White Sox

White Sox spin Carrasco, Tribe right round

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White Sox spin Carrasco, Tribe right round

Saturday, April 2, 2011
Posted 2:54 p.m. Updated 4:59 p.m.

By Brett BallantiniCSNChicago.com

CLEVELAND It took the Chicago White Sox until the third inning of Fridays opener to score five runs. In Saturdays chaser, they led 5-0 after two.

This, in the infinite jest the Pale Hose have treated the 2011 season as so far, counts as progress.

Gordon Beckham had hits in both the first and second, plating two runs, featuring the second sacker's single off the right field wall, to set another apparent rout in motion.

But just like Fridays faux runaway, White Sox pitching and defense rallied against the rout. This time Edwin Jackson got a jump on his bullpen shufflin crew and gave three runs back in the second, one on a towering blast by Travis Hafner, two later with help from a curious double-error (bobble, throw) tacked to third baseman Brent Morel.

You can have some early struggles, but its always how you finish, said a confident Jackson. Both pitchers settled down. We went through the same things early in the game. As a manager, all you can ask a struggling pitcher is to regain stabilization of the game.

He put himself in trouble a lot, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He couldnt really command how he wanted to throw the ball, but in the last couple of innings he settled down very well He gave it the best he had today.

Thats exactly what Jackson wanted to do, given his early scuffles.

The first couple of innings, I didnt really have too much, he said. I was catching too much of the plate and they took advantage of it. Its a battle, and you just keep fighting and keep your team in the game.

Meanwhile, tattered Cleveland Indians starter Carlos Carrasco settled down put a chill on the White Sox, with Bacons right-field wall single the last White Sox hit until Morel tapped out a single to right in the sixth. Morel then notched the first Chisox steal of the seasonwho had the rookie in the pool?and scoring on Juan Pierres subsequent single.

I like scoring the runs, but being on the other end, with guys in scoring position, my mind shifts to trying to drive guys in like that, Pierre said.

When Carlos Quentin drove in two runs (thats seven on the season, folks) with another deep double (his third) to right-center with two outs off of relief pitcher Chad Durbin, the lead was extended to 8-3 and led to speculation that the White Sox are only fit to maul pitchers relatively fresh from the pen.

Those runs kill teams, those add-on runs, Pierre said.

The biggest hit of the day was when Carlos hit that double late in the game, Guillen said. Good teams need to get big, two-out base hits. That was a big run.

The insurance runs also allowed Guillen to tap right into a potentially electrifying portion of his pen, the 1-2 young guns punch of Chris Sale and Sergio Santos, who came on to nail down the win for Jackson. The lefty-righty combo allowed just two hits and punched out four.

The White Sox have started 2-0 for the first time since 2005 and have now won six straight games at Progressive Field, dating to last year. A sweep looms.

Now we got to go for the white meat on the turkey now, Pierre said. Weve got em on their heels, so weve got to come out strong like we did these last two days.

Were happy right now, Jackson said, as Motley Crue blared from speakers and a video game tournament was about to tip off in the center of the room. You look around the clubhouse and its pretty loose and relaxed. Thats part of the gameyou win when you go out and have fun. Thats what were doing right now.

Morel dips into the stolen-base pool

Postgame, Morel was stunned to learn he was the owner of the first Chisox steal of the season, but in typical fashion, he played it off legit.

Any way we can score is great, he said. I was just trying to get on base with two outs. I got a good pitch to steal on. JPs been swinging the bat well, and came up clutch. A little insurance run definitely helps.

Last years major-league stolen base champion, Pierre, was cool with losing the early lead to the rookie.

I dont mind him stealing like that all the time, if he makes it, said the speedster. Its good for him, being a young guy, to have confidence to start playing the game the way we play it.

South Side Hit Men

The White Sox are hitting .363 as a team through two games, with an engorged .954 OPS. Not that anyone is complaining.

Its about having good at-bats, whether the results are there or not, Pierre said. People just want to have good at-bats throughout the lineup. This offense starts to wear on a pitcher. He looks at our lineup and says, Man, there arent too many holes in that lineup. So he has to make good pitches all day.

Guillen, thrilled by his clubs production, sees strength stretching 1-9.

Everybodys feeling good at the plate, even Alex Rios 0-for-8 on the season but seeing a sure first inning home run cut down by a powerful gust blowing in from left field, he said. The thing about baseball is, try to keep it as long as you can, stay on the same path, and make sure youre not changing anything.

Pierre agreed.

When you score runs, you just want to keep em coming, he said. We did a good job of that, Beckham getting that good knock, adding on, Q getting a big knock late, adding on.
A.J. Pierzynski visits the mound to talk with Edwin Jackson with the hurler in a jam during the second inning. Jackson struck out Shin-Soo Choo to get out of the frame and had seven strikeouts over his six innings of work. (AP)
Guillen knows the secret of why the White Sox have started out incendiary at the plate.

Nobodys trying to pull the balleverybodys staying the middle of the field and not trying to do too much, he said. This team is going to strike out a lot, but right now theyre not helping the pitchers by swinging at bad pitches. Theyre making them throw the ball over the plate.

Jax and SABR

The righty had no explanation for his mastery of the Indians at Progressive Field, where he improved to 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA in seven career starts.

I have no clue, he said. I never really keep up with stats.

Jackson is 8-1 lifetime vs. Cleveland, with a 2.70 ERA.

Tooth troubles

John Danks gets the start in the series finale on Sunday, but he wasnt at the ballpark for long on Saturday. After the national anthem, the lefty had to spend an hour in the dentists chair to have an old root canal reworked.

He went in there, cleaned it up a little, said Danks, typically upbeat and chill in spite of his tooth woes.

The oral emergency wont knock Danks out of his start tomorrow.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: