White Sox

Hit parade: White Sox tap out 31

Hit parade: White Sox tap out 31

Monday, March 7, 2011
6:45 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. After finishing the first week of Cactus League play 1-6, the Chicago White Sox enjoyed their last day of manager Ozzie Guillens declared vacation with a split-squad run barrage, winning 12-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Tucson and tying the Cleveland Indians 16-16 after nine innings at Camelback Ranch.

Both games were the sort of windswept affairs that do wonders for slumping hitters egos. The White Sox entered Monday with a .239 team average, an ugly figure far back in their rearview mirrors after 31 hits between the split squads today.

Down in Tucson, it was homer heaven early for the White Sox, with Alexei Ramirez blasting solo shots into a 36 mph jet stream in his first two at-bats and Ramon Castro adding a home run of his own in the third. Ramirez was 3-for-3 on the day, with three RBI, and is now hitting .400 on the spring.

Brent Lillibridge punctuated a seven-run seventh for the White Sox with a two-out, bases-clearing double off of Rattlers pitcher Daniel Strange. Lillibridge now has five RBIs and is hitting .313 in Cactus League action. Kenneth Williams, son of GM Ken Williams, pinch-ran for Adam Dunn in that frame, inducing a balk from Strange and scoring Chicagos seventh run.

All in all, the White Sox slapped out 12 hits, with the only hitters to bat more than once and take the collar being Lastings Milledge, Brent Morel (both 0-for-3) and Dallas McPherson (0-for-2).

White Sox pitchers were stellar, as starter Edwin Jackson earned the win with 3 13 innings of one-run, two-strikeout ball, and remaining pitchers Chris Sale (two innings), Sergio Santos (23 innings), Josh Kinney (two innings) and Charlie Leesman (one inning) held Arizona scoreless.

Back in Glendale, conditions were even more ripe for a 16-inch softball game, with 25 mph winds were howling out to left. The White Sox led the Indians 9-6 after two innings but coughed up six runs in the final two frames to end regulation in a tie.

Chicagos 19-hit assault was led by Alex Rios, with two homers and five RBI on the day; Rios leads the White Sox with seven RBI but was batting just .231, as all three of the centerfielders hits this spring have been home runs. Mark Teahen went 2-for-3 with three RBI, but again struggled in the field, committing two more throwing errors to bring his total to four in Cactus League play. White Sox phenom Jared Mitchell saw his first action of the spring, pinch-hitting for Juan Pierre in the eighth and tapping out a run-scoring single to close Chicagos scoring.

The only White Sox with more than one at-bat who failed to place a safety were second baseman Austin Yount (nephew of Robin) and catcher Josh Phegley (both 0-for-2).

White Sox pitchers didnt fare so well, allowing 20 hits to the Wahoos. Only Brandon Hynick, who struck out the side in the fifth, hurled with any merit. Lucas Harrell flopped away his chance to assert himself as the systems top starter outside of the major league rotation by getting knocked out of the box with two out in the second, having allowed eight runs (six earned). Jeff Marquez relieved for 2 13 innings but remained crazy-wild, striking out three but spinning not one but two wild pitches en route to two earned runs.

After Hynicks mastery of Cleveland in the fifth, Kyle Cofield came on for two innings, allowing two earned runs. And in the eighth and ninth, things really got ugly, as Gregory Infante was touched for five hits and four earned runs in the eighth and Nate Jones failed to close out the game, allowing three hits and the two tying runs (one earned).

The White Sox defense was uncommonly sloppy, committing five errors in all, while Cleveland coughed up just one.

Getting the offense out of the starting gatein just one days time the White Sox saw their team average shoot skyward from .239 to .274was a relief to Guillen. But now, the competition begins.

Today is the last day of our vacation, he said. Its time to start playing the game right.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

Charlie Tilson plays in Detroit for first time since getting injured in his MLB debut

For over two years, Charlie Tilson was starting to look like his own version of "Moonlight" Graham, the player made famous in the movie "Field of Dreams" because he played in one major league game and never got to bat.

The White Sox traded for Tilson just before the trade deadline passed in 2016. Two days later he made his big league debut with the White Sox in Detroit. He got a single in his first at-bat, but left the game with an injury and missed the rest of the season. Tilson also missed all of the 2017 season and his MLB future was starting to come into question.

Back healthy, Tilson started this season in Triple-A Charlotte and hit .248 in 39 games when he got called up to replace Leury Garcia, who was placed on the disabled list. On Thursday, Tilson returned to a big league field for the first time in more than 20 months. He went 0-for-3 in a loss to Baltimore.

Friday marked a return to the site of Tilson's big league debut and the injury that made it such a brief stint. Tilson has now played three big league games, over the course of nearly 21 months, and two of them have been in Detroit.

Tilson went 1-for-4, meaning both his hits are in Comerica Park. The White Sox lost 5-4 after giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.