White Sox

David Robertson confident in multi-inning routine with White Sox

David Robertson confident in multi-inning routine with White Sox

He hadn’t pitched in six days, so David Robertson wasn’t surprised when Robin Ventura elected to use him in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s victory.

While multi-inning saves aren’t a normal part of the White Sox closer’s routine, it’s nothing new, either. It’s just not something Robertson has been asked to do often. While Robertson allowed an inherited runner to score on Wednesday, he also recorded the four outs needed to convert his sixth save in six tries this season. It was Robertson’s first multi-inning save converted since May 16th last season.

“Whenever (a layoff) happens, I’m prepared for four or five outs,” Robertson said. “It happens. That’s part of the gig of being in the bullpen. You have to be ready to go whenever he calls.”

Robertson attempted two multi-inning saves in 2015 and has nine attempts in his career. He blew a July 22 effort against the St. Louis Cardinals last season, but has converted seven of his nine career tries, including four of five in 2014 for the New York Yankees. Robertson’s first multi-inning save occurred as a setup man for the Yankees when he struck out three over two scoreless innings on Sept. 3, 2011.

Lots of pitchers say the most difficult part of a multi-inning appearance is trying to recreate the adrenaline that comes with the first inning. Often, pitchers enter in a tight situation as Robertson was on Wednesday when he took over with the White Sox ahead by two, two outs and runners on the corners.

Robertson has developed a routine for that second inning, though he probably didn’t need much motivation to get fired up Wednesday.

Not only did Rafael Ortega’s RBI single make it a one-run game, but Robertson had to face Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in his second inning. Trout singled but tried to advance when Todd Frazier’s throw got away from Jerry Sands only for Sands to throw him out.

Either way, Robertson feels comfortable with his mid-inning routine.

“I just try to keep my mind focused on the game,” Robertson said. “I try to stay moving around, just walking in here and taking a lap. Then turn around and come right back to the dugout. Anything to stay moving. I try to get up and keep the blood flowing. When you get out there to warm up, it’s a little easier.”

Ventura had no qualms asking Robertson to close out the game, especially since he hadn’t pitched since last Thursday against the Minnesota Twins. Robertson is the most trusted, but Ventura feels like he has many options in the White Sox bullpen. The bullpen has a 1.52 ERA through its first 15 games and 16 holds.

“A few of those guys have been a closer for us in the last few years,” Ventura said. “They’ve been put in situations that maybe aren’t as high leverage right now as they were before and you learn something from that.

“You’re looking at guys who have a little more mileage on them and that’s also mentally of being able to go in games and put it away.”

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.”

Dane Dunning left minor league start with 'moderate' elbow strain

Dane Dunning left minor league start with 'moderate' elbow strain

Dane Dunning has been nothing but consistent since joining the White Sox organization in the Adam Eaton trade before the 2017 season.

He has performed well at three different levels in the minor leagues and has stayed healthy. That second part is currently in question after he left a start for Double-A Birmingham on Saturday with elbow soreness.

Dunning left in the fourth inning in what was developing into one of his worst starts of the season. He had four strikeouts, but also walked four and gave up two runs (one earned). The four walks matched a season high.

Here is how things went down on his final pitch:

It's too early for a full diagnosis, but Dunning is expected to have an MRI in the next few days. White Sox manager Rick Renteria talked about Dunning's injury before Sunday's game against the Athletics.

"I think everybody considered it a very moderate strain," Renteria said. "Nobody is at this point too concerned. They still have to re-evaluate more. We won’t know more until they get further evaluation and at that point everybody will know where he’s at. Right now he still has to be re-evaluated."

Dunning, 23, began the season at Single-A Winston-Salem where he posted a 2.59 ERA in four starts with 31 strikeouts against three walks in 24 1/3 innings. The Florida product then was promoted to Birmingham where he has a 2.76 ERA. In 11 starts with the Barons, Dunning has 69 strikeouts and 23 walks in 62 innings.

Dunning is one of the top pitching prospects in the White Sox farm system along with Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

Chris Kuc contributed to this report.