White Sox

Dylan Covey's status in White Sox future keeps fluctuating as string of poor results continues

Dylan Covey's status in White Sox future keeps fluctuating as string of poor results continues

It wasn’t long ago that it seemed quite reasonable to ask the question: Does Dylan Covey have a place in the White Sox rebuild?

But it didn’t take long for Covey to make that question seem not so reasonable.

The notion that rebuilds are chock full of surprises and that guys can emerge as key pieces who you never thought would emerge remains a real one. And for a bit, it looked like Covey could be a candidate for that kind of player.

He seemed to have solved the woes that plagued him during his rough 2017 campaign. He had a 1.53 ERA over the course of five starts. He was generally pitching better than the rest of the White Sox starting rotation, including Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, two guys expected to have big roles to play as the future creeps closer for this rebuilding franchise.

But what’s happened since has made Covey disappear from that long-term picture a little bit, not unlike Marty McFly fading away in “Back to the Future.”

In his past five starts — including Tuesday night’s outing that, after he left, ballooned into a 14-2 beating — Covey’s got an 11.70 ERA. He’s allowed at least four runs in each one of those starts. In the two starts prior to Tuesday’s, he combined to allowed 14 earned runs in only six innings of work.

Tuesday’s wasn’t that kind of disaster, and both Covey and manager Rick Renteria said they thought he looked better than he’s been looking. But the results weren’t dramatically different.

“Felt good early on,” Covey said. “I think my ball started creeping up in the zone a little bit as I went. Those ground balls turned into base hits, and they strung a few together. Struggled to get it back down. Did feel good, though.

“Just need to be a little bit better with my off-speed for strikes early so they aren’t just sitting on the fastball early, which is something that I think a lot of teams are trying to do on me, especially second time through the lineup. Just need to be able to get some pitches over for strikes that are not a fastball early and go from there.

“I think I figured some things out in the ‘pen this week. I saw the results of that really quick in the first couple of innings. And then, runner got on, thinking ground ball, (they) string together some hits and just try to grind through it from there.”

It’s probably more than a little unfair to put so much weight on a small handful of starts, to suggest Covey was a piece worthy of future planning after five good starts or to suggest that Covey has no place in this rebuild after the same number of bad ones.

And it’s worth noting that pitching on a team like this one, 31 games under .500 after Tuesday, has its pitfalls. He wasn’t the one who mustered just five hits Tuesday night. He wasn’t the one who gave up the bulk of the visiting St. Louis Cardinals’ eye-popping offensive output.

But just as Covey’s string of quality outings sparked speculation about where he could wind up in the White Sox long-term plans, this string of poor performances sparks the same speculation. That’s what this rebuilding season is about for every player: figuring out where they fit in this team’s long-term future.

Covey doesn’t carry the same kinds of high hopes or high expectations as guys like Giolito, Lopez, Michael Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Dylan Cease or anyone else in the crowded rotation of the future. But even crowded rotations have room for surprises — if a spot is earned.

Right now, we don’t know what Covey’s future is with this team, but it’s safe to assume that his performance this season will determine what it is. Half the performances have been good, half of them bad. Covey will need to figure things out and return to way things were if he wants to stay in the picture.

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.”