White Sox

White Sox win in Seattle, increase lead in AL Central

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White Sox win in Seattle, increase lead in AL Central

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Updated: 2:33 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

SEATTLE Voices were muted and low in a clubhouse you would have sworn sat in the mausoleum otherwise known as the Metrodome after Sundays fall-from-ahead, 7-6 low-blow of a loss to the Minnesota Twins. Alex Rios called his wild slingshot of a game-ending error not acceptable. Bobby Jenks, who earned the loss as his two hits, two walks and zero outs sped the Chicago White Soxs free-fall out of town, spoke of how lonely it was on the mound when the world is collapsing all around him. Sergio Santos, the rookie shortstop-turned-fireballer assigned the custodial work on Jenkss mess and similarly unable to retire a batter, mused that the last time he was on the mound in a similar situation, he was 11 years old.

But there was no resignation or depression in the room. The White Sox responded as a band of brothers would. In fact, the toughest words came from manager Ozzie Guillen himself, proclaiming that any White Sox player afraid to fail wouldnt be a White Sox player for long. That may sound harsh out of context, but the skippers sentiment was shared with the full knowledge he believed every man in his clubhouse would rebound strong from Sundays sickening spate of adversity.

How appropriate, then, that the game-winning hit came from one of those Pale Hose seeking an instantaneous shot at redemption, Alex Rios. It was Rios fifth-inning, two-run blast that wasnt only the 100th of this career but so forceful it bounced off an unfortunate fans face in left and bounded back to the field.

Rios clout put the White Sox up by two runs in an eventual 6-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday. Rookie Daniel Hudson pitched 6.2 innings of at-times dominant ball, whiffing six Ms and scattering five hits for his first win of the season.

Hudson threw strikes and was pretty good, Guillen said, remarking that he emphasized diffusing pressure to the rookie before the game.

He threw strikes, catcher A.J. Pierzynski agreed. He was a little too excited the other day. His rhythm was different tonight, slower and more under control. He threw the ball where he wanted to and was in control.

Hudson himself was much more content with this second start of the season, which became his second career major-league win.

After that first inning, I just wanted to focus on putting up some zeros and knew eventually those guys would get some runs for me, he said.

Before the game, White Sox General Manager Ken Williams mused that Rios had the worst luck hes ever seen in baseball, and that with how hard hes punished the ball all year, he should be hitting .400.

Well, the GM will have to settle for his most glorious reclamation project yet swimming steadily along as the White Soxs MVP, upping his digits on the year to 16 homers, 54 RBI and a .307 average and always chiming in with superb defense.

Its all about winning, its not about milestones, Rios said of home run No. 100. Its good when you win.

Rios has been big for us all year long, Guillen said. He continues to produce, and drove home big, big runs for us. Hes playing great.

The White Sox scored their final two runs of the game in the eighth. The first came on a monumental round-tripper from Andruw Jones, which had the dual effect of scoffing Detroit (now 2.5 games behind the Sox) when the ball bounded off of losing Tigers pitcher Enrique Gonzalezs name on the Safeco Field scoreboard. Chicago remained aggressive, with Alexei Ramirez following with a single and stolen baseadvance to third on error, plated by a beastly gapper by Gordon Beckham. The latter two players were specifically cited by Guillen postgame as sparkplugs as responsible as anyone for the turnaround of the team.

Indeed, the game had reached a point where with every Chisox swing, Seattle winced. That was a big turnaround from Sundays loss, which was pitched as a potential turning point for this White Sox team. And by turning point, no one meant a positive one.

But the team itself hardly winced, treating the final Minnesota loss as little more than a flesh wound, a glancing blow.

We didnt falter, we didnt change anything, we didnt panic and say, Oh my gosh, we have to win this game, Pierzynski said. We just went out and played, and things worked out.

We had a tough series in Minnesota and yet we bounced back here, Rios said. We know that every game is important.

And naturally, the bounce-back didnt surprise the skipper, whos been preaching an even keel through bad times and good.

I didnt believe this club would have any carryover from Minnesota, Guillen said. Even when we had the winning streak, we put it away, right away. I talk to the guys every day about one day at a time, and dont worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Thats the attitude we should take all year.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Eloy Jimenez is swinging some kind of a hot bat in Triple-A, giving White Sox fans visions of the (near?) future

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USA TODAY

Eloy Jimenez is swinging some kind of a hot bat in Triple-A, giving White Sox fans visions of the (near?) future

The White Sox once more dropped to 30 games below .500 on Sunday, providing another reminder that this isn't the season where the team will be competing for a playoff spot or any kind of championship.

But all fans have to do is check the box scores rolling in from Triple-A Charlotte to get another kind of reminder: that a season where the White Sox will be competing for a playoff spot and a championship could be right around the corner.

Eloy Jimenez, the team's top-rated prospect and the No. 2 prospect in baseball, is killing it lately. Since returning from the disabled list in the middle of the month, Jimenez has a .424 batting average and is slugging a jaw-dropping .818 — thanks to three homers and four doubles — in eight games.

These are just the latest superb numbers from Jimenez, who has torn it up all season long, first at Double-A Birmingham and then in Charlotte since his promotion on July 1. Heading into Sunday's game, he was slashing .324/.375/.572 between the two levels. Then he upped those numbers with a base hit in his lone plate appearance as a pinch hitter in Sunday's game.

