White Sox

White Sox offense flat in loss to Mariners

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White Sox offense flat in loss to Mariners

The White Sox offense has put the team in a hole all season and this week has been no different despite losing competition.

For the second time in three games, the White Sox spoiled a strong start as John Danks’ solid effort on Friday night went to waste in a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 27,870 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Danks allowed a pair of solo home runs to Seattle’s Kyle Seager and Franklin Gutierrez but was otherwise untouched in six innings. But Taijuan Walker and two Mariners relievers combined on a four-hit shutout as the White Sox — who have been shut out nine times — dropped six back in the wild-card race.

“If we can score you’d be able to (win),” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think pitching-wise we’ve been doing a good job of doing that and we just need to put something on the board.

“We just couldn’t get anything going.”

[MORE: White Sox: Tyler Flowers struggles to find consistency at plate]

The storyline has been the same for most of the season: the White Sox don’t give themselves many chances.

Though the group collectively has picked up over the last month, it has been an eye sore for most of 2015. Whether it Adam Eaton’s slow start, Adam LaRoche’s season-long funk, Melky Cabrera’s cold spell, you name it, the White Sox offense has had a variety of maladies.

Headed into Friday’s game, the White Sox had averaged 3.82 runs per game in part because the team’s .305 on-base percentage, which was tied for 25th in the majors.

Run production is up nearly a half-run per game from late July when the White Sox went on a tear, winning seven of eight games in Cleveland and Boston.

But same as Rick Porcello and the Boston bullpen on Thursday, Walker and Co showed the White Sox offense has plenty of work left to do.

The White Sox had one real chance as they knocked Walker out in the seventh inning and loaded the bases. But reliever Carson Smith — who was drilled by a one-out Alexei Ramirez line drive that went for a single — got pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck to hit into an inning-ending 5-2-3 double play. Smith and Tom Wilhelmsen retired the final six batters as the White Sox were shut out for the ninth time this season.

[RELATED: White Sox: Nate Jones felt strong in back-to-back efforts]

“Danks did a great job to give us a chance to win,” Shuck said. “We had a few opportunities and just couldn’t get it done.

“You create your own (breaks). We gave ourselves some chances and just couldn’t get it done tonight. 

“It’s a tough feeling. Obviously you want to get it done every time. But the goal is to get a pitch and try to do whatever you can to put the barrel on it. I thought I put a good pass at it.”

Unlike Sunday, when they got to him in the middle innings, the White Sox didn’t produce against Walker. The young right-hander retired 11 straight batters and 16 of 17 before he got into trouble in the seventh and left the game with a cramp in his hip flexor.

Danks navigated his way through several potentially damaging jams in the early innings and was sharp until his sixth and final inning. He lowered his home ERA to 3.42 but earned his first loss at U.S. Cellular since June 17.

“Everybody’s gotta do their job,” Danks said. “There’s been plenty of times where I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. It’s part of it. It’s frustrating.

“If we played more consistent all the way around we’d be in a lot better position than we are now.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Seattle’s first two hitters reached base to start the game but Danks retired Nelson Cruz on a pop up to first and Robinson Cano grounded into an inning-ending double play. In the second, Danks gave up two straight singles but struck out Mark Trumbo, retired Logan Morrison on a grounder to first and got Jesus Sucre to fly out to right to strand both.

Danks — who allowed seven hits and struck out five — only allowed a single hit each in the fourth and fifth innings and kept it scoreless until Seager homered to deep right to start the sixth inning. Two outs later, Gutierrez, who also singled twice, homered to left.

“You start looking at Johnny and going through that lineup and the solos hurt, but we didn’t muster any offense,” Ventura said. “You have to be able to put something on the board. If they score two you have to be able to score three.”

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.