Chicago White Sox: AL Central

Jeter passes torch to Chicago's Ramirez

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
11:43
PM CT
Saxon By Mark Saxon
ESPNChicago.com
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Jeter/RamirezJesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsAlexei Ramirez admitted he was nervous when told he'd be in the middle of such a grand spectacle -- taking over for Derek Jeter during the All-Star Game.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Before Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, in town to do some broadcast work, recognized a Chicago beat writer he knew and yelled, “Hey man, when are you going to start writing about my boy Alexei? This guy’s been good for five or six years. Nobody talks about him.”

Guillen must be right; Alexei Ramirez must be good. He took the place of a future Hall of Famer in an All-Star Game, after all.

[+] EnlargeJeter/Ramirez
Elsa/Getty Images"To go out there and take the place of a baseball legend was a tremendous honor," Ramirez said through an interpreter.
In the third inning, American League manager John Farrell approached Ramirez on the bench and told him he would be replacing Derek Jeter the next inning. That’s kind of how All-Star Games work. The starters go a few innings, and then, in comes the cavalry.

But this wasn’t just any substitution. Jeter was allowed to take his shortstop position before Ramirez went out to replace him, the game was paused for several minutes while “New York, New York” blared over the Target Field speakers, and everybody in the stadium –- players from both leagues included –- gave Jeter a standing ovation. It was the moment of the 2014 All-Star Game -- Jeter’s last -- and none of it was lost on Ramirez, who grew up in Cuba.

Ramirez admitted he was nervous when told he’d be in the middle of such a grand spectacle.

“To go out there and take the place of a baseball legend was a tremendous honor,” he said through an interpreter. “I just bowed my head to show my respect. It was a great moment.”

Ramirez, a defensive whiz, has begun to show his offensive value in recent seasons. Batting .282 with eight home runs and 15 stolen bases so far this season, he was picked for his first All-Star Game, and he made the selection look like a solid one. He doubled down the left field line and scored the final run in the American League’s 5-3 win.

Extra Bases: Central play much improved

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
8:00
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox are finding out that the American League Central can be a happy place once again.

They might have been dealt a 4-0 defeat by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, but they already had wrapped up the series and are feeling much better about games in the division.

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The White Sox will get the opportunity to jump right back into division play when the Kansas City Royals visit U.S. Cellular Field for three games starting Friday.

The White Sox might be a game under .500 this season at 33-34, but they are 16-12 against AL Central teams and they just saw a five-game winning streak against division foes snapped.

Last season, Chicago was a dismal 26-50 against the division, with only two victories over the Cleveland Indians. It’s only the middle of June and already the White Sox have defeated the Indians seven times.

In winning two of three against the Tigers this week (one game in the scheduled four-game series was postponed because of rain), the White Sox had to go up against Tigers pitchers Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

“It was three very, very good starters so that’s what we can take away from this week,” White Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton said. “Kansas City is coming to town, we’re very excited about those guys and hopefully we can win another series. That’s our goal.”

Read all about it: Here is the Rapid Reaction from Thursday’s 4-0 defeat to the Tigers.

Keep an eye on this: The White Sox are only 6-13 at home against the Royals the past two seasons, going 3-7 against them in their own park last year.

Question of the day: Hitting and pitching gets much of the credit, but how much has the White Sox defense up the middle -- shortstop Alexei Ramirez, second baseman Gordon Beckham, center fielder Eaton -- meant in Chicago's reversal from a team that finished 36 games under .500 last season to one that heads into play Friday one game under .500?

Sox upbeat, not despondent, after loss

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
11:12
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Chris SaleAP Photo/Nam Y. Huh"For a long time, it was who was going to flinch first," Chris Sale said. "Unfortunately it was me."

CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox's offense was dominated Thursday in a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers, yet the postgame talk was positive from a team confident in who it is and where it is headed.

Realistically, the odds are still long that the White Sox can do enough damage the rest of the way and get themselves into the postseason, but the team’s body language isn’t one that suggests a daunting task is ahead.

