White Sox

Altered stance has helped Carlos Sanchez find comfort at bat

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Altered stance has helped Carlos Sanchez find comfort at bat

CLEVELAND -- Comfortable with an adjustment in his stance, Carlos Sanchez ripped a first-pitch fastball from Lance Lynn for a single in the third inning of Wednesday’s loss.

While it didn’t produce a run, that the White Sox second baseman not only handled a 93-mph fastball but also pulled it is hard to fathom given where he was a month ago. But seemingly over early struggles that left him with a.141 batting average on June 20, Sanchez has renewed confidence at the plate and is showing why the White Sox have remained patient. Over his past 12 contests, Sanchez has a .326/.341/.372 slash line with four multi-hit games, which has raised his average to .200.

“I’ve been able to do that because all of the changes,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “Especially when I’m ready early because before, when pitchers threw me a fastball, they wanted to because I couldn’t get my bat ahead of the ball. Now I feel better and I’m hitting the ball well, ahead of home plate.”

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Sanchez, 23, has been a constant target for the fan base on social media, what with his average hovering around .160 for much of the time he was in the majors since his mid-May promotion.

But the White Sox stressed Sanchez is here for his glove and they believed he would adjust and become more like the player who has a .288 career average in the minors if given time. White Sox manager Robin Ventura likes how Sanchez carried himself during a period the rookie described as surprising.

“If you struggle anywhere else you get time to regroup and work it out,” Ventura said. “Up here it doesn’t always pan out that way. This is at the highest level and doubt creeps in -- if you can make it and stay here -- and he’s fought through that in a way that is very professional the way he has gone about it.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The key for Sanchez has been a change to his hitting position that has allowed him to be more prepared to hit fastballs. Prior to the past dozen games, Sanchez was hitting .225 this season against four-seam fastballs, according to brooksbaseball.net. Since then, Sanchez is hitting at a .313 clip against four-seamers. Ventura also said Sanchez has been more selective and making sure he’s swinging at fastballs.

Both developments have Sanchez in a much better place.

“I was feeling good and suddenly I couldn’t hit,” Sanchez said. “Sometimes when you’re going through that you have to try to change something.

“I’m feeling very comfortable. I think my confidence is coming back since I’ve started to hit a little bit better. I feel very good right now. I think I’m playing good and help the team.”

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson celebrated his birthday in style

Tim Anderson turned 24 on Saturday and celebrated the occasion with a bang.

Anderson smashed a three-run home run in the first inning against the A's. It was actually his first swing on his birthday. Anderson took the first two pitches before launching the 1-1 pitch over the right field fence.

That home run, Anderson's 13th of the year, gave the White Sox a 5-0 lead. Things took an ugly turn later in the game with Oakland winning 7-6. Dylan Covey left in the fifth with a hip injury, which manager Rick Renteria said will be evaluated tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury.

Anderson finished 2-for-4 on his birthday. He later added a single, a stolen base and a run in the sixth inning.

Anderon's power surge this year has him on pace to blow past his 17 homers from a year ago. He is four shy of last year's total and has done so in just under half as many plate appearances.

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.