White Sox

White Sox end homestand with whimper in loss to Twins

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White Sox end homestand with whimper in loss to Twins

The White Sox have played some of their best baseball of the season in front of their home crowd.

But U.S. Cellular Field hasn't been too kind to the South Siders lately.

The White Sox wrapped up a disappointing seven-game homestand on Sunday with a 8-1 loss to the Twins, resulting in their fifth loss in seven games over that stretch.

Early inning troubles plagued the White Sox again when starter Jose Quintana gave up a leadoff home run to second baseman Brian Dozier.

The left-hander then settled down, retiring the next nine hitters before a disastrous fourth inning ensued.

First baseman Joe Mauer smacked a line drive right at Adam Eaton, but the center fielder seemed to take his eye off the ball in hopes of trying to double off Shane Robinson from second. Eaton let the ball get by him, allowing Robinson to score on the error, bringing the Twins' lead to 2-0.

“Big inning there I created,” Eaton said. “Tough ball. Goes up and it’s kind of knuckling. Play needs to be made.

“I would be lying to you if my eyes weren’t wandering a little bit. I’ve made that play 100 times. Whatever happened to that ball, it didn’t find my mitt.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Later that inning, outfielder Torii Hunter drove in a run on an infield single and allowed another run to score. Three batters later, outfielder Eddie Rosario delivered a two-run single to extend the Twins' lead to 5-0.

“He had good stuff,” Ventura said of Quintana. “But you start getting up in the zone fastball wise, these guys can hit a fastball. They’re on it.”

Jose Abreu finally got the White Sox offense going with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. It was the slugger's seventh of the season and first since May 9.

“For him, there’s more there,” Ventura said of Abreu. “We know that. This is just a rough stretch for him but he homered today and you hope that’s good things to come.”

Dozier continued his dominance over the White Sox on Sunday by smacking a three-run home run off reliever Scott Carroll in the seventh.

Twins starter Kyle Gibson was brilliant for the second time this year against the White Sox. The right-hander tossed eight innings of one-run ball, including eight strikeouts. He's only given up one run over 16 innings against the South Siders in 2015.

“Even when they got up, Gibson was pumping strikes,” Ventura said. “If he was going to give us something, a walk or a hit batter you’d take it but he jumped ahead early.”

[RELATED: White Sox hoping to find answers on extended road trip]

Adam LaRoche, who went 0-for-3 in the loss, believes the team is capable of much more and it’s hard to watch the performances they’ve had on the field.

“Extremely frustrating,” LaRoche said. “We are not just getting beat: we are beating ourselves and making good pitchers look great. It’s embarrassing.”

The White Sox failed to provide Quintana with much run support again. In his last five starts, the offense has only provided seven runs for the left-hander. 

White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia returned to the lineup after a two-game absence due to right knee inflammation and went 1-for-2. Ventura removed him from the game for precautionary reasons in the seventh.

Two rough series at home against the Indians and Twins have the White Sox doing an emotional 180 from when they arrived back home just six days ago. As they load up for Toronto with a matchup against the Blue Jays on Monday and an 11-game road trip staring them in the face, Ventura hopes the team packs a scrappy attitude to turn their luck around.

“You’re able to gain some momentum from where we started and it ended not well,” Ventura said. “Now you got to find a way to go on the road and keep grinding. These guys just need to find a way to scratch across a couple runs and make it a clean game.”

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.