White Sox

White Sox have no plans to trade Chris Sale

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White Sox have no plans to trade Chris Sale

MESA, Ariz. -- Rick Hahn’s voicemail box has a few new inquires about Chris Sale’s availability.

Rival general managers shouldn’t hold their collective breath waiting for a return call.

Even though the perception exists they may entertain a trade for Sale, multiple baseball sources confirmed that the White Sox GM has no interest in such a deal.

Long the team’s most coveted asset, Sale is once again the subject of trade speculation after a Friday outburst in which he ripped executive vice president Kenny Williams after the retirement of Adam LaRoche.

But Hahn -- who doesn’t comment on trade rumors -- has privately signaled again that the White Sox have no interest in dealing their ace. Bookended by chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s Sunday statement, the White Sox have made it apparent for several days they want to put the pieces back together after the unforeseen retirement of LaRoche sent their camp into chaos.

“Nothing has changed in terms of our direction or expectations for the upcoming season,” Hahn said in an email. “We remain committed to putting this current club in as good a position as possible to contend this year.”

Their best position to compete is one with Sale at the forefront.

He put his opinions aside Saturday and his focus back to the field as he made his first Cactus League start. Sale pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs as the White Sox topped the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2.

[RELATED: White Sox get back to baseball after emotional week]

A day after -- among other topics -- he suggested his strong opinions wouldn’t get in the way of his performance, Sale backed up those assertions following Saturday’s start.

“From (today) forward, we’re showing up to play baseball,” Sale said. “I don’t think there’s anything else to talk about. We have a job to do and I think going forward, moving forward, that’s what we’re here for.”

Multiple players have suggested the White Sox believe they can get back on track. They know there is work to be done. But the White Sox still have another 16 days before Opening Day to smooth things out.

“It has been crazy, there’s been a lot of things going on, but I don’t think as a team and as players that anybody’s goals have changed,” reliever Zach Putnam said early Sunday morning. “Especially right now, kind of on the other end of everything that has happened, guys are extra focused.”

The White Sox know Sale has an explosive side. Reinsdorf might as well have identified Sale directly when he noted in a Sunday statement that he appreciates “the passion and commitment to one another shown by our players.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Although this most recent incident has the highest profile, the White Sox have seen this side of Sale before and they have no intention of changing the way the face of their franchise operates. Sure, they’ll talk to Sale privately and perhaps try to work with him on how to handle future disagreements.

But they wouldn’t try to silence their ace; they know this is the same part of his personality that has allowed him to develop into an elite pitcher.

They know exactly who Sale is and how much he brings to the club.

In short, if the 2016 White Sox are going anywhere, Sale’s going to be on board.

“He has an opinion, he has a right to talk about it and I don’t think that’s going to stop as far as guys having opinions and speaking their minds,” manager Robin Ventura said on Saturday.

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.