White Sox

Ballantini: Sale's first save is a matter of trust

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Ballantini: Sale's first save is a matter of trust

Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010
7:40 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

BOSTON Lost in the Paul Konerko dramatics, the Manny Ramirez braids and the Freddy Garcia cranky back was a milestone for a Chicago White Sox player destined to make a much bigger impact on the team than those three stars.

It was Chris Sale earning his first career save after hurling a scoreless ninth in Chicagos 6-4 win in Cleveland on Wednesday. The win earned a sweep of the Wahoos and crucial momentum heading into a weekend series against the similarly playoff-pushing Boston Red Sox.

Awesome, said White Sox manger Ozzie Guillen of Sales save, notched in his 10th career game. I was a little nervous and concerned because we put this kid in a spot he never had been, but we had a lot of confidence to put him in that situation. He handled it pretty good.

Earning a save in the first game he ever finished is just another benchmark passed by the lefty fireballer whos yet to suffer a setback in this, his first professional season. Not yet three months since being drafted, Sale is already arguably the most important pitcher in the White Sox organization, a versatile pitcher who projects as a starter but has proven adept in relief as well.

Theres a guy trying to hit the baseball and youre trying to get him out, regardless of whether youre throwing the first pitch of the game, the 80th pitch of the game or the last pitch of the game, Sale said after Wednesdays win. You still have to throw the ball to the mitt and get the guy out. Its all the same game, and thats the thought I try to take out there all the time.

Before Wednesdays game, Guillen forecasted brighter lights on Sale in comments addressing the anticipated return of mainstay lefthander Matt Thornton from the disabled list on Friday.

The funny thing about Thorntons DL stint is that now I know we can use Sale in any situation, he said. Before, I was kind of worried about using him in the eighth or the ninth inning because it was always Thornton. Now, if Thornton needs a day off I will be more secure and have more flexibility with Sale because I know he can get people out, too.

Sale has compiled a 0.90 ERA so far with the White Sox, with an outrageous K9 rate of 14.4. But not until Wednesday did the lifelong starter have a shot at a save. Of course, after whiffing leadoff batter Jason Donald on five fastballs, ranging from 87 to 97 mph, Sale almost lost his shot at finishing the game. The rookie walked his next two hitters, the second free pass to Michael Brantley coming on four straight pitches.

I lost the fastball for a hitter or so, Sale said. White Sox catcher Ramon Castro came out and was just like, Hey, Im not going to say anything to you, just giving you some time, lets go, lets do this. And from there on I was like, All right, lets go, lets get the save, lets get out of here, we need the sweep, we need these games. And I just went out there and threw the ball.

From the moment he first used Sale, a month ago vs. the Baltimore Orioles, Guillen has been wowed by the rookies fearlessness.

This kid has a chance to be great, Guillen said Wednesday. His presence on the mound is very positive, and thats why he has the chance to become a pretty good pitcher.

Being placed on the fast track to his managers trust is an honor not lost on the 21-year-old.

Its greatdefinitely a lot of satisfaction there, Sale said of securing a significant role in the Chicago bullpen. Its awesome, not just getting up to the majors so quick but being here for such a short amount of time but Guillen having the confidence in me to save a two-run ballgame.

Sale has also proven a quick read of his tempestuous manager, so hes not surprised to be thrown out into any relief situation with the White Sox, in spite of never having relieved before in his career.

We all know Ozzie, hes not gonna wait to do anything, Sale said. They have the trust in me and are confident to throw me out there in any situation.

And as for the fact that he could be a member of the White Soxs starting rotation as early as 2011 and thus might not get a chance for many more saves, Sale was happy that his first career save is crossed off his to-do list.

There it is, exactly, I got a save he said, laughing. One thing I dont have to worry about doing in the future.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”