White Sox

New month, same result; Sox drop fifth straight


New month, same result; Sox drop fifth straight

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Posted: 4:15 p.m. Updated: 6:18 p.m.

Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) Zach Britton didn't need his best stuff to beat the White Sox's dismal offense.Britton pitched six strong innings and Nick Markakis hit a three-run double to lead the Baltimore Orioles to a 6-4 victory Sunday.Luke Scott and Mark Reynolds added solo home runs for Baltimore, which has won five of its last six. The Orioles will try to complete a four-game sweep Monday night.Britton (5-1) allowed one run on five hits, struck out one and had three walks. The 23-year-old rookie left-hander lowered his ERA to 2.63. Britton was lifted after the sixth inning because of a callus that developed on his left middle finger."It's not a huge deal," said Britton, who had the callus removed. "I know Buck (Showalter) just said he wanted to kill it now before anything happens. It is something I get from the way I throw my sinker. It's kind of unique grip and it kind of give me a callus every now and then and it kind of happened today. They did a good job of taking it out. It's not really an issue, it's more of the weather, my hands are dry and that kind of stuff happens."The White Sox did have opportunities, but they squandered 11 baserunners."They are waiting for something to happen to get them on the right track," Britton said. "I felt like I gave them some good chances to get back in the game, walking guys when we were ahead in the game and that is a big no-no and I did that today which is frustrating. I have some stuff I need to work on and hopefully I get that straighten out in my bullpen."White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was back in the dugout after being suspended two games for tweeting comments about an umpire earlier in the week. Before the game, Guillen said he agreed with the suspension."I think it was a very fair one," he said. "I think it was good for baseball and myself and the integrity of the game. I think if MLB made any good moves in the last 20 years, I think that is a good one because they don't make too many good moves, but they did this time."Gavin Floyd (3-2) took the loss for Chicago, which got a pinch-hit homer from Adam Dunn in the eighth inning against reliever Jim Johnson. It was Dunn's first pinch-homer since April 20, 2003, at Montreal. It cut the Orioles' lead to 6-4.Orioles closer Kevin Gregg allowed a leadoff walk to Alexei Ramirez and a single to Carlos Quentin. He rebounded when Paul Konerko took a 2-2 pitch for a strike. After Alex Rios took a third strike, he got into an argument with plate umpire Cory Blaser, who threw him out.A.J. Pierzynski then grounded out to second to seal Gregg's fifth save of the season."We didn't have the big hit today," Guillen said. "At least we had somebody on base. That's the good sign. We make it interesting. We haven't been doing that for the last week and a half."The White Sox (10-19) have lost 15 of 18 and have dropped five in a row overall, seven straight at home and finished April with a club-record 18 losses. Chicago also trails Cleveland by 10 games in the AL Central."Just because you go out and play hard doesn't mean you're going to win or get the hit," Konerko said. "But over the long haul, you've got to believe you will. I believe I will and I believe the team will."Floyd allowed six runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked two, and struggled through a five-run fifth inning.After setting a Baltimore franchise rookie record for the most the wins in April, Britton didn't have many problems against the struggling White Sox offense. His only mistake came in the fifth inning when he gave up a solo homer to Brent Lillibridge.Scott put the Orioles ahead with two-out solo shot in the fourth inning. It was his fifth of the season. Scott has homered three times in the last five games.In the fifth inning, Reynolds tagged Floyd with a leadoff home run to left-center. Felix Pie followed with a triple off the center-field wall. Floyd then gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases and Markakis cleared them with a double to left-center. Markakis later scored on Scott's single to make it 6-0."We just felt he (Floyd) was in a pattern there," Markakis said. "He went away from his fastball, he threw a lot of cutters, slider and curveballs, you can almost go up there and sit on an offspeed pitch. The more pitches you can eliminate the easier to hit."In the second inning with a runner on first and two outs, Orioles shortstop Robert Andino made a diving stop on Brent Morel's ball and then got up to throw him out at first."It all comes back to having confidence in my defense," Britton said. "I didn't have my good stuff, but I just threw it over the plate and let them hit to the guys and let them make the plays." Johnson came on with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning. He got Quentin to pop out, then after walking Konerko to force in a run, got Rios to ground out to third to end the inning.Notes: SS J.J. Hardy, on the 15-day DL with a left oblique, is scheduled to take batting practice in the cages on Monday and Tuesday then on the field Wednesday. ... White Sox left-handed hitters Pierzynski and Dunn were not in the starting lineup against Britton. ... The White Sox left 11 on.Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Forget a Yolmer Sanchez return to White Sox, he reportedly has deal with Giants

Forget a Yolmer Sanchez return to White Sox, he reportedly has deal with Giants

The dream many fans had of Yolmer Sanchez returning to the South Side for the 2020 season might be over.

