White Sox

White Sox: Jacob Turner starts spring in strong fashion

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White Sox: Jacob Turner starts spring in strong fashion

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A familiar face peered out from behind the catcher’s mask Friday as Jacob Turner took the mound for the first time since last June.

Alex Avila, who also caught Turner’s 2011 debut with the Detroit Tigers, was behind the plate for the White Sox pitcher’s first appearance of the spring. Turner made a strong first impression on his new team and also received a positive review from his old teammate after he struck out two in two scoreless innings. The White Sox got home runs from Brett Lawrie, Adam LaRoche and Jason Coats in a 5-5 tie against the Cleveland Indians.

“(Turner) threw the ball great,” Avila said. “Good life on his fastball, both sides and threw some really good curveballs and changeups there. We’ve been working on a cutter that’s he getting more confidence in. Threw that a few times and looked good.”

Turner joined the White Sox last October when they claimed him off waivers and later signed a $1.5 million contract in December. The former first-round pick has battled elbow and shoulder injuries for the past two seasons. Last year, health limited Turner to two minor-league appearances for the Cubs in June. He has found good health and thrown the ball well between.

[MORE: Chris Sale makes most of side session]

But until Friday, Turner hadn’t been back on the mound.

“I felt like the game could have started at 10 o’clock when I got here today,” he said.

Aside from a second-inning walk, it didn’t show. The outing is a continuation of a strong spring for Turner, pitching coach Don Cooper said. Turner has felt healthy enough to even begin working on a cut-fastball.

“The last sideline he had, we challenged him and he passed it all,” Cooper said. “He did very very well on the sideline. He was very, very good and I don’t say that often. We’re hoping he can carry it. This kid has had some rough breaks and he seems to be past that.”

Turner hit 94 mph on the radar gun and also effectively used his curveball. He said he was a little off in the second inning when he struck out Zach Walters to strand runners on the corners.

But overall, Turner felt good.

It didn’t hurt to have Avila catching him, either.

“I haven’t done it in a while so there’s definitely probably more excitement than usual but it’s just fun to be out there competing again,” Turner said. “I’ve had spring training starts with other organizations in the past where I’ve thrown to a catcher and felt like I’ve met him that same day. It was nice to have (Avila) back there. He caught my major league debut so I’m definitely familiar.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Turner made six starts for the Tigers before they traded him and Rob Brantly to the Miami Marlins in 2012 in exchange for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. He stayed with the Marlins until he was designated for assignment and the Cubs acquired him on Aug. 8, 2014.

Avila can see a little difference in Turner, 24, this spring. He hopes the right-hander continues to throw as he has.

“He always had the great stuff and now I think he feels confident about himself that he could command his pitches,” Avila said. “He has been looking good all spring.

“He pitched well and it was nice to see. It was nice to catch him, too.”

If all goes well, Yoan Moncada could be back with White Sox this week

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USA TODAY

If all goes well, Yoan Moncada could be back with White Sox this week

Yoan Moncada's return to the White Sox could come as soon as Thursday.

The White Sox third baseman has been on the injured list for the entire month of August while recovering from a hamstring strain, but he could be back in the everyday lineup soon, according to manager Rick Renteria, who provided an update to reporters Monday in Minnesota.

Heading into Monday, Moncada has played three games on his current rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte, only one of which at third base. He went 4-for-12 in those three games, with a home run, two RBIs, a run scored and a pair of strikeouts.

Moncada's return to the lineup for the start of this weekend's four-game set with the Texas Rangers would be a big lift for the White Sox offense. He's been the team's best hitter this season, with a .301/.358/.535 slash line to go along with 20 home runs and 59 RBIs in 97 games.

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Tim Anderson's late summer surge

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USA TODAY

Tim Anderson's late summer surge

A stands for April. A stands for August.

A stands for Anderson.

Just as Tim Anderson torched pitching in the season’s initial month, he’s at it again here in late summer.

Anderson’s 30 hits in 17 August games are tied with Gio Urshela for the MLB lead (entering Monday), and he’s hitting a remarkable .411 for the month. What makes it even more remarkable is that the .411 includes an 0-for-8 in a doubleheader last week against the Astros. If you took that away, he’s hitting .500.

Anderson is riding a streak of five consecutive multi-hit games; it’s the third time this season he had multiple hits in at least four straight games. He had four straight multi-hit performances earlier this month as well as from March 31-April 7.

Whereas Tim took home American League Player of the Month honors for March-April, he’s even ahead of that pace for August in some respects.

  Games BA Multi-hit games
March-April 23 .375 9
August 17 .411 10

But how is he doing it?

He’s cutting down on his strikeouts.

2019 strikeout rate

  K %
March-July 21.5
August 14.5

And when he’s swinging at balls in the zone, he’s not missing.

Contact% of balls in zone

  Zone Contact %
March-July 87.9
August 93.3

He has been particularly deadly against breaking stuff.

2019 vs. breaking pitches

  Batting Avg. Slugging
March-July .291 .437
August .500 (11-22) .636

And he has returned to his lefty-crushing ways.

2019 vs. lefties

  Batting Avg
March-July .287 (23-80)
August .480 (12-25)

When Anderson suffered a high ankle sprain on June 25 in Boston, it was uncertain as to whether he’d be able to build on a breakout 2019 season. He showed signs of rust when he went 0-for-7 in his first two games back July 30-31 against the Mets. But it’s looking more and more like he just needed a few games to shake the rust off. Conveniently, his return to form coincides with the change of month. Let’s be honest, the fact that it’s August has nothing to do with anything.

 

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