White Sox

Peavy injury clouds White Sox win

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Peavy injury clouds White Sox win

Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Updated: 1:11 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO It was a recipe for smiles all around: A second straight win over a hot, potent, pesky foe in the Los Angeles Angels, 16 wins in 20 games, edging to their best record since last making the playoffs two seasons ago.

But the Chicago White Soxs 4-1 win was shadowed by the loss of Jake Peavy, who pitched a commanding inning-plus before yielding to what first appeared to be a shoulder injury. The later, mildly-encouraging diagnosis, was a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle, which is in the back but centers discomfort in the armpit. (Peavy will be reevaluated tomorrow, with Daniel Hudson waiting in the wings for a sub start on Sunday if needed.)

I assumed he was done when I saw him walk off the mound, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of the ace that injects the Chuck Norris into starting pitching. Im pretty sure right now hell be on the DL.

Peavy himself wasnt speculating, but his postgame expression spoke volumes, if the beachball ice wrap sitting like a cyst on the right side of his torso didnt.

I dont know what to say. It didnt feel good, Peavy said. Something wasnt right.

The bucking bronc of a hurler cruised through the first, notching two strikeouts and looking as dominant as ever. His push toward an eighth win on the campaign was bolstered in the bottom half, when Juan Pierre led off with a rainbow double that eluded a somewhat sluggish Torii Hunter in right-center. One third-sack swipe by Savoir Pierre and an Alex Rios sac fly to left later, the White Sox led 1-0.

In the second, Hunter led off with a dribbler to third that rookie Dayan Viciedo misplayed into a single and Hideki Matsui flew out to right. Peavy coaxed his last out of the game not from batter Mike Napoli but Hunter, ambushed with a pickoff attempt that turned into out No. 2.

It was Peavys 28th pitch that found him walking immediately off the mound in pain. The workhorse was replaced by Tony Pena as a hush fell over the 21,889 in the U.S. Cellular Field crowd and Guillen tossed a towel in frustration.

Pena filled in well, however, pitching 4.1 innings of five-hit ball, stretching out for 53 pitches in a crucial, bullpen-saving effort.

Pena did a great job, Guillen said. He was the key to the game.

The Angels did knot the score at one when Napoli struck an 0-2 single up the middle to score Hunter in the bottom of the fourth. The White Sox threatened in the bottom half, when Mark Kotsay hit a long fly to left that Juan Rivera misplayed into a double and A.J. Pierzynski walked, but Andruw Jones, apparently content to free-fall back to the bench, whiffed with a pair still poised.

As Pena continued to cruise, Rios rescued the win for him with a long homer to left-center in an at-bat that immediately followed feisty Angels starter Jered Weaver dusting him in the batters box.

This game is crazy, Rios said of snapping his 0-13 slump on an evening he wasnt originally scheduled to play. As for exacting revenge on Weaver (who in his career had never allowed a home run, and just two runs total, vs. Chicago and fell to 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA with the loss), Rios merely fastened on a broad smile and said of his clout, It was good.

One inning later, Jones belted his 399th career home run to almost the identical spot in the stands as Rios. It was Jones first dinger in more than a month, snapped a 0-17 streak for the veteranand allowed him to make a pitch for another start on Wednesday.

Prior to the clout, his manager had been nearly reduced to begging Jones to relocate his lost stroke. Please hit another one before the next 200 at-bats, Guillen jabbed Jones postgame.

Hes kind of wild right now, Guillen continued. But we really needed that homer.

The Chisox continued stringing hits in the seventh to push across another run, with Viciedo stroking a single to center, Brent Lillibridge poking a blast to left-center that saw the Power-Packed Energy Wad pumping his fist out of the batters box in premature home run euphoria and Pierre tapping a grounder that Napoli could not corral, scoring a sprawling Viciedo.

To finish off this bittersweet victory, Guillen turned to his customary combination of J.J. Putz (a perfect, two-K seventh), Matt Thornton (escaping the eighth despite putting two men on with just one out before inducing popouts from No. 3 hitter Bobby Abreu and cleanup clouter Hunter) and Bobby Jenks (sweating a bit en route to his 18th save).
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Jon Jay is taking batting practice, but his return to White Sox doesn't sound near

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AP

Jon Jay is taking batting practice, but his return to White Sox doesn't sound near

The White Sox are still waiting on one of their offseason acquisitions to make his 2019 debut. And it doesn't sound like it will be coming soon.

