White Sox

White Sox rally for four runs in final at-bat to top Indians, 4-3


White Sox rally for four runs in final at-bat to top Indians, 4-3

After they struggled all night Monday, none of the White Sox hitters wanted to make the out that could crush their ninth-inning hot streak.

One by one, for seven straight plate appearances, a team reduced to nothing for eight innings put together quality trips to the plate against Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen. It began with a one-out double and another five hits and a walk later, Melky Cabrera’s bases-loaded RBI single capped a four-run rally as the White Sox stunned the Indians 4-3 at U.S. Cellular Field. Now instead of starting a seven-game homestand with another trying loss, the White Sox hope to capture some of the good feelings created by their sudden comeback.

“Don’t be that guy, don’t get out and don’t let your guys down,” said leadoff man Adam Eaton, who singled in the ninth and also walked twice. “Hopefully it’ll have some momentum for the rest of the series.”

Including a pair of early failures Monday, the White Sox have had plenty of offensive let downs to start the season. An offense featuring two new marquee pieces had been held to two runs or fewer in six of 11 games and appeared to be headed for a seventh.

Trevor Bauer and two relievers struck out nine in eight scoreless innings.

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But none of that seemed to matter in the ninth when Alexei Ramirez doubled over the head of Indians center fielder Mike Aviles with one out to drive in two runs. Avisail Garcia, who doubled, and Conor Gillaspie, who walked, scored on the play. Both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by Allen.

Tyler Flowers and Gordon Beckham then singled, the latter driving in the tying run. Eaton, who earlier walked twice, battled back from a 0-2 count and loaded the bases with a single to left.

Cabrera then worked the count full against Allen before driving a 95-mph fastball to deep left-center field for the game-winner.

“With the Avi double and the Alexei double, then it clicked for us,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “I've been confident about this team and the potential we have. I know we have a good team.”

White Sox starting pitcher John Danks had his best start and kept the White Sox within striking distance despite making two mistakes that resulted in solo homers. Ryan Raburn hit a 420-foot homer in the second inning and Brett Hayes added one in the fifth. Michael Brantley doubled in a run in the third with the aid of Garcia’s double-clutched throw that allowed Aviles to score from first.

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Danks gave up six hits, walked two and struck out four.

But he couldn’t keep pace with Bauer, who pitched around an early wild bout.

Eaton drew a leadoff walk in the first inning and moved up on Jose Abreu’s one-out single to right field. But Bauer struck out Adam LaRoche and Garcia grounded out to short to strand the pair.

Two innings later, Micah Johnson singled, stole second and Eaton walked. But Cabrera grounded into a double play and Abreu popped out.

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From there Bauer needed only 16 pitches to retire the side in order in the fifth and sixth innings.

The White Sox, who aside from Saturday’s 12-run outburst had 27 runs in 10 games, only had one runner reach scoring position between the fourth and eighth innings.

“The offense was flat, Bauer was good,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Any time we really had an opportunity to do anything he bowed up and got through it. There wasn’t a whole lot of opportunities there for us at-bat wise. They had a couple homers and it was pretty flat. But I’m glad there’s no clock. They couldn’t stall. You eventually have to get it and guys had some good at-bats there in the ninth.”

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


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.

Jose Abreu has already begun mentoring Luis Robert


Jose Abreu has already begun mentoring Luis Robert

As the White Sox have added young Cuban stars in the making in Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, Jose Abreu's long-term role on the team has shifted.

The 31-year-old first baseman has been looked at as something of a mentor for the two young Cubans. He seems to be delivering on that so far.

Abreu picked up Moncada from the airport when he first was called up to the White Sox last July. Now he's helping Robert in the batting cage.

The Cuban trio is expected to play a big part of the White Sox future in the coming years. 

Robert has already stated his goal of making it to the majors this year to join Abreu and Moncada, but that may be an overly ambitious goal. Either way, plenty of eyes will be on him throughout 2018 as he marches towards the White Sox roster and his Cuban teammates.