White Sox

White Sox feeling empty after squandering another lead in loss to Indians

White Sox feeling empty after squandering another lead in loss to Indians

CLEVELAND -- The White Sox found themselves in an ideal spot early on Thursday night.

They led by three runs and knocked the opposing starting pitcher out after only one inning.

But same as they have most of the season, the White Sox didn’t take advantage of their prime position.

The offense failed to pull away from the Cleveland Indians and it resulted in yet another tough loss as the White Sox dropped a 5-4 decision in front of 12,982 at Progressive Field.

Tyler Naquin’s pinch-hit sac fly off Jacob Turner in the ninth inning helped the Indians to their ninth win over the White Sox in 12 tries. The White Sox are 20-24 this season in one-run games, including four losses on their 4-5 road trip.

“We didn’t add on,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “As hitters, we have to just keep going. We have to get them out of slam range. Get up by more than four runs, that would have been nice. Their bullpen did their job kind of and we added a couple on there, but it wasn’t enough there at the end.

“Just an emptiness leaving at all these parks. It’s tough.”

The most difficult part has been constantly asking a now-short-handed bullpen to pitch in closely-contested ballgames.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

The White Sox have done it all season.

Their 44 one-run games tied them with the Seattle Mariners for the most in the majors and the White Sox have played another 25 games decided by two or fewer runs.

But early on it looked as if the White Sox might pull away on the heels of Wednesday’s 10-run performance. Indians starter Danny Salazar walked three of the first four batters he faced and Justin Morneau hit a bases-clearing double to put the White Sox ahead 3-0.

Salazar exited after 34 pitches and gave way to the bullpen, which is usually a good thing.

Apparently not.

Kyle Crockett pitched a scoreless inning and Steve Clevinger followed with four strong frames, allowing a run on two hits and a walk. He struck out four and afforded the Indians time to rally against Carlos Rodon and the White Sox bullpen.

Rodon threw strikes, attacked hitters and made the big pitch when necessary on Thursday.

He allowed eight hits in six innings, walked none and struck out five. He benefitted from four double plays, with one in each of the first five innings save for the third.

Rodon took a two-run lead into the sixth inning, but quickly found trouble when Jason Kipnis hit a one-out, ground-rule double to put two in scoring position. Rodon surrendered a run on an RBI single by Francisco Lindor, but got another big play from his defense to escape the inning with a one-run lead.

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“Nobody is an easy out,” said Rodon, who has a 3.33 ERA in 24 1/3 innings since he came off the disabled list. “You get 0-2 on them and they seem pretty comfortable laying off the slider and work back in the count. They made it tough.

“Some big pitches made and defense definitely picked me up in the first and a few other times.”

“Definitely an empty feeling. All of us playing hard. We are leaving it all out there and it just doesn’t happen.”

The Indians scored a run in each of the last five innings.

Chris Beck and Turner, both of whom have been thrust into key roles because of an inexperienced group, allowed one apiece in the seventh and ninth innings. Nate Jones, who was summoned to finish the seventh, didn’t escape the eighth before he allowed Jose Ramirez’s two-out, game-tying single.

“They gave us an opportunity early by walking guys and Justin with the big hit,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “But after that their bullpen comes in and just kind of shuts us down.

“You’ve got to be able to do more with that once you get the starter out as early as we did.

“The way it started off today, you figured at least offensively gonna have something go your way.”

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.”