White Sox

Garcia homers twice, Sale bounces back as White Sox top Angels

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Garcia homers twice, Sale bounces back as White Sox top Angels

A huge night for Avisail Garcia. A great outing by Chris Sale. This is how the White Sox drew it up before this so-far underwhelming campaign got underway.

The White Sox young right fielder hit a pair of homers, driving in four runs, and their four-time All Star of an ace held the visiting Angels to just two runs over 7 1/3 innings en route to an 8-2 victory Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox entered Monday night’s game losers of eight of their last 10, having been swept over the weekend by the rival Royals in Kansas City, but this was a clinic in how to bust out of a bad stretch.

“I think that says a lot about our team,” Sale said. “Tough road trip, and we played them good, too. Those were three one-run ballgames. Those are kind of hard to swallow sometimes, but what a way to start off at home. We have a few days here so we can definitely build some momentum from this and move forward.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: In 'frustrating' season, Hahn doesn't want to write off White Sox yet]

Sale was excellent, but that’s come to be expected. The bigger highlights belonged to Garcia. After Melky Cabrera drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first and Tyler Flowers drove a solo homer to straightaway center in the third, Garcia launched a solo shot more than 420 feet into the left-center field bleachers in the fourth to make it 3-0.

Two innings later, Garcia took Angels starter Matt Shoemaker deep a second time, this home run of the three-run variety that grew the White Sox lead to 6-0. Adam Eaton’s RBI single made it 7-0 before the inning was over.

Garcia’s turned it on in a big way of late. After going nearly two months without a homer from June 8 and Aug. 4, he’s hit four in his last six games. He’s picked up a hit in seven of nine games this month and is hitting .285 during that stretch.

After struggling through much of the season, Garcia’s work to correct his issues is starting to pay off.

"Always feels great. I've been working really hard,” Garcia said. “And those guys help me a lot, the manager, (hitting coach Todd) Steverson. I just try to come here and work hard, get better every day and play hard.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: From spot starter to All Star, Hector Santiago back on South Side]

“It think he has to grind through it and fight for it,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Everyone has their level of doing it and when they do and when they make some change and when they want to make some changes. You have to believe in what the changes are. Everybody goes though that a little differently. I think for him it’s starting to click, and there’s some clarity on how you’re going to do it, how he’s going to go about it, how guys are pitching him. I think it should be a fun thing to watch for him, but I think his transition into that and his adjustments have been good.”

Sale, who caused a small panic with back-to-back rough outings in which he surrendered seven runs apiece, was in need of some personal momentum and bounced back in tremendous fashion. He silenced the Angels much of the evening, untouched until the seventh, when Johnny Giavotella drove in two runs in an already out-of-reach game. But overall, the All-Star lefty pitched 7 1/3 innings of two run ball, allowing just five hits and striking out seven.

“You don’t want to let that last too long,” Sale said of his two straight poor outings. “It’s always nice when you get a cushion. You go out in the first inning, score a run and get some big nights by guys. Avi hitting two home runs, and it seemed like Tyler is always doing something for me when I’m out there. Melky is a spark plug. That guy likes to have fun and play the game. I can go on and on. Guys running around the outfield chasing balls, double plays, Alexei (Ramirez) making an unbelievable play under the gun. It’s nice to see after a road trip like we had coming out with energy and fighting. We fought today.”

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Buy an Avisail Garcia jersey shirt]

Fighting today and only today was a theme of Ventura and general manager Rick Hahn’s pregame comments. Despite a season that’s seemed lost at more than one point, the White Sox aren’t ready to quit just yet, as they haven’t been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

Weekends like the one in Kansas City are the moments that have made this team look incapable of erasing the deficit and passing the teams required to earn one of the American League’s Wild Card spots. But it’s games like Monday’s that at times make the White Sox look capable of pulling off a late-season surge.

“I think when it’s a team win, you feel that way,” Ventura said. “And when guys pitch like that and you hit the ball and play some defense, everybody can feel good about it. That’s part of sticking together and grinding your way through it.”

Sox Drawer Q&A: Is this the White Sox 'Jon Lester' offseason?

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USA TODAY

Sox Drawer Q&A: Is this the White Sox 'Jon Lester' offseason?

Back for another round of questions here in the Sox Drawer. Let's go.

