White Sox

White Sox crushed by Tigers in series opener

White Sox crushed by Tigers in series opener

DETROIT (AP) — After a rough start to the season that included an ankle injury and a prolonged hitting slump, James McCann thought he had a solution earlier this week.

Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus gave McCann a couple days' off to work on a mechanical tweak to his swing, and it turned out to be the best move he could have made.

McCann returned to the lineup Friday night with three hits, including a triple and a homer, and the Tigers went on to beat the Chicago White Sox 10-3.

"He thought he had a mechanical breakthrough, so we sat him down for a couple days to try to make the fix," Ausmus said. "It bore fruit pretty quickly, because he had really been struggling, and that's the best he has looked all year."

McCann hit a solo homer in the second, added an RBI double in the sixth and a triple in the eighth.

"Things obviously haven't been where I needed them to be, so I've been trying to find something that would get me back on track," said McCann, who raised his batting average from .150 to .179. "I eliminated my leg kick, and that seems to have worked."

The Tigers, who won for the second time in seven games, lost Miguel Cabrera in the seventh inning to lower-back tightness. The team listed him as day-to-day.

"He told us it tightened up on a swing in the fifth, and they worked on it, but it got worse in the seventh," Ausmus said. "I'll check with him in the morning, but I expect him to play tomorrow."

Jordan Zimmermann (8-2), who hadn't pitched in 12 days due to a groin strain, lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs and five hits. He walked two and struck out three.

"I was a little rusty, and when you are coming back from that much time off, you are a little worried that the next pitch is going to aggravate it," he said. "It felt really good, though, and I was able to help us get a win."

Carlos Rodon (2-5) allowed four runs, seven hits and three walks in six innings. He allowed two homers — his ninth and 10th of the season.

"He was a little erratic, and then he seemed to calm down, but when you can't hit the outside corner, the homers are going to get you," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.

The White Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second on Avisail Garcia's RBI single, but the Tigers moved ahead in the bottom of the inning on McCann's second homer and a run-scoring single by Ian Kinsler.

Martinez made it 3-1 in the third with a solo homer, but Jose Abreu's double pulled Chicago within 3-2. Jose Iglesias made a sliding stop on J.B. Shuck's grounder, preventing the tying run from scoring, but Zimmermann walked Brett Lawrie and was replaced by Alex Wilson.

Wilson struck out Jimmy Rollins to end the sixth, and McCann's bloop single made it 4-2 in the bottom of the inning. The Tigers added two more runs in the seventh, and four more in the eighth.

Eloy Jimenez not worried about his hip but admits frustration with rookie-year injuries

Eloy Jimenez not worried about his hip but admits frustration with rookie-year injuries

It doesn't sound like Eloy Jimenez's bout of hip soreness that kept him out of the lineup for the first two games of this weekend's series with the Texas Rangers is anything to be concerned about.

But for a player who loathes being limited to sitting and watching, it's just the latest injury-related bummer during a rookie season that's seen several of them.

General manager Rick Hahn started his press conference Thursday with the news that Jimenez was scratched from the starting lineup, delaying the on-field reunion of three of the team's young core players. Jimenez, Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada, all three of whom have sat through lengthy stays on the injured list this summer, have played just one inning together since late June.

With the season in late August, that's not great.

That's not likely to have cascading negative effects on the White Sox ability to contend in 2020 or the individual developments of each player. After all, Anderson and Moncada remain in the midst of breakout seasons. Anderson's been smoking hot in August, with a .400/.419/.567 slash line on the month. Moncada returned from the IL on Thursday and promptly banged out a pair of extra-base hits, including a two-run homer.

Jimenez hasn't had the same level of success as the two guys on the left side of the infield, though that hasn't been a massive surprise. While expectations were sky high — any more missed time from Jimenez will directly impact the chances of my overzealous preseason prediction of 36 home runs coming true — it's not at all shocking to see any player, even one with as much potential as Jimenez, go through rookie-year growing pains. Just look at what Moncada went through in his first full season in the big leagues in 2018.

Jimenez's "struggles," if you want to call them that, haven't been quite as pronounced as Moncada's thanks to the sheer fact that every time Jimenez launches a ball to dead center he provides a thrilling glimpse of the future, of the player he's supposed to be one day. There have been stretches of that player, but they've been slowed or flat out stopped by injuries.

The two big ones, the ones that landed Jimenez on the IL, aren't expected to be recurring problems. The first, as manager Rick Renteria will be quick to remind you, came when Jimenez made a play he shouldn't have attempted to make, trying to, as Renteria put it, "climb a wall" while going after a home-run ball. The second one was of the freak variety, him banging his elbow into Charlie Tilson in the outfield.

