White Sox

White Sox fall apart in fifth inning in loss to Tigers

White Sox fall apart in fifth inning in loss to Tigers

DETROIT (AP) -- Justin Verlander pitched himself out of a third-inning jam Sunday.

Two innings later, he was happy to escape another with the help of his defense. He went seven strong innings as the Detroit Tigers swept the Chicago White Sox with a 5-2 victory Sunday.

Alex Avila, who has caught more of Verlander's starts than any other player, opened the third with a walk and took third on Tyler Saladino's double. Verlander, though, got Adam Eaton to tap back to the mound before striking out Jason Coats and Abreu to end the inning.

"That early in the game, you just don't want to do something stupid," Verlander said. "You can't take the mindset that you are going to throw perfect pitches and end up with a disaster on your hands. I just kept making my pitches and got out of it without any damage."

The Tigers took advantage in the bottom half, with Cameron Maybin drawing a two-out walk and scoring on Miguel Cabrera's double. Two innings later, things played out even better for Detroit.

Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias saved Verlander in the top of the fifth, making a diving stop of Saladino's one-out grounder to hold Jimmy Rollins at third. James McCann then grabbed Eaton's bunt and threw him out at first to end the inning.

"That was a massive play by Iggy on Saladino, and then McCann makes a huge play a few seconds later,"

Verlander said. "Those two guys deserve the credit for getting me out of that one."

Jose Quintana walked J.D. Martinez with the bases loaded to make it 2-1 in the bottom half and Nick Castellanos followed with an RBI single. Justin Upton drove a 3-0 fastball into the left field corner for a two-run double that ended Carlos Quintana's day.

Upton came into the game hitting .214 and had been dropped to seventh in Brad Ausmus' batting order.

"He said that he'd been feeling better the last couple days, so I figured I'd give him the green light on 3-0 and see if he could get a fastball," Ausmus said. "When a guy is struggling, there are times that you can get him going by giving him a shot at a pitch like that. Hopefully, this will help."

Detroit came into the series having lost eight of its last 10 games against left-handed starters, but beat a trio of Chicago lefties: Carlos Rodon, Chris Sale and Quintana.

"We knew we were going to hit lefties better than we have, especially with our lineup, but this was big," Ausmus said. "Rodon's a younger guy, but he's got great upside, and Sale and Quintana are two of the best lefty starters in the game today."

Verlander (5-5) allowed homers to Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier, but only gave up five hits and a walk while striking out eight.

Shane Greene and Francisco Rodriguez finished, with Rodriguez picking up his 15th save.

Quintana (5-6) took the loss, allowing a season-high five runs on nine hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. It was the first time he didn't finish five innings.

"I have a lot of confidence in all of my pitches right now, but I just missed my spot a couple times today," he said. "I've never walked anyone with the bases loaded before, and that changed the game for me."

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.”