White Sox

LIVE: White Sox trail Price, Rays 4-0

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LIVE: White Sox trail Price, Rays 4-0

Monday, April 18, 2011Posted: 11:50 Am
Associated Press

It has been just over a week since the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox last met, but much has changed for both teams.

The Rays look to win for the sixth time in seven games and hand the slumping White Sox their sixth defeat in seven contests when they open a four-game series at Tropicana Field on Monday night.

Chicago (7-8) took three of four from Tampa Bay (6-9) at U.S. Cellular Field from April 7-10, part of a 6-3 start to the season. The White Sox hit .295 while plating 22 runs, as Paul Konerko went 7 for 14 with a pair of solo homers and four RBIs.

Chicago's offense hasn't had much success since the Rays left town, batting .212 and totaling 18 runs while dropping five of six.

"It seems like we were all hot at one time and now we're all slumping at the same time," designated hitter Adam Dunn said following Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. "We have to get back on track."

Dunn has been in the middle of the team's struggles, batting .105 with a homer and 11 strikeouts in 19 at-bats in five games since having his appendix removed.

"I don't feel bad. I feel fine, I just stink," Dunn said. "We're not in any panic mode. We know what we're capable of doing."

The Rays' record was 1-8 after their series against the White Sox, but they won five straight immediately after leaving Chicago, totaling 32 runs in those games. The winning streak ended Sunday with a 4-2 loss to Minnesota.

Johnny Damon was instrumental for the Rays, driving in the winning run in all five games of the streak while batting .348 with two homers and 10 total RBIs, but he left Sunday's game with a bruise on the tip of his left ring finger. He's listed as day-to-day.

"It's very sore," Damon said. "I wanted to try and tough out the game, but thought it was best if I came in and started icing it. At this point, I can't guarantee anything on whether or not I'll be in there (Monday). Time will tell."

Damon is batting .190 lifetime against Edwin Jackson (2-0, 2.89 ERA), Chicago's scheduled starter.

Jackson pitched brilliantly against the Rays on April 7, allowing one run and four hits while striking out a career-high 13 and walking one in eight innings of a 5-1 win. The right-hander, who pitched for Tampa Bay from 2006-08, has posted a 1.44 ERA while winning all three career starts against his former team.

Probable Tampa Bay starter David Price (1-2, 3.92) has had no such luck against Chicago.

Price, who opposed Jackson at U.S. Cellular Field less than two weeks ago, yielded three runs and nine hits in six innings. He has lost all four of his starts against the White Sox, with a 4.88 ERA.

Chicago center fielder Alex Rios has given Price the biggest problems. He doubled twice off Price earlier this month, and is 7 for 11 with two homers lifetime in their matchups.

Price, a 19-game winner last season, earned his first victory of 2011 on Tuesday, allowing two runs and five hits in 7 2-3 innings of 3-2 win at Boston. He finally got a little help, as his offense had failed backed him with any runs of support in his first two outings.

Following his gem against the Rays, Jackson was shaky versus Oakland on Tuesday. He allowed three runs and seven hits and needed 100 pitches to go 4 2-3 innings, although the White Sox eventually won 6-5 in 10.

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

The Yasmani Grandal Effect is real, and it's already happening for the White Sox

The Yasmani Grandal Effect is real, and it's already happening for the White Sox

It might not be possible to measure the effect Yasmani Grandal has already had on the 2020 White Sox.

While the team’s first big splash signing of the winter has been met with near universal acclaim — how could you not love a guy with Grandal’s track record of offensive production and winning experience? — plenty wondered why it happened in the first place. After all, the White Sox already boasted an All-Star catcher in James McCann.

Sure, two All-Star backstops are better than one. But with so much still on Rick Hahn’s offseason to-do list when the move was made, why spend big bucks — the richest contract in team history — on a position you already had covered?

Well, the 2020 campaign hasn’t even started yet, and already Grandal’s worth is evident.

As much love as McCann got for his skills as a game-planner during his All-Star season in 2019, the rave reviews for Grandal take things to a whole different level.

“I got to talk with Yaz for a while, I played catch with him today down the road. He’s already got a plan for me, how he wants to set up, attack guys, showing me the program he uses. It’s awesome,” new White Sox reliever Steve Cishek said before SoxFest kicked off Friday. “He’s ready to go, and it’s going to be a lot of fun working with him.

“Just talking with him today, it’s obvious that he knows what he’s doing and what he’s talking about. And then you see why he’s one of the best catchers in the game. And then how mentally prepared he is, we’re not even into February yet, and he knows what he wants to do with each and every one of us. That’s incredible to me. He’s just planning ahead.

