White Sox

As White Sox assume risk, Jose Quintana struggles in Opening Day loss to Tigers

As White Sox assume risk, Jose Quintana struggles in Opening Day loss to Tigers

Jose Quintana's poor start Tuesday is exactly what Rick Hahn meant when he discussed the different risk assessments factored into holding onto the pitcher. 

A 6-3 loser to the Detroit Tigers in front of an announced 36,534 at Guaranteed Rate Field, the White Sox are particularly keen on what potential hazards exist now that they've taken Quintana — the most rumored player of the offseason not to have been dealt — into the season. Quintana matched a career-worst in his first Opening Day start when he allowed three home runs in 5 1/3 innings in a duel against Justin Verlander. 

Even though it wasn't Quintana's finest showing, the White Sox feel more than confident that enduring those perils will be worth it in the end — that some contender will reward them with a cache of prospects for their patience. 
 
"Now that we have entered into the season, you are carrying a little bit different amount of risk on certain players that conceivably you could have moved and cashed in for whatever value they had at the time," Hahn said Monday. "Again, nothing presented itself that made it feel like ‘Well, there's gonna be some added risk once the season starts so therefore we'd better move now.' It just wasn't that close to getting anything done. We've had our conversations over the past few months. We've been prepared to enter the season."

The White Sox got paid handsomely in the trades for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton.

They expect the same if they decide to deal Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016. 

The White Sox would love to deal their ace. Their goal is to accumulate as much young talent as quickly as possible. Moving Quintana would push them further along a road they've been on since the trades of Sale and Eaton in December.

But the White Sox don't intend to budge on their price. They know what they want in return for Quintana, who entered Tuesday having produced 18.1 f-Wins Above Replacement the past four seasons, the seventh-most in the majors. While they may consider giving in a little, Hahn said no offer has come close. 

Until they do, the White Sox will retain Quintana, who has options that keep him under team control through 2020. That means Quintana will continue to live life in limbo. 

[Buy White Sox tickets right here]

His first game in the precarious state wasn't near to the standard he's produced in the past.

Detroit took advantage of a hit batsmen and a walk by Quintana in a five-run second inning. He yielded a leadoff single to Justin Upton and hit Mikie Mahtook. One out later, JaCoby Jones hit a 2-2 curveball that caught too much of the plate for a three-run homer and a 3-1 Detroit lead.

Quintana walked Ian Kinsler with two outs before Nick Castellanos hammered a 92-mph fastball the opposite way for a two-run shot. 

Kinsler also blasted a solo shot off Quintana with two outs in the fourth. Quintana previously allowed three homers in a start twice last season and twice in 2013. He gave up six earned runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"Chalk it up to an anomaly," manager Rick Renteria said. 

The effort was no match for Verlander, who struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings and limited the White Sox to two runs as he overpowered them with his fastball.

The White Sox have to believe Tuesday is more an outlier than a sign Quintana can't handle the stress of his situation. He addressed the trade rumors yet again on Sunday before talking about his first Opening Day start.

"I know there are rumors but I just focus on doing my job," Quintana said. "There's nothing I can do. Help my team when I can and that's it.

"(The offseason) was a little different this year from the rumors. But it stayed the same, I never changed, I never paid any attention to that.

"My future is here. I have to just control this year. I pay attention to right now."

The White Sox are gambling on that focus. They've seen how Quintana has been unflappable throughout his career, dealing with a lack of run support and the misfortune that comes with it. 

They also believe in their own abilities to keep players healthy. Over the years, the White Sox have been far and away the healthiest team in baseball. 

Lastly, with Quintana under contract potentially through 2020 for $36.85 million, the White Sox know how valuable of an asset they possess. 

Until they get paid, the White Sox plan to persist — even if it's a risk.

"We really haven't been presented with anything in recent months that's even been close to feeling like this is something we should do," Hahn said. "Again, we have to be strong and keep that sort of long-term focus. That's where the fruit of these labors will pay off."

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

rodon-624.jpg
USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

soria-624.jpg
USA TODAY

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”