Q: Do you believe this is the Sox "Lester" offseason where they make a large investment in a player for the future? Or are we still one year away from seeing this? — @BCurley3

CG: That's a question many White Sox fans are wondering about. And by the "Lester" signing, I assume you are referring to the likes of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. I'd like to think that if the White Sox have a desire to sign a big-name free agent, they will make every attempt to do it now and not wait for the 2020 free agents, even if it's coming off a 100-loss season. As general manager Rick Hahn put it in his season-ending press conference, "You can't always control when certain players become available. You can say in 2020 or 2021 we expect to be this, and we know we are going to need X. You can't look at the projected free agent and say that player will be available, much less that player will be a White Sox when the time comes." It might turn out that the White Sox don't sign that marquee free agent this offseason, but going off what Hahn said, I believe they will go all-in when their targeted "Jon Lester" is available.

Q: If you had your choice, would the White Sox sign Manny Machado or Nolan Arenado? — @Dehhmac_

CG: I'll take either. Arenado gets the edge defensively. Machado has the advantage offensively. One stat about Arenado that gives me some pause is his career home/away splits. At Coors Field, he's slashing .320/.374/.609. Away from Coors Field, he's at .263/.318/.469. He's still a great player, but his numbers are inflated due to the higher elevation in Denver. If they don't sign him to a contract extension this winter, I'm curious to see if the Rockies listen to trade offers during the Winter Meetings like the Orioles did with Machado last year. The Rockies are much more competitive than the Orioles, so they might decide to go for it one more time with Arenado. If not, a crazy Winter Meetings just got crazier.

Q: I have long expected this to be the offseason when the Sox start signing free agents. However, lately, I've heard about possible big-name trade potentials. Do you expect trades this early in the rebuild or mainly acquisition through free agency? — @ToddHertz

CG: At some point, the White Sox will probably dip into their farm system to acquire major league upgrades where they see fit. Because there were so many injuries to prospects last season, I'm not sure they've seen enough to know exactly what they have to make those kind trades just yet. However, the one position in the minors where they seem very deep right now is in the outfield. That could be an area they could subtract from to add elsewhere. I think the White Sox timed their rebuild very well with free agency. Last year's lackluster free-agent class was a great time to be on the sidelines. The next two winters will have much better talent available. The White Sox don't have much on the books and will be in a good financial position to make upgrades.

Q: After Eloy comes up in April who's the next guy in waiting and when does he come up? —  @franknacchio19

CG: With two open spots in the rotation, we could see a few prospects compete for starting jobs in spring training. Jordan Guerrero, Jordan Stephens and Spencer Adams are possibilities. All three of them finished the season at Charlotte and could be close to knocking on the door. The next big name after that would seemingly be Dylan Cease, who if he continues to pitch like he did this past season will probably be on the Michael Kopech timeline to the majors, and Kopech came up in August.

Q: If the rumors are true and the Diamondbacks dismantle their roster, which player on their roster makes sense for this White Sox team long term? —  @mr_zablocki

Q: Who would you hypothetically trade for Goldshmidt? — @DaRealScaletta​​​​​​​

CG: Looking at the Diamondbacks' roster, there aren't many natural fits with the White Sox rebuild. Where's the All-Star third baseman on a rebuilding team with a four-year, team-friendly contract? I like Zack Greinke, but he's going to be 35-years-old and has three years and $104 million left on his contract. A 27-year-old Robbie Ray would be solid, but he's under team control for only two more years. Paul Goldschmidt is an all-world first baseman with three Gold Gloves, but he's a free agent after next season. Depending on what the White Sox do with Jose Abreu, who also has one year left on his contract, maybe they go after Goldschmidt next offseason if they don't re-sign Abreu.

Q: Tell a Yolmer story. — @NJBooth20

CG: Yolmer was wearing this cool T-shirt in the clubhouse this past season. On the front, it said "play hard" with a photo of him making Mickey Mouse ears. On the back it said "have fun," and there's the photo of him pouring Gatorade all over himself. I asked him if I could have one of those T-shirts. He said, "50 dollars." I countered with, "How about 30?" With perfect comedic timing, Yolmer came back with, "Make it 10." He might not be the best bargainer in the world, but Yolmer Sanchez is definitely one of the funniest people around.

Q: Why did Nagy run the ball on 3rd and 4?? — @rypie182​​​​​​​

CG: Not sure.

Q: Can I leave a voicemail? Too drunk to tweet. — @HurriKayne26​​​​​​​

CG: Rough Bears game.

Q: Who will be the biggest surprise and/or the greatest improvement for next season's team? — @nicklicious33​​​​​​​

CG: Good question. If he's able to come back, I can think of one person in particular who would be quite an incredible surprise in 2019. That's Danny Farquhar. At home in California recovering from his near-death brain aneurysm, Farquhar is training with the hopes of pitching in the majors again, possibly as soon as 2019. I wouldn't put it past him. He's a special person who has been defying the odds since that horrific night in April. It would be great to see!

Thanks again for all of your questions. We'll do it again next week.

Sorry, White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

Sorry, White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.