White Sox

LIVE: White Sox regain 2-1 lead over Rays

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LIVE: White Sox regain 2-1 lead over Rays

Saturday, April 9, 2011
Posted: 10:24 a.m.

Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Rays never won a game with Manny Ramirez in the lineup.

They exceeded their run total from his entire tenure in their first game after he left the team.

After busting out on offense and breaking into the win column, the Rays try for another strong effort Saturday when they continue their four-game road series against the Chicago White Sox one day after Ramirez abruptly retired.

Ramirez, who served a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy in 2009, recently tested positive again for a performance-enhancing drug. Rather than serve a 100-game ban this time, the 38-year-old slugger opted to walk away from the game.

The Rays signed Ramirez in the offseason after an unremarkable 24-game stint with the White Sox at the end of 2010. A surefire Hall of Famer were it not for his drug violations and other character issues, Ramirez retires with 555 home runs - none with the Rays.

He managed one single and one RBI in 17 at-bats in a Tampa Bay uniform, with the Rays losing all five games in which he appeared.

"It's unfortunate," said Tampa Bay outfielder Johnny Damon, who helped Boston end an 86-year title drought by winning the 2004 World Series, in which Ramirez was the MVP.

"I don't know everything that's been brought up. All I know is he's a great teammate and a great player," Damon said, when asked specifically about the steroid allegations. "It's going to be sad not seeing Manny Ramirez ever around a baseball field."

The Rays' offense had been sad to watch, totaling eight runs and batting .145 during an 0-6 start. Hours after the shocking news about Ramirez, though, they rallied for five runs in the ninth inning to beat the White Sox 9-7.

All five runs off Chicago closer Matt Thornton were unearned due to errors by Alexei Ramirez and Juan Pierre. Tampa Bay (1-6) took advantage, with a three-run homer by Dan Johnson providing the decisive blow.

"No feeling like it. It makes everything better," Johnson said. "We were just talking about how the food tastes so much better. (Losing) leaves such a bad taste in your mouth. Everything seems better right now."

Damon added his first homer in a Rays uniform.

The White Sox (4-3), who got homers from Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and Mark Teahen, continue to engage in slugfests. They're averaging 7.4 runs per game while allowing more than six per contest.

Chicago will send a largely unproven quantity to the mound Saturday in Philip Humber (0-0, 9.00 ERA). Humber is making his first start for the White Sox, filling the fifth spot in the rotation when necessary while Jake Peavy rehabs a shoulder injury.

Humber has made two relief appearances this season, allowing two runs over two innings.

A 28-year-old journeyman who has previously pitched for the Mets, Twins and Royals, Humber has struggled in two career starts, yielding 10 runs and 15 hits over 9 2-3 innings. The right-hander's one appearance against the Rays came in relief, but it was the second-longest outing in his career.

Humber, then pitching for Minnesota, limited the Rays to two runs over 5 1-3 innings at Tampa Bay on Sept. 18, 2008, but didn't get a decision.

Tampa Bay will give the ball to Wade Davis (0-1, 5.68). The right-hander defeated the White Sox twice last season, limiting them to three runs over 12 1-3 innings.

Davis was less impressive in his season debut Sunday, allowing four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-1 home loss to Baltimore.

Davis may not have to face Adam Dunn. The Chicago slugger, who had hoped to return from an appendectomy performed Wednesday in time for this series, will likely need to rest at least through the weekend according to manager Ozzie Guillen.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Avi Garcia's played in fewer than 20 games since April, but could he still attract trade-deadline suitors?

Avi Garcia's played in fewer than 20 games since April, but could he still attract trade-deadline suitors?

Avisail Garcia returned from his latest disabled-list stint with a bang, smacking a three-run home run in the fourth inning Saturday in Seattle.

The White Sox right fielder hasn't even played in 20 games since late April, when he went on his first DL trip, which lasted two months. A second, also featuring an injury to his hamstring, made it two weeks between games.

But when he has been able to step to the plate this summer, Garcia has been tremendously productive. He came into Saturday night with a .333/.347/.783 slash line and a whopping eight home runs in the 17 games he played in between his two DL stays. Then he added that homer Saturday night off longtime Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, giving him nine homers in his last 14 games.

Keeping this up could do an awful lot of things for Garcia: It could make his ice-cold start a distant memory, it could prove that last year's All-Star season might not have been a fluke, and it could keep him entrenched in the conversation about the White Sox outfield of the future, giving the team one of those good problems to have when deciding how he would fit into the puzzle alongside top prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert.

But here's another possibility: Has Garcia swung a hot enough bat in his limited action that he could be a trade candidate before this month runs out?

The White Sox don't figure to have too many players who are going to get contending teams worked up into a lather. James Shields, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Xavier Cedeno. Those guys could classify as additions that would bolster teams' depth, but they might not be the attractive upgrades the White Sox were able to trade away last summer.

Garcia, though, could be. He might not slide into the middle of the order for too many contenders, but someone looking for a starting corner outfielder might be enticed by the kind of numbers Garcia has put up in June and July, albeit in a small sample size. Teams would also have to consider his health. He's already been to the disabled list twice this season. Teams would certainly have to be confident he wouldn't return in order to make a deal.

On the White Sox end, Garcia would figure to fetch a far more intriguing return package than the aforementioned pitchers, given that he's still pretty young (27) with one more season of team control after this one.

