White Sox

Pitching fits: Garcia working hard, Jenks absent

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Pitching fits: Garcia working hard, Jenks absent

Monday, Sept. 20, 2010
Updated 11:10 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

OAKLAND Something to watch down the stretch, White Sox fans, is the fate of two of the remaining three pitchers from the 2005 World Series-winning Chicago squad, Freddy Garcia and Bobby Jenks.

Garcia has been gradually recovering from back pain hes attempted to fight through since the beginning of September. Garcia pitched six innings in his two most recent, aborted starts, the first an eventual 6-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sept. 1 and the second a two-inning effort in a 11-6 loss at the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 7. In the process of recovery, Garcia has even received an epidural to relieve the discomfort in his back and aid the then still-alive White Sox playoff hopes.

Garcia has been a true, key cog on the White Sox this season, and is arguably the biggest surprise of the team in 2010. His numbers are nowhere near gaudy (4.88 ERA, and his first sub-2.00 KBB1.93in a decade), but his 62 percent mark on quality starts is second-best among the teams four season-long starters, trailing John Danks by a wisp and leading Mark Buehrle and Gavin Floyd.

I expect Freddy to pitch this trip, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I dont know where. I expect him to pitch again but hes got to throw in the pen first. I wont say Im counting on him, but I feel optimistic about having him on the mound before we return to Chicago.

Guillen has been awestruck by Garcias season, and of late, the veteran starters pain threshold. On the flip side, Guillen has been relatively dismissive of Jenks, subscribing to an outta-site, outta-mind philosophy with his wounded closer. Little changed in his comments on Monday in Oakland.

Bobbys home, Guillen said, surprising his pregame media gathering with the news that Jenks had been left behind. The six or seven days were going to be here, hes not going to throw, so I dont see why we would bring him here. White Sox trainer Herm Schneider knows better about what rehab Jenks is going to do.

Jenks, on the other hand, seems to have packed his season in. I said it last week, and Ill repeat it, with a relatively poor season (just 27 saves, a career low, and a 4.44 ERA, a career high and Jenkss first-ever ERA worse than the league average) marked again by iffy conditioning, Jenks is almost certain to leave Chicago after the 2010 season.

The burly closer has been increasingly slowed by injuries and was already on his way out after making 7.5 million this season and looking for a raise in 2011. But the strained forearm that will essentially erase his September has soured for good his future with the team.

While Jake Peavy is on this trip despite his best contribution to the team being antes to the pot on a bad poker night, Jenks is back in Chicago, purportedly to rehab his right arm in ways he could not on the trip with the team.

When Bobbys on the mound or available to pitch, our bullpen is better, said Guillen, chanting again the mantra hes spun all summer. But I dont know what direction were going to go, dont know what we have in mind. Bobbys been great for this organization since hes been here.

If it turns out Jenks has tossed his last with the White Sox, he will go down as the teams second-best fireman of all-time, with 173 saves trailing only Bobby Thigpens 201. And he will also have gone out on a high note, with badass doubleheader saves on Sept. 4 at the Red Sox.

Bringing Jenks back is the front office peoples job, Guillen said. I dont have any idea what theyre going to do. We havent talked about it yet. We havent had any meetings yet. I have to wait and have a clearer idea.

If that sounds like Guillen is hedging, he is. Theres a clear idea of what the future holds, and that future has any number of options, from Sergio Santos to Chris Sale to J.J. Putz to Matt Thornton, taking a crack at filling Jenkss shoes for a fraction of the price. It would be overly dramatic to say Jenkss lost September is the final straw, but while Garcia is fighting like hell to get back on the mound to finish out the season, Jenks is packing up his locker.

Its not just moxieor the lack ofthat has separated the two pitchers as their time in Chicago winds short. Garcias 2010 efforts have produced 1.4 WAR, which is by no means spectacular but downright stellar for the starters 1 million pricetag. Conversely, the only pitcher on the White Sox full-season roster worse than Jenkss 0.3 WAR is Tony Penas -0.6. As overpaid as Scott Linebrink is, he also boasts a 0.3 WAR for 2.5 million less than Jenks.

I hope when we get to Chicago, at least he can throw one or two innings to see if he can finish the year, Guillen said.

Guillen, while fully respecting the enormous role Jenks has played for the White Sox in his six seasons on the South Side, surely doesnt believe he will.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.