White Sox

Buehrle sharp, but Lincecum baffles Sox's bats

Buehrle sharp, but Lincecum baffles Sox's bats

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted 5:41 p.m. Updated 6:44 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Mark Buehrle tossed his longest and strongest outing of the spring on Wednesdaybut San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum was better.

Paced by an outstanding 5 13 innings (three hits, seven Ks) from the ace of the defending champions, the Giants defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-3 at Camelback Ranch.

Don't worry about Buehrle

Buehrle was touched for seven hits over five innings, punching out three and leaving the game tied 1-1.

Throwing to A.J. Pierzynski helped, Buehrle said. We work well together and get into a routine. This is the first time Ive thrown to him in spring training.

Im very happy for him, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. After his last performance he was a little upset. He threw the ball very good. Every time Buehrle goes out and pitches well, he creates a positive thing for him We know what he can do, but he needs an outing like this before we break camp.

The lefthander mentioned that while San Francisco didnt field its starting lineup in the game, there was a good mix of hitters to face: they were bunting and kind of mixed everything up, so it felt good.

I was taking it a little bit easier, not overthrowing and mostly working on location and movement than trying to throw the ball hard. Thats a strength of mine, location and movement, offspeed pitches and keeping them off-balance.

In short: Buehrles in midseason form.

The White Sox drew first blood when Alex Rios tripled in Paul Konerko in the second. San Francisco got that run back in the fourth, when Brad Eldred singled in Giants phenom Brandon Belt (the rookie first sacker went 3-for-4 with three runs scored on the game). The champs pushed ahead two innings later, pummeling White Sox reliever Jeff Gray for four hits and two earned runs, the first coming on a solo shot from Belt.

Brian Bruney came on to pitch in the seventh and gave up two runs as well, pushing the Giants lead to 5-1.

The White Sox halved that on a seventh-inning, two-run blast from Brent Lillibridge.

Lillibridge nearly tapped a second round-tripper with a massive blast to left-center with two on and one out in the ninth, but left fielder Tyler Graham chased the ball down on the warning track.

Hes swinging the bat goodthe battle for that 25th roster spot is getting fun, Guillen said Two-three days ago I said nobody was impressiveI guess they read the papers The battle from the guys in the back is pretty good right now. Milledge is playing well, De Aza playing good, and Lilli is swinging the bat well. Its going to be fun. Thats the fun thing about spring training. This ballclub is going till the end of spring training to be picked.

Infante en fuego

Gregory Infantes last three appearances have vaulted him to the front of the line for the 12th man in the bullpen, according to Guillen.

Infante is moving up, throwing the ball very well, he said. Im very surprised, personally. Were going to continue to give everybody looks, but right now Infante has been throwing the ball well and Im hearing a lot of good things from Coop.

Against San Francisco, Infante finished the game with a perfect inning and one strikeout, lowering his Cactus League ERA to 6.00.

Love from 2005

Buehrle buzzed former teammate Aaron Rowand when he faced the centerfielder twice in the game, retiring him both times, starting with a first-inning, inning-ending strikeout.

I threw all curveballs to him, Buehrle said with a smile. Its kind of hard to buzz him with a curveball. Im just glad A.J. didnt tell him what was coming, since theyre roommates for spring training. I figured something was going to slip out. And if A.J. did, keep on telling everybody whats coming because it worked. I got Rowand out.

See the World Champs

Guillen joked about the large crowd 10,074 that showed up on a Wednesday, Ozzie had a laugh at his own clubs expense.

I dont think people came to see the White Sox and Buehrle, he said, laughing. When youre the champs, people are going to follow you everywhere. When you win it all thats what you get, people follow you all over the place. People root for you. Its fun. Id rather play in front of 10,000 than the 1,000 weve had in the last two weeks. Its always fun to have people in the stands. I know bigger crowds are coming up, but its nice now.

Jake Flued

Jake Peavy remained at home today, stricken with flu. Nothing physical with him. He just doesnt feel good, Guillen said.

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

Nationals join White Sox as only teams to beat Gerrit Cole since April

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USA TODAY

Nationals join White Sox as only teams to beat Gerrit Cole since April

Baseball fans might want to sit down for this shocking news: Gerrit Cole lost last night.

The Washington Nationals played in and won a World Series game for the first time in their history, but the more hard-to-believe news was Cole's performance, in which the potential AL Cy Young winner gave up five runs and took the "L."

That result made the Nationals the first team to hand Cole a loss since May 22, when he lost to the White Sox in Houston. The two squads are the only teams Cole has lost to since the calendar switched from April to May. It was just the third time since that loss to the White Sox in which the Astros lost a game Cole started.

