White Sox

J.B. Shuck plays hero in delivering game-winner for White Sox

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J.B. Shuck plays hero in delivering game-winner for White Sox

The first game-winning hit and RBI of the 2015 season belongs to J.B. Shuck.

Raise your hand if you had that prediction before the baseball season got going.

It hasn’t been an easy first week for the White Sox, what with four losses in their first four games. In those four defeats, they were outscored, 28-7.

And while Saturday afternoon’s turnaround from a 4-0 deficit had many key players — Adam LaRoche and Geovany Soto belted home runs, Jeff Samardzija settled down after a rough start to go seven innings and David Robertson struck out all three hitters he faced in the ninth — the biggest moment belonged to Shuck, who stepped in as a pinch hitter and delivered the biggest run of the White Sox young season in a 5-4 win over the Twins.

[MORE WHITE SOX: New faces rally White Sox to first win of season]

“I made sure I was loose and ready to go, took some flips in the cage, and if it was going to happen I was ready to go,” Shuck said after the game.

“It’s something you get used to. It’s a battle. You’re going to get great pitchers almost every time you pinch hit, so you’ve just got to really focus on getting the job done and sticking to your gameplan.”

The White Sox made two quick outs to start the bottom of the eighth with the game tied at 4. But Alexei Ramirez kept things alive with an infield single (which was more the result of a bad throw from Twins shortstop Danny Santana), and Conor Gillaspie followed with a double down the right-field line.

It was Soto’s turn to hit, and he’d gone 2-for-3 with a home run and a deep fly out in his at-bats. But Robin Ventura picked Shuck, and he made his manager look good by dropping a base hit into left field that scored Ramirez as the go-ahead run. Gillaspie was thrown out at home trying to score on the hit, but it didn’t matter, the White Sox had the lead.

“We were really excited,” Soto said. “It was really an exiting time. ... Gave us the lead into the ninth. I’m not going to lie, it was an awesome feeling to get that run into the ninth and see our closer close a game and get a ‘W.’ That was pretty cool.”

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As for the decision to go with the pinch-hitter Shuck over the hot bat of Soto? Ventura said it just came down to the success Shuck had during spring training. He hit .339 with six doubles and five RBIs in Arizona, and that success seems to have translated to the regular season.

“Shuckie with the pinch hit, he's been having great at-bats all spring, and you want a guy in there just fighting for that, scratching and clawing trying to get him in,” Ventura said.

“I thought it was more (going up against a right-handed pitcher with a left-handed batter), but again you are looking at the at-bats J.B. has had all through spring and even in Kansas City. I just felt like it was the right time to have him go up there. Geo had a great game. I thought he did a great job with Jeff, of getting him to (the seventh inning). But I just felt it was a better matchup with J.B. in there.”

Performing in a pinch is Shuck’s role on this team, but with a lineup stacked with Jose Abreus, Adam LaRoches, Avisail Garcias and Melky Cabreras, it’s kind of surprising that it’s Shuck who came through with the first clutch moment of the season.

He’s just happy it meant the White Sox were winners for the first time in 2015.

“It’s a great feeling, but like I said, this was great win,” Shuck said. “This was a good team-building game right here, and I think we’re going to roll with this one.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 1

We asked you to ask us anything about the White Sox and you delivered in a big way. We got so many questions, we had to do two different podcasts! Among the questions here in Part 1: should the White Sox send Yoan Moncada to Triple-A? What players will be traded before the deadline? Who are some sleeper prospects in the minors? Will Jordan Stephens be called up before Michael Kopech? Should Juan Uribe be a team ambassador? What's our all-time White Sox team from 2000 to the present and many more.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Hahn says 'there will be many' promotions for White Sox prospects this week

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USA TODAY

Rick Hahn says 'there will be many' promotions for White Sox prospects this week

The White Sox have a number of highly-rated prospects performing well in the minors and some of them will be on the move within the system in a matter of days.

General manager Rick Hahn talked to reporters ahead of Monday night's White Sox game in Cleveland, a 6-2 loss, and gave the news. Well, sort of.

He didn't include names, but he did say that "there will be many" promotions after the minor league all-star games for Double-A and both Single-A teams take place on Tuesday.

Hahn added that Chris Getz, the White Sox player development director, will address the media before the White Sox host Oakland on Thursday about the moves.

If the all-star games are a reason to wait, it's safe to think some of the players involved will be playing in those games. So who could be on the move?

Double-A Birmingham has six all-stars: Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins, Seby Zavala, Danny Mendick, Dane Dunning and Ian Hamilton. Jimenez is the name everyone wants to see on the move. He has torched the Southern League since getting off to a late start to the season due to injury. Hahn was asked about Jimenez, but didn't tip his hand as to whether he would be one of the promotions.

Dunning has been good in Double-A (2.78 ERA, 65 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings), but was already promoted this season so he may not be on the move again.

Single-A Winston-Salem has five all-stars: Dylan Cease, Luis Alexander Basabe, Joel Booker, Bernardo Flores and Matt Foster. Cease, 22, could be due for a promotion with a 2.89 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. There's also that outfield logjam the Dash, which won the first-half division title, have had all season.

Other than Basabe and Booker, Blake Rutherford and Alex Call are also noteworthy prospects being forced to split time in the Dash's outfield. If Jimenez is moving up to Triple-A, one or two names from this group could be on the move to take his spot in Birmingham.

This would especially make sense if highly-touted outfield prospect Luis Robert, who was supposed to be in Single-A Kannapolis for a short period before joining the Dash, is ready to move up as planned. Robert is hitting .289/.360/.400 in 13 games with the Intimidators.

Birmingham, Winston-Salem and Kannapolis were all off Monday. The various all-star games will take place Tuesday and the three teams will be off again Wednesday. The promotions could be announced Thursday ahead of Getz's scheduled media availability.