White Sox

Jose Quintana, White Sox lose to Indians, drop fourth straight series

Jose Quintana, White Sox lose to Indians, drop fourth straight series

CLEVELAND — Jose Quintana didn’t feel as if he was too far off with his command on Sunday afternoon.

But the tiniest misses led to too many pitches, particularly against the bottom of the Cleveland Indians lineup. The combination of those extra pitches and not enough run support led to another disappointing day for Quintana. The Indians’ 7-9 hitters reached base six times on and the White Sox didn’t get going until it was too late, falling 4-2 in front of 26,611 at Progressive Field.

Quintana dropped to 2-8 for the White Sox, who finished a nine-game trip with a 2-7 mark and lost all three series.

“I'm close,” Quintana said. “I feel pretty good. I fight every start. I want to be better, I want to get better for my team, better outings. It doesn't happen often for me in the past, but I keep fighting, I keep going.

“I fight with my command sometimes this year. Today was a little high with the pitches. I keep the ball down, but more missed in with fastballs. Sometimes I miss my spot, but that's all. Too many 3-2 counts.”

Eighth hitter Roberto Perez gave Cleveland a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in the second inning when he singled just under the glove of Yolmer Sanchez with two outs to put Quintana behind 1-0. Quintana liked the location of the 0-2 fastball pitch to Perez. But the result was frustrating as Perez’s grounder up the middle scooted under Yolmer Sanchez’s glove for a two-out RBI single.

Two innings later, Edwin Encarnacion drew a leadoff walk and the Indians would push ahead by three runs. Jose Ramirez reached on a fielder’s choice and Austin Jackson singled. Ramirez advanced on Perez’s fly to deep center and scored on the first of two Quintana wild pitches. No. 9 hitter Erik Gonzalez then singled in Jackson to make it 3-0.

Quintana only lasted through five innings. He allowed three runs and five hits and struck out three in a 95-pitch effort (54 strikes).

“He had a lot of 3-2 counts today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s just a matter of commanding his fastball and seeing if we can get him to be able to get hitters a little more earlier obviously. That’s going to be the key for any of our guys. Be able to command strikes, good strikes, strikes that are not necessarily put in play with a whole lot of authority. And that will allow them to stretch their outings a little further.

“I thought he did a nice job of minimizing damage across the board for five innings.”

Todd Frazier expressed profound confidence in Quintana. He said he wants the left-hander, whose ERA stands at 5.30, to believe in himself, too. Frazier wants Quintana to think he’s the best pitcher in the American League.

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The veteran third baseman put some of the onus for Sunday’s loss on a White Sox offense that didn’t wake up until the sixth inning and then couldn’t do anything against the Indians bullpen. The White Sox responded after Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco struck Jose Abreu with a pitch just above the left elbow in the sixth. Avisail Garcia doubled Abreu to third and Todd Frazier doubled in both to make it a 3-2 game. Frazier finished 3-for-4 as he continued his hot June.

But that was it.

Terry Francona summoned Andrew Miller and the Indians’ bullpen took over. Miller struck out Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson to strand Frazier at second and keep Cleveland ahead. Miller struck out another batter in a scoreless seventh. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen each pitched a scoreless inning to close it out for Cleveland, who added an insurance run in the seventh when Francisco Lindor doubled in a run off Tommy Kahnle.

“He’s going through it right now,” Frazier said. “And guess what? We didn’t get him runs. At the very end of the day, we didn’t score runs for him. He held them to three runs. You know, we got to score more. But there’s not one ounce in my body that thinks he’s a bad pitcher or think he’s not a No. 1 pitcher for any team.

“We have his back and I hope he understands that because I tell him that every day.”

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Are the White Sox about to sign Marcell Ozuna or not?

Depending on which report you choose to believe, the White Sox could be on the verge of filling the void in their outfield with one of the bigger names on this winter’s free-agent market.

Dominican reporter Frank Castillo tweeted Saturday that the White Sox will sign Marcell Ozuna, planning to announce the free-agent deal Monday.

Well, that was followed up by a report from The Score’s Bruce Levine, who said the White Sox are not about to sign Ozuna.

So there’s that.

The White Sox were connected to Ozuna earlier this offseason, as well as more recently, with MLB.com’s Jon Morosi writing last week that the team had interest in Japanese import Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but were waiting to hear on the decisions of Ozuna and fellow free agent Nicholas Castellanos first.

Ozuna turned heads with his fantastic 2017 season for the Miami Marlins, when he slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. Since being dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozuna hit .263/.327/.452 with 52 homers and 177 RBIs in two seasons.

The White Sox have a pressing need in right field, making it little surprise that they’ve been tied to numerous options, including Ozuna, Castellanos and Joc Pederson. Ozuna, though, exclusively played left field in St. Louis. Were the White Sox to add him, would they insist he play right field? They’ve expressed little to no interest in moving Eloy Jimenez out of left field.

It’s rumor season, and there should be plenty more of them with the Winter Meetings starting Monday in San Diego. The White Sox are expected to continue the aggressive approach they’ve displayed already this winter with the signing of Yasmani Grandal and their reported high bid to Zack Wheeler, who took less money to pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.

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White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.

What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

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