Even after reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer had Chicago in handcuffs for his first career complete game, the White Sox focused on solid defense, the opportunities that were there for the taking and the fact that they just won two out of three from the American League Central leaders.

“It’s always nice when you come in and win a series,” said Thursday’s losing pitcher, Chris Sale. “When you have a chance to sweep, you want to [do it]. But winning the series is important. You win every series and put yourself in a good position.”

In beating another former Cy Young winner in Justin Verlander on Wednesday, the White Sox looked empowered. That feeling didn’t seem to diminish much after Thursday’s game, because their conclusion was that they caught a great pitcher on a night when he had his best stuff.

“Early, I felt like he lost some of his command, but we as hitters knowing how good he is, we chased a lot of pitches,” said Adam Eaton, who went 0-for-3 with a walk. “It seemed like the fourth, fifth inning he really found his groove and I feel like as hitters we felt that. He had it going tonight and I think the line speaks for itself.”

[+] EnlargeMax Scherzer
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh"We were up there battling, doing the right thing," said Gordon Beckham, who had one of three White Sox hits off Max Scherzer. "It just didn't work out."
That Scherzer line was three hits over nine innings with three walks and eight strikeouts. The first White Sox hit didn’t come until Alexei Ramirez doubled in the fourth inning, and the third hit, in the ninth, only came via replay when Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez was ruled to have trapped a ball hit by Adam Dunn.

“He has the stuff,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Scherzer. “Stuff-wise, he definitely has it. I think any time you’re a team going into it thinking he doesn’t have it, you’ll find out real quick that he does have the stuff to still win [the Cy Young] and win games and be very good.”

Sale formed the other side of a pitchers’ duel that was ultimately decided when the first combatant blinked. Victor Martinez's home run off Sale in the fifth inning ended up being the difference, with the Tigers tacking on three insurance runs against the White Sox bullpen.

“He was dominant,” Sale said of Scherzer. “That’s about all you can say about him. You know coming into this who you are going up against and it’s not going to be easy. For a long time there, it was who was going to flinch first. Unfortunately it was me.”

It’s funny how quickly perception changes. A dominating pitching performance against the White Sox last year was as much about the pitcher as it was about the weak offensive attack opposing him. This year, there is more of a sense that the pitchers truly earn what they get against a much-improved White Sox offense.

“Yeah, he was good; he had good stuff,” said Gordon Beckham, who doubled and is hitting .400 [8-for-20] during a modest five-game hitting streak. “It is what it is, he just had our number. He kept his pitch count low and was able to go the whole game. It would have been nice to knock him out but he was just too good tonight. Give him credit. I don't think we had two bad at-bats. We were up there battling, doing the right thing. It just didn't work out.”

There is anticipation for a new day now, and that shows as much about the progress the White Sox have made as anything. They are still just 33-34 on the season, but are looking forward to the next test, over the weekend against the second-place Kansas City Royals.

“We ran into a guy that was great tonight but in the end you look at it as you won the series, which is good,” Ventura said. “That's something that we're always shooting for. Tip your hat to him and get ready for tomorrow.”

Confident White Sox not drawn to standings

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
12:32
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- There are not too many races in which the competition waits around for you to catch up. The American League Central, however, has been setting itself up that way.

The Chicago White Sox’s 6-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday gave them a 33-33 record, but the real news is that the win moved them within 2½ games of the Tigers for the division lead.

The White Sox have been inconsistent all season as they mix and match their new parts. But with Jose Abreu and Chris Sale together and healthy on the roster at the same time, the White Sox look as though they finally are ready to stand up and get noticed.

[+] EnlargeJohn Danks
Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesThe White Sox can credit a portion of their turnaround to John Danks, who has enjoyed four impressive starts in a row.
Abreu hit his 19th home run Wednesday -- and the second dinger off Tigers starter Justin Verlander this season -- and Sale gets a chance to pitch against Detroit on Thursday.

