White Sox

Buehrle's struggles continue in loss to Cubs

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Buehrle's struggles continue in loss to Cubs

Friday, March 11, 2011
Posted: 4:47 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Mark Buehrle suffered through a second straight subpar start, this time at the hands of the Chicago Cubs, as the Chicago White Sox fell 4-3 at Camelback Ranch on Friday afternoon.

Buehrle was hammered for three runs (two earned) and six hits in just three innings of work, burning through 63 pitches and raising his ERA to 7.88. The outing included uncharacteristic wildness (two walks), a rare error by the two-time Gold Glover, and a gopher ball served up to Carlos Pena, his fist round-tripper of the spring.

I was supposed to be building up innings, but my innings are going downhill instead of going uphill, Buehrle said. I was a little more wild than you want to be but its spring training and Im getting pitches in and building stuff up.

This was the first time I saw him a little upset after the game. Maybe it carried over from the last outing, when he was hit pretty well, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I dont remember Buehrle having too many good springs.

A three-run rally by the White Sox fell short, although the South Siders did notch three late runs, one on a Stefan Gartrell double to deep left-center, two on a 420-foot blast by the following batter, Lastings Milledge.

Jeffrey Marquez, Will Ohman and Jesse Crain relieved Buehrle and had almost perfect results, Marquez offering up one hit and striking out three and Crain allowing just one runner on a hit batsman. Ohman retired the Cubs 1-2-3 and has had a glistening spring, with four innings of perfect pitching.

There are a few people who have picked it up, Guillen said. Now that Dayan Viciedo is not on the map, Milledge has played pretty well. Alejandro De Aza and Lilly Brent Lillibridge also have had good at-bats.

I said a couple of days ago that nobody has stepped up and I didnt see anything special. Now the players got the message and are swinging the bat better You dont need to go 4-for-4 to make this ballclub, you need to play the game well, and I will pick the right guy.

But the story of the gameeven this relatively meaningless one, smack dab in the middle of spring trainingwas Buehrles rough start digging another early hole for the White Sox.

Im more frustrated than I should be for a spring training start, Buehrle said. Being competitive, I dont like getting hit around. Im not overpowering; Im not going to throw the ball by guys, so its like I make a couple of good pitches, and they get hits, and then I miss a spot, and they hit the ball hard. Its frustrating that when Im hitting my spots, theyre putting the ball in play and hitting holes.

I just worry about Mark on April 1, Guillen said. Besides that, the only thing I can wait for is him to be healthy, get out of spring training and be ready for the season.

The White Sox didnt do much to back Buehrle, mustering just two hits (and striking out seven times) in the first six innings off of Cubs starter Ryan Dempster and reliever Sean Marshall.

In the ninth, White Sox reliever Anthony Carter was touched for back-to-back doubles, pushing across the North Siders final run.

10 vs. 10,000

Making his rough effort all the more annoying to Buehrle is that he did it in front of the White Sox biggest game of the season.

Yeah, you get a little more adrenaline going playing in front of 10,000 fans instead of 10 gets you going a little bit more, Buehrle said. It is a spring training game and we were joking around coming into it that its too early in the spring to have a pressure situation, but its good to play in front of a big crowd so it feels more like the regular season.

First: Ozzie on Quade

When asked whether hed have any advice for his new managing counterpart, Mike Quade, Guillen felt it wasnt quite his place to advisethen offered plenty anyhow.

Its hard to predict what will happen in Chicago, Guillen said. Coaching in Chicago before, its different to go through it as a coach than it is as a manager. I know hes not going to lose his hair, thats for sure. I guarantee that, he wont lose his hair. And hes not going to get gray.

I always say Chicago, sometimes Chicago people are like the weather. Sometimes theyre nice, sometimes theyre not. One day, theyre beautiful, the next day they hate you. You have to live with that. Fans in Chicago are pretty tough; media in Chicago is pretty tough; radio is pretty tough. You have a couple of good games, they love you. All of a sudden you lose a game, and they hate you. You have to be prepared and have very thick skin to handle it, take one day at a time and hope for the best. But anybody who coaches or manages in Chicago know they are on the hot seat every day. No matter what you do, you will have more negative than positive. You have to be prepared for that.

Guillen doesnt know Quade too well, but has heard enough to give a ringing endorsement.

This man is a great baseball man, Guillen said. I kind of like that, because a lot of people say he doesnt have a name and stuff. Hopefully he puts that team in a position to win and puts them in a good spot. This guy has been in baseball so long; I know hes happy to have the job. I hope the players play well for him and hopefully he keeps the job. The players are the ones who fire the coaching staff. Its not the general manager, its the playershopefully the players play well for him.

Second: Speechless Ozzie?

Guillen showed writers a letter from Dallas Green that was sitting on his desk postgame, thanking him for his role in Mondays fundraising game in Tucson. The ebullient manager recounted catching the ceremonial first pitch from the longtime executive, whose granddaughter, Christina Taylor-Green, was killed by a gunman in a mass shooting in January. Simply recounting the story of talking with Green before the game was giving the confident manager goose bumps.

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

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.