White Sox

Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson show promising signs but White Sox fall to Yankees

Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson show promising signs but White Sox fall to Yankees

NEW YORK — The good that emerged from Wednesday night's 9-1 loss to the New York Yankees didn't provide the White Sox with much immediate help.

But the fact that Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu both put together a series of good at-bats, including the latter's most complete offensive game of the season, could be critical for the White Sox in the days ahead. Abreu doubled twice and produced his first three-hit game of the season and Anderson also doubled and lined out to deep center in the losing effort.

Their collective efforts weren't enough, however, to keep up with the Yankees, who blasted three home runs off Rule 5 selection Dylan Covey in the series finale. Covey allowed eight earned runs and 10 hits in five innings.

"(Abreu) had a completely different outlook today for whatever reason and it just happens that way," manager Rick Renteria said. "Some good at-bats. So did Timmy. We had a few good at-bats in there, a couple situations we didn't capitalize on. It was one of those games that got away from us."

The White Sox offense has been very hit and miss early this season. They've provided runs by the barrel full in a few games and minimal production in others.

One reason for those struggles is the early slumps of Anderson and Abreu, two of their more prominent performers. Anderson entered Wednesday's finale with a .389 OPS and Abreu was at just .380. In short, neither has provided much for an offense that entered Wednesday ranked 13th among 15 American League teams with 48 runs scored.

But both looked sharp against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka.

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Abreu — who Tuesday said he was merely looking to make solid contact once again — started early with a double down the left-field line past a diving Chase Headley.

"Right now we're just working on trying to gain that confidence at the plate, because right now I don't feel it," Abreu said through an interpreter on Tuesday. "That's a process you have to pass through to get it again. That's why we're working right now.

"Right now, I'm not making any contact with the ball."

The slugger made plenty on Wednesday night.

Down 4-0 in the fourth, Abreu followed a leadoff double by Anderson with a booming one-out double of his own to produce the only White Sox RBI. The ball exited Abreu's bat at 109.3 mph, according to MLB.com.

"It was a while from the last time I heard that sound when I hit the ball," Abreu said Wednesday. "Besides the loss, I think it was a good game for me. I hit the ball the way I used to do it and that's a step forward."

Abreu also hit an outside pitch in the sixth inning for a hard single into right field. Abreu finished the contest 3-for-4, his fourth multi-hit game of the season but first since Thursday at Cleveland. He also made an outstanding defensive play to end the second inning with a diving grab to start an unassisted double play.

Anderson has shown little signs throughout the Yankees series he's about to break out. His fourth-inning double off Tanaka would have gone for a solo home run in most ballparks. But he settled for a double high off the left-field fence despite a 102.8-mph exit velocity.

Two innings later, Anderson lined another fastball to dead center only to have Jacoby Ellsbury track it down near the fence. The ball exited Anderson's bat at 102.1 mph, an outcome that normally produces a hit 79 percent of the time, according to Baseball Savant. Anderson finished 1-for-4 but still raised his batting average on balls in play to .200, which is well short of the .375 he hit in 2016 and what he routinely produced in the minor leagues. Those factors would suggest Anderson is due for a market correction at the plate, which would be extremely beneficial to the 7-7 White Sox.

But it didn't amount to much on Wednesday.

Covey allowed a double and a two-run Chase Headley homer in the first, and yielded two more runs on two hits in the second inning. Starlin Castro tattooed a 3-0 fastball from Covey for a three-run homer in the fifth inning before Aaron Judge crushed a hanging curve 448 feet for a solo shot and an 8-1 lead.

"Obviously today didn't go the way I wanted it to go," Covey said. "But you kind of have to take it like it is and learn from the mistakes. Come back (Friday) and put work in to get better. Just get better with all my pitches."

Luis Robert's legend grows, suggesting White Sox should ready for superstardom

Luis Robert's legend grows, suggesting White Sox should ready for superstardom

The legend of La Pantera grew even larger Saturday. And he made it seem rather mundane.

"I was sitting on a soft pitch on the outside, and then this pitch was in and I had to react and swing the bat, and I think that was why I fell when I hit the ball."

Luis Robert's description of the event dramatically undersold what happened. The dude homered while he was falling down.


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Of course, Robert makes everything look easy. Why wouldn't he make it all sound easy, too?

The truth is that the much hyped Robert can do just about everything on the baseball field, and that apparently now includes sending a ball over the fence while simultaneously toppling to the ground in a somewhat cartoonish fashion. If you didn't think the hype train could move at a higher speed after he thrilled minor league audiences last season with a true five-tool display, then you weren't prepared for the highlight from Saturday's intrasquad game on the South Side that caught like wildfire across the baseball-loving sections of the internet.

Robert's arrival in the major leagues, however delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is part of the reason the White Sox look capable of making their long awaited leap out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode this season. He's being described as the best of the team's collection of talented youngsters and talked up as one of baseball's next superstars.

The best part of all of that for the White Sox?

"I'm glad he's on my team," said pitcher Carlos Rodón, who had the unfortunate distinction of being the guy who gave up that bananas home run.

Indeed he is on this team, and thanks to the big-money deal that paved his way to the Opening Day lineup, Robert is going to be on this team for a long time. A pair of options at the end of that contract allow for Robert to remain in a White Sox uniform through the 2027 season. Rick Hahn's always talking about keeping this team in contention mode for as long as possible. Inking Robert's name into the projected lineup for the next eight seasons surely helps.