But whether they'll repeat themselves or not, those injuries brought his momentum at the plate to a halt. A slow first few games had Jimenez's batting average at .167 and his on-base percentage at .231 on April 5. In the 15 games that followed, he owned a .273 batting average and a .322 on-base percentage. That momentum was stopped by the first injured-list stint, which lasted nearly a month.

After returning, Jimenez had a great month of June, with a .284/.340/.602 slash line to go along with eight homers in 24 games. But by the middle of July, he was on the IL again after whacking his funny bone in that collision with Tilson. The numbers have not been good since he came back from that absence: a .235/.257/.439 line in 24 games.

"Little bit, yeah," Jimenez said Friday, asked if the injuries have been frustrating. "Because they started to happened when I was starting to feel good at the plate."

"He's obviously had a couple of things go on," Renteria said. "Anytime you have an interruption, it can throw the rhythm off a little bit, but he's still making adjustments just like anybody else and learning how to do it at the major league level. He'll be fine."

Just like there are no long-term concerns over Jimenez's hip, Renteria showed there are no concerns over Jimenez's long-term prospects as a dominant bat in the middle of the White Sox batting order of the future. It certainly wouldn't be unexpected, come 2020, to see Jimenez make a jump similar to the one Moncada made this season.

But in the middle of a season spent learning what big league pitchers are trying to do against him, the injuries haven't helped Jimenez.

He's surely hoping this brief absence stemming from the hip issue is the last of them in 2019.

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In stellar return from injured list, only Yoan Moncada's pride hurt in embarrassing tumble

In stellar return from injured list, only Yoan Moncada's pride hurt in embarrassing tumble

On the day he returned from a weeks-long stay on the injured list with a hamstring strain, the sight of Yoan Moncada face-planting coming out of the batter's box was enough to make an entire fan base hold its breath.

Fans weren't alone, either. Asked if his heart skipped a beat when Moncada hit the ground in the seventh-inning, manager Rick Renteria went a step further.

"Two beats," he laughed.

Moncada was fine, it turned out, hurting nothing but his pride on that embarrassing tumble. The longest lasting effect will be the continued ribbing from his teammates. Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez wouldn't let him hear the end of it before, during or after the third baseman's postgame meeting with the media.

"They've been all over me about that," Moncada said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "They say I have weak legs and I need to more work in the gym.

"Everything's good. I have a scratch on my knee, but it's OK."

Other than that on-field folly, Moncada was stellar in his first game back from the IL. He blasted a homer into The Goose Island in his second trip to the plate, a two-run shot that kind of busted things open in what was a dominant 6-1 victory over the visiting Texas Rangers. He added a double in his third at-bat.

Moncada's 2019 slash line is up to .303/.359/.545 after picking up those two extra-base knocks Thursday night, continuing a breakout season that's seen him go from 217 strikeouts in 2018 to the White Sox best hitter a year later.

The 2019 season is about the development of the young, core guys much more than it is about the win-loss record at the end of the year. Moncada is one of those young, core guys, and his big season has been one of the things that has fans and onlookers thinking about 2020 as the year that could see the White Sox move from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Moncada and the rest of these young White Sox have a handful of weeks remaining in the 2019 to create some momentum for 2020. While offseason additions, the return of a healthy Michael Kopech and the eventual arrivals of top-ranked prospects Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal will have plenty to do with changing the landscape over the coming months, Moncada and Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez and James McCann and Jose Abreu and Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease can move the ball closer to the goal, to borrow a sports metaphor from a different sport, with their efforts over the next month and change.

For Moncada, the easiest way to do that is to simply stay on the field.

"I think our goal right now is just to stay healthy and play as free as we can," he said before Thursday's game. "Just try to do the things we know we can do and just take advantage of being healthy and being on the field.

"I think we're going to have a strong finish to the season and hopefully we're going to carry that to next season."

Fans know that importance, too, still waiting for the young trio of Moncada, Anderson and Jimenez to all play together in a full game for the first time since late June. That was supposed to happen Thursday, before Jimenez was scratched from the lineup with some mild hip soreness that neither general manager Rick Hahn nor Renteria seemed too concerned about.

But that heightened alertness for the health of these young, core players caused that brief second of panic when Moncada hit the dirt Thursday night.

Thankfully for the White Sox, Dr. Renteria got to the bottom of things rather quickly.

"It looked awkward, but you could tell he stumbled out of the box," Renteria said. "He was staying down there for a little bit. That’s when I started getting concerned.

"But when I go out there, he gets up right away. I said, 'You are little embarrassed right now, aren’t you?' He said, ‘No, it’s my knee.’

"I said, ‘You are embarrassed.' And he started smiling. That’s all it was. He was fine."

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