Jon Jay, signed to a one-year free-agent deal over the winter, has yet to play during the regular season, still dealing with the back, hip and groin injury that cropped up during spring training. His recovery process has been infrequently discussed by the White Sox, who seem to simply be stuck in wait-and-see mode with the veteran outfielder.

Jay took batting practice for the first time since the start of the regular season this week in Baltimore. But despite that sounding like a noteworthy step, manager Rick Renteria made it sound like Jay's return is still a good deal away.

"He's moving along," Renteria told reporters ahead of Wednesday night's game. "He took some BP yesterday. He's increasing his work, controlled work in a controlled environment. He's out there throwing now. So he's moving along as good as we can expect he should be.

"I think we're being cautious and simply allowing him to get his feet underneath him. He's out there now with the boys and trying to get back out on the diamond and do the work he can. And then the training staff will continue to give us an update measuring — it's slow and go right now. But he's coming along in a positive manner.

"Ultimately there will be a rehab assignment. That goes without saying. I think it just depends on when it begins. Right now, this is barely going to be the second day where he's taking BP out there, so we're a little bit away from me to even speculate as to when it can be, early or late. I couldn't give you anything in an accurate form."

That's hardly an encouraging update from the skipper, at least for those hoping to see Jay back in the lineup in the near future.

Jay played in a dozen Cactus League games during the spring, slashing a promising .324/.361/.500 with a couple homers and eight RBIs. While many fans latched on to his connection to star free agent Manny Machado this winter, Jay can provide a boost for the White Sox batting order, bringing the on-base skills that have yielded a .352 career on-base percentage. Only four or five White Sox hitters have succeeded from an on-base standpoint this season: Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, James McCann, Ryan Cordell and Jose Rondon have on-base percentages over .350 (those last two in limited playing time), while everyone else on the team is reaching base at clips under .330.

But when those skills can be imported into the lineup remains a mystery at the moment.

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Struggles continue for White Sox starters, but there's not much in the way of alternatives

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USA TODAY

Struggles continue for White Sox starters, but there's not much in the way of alternatives

The White Sox will give Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito every opportunity to iron out their inconsistencies this season. But the numbers have not been good for the two veteran members of the starting rotation, and considering Ivan Nova and Ervin Santana aren't part of the team's long-term plans, how long a leash the newest additions to the starting staff will have remains to be seen.

The sample sizes are small, and questioning how long these two remain members of the rotation does not come without acknowledging that neither seems to be in danger of getting cast out anytime soon. But the numbers have been downright ugly. Nova was lit up by the Baltimore Orioles in Tuesday night's 9-1 loss, inverting the damage the White Sox did against baseball's worst pitching staff a night earlier by allowing nine runs and four homers against a team that's terrorized him throughout his career. He was yanked after four incredibly ineffective innings, the third outing of his five-start season in which he's allowed six or more runs. Santana has made only two starts to this point, and one of them was fine. But his ERA is still an unpleasant 10.38, and he's given up five home runs in his 8.2 innings of work.

All told, the youngsters included with the veterans, White Sox starters own a 6.12 ERA after Tuesday night, one of the highest marks in the game.

Those numbers are not acceptable, no matter how in the thick of rebuilding the White Sox remain. Sure, the win-loss record might not be the most important thing in 2019, and Nova and Santana were not the kinds of upgrades to the starting rotation that were set to fuel a dominant staff. But they were brought in, in part, to be innings-eaters that could save a developing bullpen. Regardless of what you, the White Sox fan, thought about James Shields last season, he did eat innings, ending up as one of a baker's dozen major league pitchers to hit the 200-inning mark. If Nova and Santana aren't going to pitch deep into games — Nova's averaging only a little more than five innings per start, and Santana's averaged fewer than five innings in his two outings — their value on this roster comes into question.

Fans would surely be quick to push the button that jettisons Nova and Santana from this rotation, certainly, given the results to this point, but if the front office decides now or months from now to go down such a path, the question becomes: Who is there to fill that spot on the starting staff?

