White Sox

White Sox offense struggles again in 6-2 loss to Indians

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White Sox offense struggles again in 6-2 loss to Indians

Even Carlos Rodon’s major league debut couldn’t wake the White Sox offense from its extended slumber.

Jose Abreu homered in the first inning and singled in a run in the eighth but the White Sox -- who got the tying man to the plate late -- were otherwise kept in check during a 6-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Carlos Carrasco and six Indians relievers struck out 15 as the White Sox were held to two runs or fewer for the seventh time in 13 games.  

“You want to put it in play little bit more and make some people work,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think that’s part of the issue, too -- Carrasco has some great stuff.”

Carrasco and reliever Bryan Shaw brought their best in the few instances where the White Sox were primed to break through.

Tied at 1 in the third inning, the White Sox got the first two men aboard as Micah Johnson singled and Adam Eaton followed with a bunt single. But Carrasco got Cabrera --- who entered with six hits in 11 at-bats against the right-hander --- to hit into a double play and he struck Abreu out. Abreu had homered in the first inning to put the White Sox ahead 1-0, his fourth.

Abreu accounted for the team’s other run with an RBI single in the eighth to cut into Cleveland’s lead. But the White Sox left the bases loaded as Shaw took over and struck out Avisail Garcia to hold onto the four-run lead.

“Right now especially, pitchers are feeling good and they’re executing pitches really well right now,” said Johnson, who finished 1-for-3. “Carrasco threw Abreu a really good changeup. They’re executing pitches. Our guys are doing the same thing. The tides are going to turn at some point.”

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Rodon wasn’t able to execute as the White Sox immediately tested him.

The left-hander took over for Hector Noesi in a one-run game with runners on the corners in the top of the sixth and two outs. The team’s top prospect walked Brandon Moss on four pitches before Sox-killer Ryan Raburn blooped a 3-2 fastball into left for a two-run single and a 4-1 lead. Rodon, who gave up three hits and walked three in 2 1/3 innings, gave up two runs of his own in the seventh. He threw strikes on 29 of 60 pitches.

“Yeah a little bit of butterflies,” Rodon said. “It was fun to be out there, though. Considering.”

Noesi’s second start was much better than his first as he walked only one in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander did surrender a game-tying solo homer to Carlos Santana in the second inning and David Murphy had a solo round-tripper in the fifth to pull ahead 2-1. The Indians got a one-out single from Jason Kipnis in the sixth and Michael Brantley followed with an infield single. With Noesi at 99 pitches, Ventura elected to bring in Rodon to face the left-handed Moss.

Noesi allowed four earned runs and four hits with a walk over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five.

[MORE: Refurbished White Sox bullpen off to good start]

He kept the White Sox close but the offense went stagnant. Before their rally in the eighth, Indians pitchers set down 16 of 17 White Sox hitter starting with Carrasco’s strikeout of Abreu. Carrasco needed only 60 pitches as he struck out eight over five innings in his first game back since Cabrera lined a ball off his face in Cleveland last Tuesday.

White Sox hitters have struck out 103 times, an average of 7.9 per contest so far this season. The effort came on the heels of a 10-strikeout showing against Trevor Bauer on Monday.

“Both those guys (Bauer and Carrasco) have real good stuff and if you let them get ahead of you it’s a tough uphill battle with the weapons they have,” Flowers said. “

“We’ll come up with a new gameplan next time. They did a good job, at least in my at-bats against them. I didn’t really feel like I got any good pitches to hit.”

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.”