White Sox

Bad luck keeps plaguing the White Sox starting rotation as Miguel Gonzalez hits disabled list

Bad luck keeps plaguing the White Sox starting rotation as Miguel Gonzalez hits disabled list

TORONTO — Maybe someday soon the White Sox will have their entire original starting rotation at their disposal but today is not that day.

The White Sox activated James Shields off the 10-day disabled list before Sunday’s series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays. But to make room for Shields, the White Sox placed starter Miguel Gonzalez on the DL with A/C joint inflammation in his right shoulder. Gonzalez — who is 4-8 with a 5.49 ERA in 13 starts in 2017 — is the fourth White Sox starting pitcher to be placed on the DL this season. Gonzalez said Sunday he played catch from 60 feet and has begun to feel better after he received a cortisone shot.

“It’s been bothering me for a while,” Gonzalez said. “Thought it was going to get better with the time, but it just didn’t. We decided to give it some rest and had a cortisone shot. Hopefully that helps. Feels better today. Went out and played some catch. No pain. Pain free so that’s a plus.”

Gonzalez said he has felt the pain in the joint, which is on the top of the right shoulder, for “at least a month.” The right-hander pitched very well through his first six starts but has struggled since. Over his last seven turns, Gonzalez has a 7.85 ERA with 51 hits allowed and 16 walks in 39 innings. The same injury previously sidelined Gonzalez for several starts in September 2015 with the Baltimore Orioles.

“When you’re not right, the ball doesn’t do what you want it to do,” Gonzalez said. “It’s always good to ... get it together and strong. I’ll do it day by day and see what happens. It feels good already.”

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The White Sox have been on the run from injuries since the season began. Carlos Rodon, who made his third rehab start on Saturday at Triple-A, was the first to fall. He started the season with bursitis in his left shoulder and is only now close to returning. Shields went on the DL after three April starts, which prompted Mike Pelfrey’s addition to the rotation. Rule 5 draft pick Dylan Covey replaced Rodon and made eight starts before he suffered an oblique injury. Covey’s injury resulted in David Holmberg moving into the rotation from the bullpen. Holmberg and Pelfrey, who delivered six sharp innings on Saturday, will stay in the rotation for now, though Rodon could return after one more rehab start.

Coupled with underperformance by Jose Quintana, the White Sox rotation has struggled. The rotation has only five quality starts in the last 25 games. Overall, White Sox starters are 18-31 with a 4.71 ERA.

“Every club goes through it,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We just happen to be dealing with it right now. If we continue to get outings like we just did from Pelfrey and Q and if Shieldsy jumps back in there to give us a nice outing, that helps us lessen the usage of our bullpen in certain situations, and that’s very helpful.  Everybody goes through it. You just deal with it.”

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.