White Sox

White Sox preach accountability as losing streak comes to an end


White Sox preach accountability as losing streak comes to an end

Though they didn’t completely rid themselves of the horrendous play that plagued their road trip, the White Sox made progress on Tuesday night.

Two days removed from a five-game trip Rick Hahn said was full of “stupid” and “poor” decisions, the White Sox brought forth some of the missing elements in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field. Jeff Samardzija delivered the goods and Conor Gillaspie capped a four-run rally with a two-run triple as the White Sox snapped a five-game losing streak. For at least one game the White Sox — who have preached accountability across the board amid calls for the firing of manager Robin Ventura — showed they’re capable of playing as well as everyone within the walls at 35th and Shields thinks they can.

“This team is far, far better than what we’ve seen the last few days,” Hahn said. “Obviously we shot ourselves in the foot with some stupid base running decisions, there was some poor defensive decisions.

“Our problems right now are amplified by the fact that we’re not scoring runs. This is a lineup that is able to score runs over the long haul. This is a starting rotation that is going to not have however many starters we have with ERAs over 5 over the long haul.”

Though it’s not likely to restore the faith of fans who have continued to call for Ventura’s head, Samardzija at least provided the White Sox with a breather.

[MORE: Source: Samardzija to begin serving suspension Wednesday]

Samardzija did what four starters couldn’t in the last turn through the rotation — keep the White Sox in the game.

Tuesday’s effort looked to be headed in that direction, too.

With the help of a first-inning error and a solo homer that bounced off Melky Cabrera’s glove over the fence (it would have been a stunning catch), Samardzija gave up two runs.

But Samardzija didn’t give up any more runs and pitched out of critical jams in the fifth and seventh innings. He allowed two earned runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

In his previous start, Samardzija allowed eight earned runs as he and White Sox starters went 0-5 with a 10.39 ERA in 21 2/3 innings on the road trip.

[RELATED: White Sox RHP Matt Albers has surgery, out 6-8 weeks]

“Everybody’s frustrated,” Ventura said. “We’re frustrated too. You understand that, but in the end we gotta focus on what we’re doing right here, and I get it. I’m frustrated. You understand where people lash out and why they do it. Again, that doesn’t stop what we’re trying to do here and the focus on playing the Tigers.

I’m not sitting here thinking of my own situation with that. We’re trying to win a game tonight. That becomes the focus.”

An offense that was outscored 39-10 in Baltimore and Minneapolis also showed a pulse. The White Sox displayed patience at the plate against Detroit’s Shane Greene, drawing four walks and knocking him out after 2 2/3 innings.

Trailing by one, Jose Abreu singled in a first-inning run to tie the score. Two innings later, Adam LaRoche tied it with a bases-loaded walk, Avisail Garcia had an RBI fielder’s choice and Gillaspie had a two-run triple to give the White Sox a 5-2 lead. Adam Eaton, who doubled to start the game, said Ventura’s steady presence is critical if the White Sox are to rebound.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“He's the type of manager you need in the clubhouse, a cool-headed manager that doesn't come in here after every loss and preach to us about how we should have done stuff,” Eaton said. “But when something needs to be said he says it. It sucks that he gets heat from wherever it may come from, but realistically it's us. We need to perform and perform for him. It's going to come sooner or later.”

The White Sox aren’t naïve enough to think one game is the elixir for their issues. They’ve been far too sloppy on the bases — Eaton probably should have tripled in the first — and they made three more errors. Aside from a bullpen that delivered two more scoreless innings, the White Sox clearly have been pressing throughout the roster. But Hahn and Ventura believe as long as the team is accountable, the ship can be righted. After all, prior to their hellish trip, the White Sox were coming off their best games of the season.

“I certainly am pleased with how our team has responded,” Hahn said. “To hear our players stand up over the last few days and say ‘Look, this is on us, we need to start performing better’ I think is a great first step to getting this thing right. … In times of adversity I think it’s more important for us to pull together and reinforce what we’re doing as a unit than to say anything specific about any individual.