The in-organization depth is not ideal, even if Dylan Cease is one of the highest-rated pitching prospects in baseball. As well as he's started his season at Triple-A Charlotte — a 1.84 ERA and 14 strikeouts in his first 14.2 innings of the 2019 campaign — the White Sox insist that he needs to build up a significant amount of innings there before he makes what is sure to be an excitement-generating major league debut. If Nova and Santana can linger until July or August, then maybe by then Cease will be the no-brainer option as a replacement. Though if they're still taking their every-fifth-day turns at that point, then perhaps they're no longer a problem significant enough to require a replacement. Quite the Catch 22, you see.

Rick Hahn said multiple times during the offseason that Cease is on a similar track to the one Michael Kopech was on last year. Kopech debuted in late August of 2018, so the expectation could be a similar debut date for Cease. Could Cease be up quicker? It's unlikely in the event that the most compelling reason is that the big league rotation needs a boost. Hahn said throughout last season that what's going on at the big league level will have nothing to do with when the organization's top prospects make their jump to the majors. It would figure that Cease is no exception to that rule. Maybe he could beat Kopech's timeline a bit, should he continue to dominate and not go through the midseason struggles Kopech did at Charlotte last season. But it might not be so significant that it could qualify as "soon."

And so the eye turns to the rest of the Charlotte rotation, which is not well stocked with names that anyone would prefer to the veteran track records of Nova and Santana. There are some big numbers down there, too: Jordan Guerrero has a 6.87 ERA, Spencer Adams has a 8.31 ERA, Jordan Stephens has an 8.80 ERA, Donn Roach has a 9.50 ERA.

Of the non-Cease names starting at Charlotte, Dylan Covey would probably be the most logical choice to fill a vacated rotation spot at the big league level. He made the team's Opening Day roster as a bullpen arm before quickly being dispatched back to Charlotte to work on being a starter. White Sox fans have seen the Dylan Covey Show before, of course, and the reviews weren't great. As a major league starter, he has a career 6.26 ERA. He didn't last five innings in a Tuesday-night start in Charlotte but owns a 2.19 ERA after giving up a couple runs in that game.

There's Manny Banuelos, who has been pretty good for the White Sox out of the bullpen this season. He made a spot start in place of the injured Lucas Giolito in Monday night's drubbing of the Orioles, throwing four scoreless innings. He's got a 2.51 ERA on the year and could move from the 'pen to the rotation if need be, but then there'd be a need for a new long man in the relief corps. Carson Fulmer is unlikely to be moved back into a starting role after a shift to the bullpen last season in the minor leagues. He's had mixed results out of the big league bullpen this season, with a 4.76 ERA.

If you're a member of the "get rid of Nova and Santana" camp, it's unlikely you've made it this far without screaming Dallas Keuchel's name at your screen. Keuchel won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 and was a featured player in the Houston Astros' resurgence from bottom-of-the-standings laughing stock to World Series champions just two years ago. He's also one of the two most noteworthy victims of this winter's glacially paced free-agent market, still jobless as baseball nears the end of the season's opening month.

Keuchel would be an obvious upgrade to this or any starting rotation across the game, and his unsigned status makes him an option in the strictest sense of the definition. But it would seem mighty unlikely that he would be added to the staff of a team not expected to reach the ranks of the contenders until next season at the earliest. I've heard the argument that the White Sox should offer up a two-year deal and bring Keuchel aboard for the remainder of this season and for the next, when Cease and Kopech start the season in what figures to be a much improved rotation. But if someone wanted Keuchel on a two-year deal, they surely could have had him by now, as reports have talked about a lowered asking price and his willingness to join a team for just what's left of the 2019 campaign.

In other words, if you're waiting for Keuchel to come to the South Side, it sounds like you might be waiting for a while.

Gio Gonzalez? He was a name that was bandied about as an offseason option and is once again a free agent after the New York Yankees recently passed on putting him on their 40-man roster. The White Sox have a history with Gonzalez, yes, but if even the banged-up Yankees don't see a place for him, there might be plenty of other teams that feel similarly.

This is all a fancy way of saying that there aren't many attractive options, and so it's far more likely that the White Sox will stick with Nova and Santana for now and hope they can iron out their struggles. Nova, in particular, doesn't figure to be going anywhere, as the team gave up a prospect to get him this winter and owe him a $9,166,667 salary, the second highest on the team.

These starts have not been fun to watch for White Sox fans — and the vets aren't the only ones who have had them, with Rodon, Lopez and Giolito going through their own early season ups and downs, too — but these are the guys the White Sox are set to keep sending out there, hoping for a turnaround. Because the other options just aren't good ones.

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