White Sox

White Sox: Adam LaRoche still learning new AL opposition


White Sox: Adam LaRoche still learning new AL opposition

It’s hard to believe a hitter would find any comfort stepping in against Yordano Ventura and his 97 mph fastball. But at least he’s an American League pitcher that Adam LaRoche has already seen this season.

Even though he already has 5,901 plate appearances, LaRoche -- who prior to 2015 spent all but six games over his career in the National League -- has been running into a bunch of pitchers he has never faced before over the season’s first two and a half weeks.

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Of the seven pitchers he faced in Kansas City earlier this month, LaRoche, who has a .229/.339/.458 slash line with three homers in 56 plate appearances, hadn’t seen three, including starters Ventura and Danny Duffy. Asked what has been a bigger challenge, transitioning from first base to designated hitter or switching leagues, LaRoche chose the latter.

“Seeing pitchers that I haven’t seen -- there’s a lot that I have seen,” LaRoche said. “The more guys are getting bounced around to the teams, I’m constantly facing guys that have been in the National League for a long time. But there’s still quite a few out there that I lean on these guys that have faced them quite a bit, pick their brain, watch some video and figure out what they’re doing.”

The tools are there to make it easier for players who make the switch. There’s video archives of everything, including each pitcher’s most recent outing. Players can easily dial up all their at-bats against particular pitchers. There are up to date scouting reports, if that’s your bag. But as manager Robin Ventura points out, it’s not just the pitchers to which hitters adjust.

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“These guys have a lot of video to look but it’s always different when you go out and play and its cold,” Ventura said. “There’s just different things, the way you see a baseball, certain stadiums you haven’t played in.”

LaRoche can do all the homework he wants but knows there’s no substitute for experience. Teammate Geovany Soto made the switch to the AL after four and a half seasons and said it takes time.

“It’s a period of adjustment,” Soto said. “You just have to experience it. You need to be in the box and live it, just to get a feel for it. You can talk all about him, scouting report, read all that. But until you step in there, you don’t have a feeling how he likes to pitch and where’s his arm angle and everything.”

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That’s why this early stretch, where the White Sox play 25 of 28 games in division, actually works well for LaRoche. He already has seen Ventura twice and had two at-bats against Duffy, including the one where a pitch wound up behind his head. LaRoche has plenty of experience against Saturday starter Edinson Volquez, 19 at-bats worth.

“When you see a guy and then have to wait a month to see him again, at times it’s a little more difficult,” LaRoche said. “But we saw (Ventura) recently and know what he does. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. He’s a really good pitcher. So just do our thing.”

Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

Eloy Jimenez is starting to show off his big power

It appears Eloy Jimenez is heating up.

The White Sox rookie outfielder didn’t get off to a great start this season, but he showed flashes of his potential. Then, he went down with injury and missed more than three weeks.

After going 0-for-7 in his first two games back from injury, Jimenez broke out with two home runs on Wednesday. He followed that up with another bomb on Thursday in a 4-0 win in Houston.

The fact that Jimenez stringing home runs together wasn't the big story of the game is a testament to Lucas Giolito's impressive outing on the mound.

Jimenez now has as many home runs in the four games since coming back from injury (3) as he had in his first 21 games before going down. That’s far too small of a sample size to say the time off did anything productive for Jimenez, but the 22-year-old is showing the power he was known for in the minors.

Overall, Jimenez is hitting .234/.280/.447. The average and on-base percentage are lower than expected considering he was a career .311 hitter in the minors. However, eight of his 22 hits in the majors have gone for extra bases, with six of those being home runs.

Thursday’s home run went 414 feet after he blasted shots of 419 and 417 feet the night before.

He also had some fun with the camera in the dugout and then had some fun in the field by celebrating a diving catch with a laugh.

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After rain-shortened complete game last time out, Lucas Giolito goes the distance for real against Astros


After rain-shortened complete game last time out, Lucas Giolito goes the distance for real against Astros

Lucas Giolito technically had a complete game in his last start, but it was a five-inning rain-shortened complete game.

Giolito himself said he didn’t count that as a complete game.

“I don't consider it a complete game until I get nine,” said after the May 18 win against the Blue Jays.

Giolito got his nine Thursday in Houston. The 24-year-old right-hander went the distance and shutout the Astros.

In a postgame interview on NBC Sports Chicago with broadcasters Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, Giolito laughed when talking about the five-inning complete game. He said he had a couple seven-inning complete games in the minor leagues, but had never gone this deep into a game in his professional career.

“Never got to the ninth inning in my career so it’s a special moment for me,” Giolito said.

When Yuli Gurriel popped out to third base for the last out of the game, Giolito immediately started emphatically clapping his hand into his glove with excitement. He then gave catcher James McCann a high five and a hug.

He limited the Astros to four hits and one walk and used 107 pitches for the complete game. Giolito added nine strikeouts.

Entering the ninth inning, Giolito said there was no discussion from manager Rick Renteria or anyone else about having the bullpen close out the 4-0 win.

“I knew my pitch count was low enough to go out there so there was no need to talk about it,” Giolito said.

This is the third time the Astros, which are tied for the MLB lead in wins at 33, have been shutout this season. They hadn’t been shutout in Houston since Sept. 19 of last season.

Entering Thursday, the Astros led all of baseball in team batting average, on-base percentage and OPS so there’s nothing cheap about this Giolito performance.

“I just felt good today,” Giolito said. “I had a lot of first-pitch strikes. I kept it efficient. I was taking a look at the pitch counts around the seventh and I was like ‘OK, I think if we stay on the same page I think we’re going to get this.’”

Immediately after he said that he got the postgame ice bucket shower from Jose Rondon.

Giolito has been on a heck of a run lately and his season ERA dropped below 3 with this outing. He now has a 2.77 ERA on the season, which is 15th best in baseball.

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