White Sox

White Sox bullpen holds on in victory over Indians

White Sox bullpen holds on in victory over Indians

CLEVELAND -- The unit as a whole hasn’t been as sharp of late, but the back of the White Sox bullpen continues to get it done.

David Robertson’s two scoreless innings highlighted four strong frames from the bullpen as the White Sox snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians in front of 31,753 at Progressive Field on Saturday night. Starter David Holmberg earned his first ever win for the White Sox and Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu each had three hits for the team, which improved to 2-7 on the road trip. It was Robertson's first two-inning save with the White Sox and the second of his MLB career. 

“They came to me before the game and said be ready for (multiple innings),” said Robertson, who struck out four batters. “I said, ‘Ok, perfect.’ I came in after the first inning and they were like can you go again and I was like ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ I went out there and finished the job.”

With the top of Cleveland’s lineup due in the eighth, manager Rick Renteria turned to Robertson. Renteria had wiggle room in that Tommy Kahnle could pitch if things took a turn for the worse. But Renteria wanted the White Sox to hold their two-run advantage and thought Robertson was the answer with four straight batters who would hit left-handed due up.

The right-hander took over and worked around a one-walk with strikeouts of Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana. Robertson also returned with a 1-2-3 ninth to convert his 10th save in 11 tries.

The closer’s two-inning effort followed a combined two innings of one-run ball from Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings and Chris Beck. Jennings yielded a sixth-inning solo shot to Santana that allowed the Indians to get within 4-3 but the White Sox held firm from there.

The bullpen, which has a combined 3.43 ERA, improved to 20-0 when leading after six innings.

“They were excellent,” Renteria said. “We wanted to put our best guy there to kind of see if we could truly stop it. He was good to go the second inning and did a nice job.

“They’re unique situations. They’re still high leverage for me. But you have to be careful. You can’t do it too often.

“You just put a lot of stress on those guys when you do it.”

The White Sox aggressive play on the bases added a little unnecessary stress. Despite finishing with 14 hits, the White Sox hurt several potential rallies as they ran into five aggressive outs.

Todd Frazier was easily thrown out stealing third base in the first inning. Cabrera, who also was forced out at home in the first, was thrown out after an aggressive send by third-base coach Nick Capra on Abreu’s double in the second. Avisail Garcia was throw out going from first to third in the third inning on Frazier’s single to deep shortstop. Abreu was cut down stretching a single into a double in the fifth inning. And Yolmer Sanchez was doubled off third base to end the eighth inning when Leury Garcia popped up a bunt attempt. Renteria was OK with some of those plays but not all.

“It was super aggressive, but not necessarily good,” Renteria said. “Maybe a little reckless.”

Even so, the White Sox did some damage against Josh Tomlin and a cadre of Cleveland relief pitchers.

Abreu had the third of three straight first-inning singles off Tomlin to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Matt Davidson added a two-out, two-run single in the first to put the White Sox up by three runs.

[MORE: Alen Hanson hopes comfort with White Sox translates to big league success

They made it a 4-0 game in the second inning when Melky Cabrera, who had three hits, singled in a run. And the White Sox tacked on an insurance run in the eighth on Kevan Smith’s sacrifice fly.

The early offense gave Holmberg plenty of breathing room and he took advantage. The lefty didn’t allow a hit until the third inning and used his offspeed pitch to keep Cleveland off-balance. He surrendered a two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the fourth inning but didn’t yield any more. Drafted in the second round of the White Sox on June 9, 2009, Holmberg allowed two earned runs and three hits in five innings. He struck out four.

“It is kind of cool,” Holmberg said. “Just thinking about that, it’s been a long time since I got drafted by this organization. I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to win the ballgame.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Could the White Sox trade with the Red Sox?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Could the White Sox trade with the Red Sox?

The crew wraps up the final day of the Winter Meetings for the White Sox.

On the latest White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber and Ryan McGuffey talk about a rumored deal between the White Sox and the Red Sox (2:41) that would move some pieces around.

Rick Hahn speaks for the final time in San Diego and the guys react to his comments.

Later, they debate why fans are disappointed with the White Sox and the outcome for the team at the end of the Winter Meetings.