That goes to show you just how insanely good Cole has been this season. Between losses, he owned a 1.59 ERA in 25 games, including his first three starts of this postseason. All in all during the regular season, he led the American League with a 2.50 ERA and led baseball with 326 strikeouts.

But the Nationals flipped that script in Game 1, tagging Cole for five runs on eight hits, including a pair of homers off the bats of Juan Soto and Ryan Zimmerman. It was a performance reminiscent of that May night, when the White Sox scored six runs off Cole, getting home runs against the ace from Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu.

Of course, this statistical happenstance won't be the only thing tying Cole to the White Sox this fall. The South Siders have starting pitching at the top of their offseason to-do list, and Cole will be the biggest name on the free-agent market. What's expected to be the richest pitching contract in baseball history and a supposed preference to play on the West Coast might lessen the chances that Rick Hahn's front office will reel Cole in, but they're just one offseason removed from chasing the two biggest names on the free-agent market, when they pursued Manny Machado and Bryce Harper last winter.

Cole in a White Sox uniform come Opening Day? Maybe if Cole subscribes to the old logical of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

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Sox Drawer: Getting the hot stove cooking early with potential White Sox targets

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer: Getting the hot stove cooking early with potential White Sox targets

The business of free agency and trades doesn’t begin until after the World Series, but you White Sox fans are a lot like me. You can’t wait till then. So, without MLB’s permission, I have plugged in baseball’s Hot Stove a little early (don’t tell anyone). And while I cannot personally bring you Madison Bumgarner, Trey Mancini, Francisco Lindor and Charlie Blackmon, I talk about them (and a lot more) in this edition of the Sox Drawer.

What position do you feel is at the top of the list for a major offseason signing? — @BJBumgarner

Thanks for the question, B.J. And sorry if I’m blowing your cover here, but any chance you’re related to the aforementioned Madison Bumgarner? If so, I know a baseball team on the South Side that can definitely use him. Feel free to pass that long at the next family gathering.

Seriously though, it’s tough to say if starting pitching is at the very top of the White Sox offseason wish list, but it’s right up there with right field and designated hitter. I’ll call it a three-way tie. And since I brought up MadBum, he really would be an interesting fit for the White Sox: a left-handed veteran who’s won a World Series (or three) and a World Series MVP. He’d be like the Jon Lester signing on the North Side ahead of the 2015 season, a plant-the-flag deal that would signal to the rest of the league that the White Sox mean business in 2020 and beyond.

He’s not the same dominant pitcher he was from 2013 to 2016, but he started 34 games in 2019, finishing with a 3.90 ERA with 203 strikeouts in 207.2 innings. However, at 30 years old, does he want to cash in his chips and pitch in the American League where he has to face a DH instead of a pitcher every five days? Bumgarner also loves to hit. He’s won two Silver Slugger awards. Maybe he can be a starting pitcher/DH for the White Sox? OK, maybe not.   

Who’s the most realistic free agent the White Sox will sign? I’m thinking someone like Zack Wheeler or Jake Odorizzi. Thoughts? — @arkennedy47

In terms of starting pitching, I agree that the Wheeler/Odorizzi tier seems more realistic for the White Sox. In the past, they’ve tried to stay away from signing pitchers to deals beyond three years. The biggest and most recent exception was when they signed John Danks to a five-year, $65 million extension in 2011 — and he proceeded to go 25-48 with a 4.92 ERA in those five seasons that were supposed to be right in the middle of his prime. Pitchers. They can be a dicey bunch.

What kind of deals will Wheeler and Odorizzi get? Tough to say, but they might be more in line with what the White Sox are willing to stomach in terms of years for a starting pitcher. If you want my full list of realistic free agents for the White Sox this offseason, I shared them on our most recent White Sox Talk Podcast. We all made a wide range of predictions. Take a listen.

After last season, I refuse to dream of or even ponder a wish list for the White Sox. Heart still being put back together. — @AdamTeacher

Adam, I hear you. The failed attempt to sign Manny Machado last winter still lingers as we head into this offseason. Some of you have moved on. Others have not. Under the circumstances, the breakthrough seasons of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson in 2019 hopefully helped lessen the blow:

Moncada: .315/.367/.548, 4.6 WAR

Anderson: .335/.357/.508, 4.0 WAR

Machado: .256/.334/.462, 3.1 WAR

Hello, Our Chuck. First let me say I wasn’t too disappointed the Sox didn’t acquire Manny, because here’s a name I would REALLY love to sign when he’s available in 2021, Francisco Lindor. How can we make this happen? He’d kill it with this new brand of youth on the Soxside. — @panchrio

With two years left on his contract, Lindor’s free agency when he turns 28 is likely going to be Machado and Bryce Harper all over again. The switch-hitting, all-world shortstop would certainly look great in a White Sox uniform, and I appreciate your forward thinking, but we’ve still got two more seasons before we get there. But since you asked the question, I’ll give you an honest answer. If Tim Anderson continues to trend upward offensively and improves defensively, I don’t think it would be wise financially to spend $300 million on Lindor. Better to use that money elsewhere.

