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Tyler Saladino homers but White Sox fall to Cardinals

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Tyler Saladino homers but White Sox fall to Cardinals

Tyler Saladino’s major league career is off to a nice start.

But even the rookie’s hot bat couldn’t help the White Sox dig out of a massive hole Tuesday night as they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-5, in front of 29,728 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Saladino went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, but Carlos Rodon allowed seven earned runs, including a Matt Holliday grand slam as the White Sox lost for the fifth time in six games. Despite a .355/.355/.613 start to his career, Saladino was more concerned with a play he didn’t make on Stephen Piscotty’s hard shot ahead of Holliday’s grand slam.

“If I come up with that ball it could be a different inning,” Saladino said. “I’m not going to sleep well because of that. It’s over and done with so you have to move on from it, but at the same time, that home run means nothing to me because we didn’t win. I didn’t make the play, and if I come up with it you don’t know how that outcome will be.”

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St. Louis already led 3-0 when Holliday stepped in to face Rodon with one out in the third inning and the bases loaded. Rodon had walked Mark Reynolds, allowed the infield single to Piscotty and hit Kolten Wong before he got Randal Grichuk to pop out. But Holliday ripped a first-pitch slider 430 feet to left field to give the Cardinals a seven-run lead.

Rodon (3-3) — who had retired the side in order in the first on 10 pitches — allowed seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts in four innings in his first start since he pitched six scoreless innings against the Cubs on July 10.

“I felt comfortable coming out of the warm up and started off the game pretty good, and it just didn’t work out,” Rodon said. “The stuff is there, you’ve got to throw it over the plate and let your fielders make plays for you.

“Just try to forget about this one and on the next to one.”

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St. Louis took an 8-2 lead in the fifth inning when Reynolds homered off White Sox reliever Daniel Webb, who pitched three innings.

The White Sox offense finally woke up in the fourth inning after Michael Wacha retired the first nine batters he had faced. Adam Eaton drew the first of his three walks, and Saladino produced his team’s first hit, a single. Jose Abreu singled in a run, and Melky Cabrera had a sac fly to cut the deficit to 7-2.

Geovany Soto blasted a solo homer in the fifth inning off Wacha, and Saladino followed a two-out walk of Eaton with a two-run homer to left, hissecond.

Eaton and Saladino — who continues to play a nice third base — almost triggered another rally in the seventh as the leadoff man drew a one-out walk and Saladino reached on a fielder’s choice with two Cardinals errors putting men on second and third. But Abreu hit a comebacker, and Cabrera struck out.

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“Adam was very patient tonight, being able to take the walk and get on there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Sal, he continues to grind out at-bats and get on even there in the last inning just to be able to beat something out. But we need to get some guys on and knock them in, too. We did enough to get going, but we didn’t have enough to get over the top.”

Saladino’s two-out infield single in the ninth inning off Trevor Rosenthal extended the game and brought Abreu to the plate as the tying run. But Abreu grounded out to end it.

Though it has only lasted eight games and 33 plate appearances, the White Sox like what Saladino has brought to them so far. Whether its his speed, his approach or glove, Saladino has impressed his coaching staff and teammates.

“He does bring something to it,” Ventura said. “I just think he has knowledge of what he’s doing. He adjusts. You can see him take a ball to right field and the next at-bat he’ll hit a homer. Just a nice feel for the game and adjustments. He’s been able to do that while he’s been up here.”

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

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USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: