White Sox

White Sox still need more offense to stay relevant


White Sox still need more offense to stay relevant

This probably isn’t what Robin Ventura had in mind when he again asked more of his offense on Friday morning.

Despite warm conditions, the White Sox managed to score only four times in a Friday doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals, though they did enough in the nightcap to split. John Danks outpitched Edinson Volquez in Game 2 in front of 25,701 at U.S. Cellular Field as the White Sox avoided a sweep with a 2-0 victory over the Royals. The White Sox dropped the opener, 4-2.

The production is more of the same from an offense that 3.4 runs per game through its first 86 contests -- something Ventura knows can’t happen if the White Sox want to get back into the postseason picture.

“We’ll have to score more,” Ventura said. “You just can’t survive the way it ended up. We’re not scoring very much. Your pitchers can only do so much and they’re going to have a rut where they probably don’t pitch as well as they did in the last couple of weeks and you’re going to have to be able to score some runs and help them out. They can’t do that every day, can’t expect them to do that every day.”

[MORE: John Danks lifts White Sox in shut out win over Royals]

The White Sox pitching has been fantastic over a 14-game stretch, which may not ultimately alter the thinking of the front office, but has at least put any plans to sell temporarily on hold.

Once 10 games under .500, the White Sox are 42-46 mostly because of their pitching and improved defense.

Over their last 14, the White Sox pitching staff has a 1.95 ERA and the team has won 10 games. While the White Sox entered Friday in eighth place for two wild-card spots, they’re within a very reasonable 5 1/2 games.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position to have a little bit more interesting of a month than how it looked like when it started,” general manager Rick Hahn said.

At the same time, the White Sox can’t expect the results to continue if the offense doesn’t pick it up.

Aside from a promising second-inning rally in the second game on Friday, the White Sox continue to leave runs on the table. They grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second on Edinson Volquez when Avisail Garcia tripled with two outs and Tyler Flowers singled to left. But had it not been for a Volquez wild pitch in the sixth that scored Melky Cabrera, the White Sox could have come up empty four different times in the doubleheader despite having a man on third and one out.

The White Sox had runners on second and third and only one out twice in the opener but came up empty each time. Cabrera doubled to start the sixth inning of Game 2 and moved to third on a Jose Abreu fly out. But with the infield in, Adam LaRoche hit a one-hopper to first base and Cabrera didn’t advance home until Volquez uncorked a wild one on a 3-1 offering to Garcia.

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An inning later, the White Sox missed out on a chance to extend their lead after Alex Rios gifted them a huge opportunity with a dropped fly ball. After Gordon Beckham’s blooper somehow fell in to load the bases with one out, Franklin Morales struck out Cabrera and got Abreu to hit into a comebacker.

The White Sox were able to work around their offensive lethargy behind Danks, who successfully navigated the Royals’ lineup again. Danks had a runner on base in each of his six-plus innings pitched. But he stranded runners inscoring position in the third and fourth innings to earn his ninth win in 10 decisions against Kansas City.

“(Volquez is) pretty good and he seemed to be pretty on today,” Flowers said. “Against a guy like that you’ve got scrape and claw and trying to get something. We were able to get a couple there. But we’re not going to be able to put zeroes forever. Definitely got to capitalize on it when we do and we’ve got to get (the offense) rolling because it’s not going to continue forever.”

As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view


As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view

White Sox third baseman Matt Davidson has in his mind an ideal number of times he’d strike out in a season.

“If I had it my way I’d probably strike out 20 times a year but I don’t know how you do that, really,” Davidson said before the Sox defeated the Royals 9-3 on Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

It’s not realistic for an everyday player to go through the season with that few strikeouts, especially on a Sox team that entered Friday’s game with 1,163 of them, the second-highest total in the major-leagues behind the Rangers’ 1,168. The Sox were on pace to strike out 1,570 times, which would break the franchise record of 1,397 set last season.

Against the Royals, the Sox struck out seven times, but made more than enough contact—including three-run home runs from Jose Abreu and Nicky Delmonico—to win for the eighth time in their last 14 games.

With the Sox going through the trials and tribulations that come along with a radical rebuild, perhaps it’s not a surprise the team strikes out as much as it has the past two seasons. They are young, aggressive at the plate and still learning at the major-league level.

