White Sox

White Sox offense continues to struggle in loss to Twins

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White Sox offense continues to struggle in loss to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- They’re 20 games in and what is expected to be a formidable offense still hasn’t surfaced for the White Sox.

Kyle Gibson did plenty and his defense did the rest as the Minnesota Twins scored on a Jose Quintana wild pitch and beat the White Sox 1-0 on Friday night in front of 22,794 at Target Field.

Gibson and Glen Perkins combined on a six-hitter as the White Sox lost their third straight and scored three runs or fewer for the 12th time in 20 games (they’re 1-11 in those contests). Quintana took the loss despite limiting the Twins to a run in seven innings.

“It’s frustrating for all of us,” said designated hitter Adam LaRoche, who went 2-for-4. “We’ve run into some pitchers last few days that aren’t overpowering, but seem to be really hitting their spots and making pitches when they need them. Tonight, (Gibson) had that downhill plane, kept the ball down and had some run on it.”

Quintana (1-2) deserved much better.

It appeared like he might earn the 42nd no decision of his career when the White Sox got the go-ahead run into scoring position in the ninth inning.

[MORE: Ventura has addressed White Sox as individuals and as a group]

With two outs, pinch-hitter Gordon Beckham singled to left field, allowing Avisail Garcia to race to third. On the play, left fielder Eduardo Escobar bobbled the ball and Beckham reached second.

But Perkins blew two mid-90s fastball past Tyler Flowers for swinging strikes and then got the catcher looking at another for strike three.

They also had the bases loaded in the second inning, but Flowers grounded into an inning-ending double play when Gibson broke his bat. The Sox also had two on in the seventh inning but Flowers hit into a fielder’s choice and J.B. Shuck popped out to third.

To add injury to insult, the Twins took away several more hits in the fifth inning. Torii Hunter robbed Conor Gillaspie of at least a double with a leaping grab at the wall in right-center field and Joe Mauer had a diving stop for a fielder’s choice on J.B. Shuck’s grounder.

“They’re just not very opportunistic tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys had some pretty good at-bats. We swung it OK. They made some good plays on us, but we hit the ball hard. You just continue to go, continue to grind. Eventually that turns.”

Quintana’s luck has to, right?

He wiggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth inning and nearly got out of one in the fifth inning only to throw a wild pitch with two outs to allow Kennys Vargas to score the game’s only run.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Quintana faced the minimum in four of seven innings and struck out five. He walked two.

But it wasn’t enough.

“I see the lineup,” Quintana said. “The guys feel bad when they try for you in the game. Two runs or something in these 1-0 games, that’s crazy. But it’s a crazy game and try your best and hope for the next one.”

The White Sox have to hope this offense, one with a team .238/.288/.345 slash line, wakes up quickly.

They expect it will, as Alexei Ramirez and LaRoche are notoriously slow starters. They figure Adam Eaton -- who missed Friday’s game with flu-like symptoms -- can’t carry a .241 on-base percentage forever. But a team that spent $67 million on Melky Cabrera and LaRoche to bolster the offense has produced 64 runs and been shut out twice, both times by Minnesota.

“We’re going through one of those stretches where we are just not getting it going across the board,” LaRoche said. “So, it will turn. It just sucks going through it.”

 

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

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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.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.