It doesn’t hurt that the Tigers have cooled off considerably after a hot start. Detroit has lost 16 of its past 22 games. There are no standout teams in the division thus far, but nobody has fallen out of contention, either.

All five AL Central teams are within 3½ games of each other, giving every squad hope that an extended run of victories can lead to a turn in first place.

For a team coming off a 99-loss season like the White Sox, nobody would blame them for feeling downright giddy. But even with the reversal of fortunes, nobody is ready to brag about the standings at this point of the season.

“We’ve had a good feeling,” second baseman Gordon Beckham said. “I don’t think it’s been one of those things where we’re just now thinking we can do this. We show up to play. We don’t expect to win the division today or tomorrow.

“We just kind of figured, you keep coming to the park, you keep doing the right things, good things will happen. I think that’s kind of where we’re at, and we’re getting some wins against a good team. We’re in a good spot.”

Beckham has been a huge part of the White Sox’s solid play. He had just one hit Wednesday, but it was a two-run single in a seven-run sixth inning that knocked Verlander from the game.

Verlander, who was tagged for seven runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, has been a shell of his former self. A previous Cy Young winner, Verlander lasted less than six innings against the White Sox for the first time since July 26, 2008, at Comerica Park. His four walks gave him consecutive games of four free passes for the first time this season.

White Sox starter John Danks has been the opposite. Like Beckham, he has been a part of the White Sox’s revival of late with a fourth consecutive impressive start. The left-hander gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings and is 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA since May 24; opponents are hitting .178 against him over that stretch.

Danks agrees that it is far too early to get excited about having a decent vantage point to see the division leaders floundering just up the road.

“Yeah, we've had a good feeling from the get [go],” Danks said. “We're not looking at the scoreboard just yet or the standings; we're just trying to win every game we can. Nothing's changed. We've been a pretty confident bunch from the start of it and fully expect to be in the thick of it when the time comes.”

The last time the White Sox held a .500 record was May 26, 2013, when they were 24-24. They promptly lost eight consecutive games and 10 out of 11. And on June 11 of last year, exactly one year ago Wednesday, they started another tailspin, losing seven of eight.

At that point in 2013, there was nowhere to look but at upcoming trade possibilities. This year, there is a sense of optimism for a brighter future, even with a roster rebuild that isn’t quite complete.

Things are so much brighter these days that White Sox manager Robin Ventura was able to joke about a reminder from last season.

“Thanks, thanks for that,” he deadpanned. “Appreciate that. Always bring up the negative, don’t you? Just go right there. It was a nice win by us and you go right there.”

Teasing, laughing and maintaining a healthy amount of confidence is another sign of how good the White Sox are feeling these days.

“No, early on just playing there is a different vibe,” Ventura said. “When you’re able to score runs, it becomes different. There are different people here.

“There are quite a few people in there who didn’t have to live through last year. But the ones who did have to live through it, it was painful enough that you don’t want to see it happen again.”

Series preview: White Sox at Indians

May, 2, 2014
May 2
4:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Division play is what railroaded the Chicago White Sox last season, yet it has been much improved in 2014, even after just getting swept in a brief two-game series at home against the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox are 8-8 against American League Central teams this season, a year after going 26-50 against the clubs they face off against the most.

The major embarrassment in 2013 came against the Cleveland Indians, who the White Sox will face over the next three games beginning Friday night at Progressive Field. The White Sox won just two of 19 games against the Indians last year, with Cleveland using that advantage to springboard themselves into the playoffs.

Powered by a new offense, the White Sox have already made headway on their issues with the Indians. Their three victories in a four-game home series during the second week of the season were early signs that this team is far more dynamic than last year's.

Pitching continues to be an issue, though. While the bullpen is much improved after a brutal start, the White Sox are scrambling with their rotation after an injury to Chris Sale, not to mention struggles from Felipe Paulino and Erik Johnson.

