White Sox

Three more hits for Leury Garcia as White Sox pound Royals

Three more hits for Leury Garcia as White Sox pound Royals

When a role player finally gets an opportunity in Rick Renteria's rotation, it's usually for two or three games. The idea is to give said player an opportunity to find a rhythm before they might head back to the bench for a few days.

So far this season, Leury Garcia has found this method favorable.

The centerfielder/utility man posted his second consecutive three-hit night game and drove in two runs on Tuesday night as the White Sox pounded the Kansas City Royals 10-5 in front of 14,591 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Garcia said he appreciates knowing he's likely to appear in two straight games if he's penciled in for a first. Todd Frazier also drove in three runs for the White Sox, who scored double-digit runs in consecutive games for the first time since May 26-27, 2012 to improve to 10-9.

"That's something that makes you get into rhythm," Garcia said. "It's not the same when you get to play just once a week or twice a week. When you're playing every day you have your routine and your swing and your approach."

Though a familiar face, Garcia — who was acquired in the Aug. 9, 2013 deal that sent Alex Rios and $1 million to the Texas Rangers — is on pace to play more this April than he ever has before. With four more plate appearances on Tuesday, Garcia has 46 this month, just four shy of the 50 he accrued last September. September 2013 when he netted 45 trips to the plate is the only other time in Garcia's career where he's received at least 40 plate appearances in a month.

But Garcia has found ample time this month with Peter Bourjos traded, Charlie Tilson injured and Jacob May struggling. Much like Matt Davidson, Garcia has capitalized on his chances.

On Tuesday his two-out RBI single in the second inning off Danny Duffy tied the score at 1. Three innings later, Garcia's two-out RBI double put the White Sox ahead for good. He also added an infield single in the sixth inning for good measure and finished 3-for-4.

A career .462 OPS hitter before this season, Garcia is slashing .318/.348/.500 in 46 plate appearances this season. 

"He was playing one day and then playing after five days (before)," teammate Avisail Garcia said. "Now he's playing every day and he's doing good. He's a good player and he can hit the ball and play good defense.

"It's huge (to play consecutively)."

A big factor for Leury Garcia's early success is his reduced strikeout rate. He's at 8.7 percent this season (four in 46 tries), down from 30.8 percent for his career. 

"He's just starting to manage his swing," manager Rick Renteria said. "He's learning how to approach at-bats, he's not just flailing at balls, I think it's a little bit more in control. He's still an aggressive swinger but I think he's trying to manage making contact. 

"He's capable of doing quite a few things and it's just coming together."

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Leury Garcia's second straight great game helped the White Sox break out against a lifeless Kansas City club. Tim Anderson followed Leury Garcia's double in the fourth with an RBI single off Duffy to make it 4-2.  

Frazier, who had two doubles and three RBIs, doubled in a run in the fifth and Yolmer Sanchez tripled him in. 

Duffy allowed six earned runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Omar Narvaez, who had two hits and a walk, singled in a pair off reliever Chris Young in the seventh as the White Sox pulled away. Frazier and Avisail Garcia, who finished 3-for-5, doubled in runs with two outs in the eighth. 

But afterward Leury Garcia received praise from every corner of the clubhouse. Renteria and Frazier singled out his performance and Sanchez sat in on his postgame media session. 

"I've been taking advantage of that rotation because you as a player, you want to play," Garcia said. "But at the same time you have to realize there's another 24 teammates that also deserve to play to. You have to be prepared to take advantage of that opportunity. 

"For me I've been great because I've been able to perform and I feel good."

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.