White Sox

White Sox hopeful Adam LaRoche can end on high note


White Sox hopeful Adam LaRoche can end on high note

SEATTLE -- There are no easy solutions nor is there a quick fix.

Adam LaRoche will earn $13 million in 2016, which means the White Sox won’t designate him for assignment and an offseason trade seems unlikely.

LaRoche is here and for that reason he and the White Sox are caught in a balancing act over the final quarter of the season.

Even though they’ve slipped again in the American League wild-card standings and face nearly impossible odds, manager Robin Ventura has maintained a “focus on winning tonight” attitude that has resulted in LaRoche not playing. At the same time, the White Sox are determined to get LaRoche back on track -- even if it’s mostly with 2016 in mind. So while they intend to give younger players at-bats over the final 43 games, the White Sox know it would behoove them to also help LaRoche -- who has a .210/.298/.345 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 420 plate appearances -- figure this out.

“Given he’s part of what we have going on next year you do want to see him end on a high note and going into the offseason have some confidence and be on the upswing,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “There’s still time for that to happen. He (was) in there (Thursday), but for the last couple days he wasn’t because Robin felt it wasn’t the right matchup. He knows that’s totally in his discretion to set it up the way he sees fit.”

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The White Sox saw LaRoche as a good fit for the middle of the their lineup when they signed him to a two-year, $25-million deal last November. So far LaRoche has struggled, whether it’s his new role as a designated hitter or facing an entirely new catalogue of pitchers in the AL.

Ventura has done a good bit of juggling, especially over the last month, sitting LaRoche for several days at a time. While LaRoche’s bat speed and swing aren’t seen as an issue, his plate discipline has been -- he’s struck out in 28.6 percent of his plate appearances this season.

That has left Ventura to constantly shake up the lineup. Earlier this week, LaRoche -- who said Wednesday he would have benched himself months ago -- didn’t start in three straight games and was relegated to pinch-hitting duty.

“You keep moving things around and see what happens,” Ventura said.

Several times already the White Sox have given LaRoche a few days to work out the kinks in the batting cage. Last month in Boston, LaRoche said he began to feel a little bit better as he went to a wider base in his stance. But that didn’t take.

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He received a few more days off earlier this month and continued to experiment.

Though he grounded into a game-ending double play on Wednesday, LaRoche followed with one of his best games in months onThursday and is hopeful he’s had a breakthrough. Not only did LaRoche have just his second multi-hit game since July 8, including a booming two-run homer to right center, he also felt like he was seeing pitches better.

The White Sox would love for LaRoche to build off Thursday’s effort. Not only would it help their extremely limited chances this season, but a rebound from LaRoche could do wonders for the veteran’s second season with the White Sox.

“I felt better at the plate,” LaRoche said Thursday. “It has been a while. So that was good.

“I got some borderline pitches that I saw good. Seems like the majority of this year, I’ve been chasing a lot of those pitches that are just off. It was better.”

“It would be nice to build off of that. I’ve had some of these days where I’ve felt really good and come back out and not have it for a few days. So it’s a positive to see some pitches better. I wasn’t chasing today.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


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?


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.”