White Sox

White Sox win in walk-off fashion yet again, top Cubs 5-4

White Sox win in walk-off fashion yet again, top Cubs 5-4

The White Sox found yet another way to survive on Monday night.

All it took was a third straight walkoff hit, something they hadn’t done in more than 50 years.

Tyler Saladino helped his team shake off a second straight blown save when he singled in the winning run with one out in the ninth to send the White Sox to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs in front of 39,510 at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox, who had two game-winning hits in the ninth inning on Sunday, now have three in a row for the first time since Aug. 4-6, 1962. It also was the team’s fifth walkoff of the season as they improved to 49-50.

“It's a morale booster for sure, and its just good baseball,” Saladino said. “The guys are pumped.”

They should be.

Somehow a patchwork bullpen without two key arms kept the White Sox in position for Saladino’s heroics despite blowing a lead for a fourth straight day. J.B. Shuck started the ninth-inning rally with a single to right off Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery. Dioner Navarro’s sac bunt advanced Shuck into scoring position before Saladino fouled off an 0-2 pitch and singled up the middle. Cubs center fielder Matt Szczur couldn’t handle the ball and Shuck scored to set off a third straight wild celebration on the field.

“We’ve been all over the place,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “These guys are resilient. They fight back. They come every day to play hard. You need some stuff to go your way and I think tonight is one of those.”

[MORE: Cheering section of one: Melky adds 3 highlights to reel]

The White Sox could use a truckload more given what they’ve experienced since the second half began 11 days ago. Not only were they slowed by a horrible West Coast road trip full of close, painful losses, the White Sox have dealt with a number of unforeseen elements over the previous four days.

They battled the heat, rain delays, suspended games and a suspended teammate, which has the bullpen as taxed as it has been all season. Not only have they played eight games decided by two runs or fewer, the White Sox bullpen had to cover all nine innings vacated by Chris Sale on Saturday/Sunday when he was scratched from his start.

Both Nate Jones and David Robertson were unavailable on Monday to help the White Sox nurse a two-run lead. Jones had pitched five times in six days and Robertson pitched three times in a span of 18 hours.

Even though he’d already made 12 pitches and pitched three of the previous four games, Matt Albers returned to the mound in the ninth to preserve a two-run lead. The Cubs took advantage as Javy Baez, who earlier homered, doubled, stole third and scored on Dexter Fowler’s RBI single. Fowler went to third as Kris Bryant singled and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double by Melky Cabrera, who made three big plays in the outfield. Anthony Rizzo singled past a drawn-in infield off Dan Jennings to tie the score. Jennings yielded another single but struck out Jason Heyward to strand the winning run at second.

Prior to the ninth, the White Sox had managed well enough.

Aided by his defense early, Miguel Gonzalez managed to pitch out of several jams throughout the night to keep the Cubs wrapped up.

Cabrera made a spectacular catch to rob Bryant of a homer in the first inning and he and Saladino combined to throw out Baez at home plate to end the third.

[MORE: Suspended Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs]

But Gonzalez did much of the rest on his own, including twice retiring Addison Russell with men in scoring position. He allowed two earned runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings with two walks and struck out eight, which matched his season high.

The White Sox offense also struck first against Jake Arrieta. Saladino provided the team its first hit with a one-out double to left in the third inning and Adam Eaton singled him in to make it 1-0. They added three more in the sixth on Todd Frazier’s three-run homer, the 29th pitch of the inning by Cubs starter Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta -- who allowed four earned runs in six innings -- threw 37 pitches in the sixth and exited the game. The four runs proved just enough to hold off the charging Cubs until Saladino joined Eaton and Cabrera, whose game-winning hits started celebrations on Sunday.

“With the way we’ve been going, we’ll take any win we can get,” Frazier said. “Eventually, ride that horse and keep on rolling and start winning games without walk-offs. We’ll see how that goes, but it’s a lot of fun. We’re getting back in that fun zone again.”

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.