According to reports, Sanchez has a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants. Sanchez, who won an American League Gold Glove at second base last season with the White Sox, reportedly turned down a couple major league offers to compete for the everyday second baseman's job in San Francisco.

Sanchez was a fan favorite during his tenure with the White Sox, a positive clubhouse presence who earned a reputation as a fun-loving teammate through his various on-field antics, including repeated pranks involving the dugout's Gatorade bucket. He also proved himself to be one of the game's finest defensive infielders, a valuable skill even if his offensive production rarely lived up to the same standards. Last season, as the starting second baseman, Sanchez hit .252/.318/.321 with a pair of home runs and 43 RBIs.

Even after the White Sox non-tendered him earlier this offseason, team brass spoke positively of him, an indication that the door might not be closed on a reunion. But the White Sox infield is fast filling up with long-term pieces. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada had huge seasons on the left side in 2019, and Nick Madrigal, one of the top-rated prospects in baseball, is expected to reach the major leagues in the early portions of the 2020 season. Madrigal, the White Sox first-round draft pick in 2018, had an excellent offensive season in the minors last year and carries a similar defensive reputation as Sanchez. Whether Madrigal will make the Opening Day roster remains to be seen — it sounds unlikely — but he's expected to be the team's starting second baseman for the bulk of the 2020 campaign.

Given that crunch on the infield, Sanchez, even after his Gold Glove win, seemed destined for a reserve role had he returned to the South Side. Who knows if the White Sox were one of the teams that extended a major league contract offer to Sanchez, but there didn't seem to be room for him to have a starting job with this group. He can at least compete for such a role with the Giants.

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Looking for the ideal White Sox lineup for Opening Day 2020

Looking for the ideal White Sox lineup for Opening Day 2020

You remember the Dr. Seuss book "If I Ran The Zoo," right?

Well, this is "If I Ran The Sox." It probably won't sell as many copies.

I want to make it clear from the outset that when we're talking about the White Sox lineup, only one guy gets to decide what it is, and his name is Rick Renteria. Of course, everyone has and will continue to have their own opinion on how the White Sox, now in win-now mode thanks to a busy offseason that appears to be baseball's most successful, should line up on a daily basis. I am not immune to this affliction. Nor is Dylan Cease.

Renteria hasn't given many clues as to how he'll write things out on Opening Day, going as far to say, when asked what his lineup will be last weekend during SoxFest, that he won't be sharing his lineups. But he did say that Luis Robert probably won't be leading off at first. Rick Hahn made it sound like the chances of Nick Madrigal making the Opening Day roster aren't great. You'll notice below that I have Robert leading off and Madrigal as the starting second baseman. Again, this isn't a prediction, it's merely what I would do if for some laughable and unthinkable reason I ended up in the manager's chair.

So, without further ado, your March 26 starters against the Kansas City Royals in the alternate universe I have just created by removing one of the Infinity Stones and failing to return it.

1. Luis Robert, CF

Robert will likely not be leading off on Opening Day. Renteria said as much last week when asked about leadoff hitters, a discussion topic that is not only overplayed but overplayed exclusively surrounding winning teams. So I guess Renteria should take it as a good sign for the state of his team that he's already being pestered about it in January.

"I still think that Luis — as you guys knew, a few years ago, I would put guys at the top of the order and give them as many at-bats as possible, continue to get them as much involved as possible. Right now, I'm not forced to do something like that, necessarily.

"So if you're thinking about me leading off Luis at this particular time — even though in the minor leagues he's shown an on-base quality — he might not be at the top. But will he see some at-bats at the top of the order at spring training? Yeah, it's possible."

That doesn't mean Robert won't eventually be the White Sox everyday leadoff man, it just sounds like he won't be that to start the season.

But that's where I'd put him.

Robert getting his first taste of the major leagues and struggling would not be wildly surprising. We saw the same thing happen with both Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez. But Robert has been hailed as potentially the best of the entire bunch of White Sox youngsters, a true five-tool threat who can do everything on a baseball field. That includes get on base, which he did at a .376 clip last season in the minor leagues. He also has some blazing speed, stealing 36 bases in 2019.

Robert can do the things a stereotypical leadoff hitter can do without being a stereotypical leadoff hitter. He's not just going to single and steal second and wait for the guys behind him to drive him in. He had 74 extra-base hits last season. So maybe sometimes he'll leadoff by getting to first base, and sometimes he'll leadoff with a moonshot into the bleachers.

