White Sox

Roster changes, White Sox winning stays the same

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Roster changes, White Sox winning stays the same

Friday, July 30, 2010
Updated 11:45 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

While there was one significant change for the Chicago White Sox on Friday, a key constant remained: Home winning.

Mere hours after swapping rookie fifth starter Daniel Hudson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson, the Chicago 9 trotted out onto the familiar turf of U.S. Cellular Field for yet another win, 6-1 over the Oakland As. The White Sox have won 12 straight and 19 of their last 20 at home.

Rookie Lucas Harrell, an early-morning call-up from the Class AAA Charlotte Knights, wound his way through six eventful innings to earn the win. In his first big-league start, the righty scattered four hits and five walks, striking out one. Harrell became the first White Sox starter since Kip Wells in 1999 to win his major league debut.

When I got the call this morning, I thought it was Brent Morel playing a trick on me, a beer-soaked Harrell said postgame. Then I heard, No, this is really Buddy Bell.

Thats a big day for Harrell, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I was glad. It was a special day for everyone. It doesn't get better than that.

The White Sox, who are now 3-1 in the rotation spot vacated by Jake Peavy, struck first, beginning with an Ozzieball run in their first at-bats: Juan Pierre leading off with an infield single, a one-out steal, and an Alex Rios RBI base knock.

Yesterday, we had four home runs, Guillen said. Today, we scored in different ways. We pick each other up. We dont have to wait for just one guy.

Despite just getting the call to the Show this morning, Harrell admitted being amped on the plane ride north. With no Major League Debut Motorcade available paging Mayor Daley, Harrell was tied up in traffic and didnt hit the clubhouse until 5:15, when he was embraced by former Knights teammate Dayan Viciedo, who started at third base and cruised to a 3-for-3 night.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski trotted to the mound on more than one occasion to calm the rookie, who admitted both pregame and in-game jitters.

A.J. just came out and said, 'be yourself, thats what got you here, Harrell said.

That simple advice worked, as Harrell worked out of several jams, stranding seven As baserunners. His biggest scare came in the second, when Harrell walked the bases loaded with two outs and escaped when Daric Bartons deep fly to center fell five feet short of a grand slam.

We were pulling for him, said Paul Konerko, who admitted he didnt have a feel for how Harrell was pitching because he wasnt sure if hed ever played behind him in a spring training game. They werent getting great swings on him, but that ball to the warning track carries a little, that would have been a different game.

In the fourth, the As briefly tied the game when Mark Ellis led off with a single to center and was advanced to third on Gabe Gross and Rajai Davis groundouts. Oakland scratched what would be its only run off Harrell when Cliff Pennington lined a single off the pitcher, scoring Ellis.

The tie didnt last long, as Konerko led off the fifth with a blast to right-center that fell just a few feet short of a home run, which would have made for his fifth straight game with a round-tripper. The first baseman settled for a double, and was driven home by Pierzynskis single. Viciedo pushed the feisty backstop to third with a double, and both runners would score before the inning was extinguished, Pierzynski on an Andruw Jones ground out and Viciedo on a Gordon Beckham single.

Chicago added two more tallies, in the sixth on another RBI single from Beckham and the seventh on a Konerko sacrifice fly.

Oaklands rally attempt in the eighth, having put two men on with none out, was extinguished with the first pitch from Tony Pena, who induced a double play from Kevin Kouzmanoff, then retired Ellis on a ground out to tourniquet the As on two pitches.

That was a big thing for us, Guillen said of Penas work. We didnt want to have to use Matt Thornton or Bobby Jenks. Two pitches, three outs, thats perfect.

Beckham, who made his major-league debut last season under slightly less tense circumstances, was full of admiration for Chicagos spot starter.

The first game is tough, and Harrells circumstances were not easy, he said. He was asked to help keep us in first place.

The rookie is already on his way back south to make room for new acquisition Edwin Jackson, but on a key transition day at the end of July, he did just that.

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

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

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AP

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.

Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.

Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.

The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.