"I'm smiling from ear to ear," White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing said Saturday. "We are as an organization because we are going to have an opportunity to see this for a long period of time.

"He's an individual who you pay to go watch play. ... You can come to the ballpark and understand he has a chance to do something special every day in every aspect of his game, whether it's running, playing defense, throwing, hitting.

"What he did today, ... I saw him sitting on the ground and I was like, 'Run, run, run!' and then I realized the ball was 15 rows deep. He's a pretty special talent, and we are fortunate and lucky to have him on our side."

The question, though, doesn't seem to be how good Robert will be one day but how good he'll be from Day 1.

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Robert was expected to have a full six months in his first taste of the big leagues, expected to have time to make the kinds of adjustments Eloy Jiménez did as a rookie last season, when he started slowly only to catch fire for a white-hot month of September. Robert won't have that luxury, with the season squeezed down from its typical six-month marathon to a two-month, 60-game sprint.

But Robert doesn't seem to view that as much of a problem. Like the uber-talented White Sox youngsters who have arrived on the South Side before him, he's a confident kid. And while he's not going as far as Jiménez did in January, when the left fielder called his new center fielder "the next Mike Trout," Robert's expecting to be able to hit the ground running while seeing big league pitching for the first time.

"I am feeling very confident," he said Saturday through team interpreter Billy Russo. "I feel real good right now, mentally and physically, and I think that is important. I think that's why I have been able to get the results that I've been having during this time.

"Being here facing major league pitchers, even though they are my teammates, has helped me a lot because that's an advantage for me to know what I'm going to face once the season starts.

"I don't know if I think about doing extraordinary things. I just think in terms of doing the best that I can in every aspect of the game, in every play that I'm involved in. And I think that's the reason why I've been able to do very good things. That's the reason why, I just try to do my best every time."

RELATED: What Michael Kopech skipping season means for White Sox in 2020 and beyond

Robert's presence is just one of a whole bunch of reasons the White Sox appear primed for a big jump in 2020. He's part of a remade lineup featuring veteran additions Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnación and Nomar Mazara. He's one of two highly touted prospects who could take over starting roles this season, along with Nick Madrigal. He's the newest addition to a White Sox core that already had its breakout season a year ago, when Jiménez, Yoán Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Tim Anderson did such big things.

And this is just the beginning. So many of those guys are under team control for years into the future. And so even if Robert and the White Sox don't rise to the level of World Series contenders in 2020, they're planning to do it soon — and stay there for a long while.

How good can Robert be during that stretch? The consensus seems to be that the sky is the limit. And if his wardrobe choice for his Saturday session with reporters, a LeBron James jersey, was any indication, the South Side could be in for larger-than-life superstardom.

"I think that every athlete has that in mind," he said, asked if he had designs on being as good as James, one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. "When you see what other athletes have done, whatever the sport they’re playing, it’s something that you use to motivate yourself."


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Luis Robert hits home run while falling down during White Sox intrasquad game

Luis Robert hits home run while falling down during White Sox intrasquad game

They say Luis Robert can do it all.

Who knows how often he'll be called upon to hit a home run while falling down, but it turns out he can do that, too.

Robert lifted a Carlos Rodón pitch out of Guaranteed Rate Field during Saturday's intrasquad game on the South Side. While it was happening, or perhaps immediately afterward, he fell over and landed on the other side of home plate.

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Worrywarts have no need to panic, he got right up, picked up his batting helmet and trotted around the bases. The next inning, he returned to his spot in center field.

So instead of a terrifying moment, the White Sox rookie delivered a kooky — and frankly, kind of amazing — highlight for the ages.

And so his legend grows.

Robert has already been the player to command the most fan interest during "Summer Camp" workouts. He heads into his first big league season as the most hyped White Sox prospect in recent memory, topping the excitement levels generated by the debuts of Eloy Jiménez, Michael Kopech and Yoán Moncada.

All that buzz comes after he thrilled minor league crowds last season with a combination of tape-measure home runs, blazing speed and highlight-reel catches in center field. That jam-packed toolbox has evaluators labeling him as the best of the White Sox collection of talented youngsters, and he's already being talked about as the game's next superstar.

"I see or hear all of that stuff," Robert said through team interpreter Billy Russo earlier this week. "I try to not pay attention to that. I know what I can do, and sometimes if you hear all that stuff, you’re going to have more pressure on you. And that might not be good for you because there is more. It’s good if people say that, but I just try to not pay too much attention to it.

"My expectations and goals are always the same. Give 100 percent, always, on the field, help the team as much as I can and hopefully go to the postseason. And if I’m lucky enough, maybe win the Rookie of the Year. Those are my goals, and if I stay healthy I feel confident I can do that."

RELATED: White Sox rookie Luis Robert confident in 'pretty hot' start to his '20 season

Robert has some challenges in this most unusual of baseball seasons. While getting his first taste of major league pitching, he was expected to have a full six months to make any necessary adjustments. Instead, he'll have just 60 games. Jiménez showed how useful having an entire season can be, starting slowly during his rookie campaign in 2019 only to figure things out in time for a white-hot month of September. If Robert doesn't catch fire immediately, he might not have the time to adjust before the season's almost over.

But that's not worrying Robert too much.

"If, for whatever reason, I don’t start the season as hot as I know I can, I will do my best to make the adjustments as fast as I can," he said. "But of course that’s not my mindset right now.

"I’m pretty sure I’m going to be able to start the season pretty hot and display all my talent. I will have to adjust as much as I can if I have any trouble."

After seeing what he did Saturday, maybe he's right.


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