White Sox

Competition for White Sox 25th man stays hot


Competition for White Sox 25th man stays hot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The competition for the final spot on the White Sox 25-man roster continues to be hotly contested.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn wouldn’t rule out an external solution when asked about his roster on Monday. But Hahn also said he’s satisfied with the club’s internal options.

With Opening Day a week away, the White Sox still have Jerry Sands, Travis Ishikawa, Carlos Sanchez, who homered twice in Monday’s 11-7 win at the Colorado Rockies, and Matt Davidson, who also homered, among those in the battle for the final spot.

“We're likely going to continue to have conversations with other clubs through the weekend,” Hahn said in an email. “However, we feel strongly enough about the group we currently have in camp that the more likely scenario is that the initial 25-man roster comes from our current pool.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox could go in any number of directions with the 25th spot.

— They could turn to Sands — who is out of options — if they prefer a power bat off the bench capable of raking against left-handed pitchers.

— If they desire more flexibility on the infield, Sanchez, who is hitting .333 with six RBIs, could be the answer.

— Ishikawa is the club’s best defensive first baseman and hits left-handed, thus filling two big needs. He’s hitting .289 with seven RBIs.

— Davidson also provides a big power bat and has been the surprise of spring, leading the team with five homers. He also has nine RBIs.

— Or, if the White Sox, who open with eight straight games, feel they need to insulate their pitching staff, they could bring a long man with them and start with a 13-man pitching staff.

There’s also the possibility the White Sox go outside the organization to seek a left-handed bat. With the retirement of Adam LaRoche, the White Sox appear to be short-handed in that department.

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They’re not in need of a full-time option, either.

With the way the roster is currently constructed, the White Sox plan to rotate three of their four outfielders through the designated hitter spot. While they could use someone to hit right-handers, it doesn’t need to be a player who would require 500 plate appearances.

That could lead Hahn to search for a trade or perhaps try to sign David Murphy, who opted out of his contract with the Boston Red Sox and was released on Monday.

Or they could keep Ishikawa.

“You’re looking at a guy (Ishikawa) that can play first base and a little outfield and can swing it from the left side,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “The more looks we really get at him, it’s a better understanding of where he’s at and what we need. It’s definitely not a set thing right now where we’re at. He keeps making it more difficult to make a decision one way or another.”

Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

It appears Eloy Jimenez is heating up.

The White Sox rookie outfielder didn’t get off to a great start this season, but he showed flashes of his potential. Then, he went down with injury and missed more than three weeks.

After going 0-for-7 in his first two games back from injury, Jimenez broke out with two home runs on Wednesday. He followed that up with another bomb on Thursday in a 4-0 win in Houston.

The fact that Jimenez stringing home runs together wasn't the big story of the game is a testament to Lucas Giolito's impressive outing on the mound.

Jimenez now has as many home runs in the four games since coming back from injury (3) as he had in his first 21 games before going down. That’s far too small of a sample size to say the time off did anything productive for Jimenez, but the 22-year-old is showing the power he was known for in the minors.

Overall, Jimenez is hitting .234/.280/.447. The average and on-base percentage are lower than expected considering he was a career .311 hitter in the minors. However, eight of his 22 hits in the majors have gone for extra bases, with six of those being home runs.

Thursday’s home run went 414 feet after he blasted shots of 419 and 417 feet the night before.

He also had some fun with the camera in the dugout and then had some fun in the field by celebrating a diving catch with a laugh.

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After rain-shortened complete game last time out, Lucas Giolito goes the distance for real against Astros

After rain-shortened complete game last time out, Lucas Giolito goes the distance for real against Astros

Lucas Giolito technically had a complete game in his last start, but it was a five-inning rain-shortened complete game.

Giolito himself said he didn’t count that as a complete game.

“I don't consider it a complete game until I get nine,” said after the May 18 win against the Blue Jays.

Giolito got his nine Thursday in Houston. The 24-year-old right-hander went the distance and shutout the Astros.

In a postgame interview on NBC Sports Chicago with broadcasters Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, Giolito laughed when talking about the five-inning complete game. He said he had a couple seven-inning complete games in the minor leagues, but had never gone this deep into a game in his professional career.

“Never got to the ninth inning in my career so it’s a special moment for me,” Giolito said.

When Yuli Gurriel popped out to third base for the last out of the game, Giolito immediately started emphatically clapping his hand into his glove with excitement. He then gave catcher James McCann a high five and a hug.

He limited the Astros to four hits and one walk and used 107 pitches for the complete game. Giolito added nine strikeouts.

Entering the ninth inning, Giolito said there was no discussion from manager Rick Renteria or anyone else about having the bullpen close out the 4-0 win.

“I knew my pitch count was low enough to go out there so there was no need to talk about it,” Giolito said.

This is the third time the Astros, which are tied for the MLB lead in wins at 33, have been shutout this season. They hadn’t been shutout in Houston since Sept. 19 of last season.

Entering Thursday, the Astros led all of baseball in team batting average, on-base percentage and OPS so there’s nothing cheap about this Giolito performance.

“I just felt good today,” Giolito said. “I had a lot of first-pitch strikes. I kept it efficient. I was taking a look at the pitch counts around the seventh and I was like ‘OK, I think if we stay on the same page I think we’re going to get this.’”

Immediately after he said that he got the postgame ice bucket shower from Jose Rondon.

Giolito has been on a heck of a run lately and his season ERA dropped below 3 with this outing. He now has a 2.77 ERA on the season, which is 15th best in baseball.

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