But if the White Sox end the 2021 season and Anderson is not the player they envisioned he’d become and they have a glaring need at shortstop, then sure, the White Sox should go down the Lindor path, and White Sox fans can buckle their seatbelts for another rollercoaster offseason. Until then, I expect the Indians to trade Lindor (possibly as soon as this winter) so they can get something for him since they will likely lose him to free agency and end up with nothing in return.

Is it possible the Sox could trade for the Orioles Trey Mancini? Is he even available? What would it take to get him? — @JayDBaseball

On paper, give me Trey Mancini right now, all day, everyday. He’s 27, he plays right field and isn’t a free agent until 2023. He’s not the best defensively, but everyone loves the swing and his numbers from 2019, which was a big breakout season for him: .291/.364/.535 with 35 home runs.

The Orioles are dreadful. They’ve just started their rebuild and are coming off a 108-loss season. Think of the White Sox when they started their own rebuild in 2016. If the Orioles are going to trade a cost-controlled player like Mancini, they’re going to be asking for a big haul in return. We’re probably talking two of the White Sox top prospects.

A more realistic player the Orioles could be open to trading is Jonathan Villar, a 28-year-old switch-hitting, second baseman/shortstop who played all 162 games last season and stole 40 bases. He only has one more year left on his contract. With Nick Madrigal seemingly close to the majors, maybe this isn’t a perfect fit. But if the White Sox decide to give Madrigal more seasoning in the minors, Villar could be a possibility.

What is a likely timetable for Abreu to get a deal? When could we expect that? — @JesmarGuzman

Since the free-agency window doesn’t officially begin until six days after the World Series (there’s a five-day quiet period where teams can exclusively negotiate with their own free agents but can't sign them), the earliest Abreu can reach a deal with the White Sox is some time in early November, depending on how long the World Series lasts. I know Abreu told reporters during the season that if it was up to him, “I would sign myself,” but when it comes down to doing actual business, negotiating usually doesn’t start with, “I’ll sign myself to whatever number you put on the table.” That said, both sides have expressed a strong desire to continue together, and I expect that to happen with Abreu and the White Sox.

Still, after winning the 2005 World Series and publicly handing the baseball from the final out to Jerry Reinsdorf during the victory parade, Paul Konerko didn’t re-sign with the White Sox until Nov. 30. He considered offers from the Orioles and Angels before agreeing to come back to the South Side.

Maybe they come to an agreement during the exclusive negotiating window and it’s a quick, done deal. But if that doesn’t happen, don’t be concerned. It’s just business.

Corey Dickerson ... yay or nay? I think he’s a great fit. — @JustinGranzin

Dickerson might be a great fit as a left-handed hitter and clubhouse guy, but he’s only played four games in right field in his career. I’d want to look into that before paying him around $10 million a year.

I know there’s a lot of noise to sign a left-handed power bat in right field, but shouldn’t one be prioritizing defense for the right-field spot? IMO, I think defense and on-base needs to improve more than power. I don’t think MLB is going to allow as many homers next season. — @bmarsh442003

All good points here. Defense, on-base percentage and power. It would be great to have all three of these traits in one player if you can find it. “Hello Boston Red Sox, can we have Mookie Betts, please?”

The White Sox do need more balance in the middle of their lineup, and they will get that from a left-handed power hitter. Maybe that guy becomes your DH and you acquire a right fielder who can play defense and draw walks? A different baseball could drastically reduce the amount of home runs next season, but unless you know for certain it will happen, it’s tough to plan a whole season around it. But I get where you’re coming from.

What will it take to get Blackmon from the Rockies? Heard they may be shedding payroll. I think he could play either corner spot. — @Wrighthood24

I like everything there is about Charlie Blackmon except this: his home and road splits. Playing in the high elevation of Coors Field, he’s a perennial All Star. Away from Denver, it’s been a different story. Check out his numbers in 2019:

Home: .379/.435/.739

Road: .256/.299/.432

Unless the White Sox move their home games to Denver, I’d probably stay away from a Blackmon trade.

Pitching and defense win (games) and basic baseball fundamentals. Too many mental errors last year. — @JohnFab91929303

Yes to all that.

What is your prediction for 2020 win total? Over/under 81? Sox finally back to a winning season? — @shoopcapone

Get back to me in spring training.

And finally ... 

When will the people get what they want? A Chuck Garfien bobblehead. — @DCeaseTheDay

If that’s what people want, we’ve got serious problems.

Thanks everyone for your questions. We’ll do it again next week.

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