White Sox

White Sox must get back on track after wild week

3-18-todd-frazier-white-sox.png

White Sox must get back on track after wild week

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The team has already filed the paperwork, but how much Adam LaRoche’s retirement will affect the White Sox remains to be seen.

Club officials finalized LaRoche’s retirement on Friday afternoon as the saga surrounding the presence of his son, Drake, in the clubhouse added several more contentious chapters.

All-Star pitcher Chris Sale went off on executive vice president Kenny Williams, LaRoche said in a statement he retired because of interactions with Williams and manager Robin Ventura said he’d work to get back on track a clubhouse that closer David Robertson describes as dicey.

If that weren’t enough, Williams released a statement to politely disagree with his ace’s thoughts while chairman Jerry Reinsdorf issued another instructing members of the organization to no longer discuss the issue and instead worry about baseball.

So, yeah, you could say things have gotten interesting around what previously has been a focused and upbeat White Sox camp.

“It’s a story,” Robertson said. “It has turned into one. There is a lot going on here.

“We’ll see. It’s too early to tell right now. People are still feeling hot and heavy about this situation.”

[MORE: Chris Sale - White Sox ‘got bold-faced lied to’ on Adam LaRoche situation]

Friday was the capper to what has proven to be a volatile week at Camelback Ranch.

Williams had the final of several discussions with LaRoche on Sunday, which prompted the veteran to stay away home Monday.

LaRoche addressed the team and retired Tuesday morning. After a heated discussion between Sale and Williams, players protested by not taking the field for morning stretch. They also reportedly considered a boycott of Tuesday’s game -- “it was a very passionate couple of minutes,” Ventura said without confirming reports.

On Wednesday, word leaked that LaRoche’s “#FamilyFirst” Tweet regarded his son and how Williams asked for a reduction in the youngster’s schedule. Williams said he didn’t ban Drake LaRoche outright, but asked for a reduced presence at home and on the road.

LaRoche argued that point in a statement he issued Friday to explain his decision. Not only did he suggest he has an agreement in place with the White Sox about having his son around, LaRoche said Williams requested a “significant reduction” before he banned the 14-year-old altogether.

“Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all,” LaRoche said.

Not even 24 hours away from the facility -- the team didn’t play Thursday -- could temper the situation as evidenced by Sale’s 14-minute media session aimed at Williams’ involvement.

“It’s a sticky situation,” third baseman Todd Frazier said.

Sale accused Williams of lying about why the request was made to LaRoche and said the executive vice president’s actions had thrown a wrench into a spring that was off to a fantastic start. The left-hander said he doesn’t expect the issue to affect his play or the team’s goal of winning. But, Sale is concerned that the White Sox have to move on without “two big pieces.”

“We were rolling,” Sale said. “We had positive energy in here. Nobody saw anything as a distraction until all this happened. We just try to pick up the pieces, collect it all and put it back together and keep trucking.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Ventura has seen his share of these moments before. He was a member of both New York clubs and also played in 1994 when baseball had its last work stoppage. The fifth-year manager has also experienced Sale’s passionate side before and understands the range of emotions his players have experienced this week.

“I’ve been part of a couple of sit-ins,” Ventura said. “It’s not like I haven’t seen it. But that’s part of baseball. It can get passionate and heated.

“It’s always raw any time a guy is released or retired. I’m dealing with that more than any of the other stuff.”

Now the trick is for the White Sox to turn the corner and rediscover the feel they’ve had this entire spring. Outfielder Adam Eaton expects the team will band together. He likes how they’ve supported LaRoche and how they responded Tuesday.

Ventura thinks the club is capable of it, too, even as they navigate a murky situation.

After all, the clubhouse is already unified. It’s just up to Ventura and his coaches to point them in the right direction.

“That’s my concern, to get them focused right back on track and ready for the season so everybody has their job to do and get out there and be ready to do it,” Ventura said. “They’re going to be all right. They’re a tough group. One thing is for sure, they’re together, 100 percent.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

mickeradolfo.jpg
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?

0223-rick-renteria-rick-hahn.jpg
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.”