The only thing that can be seen as a negative for Jimenez this season — and this really isn't too much of one — has been health. While he's avoided the significant injuries that have stolen months of development time away from the likes of Luis Robert, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Jake Burger and Micker Adolfo, Jimenez did start the season late with a pec injury and then missed a couple weeks earlier this month with a strained adductor muscle. Judging by the results, neither injury has done much (if anything) to negatively impact his offensive capabilities.

And so with the statistics remaining ridiculously good and getting better, the question that's dogged the White Sox dating back to the end of last season remains: When will Jimenez join the big league roster?

Only the White Sox have the answer to that question at the moment, but it would figure to be some time relatively soon and almost certainly before this season is over. That might not be specific enough for the fans clamoring to watch Jimenez play on the South Side. But take some cues from what general manager Rick Hahn has been saying all season:

First off, the White Sox performance and place in the standings will have no bearing on when Jimenez is promoted. The team will not bring Jimenez up just to inject some life into the final 60 games of the 2018 campaign. Jimenez's development has nothing to do with this team's win-loss record and is completely tied to the team's future, not its present.

Second, Hahn has talked about the benefits of Jimenez receiving at-bats at the Triple-A level and gaining experience facing the kinds of pitchers he didn't face in the lower levels of the minor leagues. He obviously didn't put a number on it, so the argument that Jimenez's 80 plate appearances in 20 games are enough to determine he's big league ready is potentially valid or potentially invalid, depending on what the White Sox have determined they want to see behind the scenes.

Third, Hahn has often said that not everything shows up in box scores. While Jimenez is putting up big numbers, the team is looking for other things that aren't as easy to recognize for those of us who aren't in the player-development business, not to mention those of us who don't even have an MiLB.TV subscription. Hahn said the same thing when Michael Kopech started the season in dominating fashion, and Kopech remains at Triple-A as the White Sox continue to wait for him to reach certain developmental benchmarks.

Fourth, Hahn has pointed to last year's treatment of Yoan Moncada as somewhat of a template for how the White Sox will treat their highest-rated prospects who are close to reaching the majors. Moncada, unlike Jimenez, had a small amount of big league experience before joining the organization in the Chris Sale trade, making his case slightly different. But he, too, was putting up good numbers at Triple-A, with a .282/.377/.447 slash line before his promotion on July 19. Moncada debuted about this time last season after doing well at the Triple-A level, but remember that he played 80 games there after starting the season with Charlotte. Jimenez joined that club in the middle of the season and has played in a quarter of the games that Moncada did before getting the call to make his White Sox debut. Though it's true that Jimenez is putting up significantly more impressive offensive numbers.

So "relatively soon" is perhaps the best we can do right now when trying to predict when Jimenez will reach the South Side. The White Sox have their own checklist when it comes to Jimenez's development, just like they do with every player, and only they will know when he's completed that list.

What is no mystery is how Jimenez is faring at Triple-A. He's swinging a red-hot bat, and few would argue that the numbers don't look major league ready. There's more to it than just the numbers, of course, but it would figure to be a safe bet that White Sox fans will be able to start purchasing Jimenez shirseys before the clock runs out on the 2018 season.

Avi Garcia's played in fewer than 20 games since April, but could he still attract trade-deadline suitors?

Avi Garcia's played in fewer than 20 games since April, but could he still attract trade-deadline suitors?

Avisail Garcia returned from his latest disabled-list stint with a bang, smacking a three-run home run in the fourth inning Saturday in Seattle.

The White Sox right fielder hasn't even played in 20 games since late April, when he went on his first DL trip, which lasted two months. A second, also featuring an injury to his hamstring, made it two weeks between games.

But when he has been able to step to the plate this summer, Garcia has been tremendously productive. He came into Saturday night with a .333/.347/.783 slash line and a whopping eight home runs in the 17 games he played in between his two DL stays. Then he added that homer Saturday night off longtime Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, giving him nine homers in his last 14 games.

Keeping this up could do an awful lot of things for Garcia: It could make his ice-cold start a distant memory, it could prove that last year's All-Star season might not have been a fluke, and it could keep him entrenched in the conversation about the White Sox outfield of the future, giving the team one of those good problems to have when deciding how he would fit into the puzzle alongside top prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert.

But here's another possibility: Has Garcia swung a hot enough bat in his limited action that he could be a trade candidate before this month runs out?

The White Sox don't figure to have too many players who are going to get contending teams worked up into a lather. James Shields, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Xavier Cedeno. Those guys could classify as additions that would bolster teams' depth, but they might not be the attractive upgrades the White Sox were able to trade away last summer.

Garcia, though, could be. He might not slide into the middle of the order for too many contenders, but someone looking for a starting corner outfielder might be enticed by the kind of numbers Garcia has put up in June and July, albeit in a small sample size. Teams would also have to consider his health. He's already been to the disabled list twice this season. Teams would certainly have to be confident he wouldn't return in order to make a deal.

On the White Sox end, Garcia would figure to fetch a far more intriguing return package than the aforementioned pitchers, given that he's still pretty young (27) with one more season of team control after this one.

The White Sox have plenty of options when it comes to Garcia. They could deal him now, deal him later or keep as a part of the rebuild, extending him and making him a featured player on the next contending team on the South Side. But with a lot of significant injuries this year perhaps having an effect on when all those highly rated prospects will finally arrive in the majors — not to mention the disappointing win-loss numbers the big league team has put up this season — perhaps it would make more sense to acquire some rebuild-bolstering pieces.

Of course, it all depends on if there are any deals to be made. Do other teams' front offices like what they've seen from Garcia in this short stretch as much as White Sox fans have? We'll know by the time August rolls around.