Either works. I'd rather have the guy who can do it all getting as many at-bats as possible at the top of the order.

2. Tim Anderson, SS

Anderson's going to have a challenge ahead of him replicating the numbers he put up in 2019. But until there's a reason not to keep Anderson near the top of the order, that's where he belongs.

Are there red flags showing maybe the No. 2 spot isn't the best place for Anderson? Sure. He hardly ever walks, doing so just 15 times — fewer walks than Madrigal had strikeouts! — in 518 trips to the plate last season. And his baseball-leading .335 batting average — a .095 point jump from the .240 average he had a year prior — was helped by a wildly high .399 BABIP (batting average on balls in play, or batting average in all the at-bats that weren't strikeouts or home runs; the higher it is, the luckier a hitter got, the harder it is to maintain over the course of multiple seasons).

But as of this minute, Anderson's most recent season's worth of production includes a .335 average and a .357 on-base percentage. I don't know if that production is going to dip, and if it does how significantly, but I know that until it does, why not allow Anderson to keep hitting and getting on base ahead of the big boppers in the middle of the order?

The most realistic spot for Anderson on Opening Day? Maybe the leadoff spot.

"I want to see Timmy there," Renteria said when discussing his leadoff options going into spring training before mentioning another name or two.

3. Yoan Moncada, 3B

Moncada, too, had the help of a ridiculously high BABIP, his all the way at .406 during his breakout 2019 campaign. However, he also showed that he might just be this team's best all-around hitter, combining average, on-base skills and power for a .315/.367/.548 slash line.

The No. 3 spot has traditionally been occupied by a team's best hitter, and though Moncada's 25 home runs in 2019 weren't as many as the totals cranked out by Jose Abreu, Eloy Jimenez, Edwin Encarnacion or Yasmani Grandal, Moncada only played in 132 games and is still developing. That sweet swing of his should produce even more pop as time moves along. In 2019, he got the strikeouts way down, even though the walks fell with them, but that .548 slugging percentage would like mighty nice in the No. 3 spot.

4. Jose Abreu, 1B

Abreu batted exclusively in the No. 3 spot in the lineup in 2019. And 2018. He hasn't hit cleanup since 2017, when he did it in 22 games. But in the last few seasons, there haven't been any obvious challengers to Abreu's status as the team's best hitter. Abreu will happily take some threats to that title now, with his locker buddies Moncada and Jimenez finally joining him in giving these White Sox some middle-of-the-order presence.

Abreu gets tons of credit, all of it deserved, for his off-the-field role as a mentor to guys like Moncada and Jimenez. Robert is sure to find his way under Abreu's wing this season, too. But don't think the attention paid to Abreu's off-the-field value equals a diminished impact on the field. He had one of the most productive seasons of his six-year big league career in 2019, especially from a power perspective: he led the American league with a career-best 123 RBIs, hit 33 homers to come three shy of his career-best total in that category, posted a .503 slugging percentage that ranked as the third best of his career and hit 38 doubles, the second most of his career and just five away from his career high.

In other words, driving in runs is still Abreu's forte. With Robert, Anderson and Moncada ahead of him, he ought to have plenty of opportunities to do just that in 2020, making the cleanup spot the perfect place for him.

Don't be surprised, though, if Renteria keeps Abreu comfortable and leaves him in the No. 3 spot he's been in for the majority of his major league career.

5. Eloy Jimenez, LF

White Sox brass keeps talking about Jimenez as just scratching the surface of what he can do in the big leagues. If hitting 31 homers as a rookie is just scratching the surface, then look out.

But indeed, Jimenez will be expected to leave some of the growing pains he experienced during his rookie season behind him in 2020 while still showing off that impressive power stroke. This is the same guy who hit .337 and put up a .384 on-base percentage as a minor leaguer in 2018, and the offensive skills that led to those numbers are expected to shine through at the big league level, too.

What Jimenez did in the final month of the 2019 season could serve as a hint of what's coming in 2020: He slashed .340/.383/.710 with nine home runs, eight doubles, 25 RBIs and 19 runs scored.

A guy who fans are hoping tops 40 home runs in his sophomore season provides perfect protection in the lineup for Abreu and fits quite nicely into the No. 5 spot.