“We’re in this together and the accountability is shared by all of us.”

Watch Luis Robert rope a triple for his first hit of spring training

Watch Luis Robert rope a triple for his first hit of spring training

Of all the excitement surrounding the White Sox entering 2020, Luis Robert might have the most juice right now.

After dominating three levels of the minors last season and fresh off signing a lucrative contract extension before even playing in a big league game, Robert has plenty of buzz around him. On Tuesday, he showed off a little bit of why in Cactus League action.

Robert roped a ball into the right-center field gap and raced to third for a triple.

Robert is known for his power and speed combination, which led to a 30-30 season in the minors last year. This is a good example of it. 

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Any Yoan Moncada extension would be in line with White Sox strategy


Any Yoan Moncada extension would be in line with White Sox strategy

Is a Yoan Moncada extension in the works?

Moncada's not aware of anything, or so he told reporters Tuesday in Arizona.

"Honestly, I don’t pay too much attention to that," he said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "My focus is just in the game and preparing myself to be in the best position that I can be for the season. Just work hard. That’s my goal right now. That’s where my focus is right now.

"If my agent calls me and tells me there is something ... then we’ll consider it. For now, I’m just focusing on my game and my preparation."

Whether winds blowing throughout the Twittersphere are onto something or not, indeed it is extension season. The White Sox just announced a long-term commitment to reliever Aaron Bummer over the weekend. It was in the run-up to Opening Day last spring that Eloy Jimenez signed his big-money deal that assured he broke camp with the big league club and could keep him on the South Side for as long as seven more seasons.

The big-money deal for Luis Robert — the second for a player yet to play a major league game in as many years — came well before the first full-squad workout at Camelback Ranch. But it shows the continued commitment by the White Sox to keep this core together as long as possible.

Seeing that kind of commitment to Moncada, who emerged as the team's best all-around hitter last season, after struggling through his first full year in the majors in 2018, would not be surprising.

"This tends to be the most productive time of year in terms of getting extensions done," general manager Rick Hahn said the day pitchers and catchers reported to Glendale. "Doesn’t mean anything is going to happen. But especially early in camp when things are a little quieter, it’s a little easier to have those conversations and certainly not distract the player from their in-season games or their late-camp preparation.

"In terms of whether any of those will materialize, we’ll see."

One already has, with Bummer. Could Moncada be next?

Though purely speculation, the White Sox third baseman would perhaps be less inclined than others to jump at big dollars now. After all, he received a record $31 million signing bonus when he signed with the Boston Red Sox as an international free agent. Since coming over to the White Sox in the Chris Sale trade, he's shown why the other color of Sox invested that much in him in the first place. While dancing around some injury issues in 2019, he slashed .315/.367/.548 with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs. He was considered an All-Star snub by many in the home clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Whether Moncada and his representation want to cash in now or hold off for a bigger payday in free agency — scheduled to arrive after the 2023 season — is up to them.

The White Sox have shown their dedication to extending a contention window by keeping these youngsters on the South Side for a good, long while. Certainly they would be happy to employ Moncada for as long as possible, particularly if his 2019 breakout was merely a sign of things to come.

Take a look at how long the White Sox have their core under club control:

— Through the 2021 season: Nomar Mazara, Carlos Rodon

— Through the 2022 season: Jose Abreu

— Through the 2023 season: Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez

— Through the 2024 season: Tim Anderson, Michael Kopech

— Through the 2025 season: Dylan Cease

— Through the 2026 season: Eloy Jimenez, Aaron Bummer

— Through the 2027 season: Luis Robert

That's a lot of club control, and moving Moncada down on that list a few spots would only make the long-term future look all the better.

"I feel comfortable on this team," he said. "I have been feeling comfortable on this team since the moment I came here. I actually see myself on this team for a very long time."

We'll see, to borrow a Hahn term, if anything materializes before Opening Day. But if something does, that would be right in line with the front office's strategy as they look to open that contention window.

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