Scott Carroll and Andre Rienzo, who both started the season at Triple-A Charlotte, will get starts in the upcoming series. Carroll will look to build off an impressive major league debut on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays when he outdueled Cy Young winner David Price by allowing just one earned run over 7 1/3 innings.

Rienzo has given up a combined six runs in his first two starts of the season, but has picked up support in the form of 13 runs from his teammates in those two games and has an early 2-0 record.

HEAD TO HEAD

Alexei Ramirez is 6-for-7 (.857) against Indians starter Danny Salazar, with a double and a home run. … Dayan Viciedo has never had a hit against Indians starter Justin Masterson in 14 at-bats, while Ramirez is just 9-for-51 (.176) against him. … The Indians' Ryan Rayburn is 13-for-37 (.351) against John Danks with three home runs and nine RBIs. … Rienzo's first ever major league game took place last season at Cleveland when he gave up three runs on six hits over seven innings and ended up taking the loss.

NOTES


After struggling in early April, the White Sox's bullpen has not allowed an earned run over its last 14 1/3 innings. ... White Sox relievers Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam have each delivered three consecutive scoreless appearances, with Petricka pitching six innings in that span and Putnam going 5 2/3 innings. ... Ramirez has at least one hit in 27 of the White Sox's first 29 games. ... Viciedo has reached base in 12 consecutive games, with five multi-hit games and two multi-RBI games in that span. … Jose Abreu has 31 hits this season, 18 of which have gone for extra bases. ... Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is dealing with an abdominal strain, but has not been placed on the disabled list.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday: White Sox LH John Danks (2-1, 3.48 ERA) vs. Indians RH Danny Salazar (0-3, 6.04), 6:05 p.m. CT.
Saturday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (1-0, 1.23) vs. Indians RH Justin Masterson (0-1, 4.84), 5:05 p.m. CT.
Sunday: White Sox RH Andre Rienzo (2-0, 4.05) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (2-3, 4.14), 12:05 p.m. CT.

New year, new result vs. Indians

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
11:59
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- There was more evidence that the Chicago White Sox's remodeling project is headed in the right direction when the team easily handled the Cleveland Indians 7-3 in the first meeting of the season Thursday night.

That would be the same Indians team that won 17 of the 19 matchups between the teams last season and made it into the postseason based largely on their dominance of the White Sox. To put it another way, the Indians were 22 games over .500 in 2013 while going 15 games over .500 against the White Sox alone.

Manager Robin Ventura said that revenge wasn't on the minds of the players, but starting pitcher John Danks was well aware of the situation.

"We didn't joke about much last year; it was a tough year," Danks said. "But we joked we deserved a playoff share from them for basically helping them into the playoffs."

Danks took his own thumping from Cleveland last year. In two starts (10 innings) against the Indians, he gave up nine runs (seven earned) and 10 runs. In a September outing, he gave up seven runs (six earned) in only four innings.

"That's a good team over there," Danks said. "It's not an easy lineup. I felt like I was fortunate to get out of the first few innings the way I did and settle down and give us a chance to win. I'm certainly going to have to be better than that next time we face them because that's a good team over there."

The way Ventura saw it, this is a different year so why not expect different results?

"You continue to focus on what we're doing right now and the things that are good instead of thinking about things last year," Ventura said. "And I think a lot of it is just the feeling is different so far, offensively for us that we didn't have last year. There is definitely a different vibe in being able to score and come back if you get down that wasn't necessarily there last year."

The White Sox trailed 2-0 after one inning and were tied 3-3 after three innings, but the offense continued to deliver and the bullpen was solid behind Danks, with Daniel Webb and Matt Lindstrom delivering three scoreless innings. Jose Abreu hit two home runs, and Alexei Ramirez had another as he has at lease one hit in all 10 games this season.

When it was over, the White Sox had their first victory over the Indians since April 24 of last year, ending a 14-game losing streak. Danks' last victory over the Indians was nearly two years to the day, getting it on April 11, 2012.