The White Sox have plenty of options when it comes to Garcia. They could deal him now, deal him later or keep as a part of the rebuild, extending him and making him a featured player on the next contending team on the South Side. But with a lot of significant injuries this year perhaps having an effect on when all those highly rated prospects will finally arrive in the majors — not to mention the disappointing win-loss numbers the big league team has put up this season — perhaps it would make more sense to acquire some rebuild-bolstering pieces.

Of course, it all depends on if there are any deals to be made. Do other teams' front offices like what they've seen from Garcia in this short stretch as much as White Sox fans have? We'll know by the time August rolls around.

The White Sox outfield is finally healthy, and it's got a lot to prove in the second half

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USA TODAY

The White Sox outfield is finally healthy, and it's got a lot to prove in the second half

The outfield the White Sox thought they'd have all season long is finally back together.

Avisail Garcia came off the disabled list ahead of Saturday night's game in Seattle, bringing an end to his second DL stint of the campaign, both of which involved hamstring injuries. Garcia's return came a day after the return of Nicky Delmonico, who had been on the DL with a broken hand since mid May.

Here we are 96 games into the season, and Garcia has logged just 35 games, with Delmonico playing in 38. Leury Garcia had his own lengthy DL trip and has played in only 59 games. Daniel Palka, the replacement for any variety of those injured outfielders, has played in 66 games. Adam Engel, the Opening Day center fielder who is once again struggling with the bat (he entered Saturday with a .215 batting average), is the lone outfielder to see action in an overwhelming majority of the team's contests. He's appeared in 86 of them.

At the dawn of the second half, though, everyone's healthy again. But as is the case with most positions on the current big league roster, how long into this rebuilding franchise's future will those players be occupying those spots?

Outfield is one of a couple areas in which the White Sox have incredible depth. Eloy Jimenez is the No. 2 prospect in baseball and gets a deserved amount of attention (he hit two home runs in Friday night's game down at Triple-A Charlotte), with Luis Robert generating plenty of excitement, too, with his high ranking and oft-discussed tool set. But those two headliners are hardly the only guys angling for a spot in the White Sox outfield of the future. There's Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Luis Gonzalez, Joel Booker and more all developing down in the minor leagues.

Will all those names make the current crop of White Sox outfielders, finally healthy, irrelevant? And if so, how quickly?

Garcia came into the season as the White Sox reigning All-Star representative, but health isn't the only area in which he's had bad luck this season. He had a very slow start at the plate, slashing just .233/.250/.315 with one homer in 18 games before hitting the DL for two months in late April. Of course, after returning from that first layoff, he was excellent. Garcia slashed .333/.347/.783 with eight homers in just 17 games between June 22 and July 8 before hitting the DL again.

Garcia still has plenty to prove if he wants to be a part of the White Sox long-term future, chiefly in the form of consistency. Some of his numbers in 2017 were among the best in the American League, but can he do that again? Injuries have wiped out his ability to show he can do it over the course of another full season, but the remaining two months and change of the 2018 campaign will be the perfect opportunity to show the White Sox, not to mention the rest of the league, that he is a dependable long-term piece. If he can do that, the White Sox could find offseason suitors or interested parties at next year's trade deadline to swap Garcia for a rebuild-improving package. Or they could opt to extend him. His team control runs out after the 2019 season. Remember: He's only 27 years old.

Delmonico was another player embarking on a "prove it" campaign when 2018 began, and the broken hand sure didn't help him out in that department. But he managed to impress enough to get into the long-term conversation in only two months of action last season. Perhaps he could do the same over the final 60-plus games of this season.

If he's going to impress enough to do that, though, he'll have to shake off his own not-so-great beginning to the season, when he slashed .224/.333/.302 with only one homer in 37 games. In Friday's second-half opener, he went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.

Can any other members of this outfield do enough to keep themselves among the possibilities as the wave of prospects starts washing ashore on the South Side? For has hard as he's hit the ball — his nickname maybe should be "Exit Velocity" — Palka's managed just a .234 batting average and a .280 on-base percentage to go along with his 12 homers and 33 RBIs. Engel has still struggled to show he can do much offensively to complement his great defensive abilities. The player with the best case to stay in the conversation, at this point, might be Leury Garcia. The White Sox love his versatility, his ability to play both infield and outfield, and he's been on an offensive tear since returning from his own month-long layoff, slashing .338/.348/.477 in his last 20 games. Maybe he garners some interest as the trade deadline rapidly approaches?

Jimenez — slashing .319/.373/.594 with five homers in 18 games since being promoted to Triple-A — is coming. If he keeps this pace up, he'd figure to be a lock to play for the White Sox before the end of this season. But Rick Hahn has talked about the importance of Jimenez getting at-bats in Triple-A, and the 30-games-under-.500 White Sox are in no rush to bring up reinforcements before their development dictates it.

So there might be an increasingly limited window in which this crop of outfielders has the opportunity to prove its worth in the White Sox long-term plans. Injuries that have slowed things down for Robert and Adolfo have increased that opportunity for the current big leaguers, too. But as Basabe showed in last weekend's Futures Game, there's no shortage of outfield prospects knocking on the door. So for the Garcias, Delmonico, Engel and Palka, now's the time to impress.