White Sox

Extra day of rest sets up Chris Sale vs. Mark Buehrle on Monday

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Extra day of rest sets up Chris Sale vs. Mark Buehrle on Monday

Chris Sale will get an extra day of rest, having his next start flipped from Sunday against Baltimore to Monday against Toronto. And — not by design — the White Sox decision to push Sale back a day will set him up to face former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

“We didn't do it because of that, but you now notice it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It could be a quick game.”

With Carlos Rodon having his last turn in the rotation skipped, the White Sox had flexibility in deciding when he could make his next start. That flexibility allowed Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper to start him Sunday on nine days rest and give Sale five days between starts.

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“This isn't anything to do with him health wise, he's not complaining about anything,” Ventura said. “It's just more of being able to give him an extra day. We've done it in the past where whenever we had a chance we'd take care of him. And just the way the schedule worked out, we had a couple off days this week, we can shuffle that around and drop Carlos in and I don't think the extra day is necessarily going to help him because he's had an extended time off.

“It's just being able to take care of Chris. He doesn't care one way or the other. I think if he cared it would have probably been maybe a something little different.”

If Sale strikes out 10 or more Blue Jays on Monday, he’ll set a major league single-season record for most consecutive starts with double digit strikeouts. The 26-year-old left-hander tied Pedro Martinez’s record with eight straight starts with 10-plus strikeouts Tuesday night in St. Louis.

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On Thursday, Sale earned American League Pitcher of the Month honors for June, and he’s all but certain to be named to the AL All-Star roster on Monday. But the left-hander, as he’s done all year, deflected attention from his personal accolades and heaped praise on his catcher, Tyler Flowers.

“It's cool. It's something to kick around, talk about, later on down the road,” Sale said. “I definitely appreciate it, people looking at what we've done together with Flow, this past month. There's a lot of hard work that goes into it so it's nice to see that it's paying off for both of us. But like I said before, I'm not going to sit here and be focused on that.

“… I definitely know it's more than people think and (Flowers) doesn't get near the credit he should get because he's the one basically doing all the homework, doing all the studying. He's the brains of the operation. I'm just out there following his lead, really. As much as I'm getting, he should get just as much if not more. He's the driver of the car.”

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

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USA TODAY

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

It was only a couple of months ago that Dylan Covey had an earned-run average of 2.22 and was being touted as a possible future stalwart in the White Sox rotation.

Fast forward to the present, when the 27-year-old right-hander is sitting on a four-game losing skid and sports a 6.06 ERA.

So what happened?

Location, location, location.

Covey has struggled to keep the ball down in the zone and has paid the price as hitters are teeing off on the high offerings.

“I just kind of got away from trying to keep the ball down in the zone and have that be my main focus,” Covey said. “Sometimes when I’m up in the zone I’m trying to be up there, but I need to get back to my bread and butter, which is pretty much being down in the zone with everything.”

The issues have been a combination of mechanics and mentality, according to Covey.

“Having good mechanics will lead to getting the ball down into the zone but more so it’s having the focus be down in the zone,” he said.

Covey’s next attempt to right the ship will be Saturday when he’s scheduled to pitch against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Despite his struggles, which include a 1-6 record and 7.71 ERA in his last seven starts, manager Rick Renteria has continued to give Covey the ball.

“I’ve kind of been given the luxury to have a couple of opportunities and I appreciate that,” Covey said. “They see me work and they see the stuff that I have. When I can harness it and get control of it, it can be pretty good.”

Renteria said the Sox are “confident and hopeful” that Covey can turn things around.

“In real terms, he’s the one that's got to do it,” Renteria added. “He’s worked and gained a lot of experience and knowledge and had some successes this year that I think will bode well for him. Getting it down, for him is really, really important because the ball has a lot of tremendous action below the zone. We need him to do that in order to be effective and we believe he will continue to progress in that regard.”

Covey said that a stretch from May 23-June 13 when he went 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA gave him the confidence he needs to get through this difficult stretch.

“I’ve seen it this year--I’ve had the success,” Covey said. “When things are working for me I know I can be a really good pitcher. I just need to limit the mistakes and then learn to make an adjustment sooner rather than later.”

With about six weeks remaining in the Sox’s season, Covey plans to use his opportunities on the mound to secure a place on the 2019 roster.

“That’s where a lot of guys on this team are,” Covey said. “Obviously, we want to win games right now but for me, I want to finish this season strong and get some momentum going into next year and leave off on a good note. Just to have that feeling of, ‘OK, this is what I did last year and how I finished and let’s just carry on from there and pick it up from where I left off.’”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

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USA TODAY

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.