White Sox

White Sox: Melky Cabrera’s trust in himself beginning to pay off

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White Sox: Melky Cabrera’s trust in himself beginning to pay off

ST. LOUIS — When June began, Melky Cabrera stuck out as one of the main reasons for the White Sox collective early-season malaise. The outfielder, who signed a three-year, $42 million contract in December, had a .241 batting average and .557 OPS as he failed to succeed in the table-setting role the organization envisioned he’d aptly fill ahead of Jose Abreu.

While the White Sox haven’t improved in the month of June — they entered Tuesday’s game against St. Louis with a 9-16 record this month — Cabrera has. In 99 plate appearances, the 30-year-old has a .286/.333/.396 slash line, good for a .729 OPS that’s much closer to his career .754 mark entering the 2015 season.

The power isn’t consistently there yet, though Cabrera did homer off Tigers ace David Price on Sunday. But he’s finally hitting again, and he said it’s the product of sticking to his approach even as his numbers plummeted in the season’s first two months.

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox poor season hasn't slowed down Chris Sale]

“I’ve been doing the same stuff since the beginning of the season,” Cabrera said through a translator. “Just the hits are dropping in right now.”

Cabrera came to the White Sox as a .286 career hitter with a .339 on-base percentage built over 10 years with the Yankees, Braves, Royals, Giants and Blue Jays. With nearly 5,000 plate appearances to his name, he didn’t panic over 215 bad ones to begin his tenure with the White Sox.

Manager Robin Ventura praised Cabrera’s level-headed approach to those struggles and said he’s seen the switch-hitter recently find a better rhythm from both sides of the plate.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Crain and Jones continue to make progress in injury rehab]

“You always look at it as a guy who is a .300 hitter is eventually going to find himself getting closer to that,” Ventura said. “He had struggles, and you could see it was bothering him, but his professionalism comes through that. He was playing good defense, going out there every day, he was not asking to be out of the lineup because he knows he’s not swinging well. He eventually knew he’d find it.”

The concerning thing for the White Sox is despite June rebounds from Cabrera and Adam Eaton — who entered Tuesday with a .290/.371/.484 slash line this month — the wins haven’t come. Instead, this has been the team’s worst month of the year, coming on the heels of a 15-15 May. The lineup is averaging barely over three runs per game and went nine games between scoring four or more runs at one point.

One good month from Cabrera hasn’t erased April and May, though — he’s still been worth -1.0 WAR, the third-worst total in baseball behind teammate Alexei Ramirez and Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Nearing the halfway point of the season, the White Sox need Cabrera to build off his solid June as well as get better production from other under-performing members of the lineup.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

But as the White Sox wait to see if they can pull themselves out of a tailspin that’s left them well under .500 heading into July, Cabrera will keep doing what he’s always done and expects his success to continue with that plan.

“When you are a veteran player, you understand better that in a long season you’re going to have ups and downs, and you’re going to have to try to keep in the middle and keep your consistency in the season,” Cabrera said. “I think that’s the key.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

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USA TODAY

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

Not long after the White Sox brought Michael Saunders into the organization, another outfielder with major league experience is joining Triple-A Charlotte.

Alex Presley — a 32-year-old who played 71 games last season for the Detroit Tigers and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers — is the latest addition to the Knights’ outfield. He’s a guy who could potentially be used to help the White Sox outfield, which has seen two Opening Day players go on the disabled list for extended periods of time.

Avisail Garcia is in his fifth week on the DL while dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Nicky Delmonico is expected to miss the next four to six weeks while recovering from a broken bone in his hand. The White Sox might feel that the collection of Adam Engel, Trayce Thompson, Leury Garcia and Daniel Palka might be enough to get them through those injuries. But the results have not been great from that group. Engel and Thompson are both hitting under .200, while Leury Garcia and Palka have on-base percentages just above .300.

Presley, like Saunders, could be an option for a midseason promotion should he hit well in the minors. He hit .314 with a .354 on-base percentage in those 71 games with the Tigers last season. This year, he was playing in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization, where he hit .275 with a .347 on-base percentage in 26 games.

It’s possible we won’t see either veteran outfielder on the South Side this season (though having Presley here for Elvis Night would be pretty excellent), but it gives the White Sox options should the lack of production from their current crop of outfielders and the injuries to Avisail Garcia and Delmonico keep them out longer.

It’s also quite possible that none of the names mentioned to this point will have a role to play in this team’s long-term future, not an outlandish thought considering Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe are all still developing in the minor leagues.