White Sox

White Sox look to avoid second sweep vs. Orioles

447876.jpg

White Sox look to avoid second sweep vs. Orioles

Monday, May 2, 2011
Posted: 10:00 a.m.

Associated Press
Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen returned after serving a two-game suspension, though the controversial skipper couldn't spark much life into his struggling club.

With the offense reeling and the pitching staff inconsistent, Mark Buehrle hopes to snap out of his personal funk and help the White Sox avoid another sweep Monday night in the conclusion of a four-game set with the visiting Baltimore Orioles.

Guillen was back on the bench Sunday after a ban from Major League Baseball for posting messages about an umpire on his Twitter account when he was ejected from Wednesday's game against the New York Yankees. The White Sox (10-19) lost both games in his absence to Baltimore, and the team's struggles continued Sunday with a 6-4 defeat - Chicago's fifth straight.

A loss Monday would mark the fourth time the White Sox were swept in a series this season and the first time Baltimore completed a four-game sweep in Chicago since July 6-9, 1995.

The White Sox have scored four or less runs in 17 of their last 18 games, and only Brent Lillibridge - who homered Sunday - is batting above .300. Adam Dunn hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the eighth, but he's hitting .171 with 31 strikeouts.

The pitching staff has struggled as well, ranking last in the AL with 149 runs allowed.

Paul Konerko, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI, believes things will turn around soon.

"Just because you go out and play hard doesn't mean you're going to win or get the hit," he said. "But over the long haul, you've got to believe you will. I believe I will and I believe the team will."

Buehrle (1-3, 5.12 ERA) may hope Konerko is correct. He's lost his last three starts, allowing 13 runs and 24 hits in 17 2-3 innings. He gave up three runs over seven innings in Wednesday's 3-1 loss at New York.

The left-hander also has lost three consecutive starts against Baltimore and is 5-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 16 career appearances versus the Orioles (13-13), winners of five of six.

Buehrle looks to slow a Baltimore offense which has scored 22 runs through the first three games of the series, though the Orioles have had some success against him.

Vladimir Guerrero is 12 for 33 (.364) with four home runs versus Buehrle, while Brian Roberts (13 for 39) and Nick Markakis (10 for 23) also have hit the left-hander well.

Markakis was hitless in his last 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position before his three-run double Sunday in the Orioles' five-run fifth inning off White Sox starter Gavin Floyd extended Baltimore's lead to 5-0.

"(Floyd) went away from his fastball, he threw a lot of cutters, slider and curveballs, you can almost go up there and sit on an offspeed pitch," Markakis said. "The more pitches you can eliminate, the easier to hit."

Jeremy Guthrie (1-3, 2.53) looks for his first win since April 1, though he pitched well in his most recent start. Guthrie went six scoreless innings Wednesday against Boston before Baltimore won 5-4.

The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA in his last four starts against Chicago. He's held most of the current White Sox lineup at bay through his career, as Konerko is 5 for 24 (.208) while Alexei Ramirez, Omar Vizquel and Gordon Beckham are a combined 4 for 37 (.108) lifetime against Guthrie.

The Orioles have won six of the last eight meetings.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

0219_alec_hansen.jpg
AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

0218-dylan-covey.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.