White Sox

Now in everyday role, Tyler Saladino hits first big league homer

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Now in everyday role, Tyler Saladino hits first big league homer

No matter how much reporters wanted him to, Tyler Saladino just refused to be happy about hitting his first big league home run.

The rookie, who in a short amount of time in the majors has shown he has an extreme team-first attitude, homered off Royals pitcher Danny Duffy in the ninth inning of what turned out to be a 4-1 loss Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. But the fact that his first big league blast came in a defeat washed almost all of the enjoyment away from the moment for the 25-year-old.

“The home run’s nice, especially the first one, but at the end of the day, if we don’t win, that’s all that matters. The home run is just a moment,” Saladino said. “The win, at the end of the day, we didn’t get it, so come back Tuesday.

“It’s a huge accomplishment to trot around those bases at a big league field, a major league home run. But I can’t help it. It doesn’t do it (for me). If we won, it would’ve been the greatest thing to happen. But we didn’t. I don’t know, it just doesn’t quite do it.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Chris Sale not at his best as White Sox fall to AL's best]

Man, it takes a lot to get this kid excited.

In all seriousness, Saladino’s team-first mentality is a perfectly admirable one. The same can be said for his play on the field, which has impressed in just seven games. Before Sunday’s series finale with the Royals, manager Robin Ventura praised how Saladino “always seems to be dirty.” And anyone who’s paid attention knows Saladino already boasts some pretty strong defensive chops, as he’s made some terrific plays at the hot corner.

“It's always special when a guy hits his first home run or first hit,” Ventura said. “He just continues to play. As far as that stuff, he's going to check that off the list. But he's just playing to win games. He's not into the meaning of all that. He thinks it's cool and everything, but he's trying as hard as he can to help us win games. He's just a good player.”

Being “just a good player” was enough to make Saladino the White Sox everyday third baseman, a role confirmed by Ventura ahead of Sunday’s game. Saladino was called up and has started every game since last weekend’s Interleague series against the Cubs, but his opportunity to be an everyday major league player became a little more official Sunday, when the White Sox designated veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie for assignment.

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox designate Conor Gillaspie, return Matt Albers to 'pen]

Saladino has earned it so far. He’s now 8-for-26 in seven games.

“You don’t know what to expect coming up here,” Saladino said. “Preparation is everything for me, just working hard, treating every day like it’s as important as any other. That’s just all I try to do, so being able to have some results out of all that, it’s gratifying. But I’m still trying to treat each day as important as the other and be ready for Tuesday.”

Sunday, Saladino’s homer got the attention, but it was clear he didn’t want to revel in that. Talk of his defense, on the other hand, did elicit a minimal amount of pride.

“I’ve put in so many hours with (White Sox coach Joe McEwing) and all the guys, everybody from the start of it, guys from instructional league in the very beginning to all the ground balls we’ve taken every year since then to get to this point,” Saladino said. “I take a lot of pride in that stuff and taking care of the ball defensively.”

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That’s about as much as a boast you’ll hear from Saladino. He said he did get the ball from his first homer, and the game’s lineup card was on his chair after the game. So there will be some sort of memory from this day.

But perhaps a more fitting milestone for Saladino awaits: first major league home run in a win.

If he keeps doing what he’s done through seven big league games, that one shouldn’t be too far off.

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

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USA TODAY

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com released their rankings of all 30 MLB team's starting rotations. The rankings were a nod to the current structure of the rotation, as well as how they were likely to perform in the future. And that is why the Chicago White Sox being ranked dead last in the league is somewhat alarming. 

Overall, the White Sox rotation is 28th in WHIP and 29th in strikeouts. 

Lucas Giolito is currently the team leader in wins with four, but his ERA sits at an unsightly 7.19. James Shields has been decent in spurts, but a general lack of run support has limited his effectiveness. Carlos Rodon has been a mixed bag since returning, but was able to reach the seventh inning in his last start. This is encouraging considering that he hadn't made it that far in any of his previous three starts. And Reynaldo Lopez continues to rack up quality starts—much like Shields—but has two wins to show for it. 

Veteran players like closing pitcher Joakim Soria and Shields are sure to be hot names on the trade market, and that could go a long way towards bringing in additional prospects to build up the White Sox farm system, and lead to a much improved rotation in the future.

So the White Sox obviously deserve to be ranked lowly until they can groom their minor league starter prospects into MLB-ready staff members, something that looks like it could take longer than originally expected. Flame-throwing top prospect Michael Kopech is still amassing high strikeouts numbers, but he is walking over six batters per outing, showing an obvious issue with control. 

White Sox fans can take their mind off of ESPN ranking the team's rotation 30th in the league by turning their attention to Eloy Jimenez. He has been absolutely crushing it in Double-A Birmingham, and will likely be making his debut with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Saturday. That game will be live on NBC Sports Chicago. So sit back, relax and look forward to the future, wherever it may take White Sox faithful. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

In Part 2 of "Ask Us Anything" we answer the following questions: Who will be the biggest free agent the White Sox sign this off-season? What are the chances they trade Avi Garcia before the deadline? What's your assessment so far of Luis Robert?  Who's on your all-time busted prospect list? Is Omar Vizquel the next White Sox manager? Would the 1994 White Sox have won the World Series if there wasn't a strike?  What's the long term plan at third base? These questions and many more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

If you missed Part 1 of 'Ask Us Anything', you can listen to the full episode here 

Listen to the full Part 2 of 'Ask Us Anything' at this link or in the embedded player below: