White Sox

White Sox impressed with David Robertson’s win/save double

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White Sox impressed with David Robertson’s win/save double

David Robertson hadn’t done what he did Sunday since his high school days in Alabama.

The 30-year-old closer earned a win, notched a save and struck out five over two appearances that came about three and a half hours apart in a pair of White Sox wins over Kansas City at U.S. Cellular Field. He figured the last time he pitched two games in a day came while he was at Paul W. Bryant High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Robertson threw the ninth inning of Friday’s suspended game, which was concluded prior to the start of Sunday’s regularly-scheduled series finale. He struck out the side and earned the win when Avisail Garcia hit a two-out walk-off single, which netted the White Sox a 3-2 win.

Later in the afternoon, the right-hander jogged in from the bullpen to record his 50th career save — and he struck out two more Royals in nailing down the 5-3 win.

“(It) really shows his fight and his commitment to the team,” center fielder Adam Eaton said. “I don’t know the last time someone got a win and a save in the same day, I’m sure it’s been done before. But it shows a lot of grit and determination, especially when a guy is used to having one outing a day and he comes down and throws twice for you, gets hot twice for you and does extremely well in both instances. Hats off to him and we couldn’t have done it without this today.”

[MORE: White Sox jump on rare Moustakas error in win over Royals]

Robertson brushed off his achievement as no big deal, saying it wasn’t all that different from throwing off flat ground or playing catch before a game and then entering it in relief later. But not only did Robertson pitch in both games, he pitched effectively, only allowing a pair of singles in his second outing.

That he was able to succeed in both games left an even stronger impression on his teammates.

“(That’s) typical Robertson,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “Came in, shut them down, gave us a chance in the bottom (in the first game) and on the save right there, he just missed a couple spots and ended up giving up the base hits. But other than that, he went right back to executing pitches.”

Robertson combined to throw 37 pitches between his two appearances, 28 of which were strikes. Ten of those strikes were swinging, as Royals hitters frequently flailed at his cutter/curveball combination that’s been so lethal this season.

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In eight innings with the White Sox, Robertson hasn’t allowed a run and has 17 strikeouts against one walk. That’s good for a -0.85 FIP, a statistic scaled to ERA that’s based on walks, strikeouts and home runs. It's a small sample size, of course, but it's easily the best FIP among major league relievers.

“I remember (Hall of Famer Tom Seaver) talking about getting two wins in one day,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s unusual the way the day went because normally you would have a straight doubleheader. Him starting off the day like he did and finishing off, it was nice. Good day when you get two wins in one day.”

The plan all along was for Robertson, who last pitched on Thursday, to enter the second game Sunday in a save opportunity. Because he was announced as entering Friday’s game just before it was suspended for rain, he had to pitch the ninth inning Sunday afternoon.

Ventura initially said he “wished it wouldn’t have happened that way,” but Robertson proved to be up to the double duty task.

“David has been doing this at a high level for a long time,” reliever Zach Duke said. “He knows himself and knows what it takes to get himself right. He was good today.”

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.”