“I introduced myself. He wanted to play catch, just to see what my stuff does first hand. … First conversation after playing catch, he’s like, ‘Did you see me messing around? I was standing over here just to see if you would start your fastball over here. This is how I’m planning on setting up with you. I watched how Willson (Contreras) set up with you last year. I like how he did it, but I want to try this way, too.’

“Are you kidding me? When can we start? Let’s go.”

It’s clear from talking to his new teammates — some, like Cishek, who haven’t even been able to spend much time with him — that Grandal is prepared to the point where he’s ready for the season to start yesterday.

Rick Hahn revealed when the White Sox signed Grandal way back in November, that the newest backstop on the South Side is the kind of student who asks for homework — then devours it in no time.

“We met with him in Phoenix (the) Tuesday afternoon during the GM meetings, but I think it was by Thursday, he had reached back out and requested video of each of our starters and wanted to spend some time getting to know each of them,” Hahn explained the day the White Sox announced Grandal’s four-year contract. “He had some familiarity from afar but wanted to spend some up close time learning their strengths and weaknesses and how to get them better.

“He and I, since things became official late last night, we’ve been texting back and forth about various guys both on our roster and available throughout the league. He really has a deep, deep knowledge of how to maximize a pitcher’s ability. He’s tireless worker.”

Though the White Sox have yet to converge on Camelback Ranch for spring training, that unmatched work ethic has already become apparent to Grandal’s new teammates. These pitchers haven’t had much opportunity to work with Grandal yet — as Cishek mentioned, he talked with Grandal for the first time Friday before heading to SoxFest — but they’ve already been blown away by the kind of preparation and the kind of work Grandal has done.

It’s the kind of effect a veteran with winning experience can have on a young group.

“I haven't personally thrown to him, but having conversations with him about pitching and pitch mechanics, he's very intellectual,” Michael Kopech said earlier this week. “He himself is very serious about his training and his body and his regiment. It's refreshing to see somebody take that much pride in what their doing.

“Not that we don't have that already, we've always had that. But to have that veteran role step in and show you that you can do this and you can do this for a long time, it means the world to us, because that's what we're all wanting to get to.”

One of the White Sox other offseason splashes, Dallas Keuchel, has on multiple occasions talked about Grandal as an attractive selling point that helped bring him to the South Side. Friday night, he described Grandal signing with the White Sox as “mind-blowing.”

Grandal has excited pitchers who were already a part of the organization, too.

“When he signed, the first thing I did was I went to YouTube and I looked him up,” Dylan Cease said Friday. “First, I started with his framing highlights, because there’s a YouTube (video) of that. And then I went to his hitting. I was like, ‘All right. This is a nice addition.’”

That would seem to be an understatement.

Obviously, Grandal will be expected to add something special to the White Sox lineup, and his career .348 on-base percentage in eight major league seasons — not to mention a career-best 28 home runs in 2019 — ought to provide plenty offensively.

But Grandal is here to help the Ceases of the world, too. While Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez bring some veteran reliability to the South Side starting staff, the White Sox will need to see some improvement from both Cease and Reynaldo Lopez from the not-so-stellar numbers they put up last season if they’re truly going to contend for a spot in the postseason.

Grandal is making that his mission, to help the younger pitchers blossom into the stars their once lofty prospect rankings said they could be.

“This not being the first time (I’ve been through this kind of thing), I understand it’s going to be a process, and it’s going to take some time,” Grandal said Friday. “We’re not going to try and hurry the process up, we’re just going to let it be. We know what we have, and we’re just going to take it one day at a time.

“Once I have at least 80 games behind the plate, we’ll look at the bigger picture and start making the bigger strides and start doing the things that we really have to do. We’ve got to lay some sort of base in order to start building. I feel like we’ve moved in the right direction so far this offseason. It comes down to me and the whole catching group getting together with the pitchers.”

That kind of work is something Grandal has already shown he’s willing and excited to do. He’s impressed the pitchers he’ll be catching in their limited interactions, and while he describes a potentially time-consuming process in getting everyone to where they need to be, he’s still thrilled to be working with this group of arms. He continues to explain that it’s the No. 1 thing that drew him to the South Side.

Because as a guy who’s played in each of the last four postseason knows, it’s all about the pitching.

“As we saw in the past World Series, the Nationals kind of did exactly what needed to be done. They relied on their pitching staff,” he said, “and they got big hits when they needed it. At any point, once you get to the playoffs, if you have the right amount of pitchers, you can have a big win.

“Let’s just get there first.”

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Live from Opening Night of SoxFest 2020

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NBC Sports Chicago

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Live from Opening Night of SoxFest 2020

David Kaplan is joined by Chuck Garfien as they speak with the newest White Sox winter acquisitions from this offseason as well as the current White Sox core from Opening Night of SoxFest 2020 in McCormick Place.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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