White Sox

Faux reporter Yolmer Sanchez makes several strong defensive plays in White Sox win

Faux reporter Yolmer Sanchez makes several strong defensive plays in White Sox win

SEATTLE — Yolmer Sanchez learned from an earlier mistake to help convert a smooth double play on Sunday afternoon.

Two days after he started a rundown too early, the White Sox second baseman said better mental preparation led to him perfect execution of a similar play. Sanchez made several nice defensive plays in Sunday’s 8-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners and also extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games with a two-run single in the first inning.

Manager Rick Renteria liked how Sanchez adjusted from the earlier play, one of seven double plays he participated in over the team’s last two games.

“He went after the runner, held on a little too long and this one he executed perfectly,” Renteria said. “He got the runner going back toward first, was able to get (Jarrod) Dyson at first and redirect the play into a rundown, which was excellent. In the first game, we had something like that that didn’t go as well.”

Sanchez — who is hitting .327/.367/.455 with 13 RBIs in 110 plate appearances — said part of his execution in the third inning on Sunday was because he was better prepared. With the slow-footed Tuffy Gosewisch on first and the speedy Dyson at the plate, Sanchez knew he’d have to make a quick decision on any play headed his way.

Dyson put the ball in play with Sanchez having to charge in to glove it. When he did, Sanchez took a step toward Gosewisch, forcing him to retreat toward first, before Sanchez fired the ball to first baseman Jose Abreu in time to retire Dyson. Abreu then threw a relay to shortstop Tim Anderson and the White Sox ran down Gosewisch for the second out of the inning.

“That particular play two days ago, I didn’t think before the ground ball,” Sanchez said. “Today I was really ready for that play. I was really ready. I knew we had a fast runner on the play, get that runner and then the run down.”

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It was one of four double plays the White Sox defense converted behind starter Derrick Holland, who pitched eight innings of one-run ball. Sanchez also made a great running, sliding catch in shallow center on Dan Vogelbach’s pop up to end the second inning. Had the ball fallen, Ben Gamel may have scored a run.

Holland recognized Sanchez for his efforts, though that may have had more to do with the second baseman’s latest round of crashing a teammate’s interview. Sanchez is so constantly a fixture in his teammates’ interviews that the White Sox may want to consider issuing him a media credential. He often holds his phone up to players mouths as if he were also recording the interview and sometimes holds a bat up behind a crowd of reporters as if it were a boom microphone.

“You've got to tip your cap to Yolmer for doing such a good job out there,” Holland said. “Good job, Yolmer.”

Said Sanchez: “Thank you very much my friend.”

“You're welcome, my friend,” Holland shot back.

Holland would have his revenge shortly thereafter. Both he and third baseman Todd Frazier parachuted in to disrupt Sanchez’s postgame interview. Outfielder Avisail Garcia also dropped by. The second baseman playfully chided all.

“I’m working here,” Sanchez said.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

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USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.