White Sox

What's done is Dunn, A.J. too; Konerko on deck?

What's done is Dunn, A.J. too; Konerko on deck?

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
Updated 11:41 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Dating back to last spring training, if you asked Kenny Williams about his team, he wouldnt lie about his number-one concern: lack of a lefty power bat in the middle of the White Sox lineup, and it was gnawing at him.

The decision not to bring back Jim Thome left them vulnerable on that side of the plate, so Williams tried to sign Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon before the 2010 season, but swung and missed.

Before last summers trading deadline, he went after Adam Dunn. Missed again.

But this time, he didnt. Nope, instead Williams knocked it out of the park, which is what the White Sox are hoping Adam Dunn does again and again in 2011.

Thursday, the Sox struck a deal with the number-one slugger on the free agent market - reportedly a 4-year, 56 million dollar contract, pending a physical. Dunn, a beast of a hitter who not only stands 6-foot-6, 285 pounds (dont you dare pitch inside), is one of the most consistent and feared home run hitters in the game.

Since 2004, he has smashed 282 home runs. The only hitter who has more? Albert Pujols.

Also since 2004, Dunn is second in the majors in games played. Whos first? Ichiro Suzuki.

Speaking on a media conference call Thursday, Williams wouldnt comment on Dunn, only to say that hell share his thoughts at a press conference at U.S. Cellular Field Friday at 2:00 p.m. Chances are this wont be a media get-together to announce a contract extension for Southpaw the mascot.

What is Dunn like as a teammate? Reliever J.J. Putz, a free agent who played on Team USA with Dunn in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, gave Dunn the ultimate compliment.

Hes the best clubhouse guy to build a team around, Putz said. Oh yeah, and he rakes.

"Adam is gonna bring us a much needed left-handed power threat to the middle of the lineup," Jake Peavy told CSNChicago.com late Thursday night. "Adam is a good friend and I'm glad to have him as a teammate."

"I'm happy to have a guy that is not only a great baseball player but also a great person," Gordon Beckham said. "The White Sox are really making a commitment to the chemistry of a team which makes winning that much easier. Adam will fit right in with the pulse of our team."

With Dunn aboard, the next question is obvious: What does this mean for Paul Konerko?

Dunn, not the most nimble of defenders, has stated that he doesnt want to DH. He played 153 games at first base last season for the Nationals.

Is there room for both of them?

Not only is there room for it, but it would be the ideal fit from our perspective, Williams said.

Apparently the Sox envision Dunn and Konerko splitting time at first base and DH, and re-signing the White Sox captain is Williams' number-one priority right now. But hell have to be patient.

Weve tried to intiate (signing Konerko) on a couple of occasions, Williams said. We respect Pauls decision and his agents decision to try and take Paul to the winter meetings (next week) and flush out all of the interest and all the offers. Were trying to be patient and respectful of his process and also mindful of lost opportunities, or potentially lost opportunities if were not able to bring back Paulie, but Ive made it no secret. We do have strong interest in bringing him back.

After last season, Williams met with Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to talk about 2011. Normally the Sox GM presents his boss with four different plans. This year, Williams had only two.

One was a young team and the other was we were going to add to the mix. We just didnt want to be in the middle. If youre going to be all in, you go all in.

With Adam Dunn aboard, the Sox have just upped the ante.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Gavin Sheets hits his first homer of 2018

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Class A Winston-Salem

Gavin Sheets hit his first home run of the season in a 12-4 loss. While it's taken him this long to hit his first ball out of the park, Sheets has a .380 on-base percentage and his 24 walks make for one of the top 10 totals in the Carolina League. Blake Rutherford doubled in this one, while Sheets, Rutherford, Alex Call and Luis Alexander Basabe combined to draw five walks.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez and Evan Skoug each had a hit in a 9-3 win.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had two hits in a 9-3 loss.

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

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USA TODAY

James Shields is having a stellar May and making comeback wins possible for the White Sox

If you haven’t checked in with what James Shields is doing in a while, your opinion of the veteran pitcher’s performance might need some updating.

Shields didn’t exactly win the confidence of White Sox fans during his first two seasons on the South Side. After arriving in a midseason trade with the San Diego Padres in 2016, he posted a 6.77 ERA in 22 starts, during which he allowed 31 home runs. He followed that up with a 5.23 ERA and 27 home runs allowed in 2017.

And the 2018 season didn’t start out great, either, with a 6.17 ERA over his first five outings.

But the month of May has brought a dramatic turn in the vet’s production. In five May starts, he’s got a 3.27 ERA in five starts, all of which have seen him go at least six innings (he’s got six straight outings of at least six innings, dating back to his last start in April).

And his two most recent starts have probably been his two best ones of the season. After allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last Thursday against the Texas Rangers, he gave up just two runs on five hits Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

The White Sox, by the way, won both of those games in comeback fashion. They scored four runs in the eighth against Texas and three in the eighth against Baltimore for a pair of “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” victories made possible by Shields’ great work on the mound.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said after Tuesday’s game. “It’s our job as starters to keep us in the game as long as we possibly can, no matter how we are hitting in a game. At the end of the game, you can always score one or two runs and possibly win a ballgame like we did tonight.”

The White Sox offense was indeed having trouble much of Tuesday’s game, kept off the scoreboard by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman. Particularly upsetting for White Sox Twitter was the sixth inning, when the South Siders put two runners in scoring position with nobody out and then struck out three straight times to end the inning.

But Shields went out and pitched a shut-down seventh, keeping the score at 2-0. Bruce Rondon did much the same thing in the eighth, and the offense finally sparked to life in the bottom of the inning when coincidentally presented with a similar situation to the one in the sixth. This time, though, the inning stayed alive and resulted in scoring, with Welington Castillo, Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez driving in the three runs.

“I’m out there doing my job,” Shields said. “My job is to try to keep us in the game. And we had some good starters against us that have been throwing well. If I can keep them close, we are going to get some wins and get some wins throughout the rest of the year like that. That’s the name of the game.”

Shields’ value in this rebuilding effort has been discussed often. His veteran presence is of great value in the clubhouse, particularly when it comes to mentoring young pitchers like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, among others. Shields can act as an example of how to go about one’s business regardless of the outcomes of his starts. But when he can lead by example with strong outings, that’s even more valuable.

“I’m trying to eat as many innings as possible,” he said. “We kind of gave our bullpen — we taxed them a little bit the first month of the season. We are kind of getting back on track. Our goal as a starting staff is to go as deep as possible, and in order to do that, you’ve got to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“Not too many playoff teams, a starting staff goes five and dive every single game. My whole career I’ve always wanted to go as deep as possible. I wanted to take the ball all the way to the end of the game. And we’ve done a pretty good job of it of late.”

It’s a long time between now and the trade deadline, and consistency has at times escaped even the brightest spots on this rebuilding White Sox roster. But Shields has strung together a nice bunch of starts here of late, and if that kind of performance can continue, the White Sox front office might find that it has a potential trade piece on its hands. That, too, is of value to this rebuild.

Until that possibility occurs, though, the team will take more solid outings that give these young players an opportunity to learn how to come back and learn how to win.