White Sox

As winning streak ends, White Sox see rotation rounding into form

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As winning streak ends, White Sox see rotation rounding into form

The White Sox not giving Jose Quintana much support isn’t something new, seeing as the club entered Tuesday night’s game averaging 2.59 runs in the left-hander’s first seven starts this season.

What is new, though, is that Quintana’s seven innings of two-run ball meant for the first time in 2015 Jeff Samardzija, Chris Sale and Quintana have thrown back-to-back-to-back quality starts.

The White Sox still lost to Cleveland Tuesday, 3-1, as Trevor Bauer’s effective wildness snapped a six-game winning streak. But it wasn’t for lack of effort from Quintana, who followed Samardzija and Sale’s lead and kept the White Sox within striking distance against the Indians right-hander.

“I try to follow (them), Quintana said. “We have a pretty good rotation and I tried to keep us winning.”

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Samardzija, Sale and Quintana combined to allow six runs in 25 innings with a 16/9 strikeout-to-walk ratio and one home run in their last three starts. The top-of-the-rotation triumvirate hasn’t been effective over a three-game stretch this year, with each of them struggling at points over the season’s first month and a half.

Quintana wasn’t dominant Tuesday, but he was effective despite allowing eight hits and four walks. He pitched out of numerous jams and only gave up his first run when Avisail Garcia — who still appeared hobbled by some right knee inflammation — misjudged Jason Kipnis’ first inning leadoff line drive into a triple. Kipnis scored on Jose Ramirez’s sacrifice fly to give Cleveland an early advantage.

The White Sox got on the board in the fifth on Garcia’s two-out RBI single, but Alexei Ramirez whiffed at a fastball in his eyes and a curveball in the dirt to strike out and end the inning with the bases loaded. Bauer and relievers Bryan Shaw, Mark Rzepczynski and Cody Allen combined to shut down the White Sox lineup the rest of the way.

“He has been pitching very well,” outfielder Melky Cabrera said of Quintana through a translator. “Sometimes we have to also face good pitchers in the same game that he is pitching. But it’s tough for us to see that kind of performance that he has been doing continuously and we weren’t able to support him enough to provide him the runs to win the games.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Still, the positive here is getting the kind of starts from the three pitchers the White Sox expected to lean on coming into the season. Only Washington’s Stephen Strasburg/Max Scherzer/Jordan Zimmermann trio racked up more WAR in 2014 than Sale/Samardzija/Quintana, though putting those three together hasn’t resulted in the kind of shutdown starts their numbers would suggest until the last three days.

Whereas the White Sox seemed to take one step forward and two steps back in April, with their top three starters rounding into form there’s a confidence things are still moving in the right direction no matter what happened Tuesday night.

“It’s what we’re expecting out of ourselves,” Samardzija said. “It’s not so much a rhythm, it’s getting back to what we expect every day we start. We know a lot goes with how we go, and as long as we get our offense back in the dugout we have a pretty good lineup to score some runs.”

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.”