Schedule won't do Sox any favors

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
3:50
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
If the first 10 days of the Chicago White Sox's season were about getting up to speed, then the remainder of the opening month is about overcoming major hurdles and road blocks.

A seven-game homestand begins Thursday with four games against the Cleveland Indians, a team that owned the White Sox last season. In 19 head-to-head games between the division rivals in 2013, the Indians won 17 of them.

After the Indians leave town, the White Sox play host to the World Series champion Boston Red Sox next week. That is followed by a road trip to Texas and Detroit, before the month closes with a homestand against Tampa Bay and Detroit.

(Read full post)

Dunn, Ventura short on answers for offense

August, 3, 2013
8/03/13
9:51
PM CT
By Chuck Pleiness
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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DETROIT – You can sense the frustration level in the Chicago White Sox’s locker room, and you can hear it in the words spoken by one of the team's veterans, Adam Dunn.

The White Sox lost a season-high ninth straight time after falling to the Detroit Tigers 3-0 at Comerica Park Saturday night.

“It’s the same story every day,” a visibly frustrated Dunn said after the game. “I don’t know how much more frustrated people can be. We’re doing everything we can to improve, and we haven’t done it.”

Dunn said this is the worst he’s seen it during his 13-year career.

“I’ve been on some bad teams, but I don’t know, everybody keeps saying it and it’s really true, it’s really unbelievable. I know we have guys that can play. I know we have guys that can hit and guys that can pitch. To be doing what we’re doing -- there is no excuse for it, really.”

It’s the 11th time this season the White Sox, who have lost all nine of those games on the road, have failed to score a run.

“This is where hopefully pride starts to take over and you swallow this one, come back tomorrow and do it again,” Dunn said. “You have to go out and play good baseball, just kind of ride the ship and get better.

“That’s the thing that’s frustrating,” Dunn continued. “We have 15 guys in the cage, early hitting every day, and we’re just not getting it done.”

The White Sox were fourth in the American League in runs scored last season.

“We have to touch home plate,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You get a couple of guys on and it’s one of those [things] you have to add on and not just get a couple of guys on. They have to cross home.

“We practice, but it’s just one of those [things] where you just have to keep going,” Ventura continued. “As tough as it gets, you still have to be able to grind when you come to the plate. That’s all you can do.”

Despite the Tigers’ high-powered offense, they have outscored Chicago only 5-1 through two games in the three-game series.

“Again, it’s being able to cross home plate, and we’re struggling to score runs,” Ventura said. “Until that changes, that’s the way it’s looks.”

The White Sox have also dropped 15 of their past 18 games and are a season-high 28 games under .500 and a staggering 23 games behind Detroit in the AL Central division standings.

“You’re never numb to [losing]. I don’t think that’s the word,” Ventura said. “You just get frustrated, and you wait for it to turn. I think it’s when you struggle that’s part of it. I think [when] frustration sets in you have to be able to block that out and play.”

Tigers starter Max Scherzer didn’t help matters, as he gave up just three hits and didn’t allow a White Sox runner to advance past second base in his 7⅔ innings of work.

“He’s always had great stuff,” Dunn said. “In the past, you’d always get one or two pitches in the game to hit, and it would seem like people would capitalize on them. He keeps people off bases. He doesn’t walk people like he used to. His stuff is as good, if not the best in the game.”

Scherzer struck out six and walked three to improve to 16-1 on the season.

The White Sox last won on July 25. Coincidentally enough, the win came with former starter Jake Peavy on the mound against the Tigers.

Rapid Reaction: Tigers 3, White Sox 0

August, 3, 2013
8/03/13
8:50
PM CT
By Chuck Pleiness
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Archive


DETROIT -- The Chicago White Sox continue to search for their first win since July 25 after falling to the Detroit Tigers 3-0 on Saturday at Comerica Park. Coincidently, their last win came against the Tigers with former starter Jake Peavy on the mound.