6. Edwin Encarnacion, DH

The White Sox imported some thump this winter in the 37-year-old Encarnacion, hoping to reap similar rewards from an aging slugger that the division-rival Minnesota Twins got from Nelson Cruz in 2019. Encarnacion probably won't be expected to lead the highest single-season home run total in baseball history, like Cruz did, but seeing him lead the South Siders in home runs would not be a shock. He hit at least 32 homers in each of the last eight seasons, and his 34 dingers a year ago would have led the White Sox (who got a team-high 33 homers from Abreu). Those 34 long balls came in just 109 games for Encarnacion. He'll be expected to appear in significantly more than that as the White Sox primary designated hitter.

A stereotypical middle-of-the-order bat, it only makes sense to keep Encarnacion in the middle of this order, where he can crush home runs and rack up RBIs.

7. Yasmani Grandal, C

My least favorite part about this lineup I've constructed is that the best position player the White Sox added this winter is batting seventh. But Grandal knows what it's like to be in a loaded lineup from his days with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2018, when he was part of the NL pennant-winning Dodgers, he spent at least 15 games in seven different spots in the batting order, logging no more than 24 in any one spot.

He'd be a valuable bat in any spot in the White Sox order, too, bringing in some career-best numbers from his 2019 campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers, including 28 home runs, 77 RBIs, 109 walks, a .380 on-base percentage and a .848 OPS. When you've got a good lineup, you can extend your run production down to the No. 7 spot, and that's what would happen here with Grandal.

Because of Grandal's on-base skills and in-lineup versatility, it wouldn't surprise to see him just about everywhere over the course of the 2020 campaign. Heck, that ability to walk would even make him a valuable leadoff man, considering it's a skill that isn't exactly prevalent elsewhere on the roster.

8. Nomar Mazara, RF

That once imagined platoon for Mazara is looking less and less likely as spring training approaches, with the 24-year-old looking destined for everyday status, at least out of the gate. Yes, Mazara has a career .231/.272/.361 slash line against left-handed pitchers. But Renteria argued last week that sitting Mazara against lefties is no way to make those numbers better.

"He's been in the big leagues for four years already. He's hit 20-plus homers a year. And I was sharing this with somebody the other day, I don't think he's even close to reaching his potential," he said. "I believe that the staff that we have will be able to get out of him more. He won't be just the guy that you say, 'He's great against righties and horrible against lefties.'

"When you take away this opportunity to face lefties, he's not going to develop that skill set or that confidence in order to do that."

Just like sticking a productive bat like Grandal's in the No. 7 spot, putting a guy who's averaged 20 homers in his four major league seasons in the No. 8 spot ain't too shabby, either. And if what the White Sox believe could happen happens, if Mazara reaches that potential that was sky high when he was a heralded prospect a few years back, then we won't be talking about him in the No. 8 spot much longer.

9. Nick Madrigal, 2B

Madrigal likely won't be on the Opening Day roster. He played just 29 games at Triple-A Charlotte last season, and Hahn's comments last week illustrated that the White Sox would like to see some more from Madrigal at that level.

“He's got a few more things to prove,” Hahn said. “I think that when we go through trying to be as objective as possible thinking about where he is developmentally, he hasn't necessarily answered all the questions we have for him at the minor leagues.

“But we're going to go in with fresh eyes and a fresh approach in spring training and see where he's at and in all probability make an assessment there.

“I don't think we have him, by any means, written in pen as the Opening Day second baseman at this point, if that's what you mean. But could he change our minds? Yeah.”

Well, that's somewhat good news for Madrigal, who keeps saying he's very much ready for the challenge of the big leagues. Certainly he did some great things against minor league pitching in 2019, playing at three different levels and striking out an insane 16 times in 532 plate appearances. His bat-to-ball skills have proven to be elite, as described, and he continues to receive rave reviews for his defense.

Given all that, it's no stretch to suggest he's the best second baseman in the White Sox organization, even if Leury Garcia is the better bet to be the Opening Day starter at second. The White Sox have exhibited patience that has sometimes maddened fans when it comes to their prospects, and they shouldn't be expected to treat Madrigal any different. But the situation has shifted on the South Side, with the White Sox suddenly facing realistic playoff expectations. If winning as many games as possible is the goal, wouldn't Madrigal help them do that?

We'll see if that has any bearing on the team's decision come spring training, or if Madrigal blows the doors off the Cactus League and really forces the issue.

Regardless of when Madrigal arrives, be it Opening Day or some time after, the No. 9 spot seems logical, not because he'd be the team's worst hitter — far from it — but because he has the skills to make him one of those "second leadoff hitter" types, someone who reaches base enough to treat the No. 9 spot as a kind of second No. 1 spot to set the table even further in anticipation of the lineup turning over.

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