 RBIs in 2015 and 2016.

The good news for the White Sox is that down year makes Gonzalez far more affordable. Should he command only a one-year contract, the White Sox could take a flier, stick him in the outfield — which still has an unresolved spot with few strong offensive options for center field — and trade him should he bounce back in a big way. Or, at 32, perhaps he’s a guy the White Sox could opt to keep around should he prove valuable and the rebuild continues to move along ahead of schedule.

Gonzalez seems the less risky move at this point, as Moustakas could still be looking for a multi-year contract. But the White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility and flexibility in their decision-making should they add either guy and he proves worthy of a midseason deal or a long-term look.

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.