“It’s just some of the experience and learning your swing and trying to improve on it every single year,” said Davidson, who went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts Friday night. “I don’t think coming up (in the minors) everybody was striking out as much as we do here so that just shows that the competition is better and we’re just also trying to learn.

“The MLB (web site) has a section just showing how nasty pitches are,” Davidson added. “Guys are really good here. It’s just a part of learning. It’s about seeing the ball, learning the zone, learning counts and understanding when they’re going to throw stirkes and when they’re going to throw balls and also just putting the bat on the ball.”

The Sox were particularly susceptible to the strikeout when they fanned 10-plus times during an eight-game stretch from Aug. 5-13, a franchise record. They fell one game short of matching the dubious major-league record of nine consecutive games with 10-plus Ks set by the Brewers in 2017.

Sox manager Rick Renteria said the cause of all the strikeouts “depends on who you want to look at. You could look at it collectively (or) you can look at it individually. We have one of the young men (Yoan Moncada) who has quite a few under his belt, both looking and swinging (for a major-league leading 172 this season). Two-strike approach obviously is something we talk about a lot and still has to be implemented in practical terms so that it's useful. We don't want our guys swinging out of the zone. We do want them to be able to defend themselves and keep a ball in play possibly when need be.

“But I'm not thinking in regards of how (strikeouts) continue to mount and what that indicates or doesn't indicate,” Renteria added. “We look at all of our guys individually and figure out what it is we can help them with in terms of attacking that strike zone and being ready to hit.”

Rick Renteria still looking for 'a little better effort' from Avisail Garcia despite injury


Rick Renteria still looking for 'a little better effort' from Avisail Garcia despite injury

Rick Renteria proved once again that he won’t let his boys quit.

The White Sox manager pulled Avisail Garcia from Friday night’s 9-3 victory over the Royals after the outfielder failed to run hard out of the box during a first-inning flyout. It wasn’t the first time Renteria has made a point by pulling a player during a game. Garcia was yanked from a spring training contest for not running hard out of the box and Tim Anderson got the same treatment in July.

“I didn’t think (Garcia) had given me an effort on the Texas Leaguer,” Renteria said after Friday’s victory. “If the ball falls in, you have to possibly advance.”

Renteria was quick to point out that Garcia is playing with a right knee injury that the right fielder said would have to be addressed—likely with surgery—during the offseason.

“He does have a knee that’s bothering him a little bit,” Renteria said. “I told him, ‘you certainly looked like something was bothering you.’ He said, ‘I felt it click when I came out of the box.’ ‘I said you understand you can still give me a better effort out of the box (and) he said, ‘yes, I understand that. I’m feeling this.’ We addressed it a little bit. He’ll be back in there (Saturday night). He realizes he still feels he can give us a little better effort.”

Garcia, who has been on the disabled list twice this season due to hamstring injuries, said he understood Renteria’s decision. 

“I felt a click (in the knee) and I didn’t run,” Garcia said. “Even if I felt a click I can do a better effort if I want to play and I want to play. That’s why they take me out. I felt a click and I was a little bit scared about it but I’m OK.”

Renteria said it is important down the stretch to communicate with Garcia when it comes to managing his knee.

“That’s why we had the conversation,” Renteria said. “He doesn’t want to come out of the lineup. He says he can play every day, he says, ‘I can manage this, I can play through this, I’ll be fine.’ I said then give me a little more effort on some of those plays. I get it that you may feel it but if you feel it, just explain to me what’s going on and we can manage it that way. He really doesn’t want to come out. He wants to play.

“We’ve never had a problem with (Garcia),” Renteria added. “Despite a couple times here or there where we’ve taken him out, if you watch him he busts his rear end pretty much all the time. That was a rarity. At that particular point in time it was my decision to pull him out.”

Garcia said he will continue to play through the knee issue.

“I just have to keep going,” Garcia said. “But I was scared a little bit because I felt like a click. But at the same time, I didn’t run hard enough so I’m OK with it. I’m good to play.”

When asked if Garcia will get the knee taken care of following the season, he responded, “yeah, for sure. One-hundred percent.”