White Sox

White Sox have been feeling the Royal Pains

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White Sox have been feeling the Royal Pains

Once upon a time, the Los Angeles Dodgers had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. The Atlanta Braves had Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
Well, look out world. The Kansas City Royals now have their own vaunted 1-2 pitching combo:
Bruce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie.
For two nights, these journeymen pitchers threw kryptonite at the White Sox, who mustered just two measly runs against the Royals dynamic duo in 14.2 innings.
For Chen, it was his first win since June 26. For Guthrie, his first victory since May 31.
Youre wondering why that White Sox fan showed up to work today with all those cuts and bruises? He spent most of the night banging his head against the wall.
Chen was good, but Guthrie was great -- maybe the greatest of his major league career. Seriously. He was one inning away from his very first shutout, in his 173rd major league start, the fourth longest drought for a pitcher in major league history.
That, arguably, could be the best-pitched game weve had all year, said manager Ned Yost, whose team has the sixth highest ERA in the majors.
We knew his numbers dont reflect the kind of pitcher that he is, Adam Dunn said. Youre not going to talk to anyone who knows baseball that says he doesnt have good stuff. Hes got great stuff. Usually it seems like youre going to get a pitch or two to hit, and tonight when we did, we didnt do anything with them.
So how did Guthrie celebrate after his eight scoreless innings? This little soak in the tub.
I wonder if Alexei Ramirez threw a party of his own. Hes 1-for-22 in his career against Guthrie. Hes also 1-for-22 against Chen. Who cant wait to see former Sox pitcher Brandon McCarthy pitch against them on Friday? Ramirez.
The Royals took two-of-three from the White Sox, who have got to find a way to beat this pesky last-place team. They still have nine more games against them, including next week in Kansas City. It was the first series the White Sox had lost at home since the Cubs won two-of-three at U.S. Cellular Field in the third week of June.
But if we have learned anything about this White Sox team its the word reliever Matt Thornton provided when I asked him what the key to their success has been.
Resiliency.
Theres no give with us. Thats what youve seen with us all year long, Thornton said. Even if we lose three, four, five games in a row, we bounce back, and keep getting back up.
Which has stunned every expert who predictedArmageddonon the South Side, a season with over 90 losses and a last-place finish in the AL Central. Instead, the White Sox have been in first place for 70 days, while the Tigers, who everyone (including me) thought would run away with the division, have been in first for just 24 days.
We better get real cold for them to look good, Thornton said about the experts. They have to make their preseason predictions for everything. They backfire all the time. Being an athlete, I dont really throw too many predictions out there. Were proof that the experts dont always exactly know what theyre talking about all the time.
But Thornton, an avid football fan and one of the White Sox in-house NFL experts, did made this prediction about the upcoming season:
I have the Houston Texans winning the Super Bowl this year...and Im a Lions fan.
Once upon a time, Thornton, a Michigan native, was also a Tigers fan. Somewhere inside ashoe boxor family album likely exists a photo of Matt as a child fitted in Tigers garb from head-to-toe.
But times have obviously changed.
My immediate family now is of course Sox fans," Thornton said. "They have been since the day I got over here, but I do have a lot of friends from high school and college that say, Were pulling for the Tigers, we want you to do well when youre in the game, but we want you guys to lose.
Now with 52 games remaining, the battle lines have been drawn. Its a two-team race between the White Sox and Tigers for the division title.
It has nothing to do with me growing up being a Tigers fan, Thornton said. Its a fact that thats a great team over there. Were proving to be a great team too. Weve been here all year. We have guys having great years, bouncing back from bad years last year, everyone is doing their part to win ballgames. With the mix that we have here, its going to be a fun last month and a half.

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.”