Listen to the episode here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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White Sox reportedly 'in play' for David Price, but how much sense would a trade make?

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USA TODAY

White Sox reportedly 'in play' for David Price, but how much sense would a trade make?

SAN DIEGO — David Price on the South Side? Maybe.

According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Boston Red Sox have had trade conversations involving Price with at least five teams, and the White Sox are “in play” for the veteran left-hander.

Boston is trying to shed salary, and getting rid of the $96 million remaining on Price’s deal over the next three years would be a good way to accomplish that goal.

The White Sox, given their financial flexibility, are a team that could absorb that kind of money in a trade. While much discussion of Rick Hahn’s statement in February that “the money will be spent” has focused on high-priced free agents, the general manager said Wednesday that such fiscal positioning could be beneficial on the trade market, too.

“Absolutely,” he said during his final media session of the Winter Meetings. “You’ve seen over the years us use our financial flexibility to acquire some contracts. I think back to the (Joakim) Soria trade with the Dodgers. The thing we brought to the table there was the ability to absorb some contracts. That flexibility doesn’t always have to be spent on free agents.”

But here’s the thing. ESPN’s Jeff Passan got this whole Price conversation going when he reported the interest of multiple teams on Tuesday, and he suggested the Red Sox might be able to ship Price out of town if they included a “player of value.” A young player with affordable club control would sweeten any such deal, and speculation latched onto outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who is under team control for three more years.

That’s the kind of deal — before we hear what it could cost, obviously — that would look like a good one for the White Sox.

Well, another nugget in Feinsand’s report throws that idea out the window.

“One scenario that has been floated in recent weeks would have the Red Sox attaching a young player — Andrew Benintendi's name has been mentioned often — to Price in order to dump the pitcher's contract.

“A source said that concept has not been considered by Boston's front office — nor will it be, especially not with Benintendi.

“‘That's not going to happen,’ the source said.”

If that’s the case, if the Red Sox are talking about a Price trade that doesn’t involve a young, controllable player coming back, is there any reason for the White Sox to consider such a move? Is there any reason to trade for Price alone?

The White Sox do need pitching, quite badly, as a matter of fact. Their quest for two arms to add to the starting rotation has yielded no additions yet, with their high bid for Zack Wheeler spurned in favor of a lower offer from the Philadelphia Phillies. Price would be an upgrade to the White Sox rotation, and they could potentially get him without having to give up any of their prized prospects (a trade involving someone like Benintendi might cost a high-level prospect, in addition to salary relief).

After turning in some memorable performances during the Red Sox championship run in 2018, Price got off to a great start in 2019, with a 3.16 ERA in his first 17 starts. But due to a cyst in his wrist, he made only two starts over the season’s final two months. He finished with a 4.28 ERA, second highest of his career.

Considering the White Sox are heading into 2020 with just three rotation spots spoken for, they could do a lot worse than Price from a production standpoint. But the veteran lefty doesn’t exactly have a sterling reputation as a clubhouse presence. NBC Sports Boston’s John Tomase listed several red flags in a recent piece: “He's no longer a 200-inning pitcher. His elbow could blow. He considers himself a great teammate, but he consistently brings negativity into the clubhouse, which multiple rival executives have noted warily. He's too expensive. He hasn't made an All-Star team or earned a Cy Young vote since 2015. He's past his prime.”

Do the White Sox need those headaches? Aren’t there options out there, via trade or free agency, that would bring in similar levels of production without all that other stuff? It doesn’t seem like a young team that is developing what appears to be a very positive culture needs someone who “consistently brings negativity into the clubhouse.”

Now, if someone like Benintendi — or, for example, the large contract of designated hitter J.D. Martinez — comes along with him, maybe it’s a pill you’re willing to swallow. Of course, that would require other unpleasant possibilities, such as letting a recent first-round draft pick like Nick Madrigal or Andrew Vaughn go. Hahn talked about the team’s unwillingness to deal away its prized prospects for a short-term gain. The White Sox lost a combined 195 games to end up with the draft picks that produced Madrigal and Vaughn. That was an awful lot of suffering just to trade those guys away.

A potential Price trade has its upsides, but ones contingent on other aspects of such a deal. If those aspects go by the wayside, acquiring Price doesn’t make quite as much sense.

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