White Sox

Adam Eaton exits White Sox loss to Indians after running into wall

Adam Eaton exits White Sox loss to Indians after running into wall

CLEVELAND -- The Indians, insult and injury were all in force on Friday night.

Not only did the White Sox lose their sixth straight game, a 10-4 blowout at the hands of the first-place Cleveland Indians in front of 18,937 at Progressive Field, they also lost outfielder Adam Eaton to an apparent injury.

In making a fantastic running catch in the sixth inning, Eaton, a strong contender for a Gold Glove Award, slammed into the center-field wall and stayed down for several minutes before he walked off the field with the help of his teammates. Eaton declined comment after the game and manager Robin Ventura said Eaton hit the wall with both his hip and shoulder. He also was to be evaluated for a concussion.

“They’re checking for it,” Ventura said. “But he seems fine and responsive and everything. But we’re going to get it checked out to make sure.

“A little bit of his shoulder. There was everything in there. He got it flush.

“No, it was a great effort. Running into walls is like his specialty. He’s pretty good at it.”

Cleveland, which had already gone ahead 6-4 with four runs in the fifth, pulled away in the sixth after Eaton exited. Mike Napoli, whose RBI single an inning earlier tied it at 4, singled to center in the sixth to make it a three-run game. The RBI was the 100th of the season for Napoli, who is the first Indians player in 10 years to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs.

Jose Ramirez -- who blasted a game-tying, two-run homer in the fourth inning off Miguel Gonzalez -- doubled in two more in the sixth to make it a 9-4 game. And Coco Crisp singled in one of his three RBIs to put Cleveland ahead by six runs.

Eaton has been the best all-around player for the White Sox this season and it isn’t even close.

Not only does he lead the team with 85 runs scored, Eaton is third in homers (14) and second in wRC+ (115), according to fangraphs.com. He also has been a dynamic performer in the outfield, leading the team with 23 Defensive Runs Saved. Eaton has an Ultimate Zone Rating of 24.4 and leads all major league outfielders with 18 assists.

Eaton slammed into the wall with his left shoulder as he hauled in a long drive off the bat of Roberto Perez to start the sixth inning. He may also have hit his head when he contacted the wall. After he spent several minutes on the ground, Eaton was able to walk off the field with the help of trainer Herm Schneider and second baseman Carlos Sanchez as he had an arm hoisted over the back of each.

The White Sox looked as if they might end their losing streak early on. Melky Cabrera followed a one-out Tim Anderson triple in the first inning with a two-run homer off Trevor Bauer. While Ramirez’s homer tied it in the fourth, the White Sox pulled back ahead in the fifth on a two-run home run by Avisail Garcia.

But Gonzalez couldn’t hold the lead as he allowed five runs (four earned) and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Rookie Juan Minaya allowed two runs in relief and Dan Jennings yielded three as Cleveland pulled away. 

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.


What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

Latest rumors

White Sox add flamethrowing Tayron Guerrero to bullpen

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USA TODAY

White Sox add flamethrowing Tayron Guerrero to bullpen

The White Sox added a flamethrower to their bullpen.

Tayron Guerrero is the newest member of the White Sox relief corps, the team claiming the 28-year-old right-hander off waivers from the Miami Marlins on Friday.

Guerrero's most eye-catching attribute is his triple-digit fastball. He averaged 98.9 mph on his four-seam fastball in 2019 and threw the second most 100-mph pitches (178) of any pitcher in baseball. He posted a 10.6 K/9 in 2018.

But throwing hard and giving up runs are two different things. In 2019, Guerrero had a 6.26 ERA, a number that jumped up from the already less-than-ideal 5.43 ERA he turned in a year prior. He also had some trouble locating said fireball, walking 36 batters in 46 relief innings in 2019 for a ridiculously high 7.0 BB/9.

Still, this type of addition was signaled as perhaps the primary way the White Sox would add to their bullpen this offseason. With so many other items on Rick Hahn's offseason to-do list and the back end of the bullpen being a pretty stable part of the roster, the general manager said that small signings and waiver claims would continue to be part of the strategy when it comes to making additions to the relief corps.

Hahn referenced the team's acquisitions of Evan Marshall, who was signed to a minor league contract last winter, and Jimmy Cordero, who was claimed off waivers in the middle of the 2019 season, as moves to emulate going forward.

"All 30 teams will tell you ... that adding more bullpen pieces is an offseason priority, and we're no exception," Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference in September. "Cordero's been a nice find, as has been Marshall, but that's not going to stop us from continuing to potentially take guys off waivers like Cordero or (sign) minor league free agents like Marshall.

"It's going to go into this offseason continuing to be a place we want to add because relievers are tricky. You see it every year, guys go from the top of the list to the bottom and back."

As Hahn frequently says, you can never have too much pitching, and while this might be a low-risk move, it could end up proving fruitful, as those Cordero and Marshall moves did.

Spending on money on more proven guys has also been a part of the White Sox strategy in this department in the recent past. Hahn's front office gave Kelvin Herrera a two-year deal just last winter. But as Herrera showed during a rough first year of that contract, even guys with good track records can lead to easy second-guessing on those kinds of deals. So building up depth through less splashy means figures to be a good idea, regardless of the results.

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