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.

What's the deal with second base at White Sox spring training?

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CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS/LAURA WOLFF

What's the deal with second base at White Sox spring training?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Not to go all Seinfeld on you, but what's the deal with second base?

Between the breakout seasons from young core players in 2019 and an influx of veteran additions, the White Sox starting lineup is rather easy to project. Obviously Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Edwin Encarnacion are locked in as everyday starters, and even Nomar Mazara seems to be in that category at the moment, with talk of a potential platoon in right field all but disappearing over the last couple months.

That leaves just one position in the realm of the unknown: second base.

Over the course of the entire 2020 season, the majority of the starts there figure to go to Nick Madrigal, one of the top-ranked prospects in baseball. But whether he'll break camp with the White Sox or start the season at Triple-A Charlotte is still uncertain. The latter seems more likely, based on how he's been talked about this offseason, though how he fares this spring could produce the opposite result after he played at three different levels of the minor leagues in 2019.

"We made the assessment at the end of last season that Nick Madrigal wasn’t quite ready for the big leagues," general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday during Cactus League Media Day. "He was sent home with some specific things to work on. He can very well come to spring training this year, show he’s made certain adjustments and find himself on the Opening Day roster.

"That said, we also have guys like (Danny) Mendick and Leury (Garcia) who we fully believe can hold down the fort until such time that Nick is ready.

"We’ll have somebody come Opening Day sitting over there."

Indeed, the White Sox manning every position on the field seems a safe bet.

Nothing against Garcia nor Mendick, but Madrigal is such a talented up-and-comer that it's quite possible he's the team's best second baseman right now. But Madrigal saw just 29 games' worth of Triple-A pitching last season, and it's possible the White Sox will leave Glendale believing he needs to see some more before they bring him up to the major leagues.

Madrigal's job is to convince them otherwise, and he's been prepping to do exactly that all winter.

"I actually stayed here (in Arizona) this whole offseason, so I've been around a while now," Madrigal said last week. "I started coming to the complex about two or three weeks ago."

The kid's a real go-getter, as you can tell. There might not end up being much that separates Madrigal starting the season as the second baseman in Chicago or as the second baseman in Charlotte, but obviously the difference between those two jobs is huge. A big performance in Cactus League play could show the White Sox, a team that's gone from making a priority of development to making a priority of winning games and competing for a playoff spot, they're better served with Madrigal playing 162 games as a big leaguer rather than a smaller number.

"It's kind of out of my control. The only thing I can control is showing up every day and playing as hard as I can," Madrigal said. "They may think I need to add some stuff to my game, or whatever it may be. I feel confident right now the way I'm playing out there. Just can't worry too much about that at this point.

"I know there's a lot of time from here to the season, there's a lot of games you've got to play, so anything can happen. But I'm going to try to show up every day and play my game."

But if the White Sox still think Madrigal needs further minor league seasoning, then what?

Well, as Hahn mentioned, someone will be starting at second base on Opening Day.

The likeliest candidate is Garcia, the utility man whose versatility makes him a lock to make the 26-man roster out of camp. But while utility reserve will likely be his primary role once Madrigal arrives, until then, he could be the team's starting second baseman.

Mendick, who had some good moments as a September call-up last season, would likely be the reserve infielder, and he could see plenty of time at second if Renteria opts to send Garcia to spell starters in both the infield and outfield.

So there's not an update so much as there is a setting of the table as the Cactus League schedule begins Saturday. There might be nothing bigger to watch during the exhibition schedule than whether Madrigal can play his way onto the Opening Day roster. If that happens, the White Sox will have their transformed lineup ready from Day 1 as they look to chase down the AL Central crown.

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Rick Renteria won't lock in Lucas Giolito as Opening Day starter just yet

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria won't lock in Lucas Giolito as Opening Day starter just yet

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Your 2020 White Sox Opening Day starter is ... (drumroll, please) ... we don't know yet.

That's not entirely true, of course, as Lucas Giolito is the overwhelming favorite to take the mound March 26, when the White Sox open the season against the Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.

But if you're talking about an official announcement from the manager, well, you're going to have to wait a little longer.

"You want the scoop?" Renteria teased Wednesday at Camelback Ranch. "We won’t lay out a scoop yet."

Giolito has expressed on multiple occasions during the early days of camp that he hopes to be the guy that gets the Opening Day nod. In his first meeting with the media this spring, he said he'd "hopefully" be the Opening Day starter and expanded on that in a couple interviews Wednesday.

Giolito's enthusiasm for the job isn't enough to convince Renteria to move his announcement up to the first week of full-squad workouts. But even the skipper, known to take his time before announcing such things for public consumption, can't deny that Giolito, after his transformational 2019 campaign that saw him go from the pitcher with the worst stats in baseball to an All Star and the ace of the South Side staff, has earned a shot at the title of Opening Day starter.

"I’m glad he wants to be the Opening Day starter. He’s really grown, and I certainly wouldn’t say to you that you would be surprised if you saw him doing it.

"He’s definitely earned an opportunity to possibly have the Opening Day start."

Giolito was sensational last season, posting a 3.41 ERA with 228 strikeouts in 29 starts. Even with this offseason's signing of Dallas Keuchel, who has a Cy Young Award and a World Series championship on his resume, Giolito still looks to be the ace of the staff heading into 2020.

Finishing sixth in last year's AL Cy Young voting would seem to indicate that Giolito has reached the status of one of baseball's elite arms. But here's a question: Can he get better? After all, he's just 25 years old, and many of these young White Sox are said to only have scratched the surface of what they can do. Can Giolito surpass what he did in 2019?

"I don’t know I want him to go past it as much as remain consistent and just continue to have incremental growth," Renteria said. "That was a huge jump for him. And it was a great jump for him. He learned a lot from that season. He learned a lot over the previous year and made the adjustments he needed to over the winter. He came in and did what he needed to do and was able to go ahead and be so effective for us.

"All in all, good health, knock on wood, he gets back out there and he has a chance to continue to do what he does. His pitch sequencing, his pitch mix gives him an opportunity to do that. Hard to pick up a ball out of his hand, now with the new delivery. He just needs to get back out there and pitch."

Certainly that's what Giolito is hoping to do, particularly after he gets past the strained chest muscle he suffered trying to work a little too quickly while still feeling the effects of the flu last month. As Giolito said last week, though, he has a "zero-percent" concern that injury will have any significant impact on his readiness for the season.

So bring on the Opening Day start, right?

"Hopefully," he said last week. "We’ll see. I’m excited.

"That’s not my decision."

Well, it shouldn't be too difficult of one for the person whose decision it is.

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