White Sox

Avisail Garcia drives in four as White Sox top Rays in 10

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Avisail Garcia drives in four as White Sox top Rays in 10

Avisail Garcia has produced more good signs in the past three days than he did in the previous two months.

Only in the lineup Wednesday because of recent progress at the plate, the White Sox outfielder forced in the winning run with a bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning of a 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field. Garcia -- who also blasted a three-run homer during a five-run first -- followed two intentional walks with a five-pitch walk against All-Star reliever Brad Boxberger and then was forced to dodge a mob of happy teammates in pursuit.

“That's why we're here,” Garcia said. “We've been fighting, fighting, fighting. Take that at-bat, I was looking for a good pitch and trying to bring pressure. Relax and throw my hands through the ball.

"Don't try to do too much because it's one out, the bases loaded. I just tried to be focused and be patient."

During a two-month slump, Garcia earned a reputation as a free swinger with poor pitch selection. The young outfielder has always been aggressive, but in between June 8 and Tuesday’s loss, Garcia struck out 28.8 percent of the time, up five percent from 2014.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

So with Adam Eaton on third base and one out and Jose Abreu and Melky Cabrera due up, Rays manager Kevin Cash called for two free passes. Garcia fouled off Boxberger’s second pitch to even the count at 1-1 before he took three straight balls, including several close pitches.

“He has to be patient,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who started Garcia over rookie Trayce Thompson because he had begun to pull the ball in losses Monday and Tuesday. “You know (Boxberger) has a great split and throws 94 so it’s hard to lay off that.

“For (Garcia) to be able to do that and look comfortable doing it, not looking like he had a trigger finger going -- he needs to do that. That’s part of the rumor going around about him; he’s going to swing at everything. He’s got to be able to shorten up and be able to get it in the zone and do something with it.”

Losers in five of their previous six, the White Sox offense looked in the zone in the first inning against Tampa Rays starter Erasmo Ramirez.

Eaton walked and Saladino and Abreu singled, the latter bringing a run in when Kevin Kiermaier overran the ball in center. Cabrera’s ground-rule double made it 2-0 and Garcia pulled a three-run homer to give the White Sox a five-run lead. Garcia also homered on Tuesday, his first since June 8. Wednesday’s homer traveled 420 feet.

But Ramirez settled down and retired 16 of the last 18 he faced, which allowed Tampa Bay to rally from its 5-0 deficit. The Rays scored four off Carlos Rodon and got another in the eighth on a sloppy relay on Brandon Guyer’s two-out RBI double.

[MORE: Garcia taking steps in the right direction]

The White Sox didn’t rally again until the seventh inning when Geovany Soto and Carlos Sanchez started with consecutive singles. But Eaton struck out looking and Tyler Saladino grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Eaton led off the 10th inning with a single to center against Boxberger, stole second base and advanced to third when the throw glanced off Asdrubal Cabrera’s glove and hit him in the ear. Asdrubal Cabrera exited the game after the second intentional walk and was diagnosed with a bruise after he underwent tests for concussion-like symptoms.

Five pitches later, Garcia raced toward the middle of the diamond to escape the playful charge of Melky Cabrera and the rest of his teammates.

“Competitors -- especially Avisail -- kind of rally to that,” Eaton said. “When they pick the guy you want to face, you kind of take that as, ‘Hey, I need to do it here.’ You take a littlerival to that -- ‘Let’s hurt them here, make it hurt, right guy, right spot kind of mentality.’  And when he got down early, Avisail’s an aggressive hitter, but he stayed patient, which was great.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Eloy Jimenez had four hits, including a pair of doubles to boost his batting average to .322 on the season. Seby Zavala hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in a pair of runs in the 7-2 loss. Spencer Adams got the start and allowed four runs but also struck out nine in just 4.2 innings of work.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had two doubles and Evan Skoug had two hits in a 3-2 win. Big leaguer Carlos Rodon made a rehab start and struck out six, allowing one run in five innings.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and Thyago Vieira threw a scoreless inning in an 8-4 loss.

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

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USA TODAY

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

The White Sox best reliever through the first 42 games of this rebuilding season? Undoubtedly, it’s been Jace Fry.

With Rick Renteria’s bullpen hardly the most reliable relief corps the game has ever seen, Fry has been a revelation, starting his 2018 campaign with 7.1 scoreless innings over six appearances.

And now things are getting a bit more dramatic for the 24-year-old lefty, a guy who’s been through a pair of Tommy John surgeries. He pitched some high-leverage ball in Saturday night’s 5-3 win, sitting down all four hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings while protecting a two-run lead.

“I was ready the whole game, just waiting for my name to be called,” Fry said. “But it was awesome getting in there in the eighth inning, even getting the first guy in the ninth inning. After I got him I was kind of hoping he’d let me keep going.”

Renteria uses his bullpen in a non-traditional manner, one that perhaps he thinks is a way of the future or one that’s a result of his lack of dominant options out there. Whichever it is, he doesn’t really have a closer but rather a host of guys he uses in those high-leverage situations, whenever they might come during the late stages of a game. Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Bruce Rondon have all been used to get big outs late in games, and Rondon threw a scoreless seventh Saturday, with Jones getting the game’s final two outs for the save.

But it could be argued that most difficult outs were recorded by Fry, who put away the visiting Texas Rangers’ fourth, fifth and sixth hitters before getting the seventh hitter to strike out to start off the ninth.

Renteria steered away from dubbing Fry one of his new high-leverage guys after the game, but why wouldn’t Fry be in that mix? All he’s done since joining the big league squad earlier this month is get outs. He’s got 10 strikeouts, hasn’t allowed a hit and has just two walks as the lone blemishes on an otherwise perfect season line.

“It just happens to be that it was the eighth inning and the ninth that he pitched,” Renteria said. “I think he’s looking very comfortable in those. It happens to be the eighth and ninth we needed him. He’s been very, very effective. He’s been commanding the strike zone very well, confidently approaching his hitters. He’s got pretty good stuff.

“He’s able to command the zone. Along with that nice breaking ball he’s got to lefties and righties, it’s pretty effective. But he’s continuing to show you he’s capable of coming in and getting some pretty good hitters.”

Fry has been a rarity this season in that he’s appeared to be a candidate for a long-term spot in the White Sox bullpen. Jones would perhaps be the only other guy coming close to qualifying for that, mostly because of his team-friendly contract that keeps him under control a few more years, but he’s had some rough moments, even with his ERA dropping to 3.50 on Saturday.

Fry, though, is young and is dealing at the moment. He even got a shoutout as a potential long-term piece from general manager Rick Hahn earlier this week.

“Take Jace Fry, someone we haven’t mentioned when we’ve had this conversation the last couple of weeks,” Hahn said Thursday, discussing the positives he’s seen during this developmental season. “He’s shown up here and shown that he’s made some progress in his last stint in the minors and now, at age 24, seems like he’s ready to take that next step, and pencil his name in as part of what we’re building here going forward.”

There’s a lot of season left, and no one’s expecting Fry to keep batters hitless and opposing teams scoreless from now through the end of September. But this is a nice development for the rebuilding White Sox at the moment, a guy who’s giving them at least one name to put into that bullpen of the future.

How long can he keep this thing going? As long as he keeps getting ahead of hitters.

“Having the success is awesome, but I realize it’s the plan, the plan of attack,” Fry said. “I’m going out and throwing Strike 1 and getting ahead. Actually doing it, seeing it and having the process work definitely creates more confidence. Once you go back to the blueprint of baseball, Strike 1 is everything.”