White Sox

White Sox use wacky play to take decisive lead in win over Marlins

White Sox use wacky play to take decisive lead in win over Marlins

MIAMI — The White Sox finally were on the receiving end Saturday night of one of those stunning moments that always seems to crush them.

Rather than come up empty in a key spot, the White Sox pulled ahead of the Miami Marlins in an 8-7 victory in front of 20,006 at Marlins Park in peculiar fashion. Melky Cabrera reached base on a wild pitch after he struck out with two down in the eighth inning and Dioner Navarro scored the go-ahead run from third on the same play after pitcher Kyle Barraclough dropped the throw home. One of the wildest plays of the season helped the White Sox to their first series victory since they beat the Cubs at home twice late last month.

“We’ve seen strange stuff happen on our end, definitely,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I can feel for (Barraclough) in that way. But it’s a good feeling to see a ball get away and Dio actually score on that. I don’t think you could ever imagine it.

“But for him, the guys seem to enjoy it. They definitely did.”

Navarro didn’t get the same satisfaction from the moment as his teammates.

“I know I didn’t because I was running,” Navarro said. “If they did, I’m happy to help them out.”

He and Justin Morneau both played key roles in an eighth-inning White Sox rally from a second deficit after James Shields blew an early 4-0 lead.

Jason Coats, who previously tied the score at 5 in the fourth with a solo homer, the first of his career, started the go-ahead rally with a leadoff single. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and Barraclough walked Navarro. Morneau then made it a 7-all game with a pinch-hit double off the right-field fence.

But Barraclough clamped down. Giancarlo Stanton caught Adam Eaton’s line drive in right and his big arm forced Navarro to hold at third. Tyler Saladino then popped out, which brought up Cabrera. Cabrera struck out on a 2-2 pitch, but the ball got away from catcher J.T Realmuto and Cabrera raced to first. Instead of trying to make the play there, Realmuto threw home and would have nailed Navarro, but Barraclough couldn’t haul it in.

“It was crazy,” Navarro said. “We’re second and third with no outs and all of a sudden we’ve got two outs and I just was trying to get a good jump. I knew he was going to throw a breaking ball so I was hoping for one there and he did. If he would have caught it I would have been out, but he didn’t.

“We caught a break right there.”

Ditto for Shields courtesy of the offense’s best night since July 8 and six scoreless innings by the bullpen.

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Stanton started a stretch of loud contact off Shields when he homered to left center in the second inning to get the Marlins within 4-1. An inning later, Martin Prado blasted a game-tying, three-run homer on a 1-2 pitch by Shields with no outs. Realmuto’s two-out single in the third put Miami ahead 5-4.

Shields, who allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits in three-plus innings, exited after he loaded the bases in the fourth. The right-hander has allowed 21 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings over his last three starts.

But Matt Albers pitched two scoreless frames and Dan Jennings recorded two outs. Chris Beck retired Stanton to end the sixth inning and delivered 1 1/3 scoreless for the first win of his career. Nate Jones struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning before David Robertson struck out one in the ninth to convert his 29th save in 35 tries.

The White Sox offense got off to another quick start.

But unlike Friday, when they slowed down considerably after scoring three times in the first two innings, the White Sox kept going.

Jose Abreu doubled in a run in the first inning and Navarro singled in another in the second. Saladino doubled in two more as the White Sox took a 4-0 lead on Conley. Coats’ first career homer tied the score at 5-all to start the fourth inning. Coats, who reached base three times, would also later steal the first base of his career.

Down 7-5, the White Sox scored once in the sixth inning on Eaton’s bases-loaded fielder’s choice. But Saladino grounded into an inning-ending double play as the White Sox trailed until the eighth.

That left the door open for Navarro’s not-so-fleet feet to provide some much-needed levity.

“The guys did a great job coming back and winning this ballgame,” Shields said. “The clubhouse is good right now, and I’m just glad things are starting to go our way a little bit.”

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.