How it happened: Three bad pitches from John Danks added up to three long balls for the Tigers, and it equaled another loss for the White Sox. Detroit got solo homers from Torii Hunter (first inning), Jhonny Peralta (second) and Jose Iglesias (fourth). Chicago could muster up only three hits off Detroit starter Max Scherzer and didn’t advance a runner past second base until the bottom of the ninth. The White Sox finished with four hits. It’s the 11th time this season the White Sox have failed to score a run. Alex Rios, who got to third base in the ninth, did steal his 24th base of the season.

What it means: Chicago has now lost a season-high nine games in a row, which also matches its longest losing streak on the road this season. The White Sox have also dropped 15 of their past 18 games and are a season-high 28 games under .500 and a staggering 23 games behind Detroit in the AL Central division standings. They also drop to 18-40 (.310) on the road, the lowest winning percentage in the major leagues.

Outside the box: Danks is now 0-6 in eight starts on the road. The road losing streak matches the longest of his career, which he set in 2011. The White Sox starting pitcher is 4-9 lifetime against the Tigers. His last win in Detroit came on July 26, 2008.

Off beat: Chicago got the leadoff batter on base in three of the first five innings against Scherzer but could not move any of them up a base. In the second, Adam Dunn had a base hit and was stranded after the next three in the lineup were retired, two by way of strikeouts. The same thing occurred in the fifth. Dayan Viciedo walked and two of the next three who came to the plate fanned. In the third, Gordon Beckham walked to start the inning but was forced out on a fielder's choice.

Up next: The White Sox end their three-game series with the Tigers on Sunday by sending right-hander Andre Rienzo (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound. Rienzo went seven innings in his major league debut Tuesday night in Cleveland, not allowing an earned run, scattering five hits and walking three. Detroit counters with right-hander Rick Porcello (8-6, 4.49) for the 12:05 p.m. CT start time at Comerica Park.

Ventura to insert Konerko at first base

August, 3, 2013
8/03/13
5:04
PM CT
By Chuck Pleiness
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DETROIT -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura said he wanted to get Paul Konerko back at first base sometime during their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers.

That opportunity comes Saturday night for Konerko.

“I talked to him [Friday], and he said he felt good enough to do it,” Ventura said before the White Sox’s game at Comerica Park against the Tigers. “It’s just one of those [games to] get him back and get him back in the swing of things.”

Konerko returned to the White Sox lineup July 22 after missing nearly four weeks with lower back tightness.

“I haven’t played first in a while, so I’m sure there will be some [moments when] the game gets a little fast making all the movements,” Konerko said before the game. “I’ve been taking ground balls, so I try to stay as sharp as I can, but nothing’s like the real game."

He’s strictly been Chicago’s designated hitter since returning.

“Last week, I think back-wise, you’re just trying to get him through that,” Ventura said. “In Cleveland, he had a little something going on, but he’s better now so he’s able to go out there.”

Ventura said Konerko just didn’t feel right running around the bases in Cleveland, so the decision was to delay his return to first base.

Konerko last played first base on June 23.

“The first one in a while is always a little weird, but I’ll get through it and, hopefully, I’ll get to the point where I can play a good number in a row and give Adam [Dunn] a rest,” Konerko said.

Dunn has played every game at first base except one while Konerko worked his way back to the lineup. Dunn will be the DH Saturday night.

No run support: Friday marked the 20th time this season Chicago has been held to one run or fewer.

“It’s frustrating. I’ve been in that situation as a hitter, and you don’t feel good about it,” Ventura said. “It’s hard enough to pitch and do everything right, but when guys are pitching that well and you’re not giving them any run support, it’s frustrating. You get down and everything else. You’re just looking for a break.”

A great example of things just not going the White Sox’s way came in Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Tigers. Ventura decided to call for a hit-and-run with pinch runner Jordan Danks on first base and Gordon Beckham at the plate with one out. With Tigers second baseman Ramon Santiago shifting toward the bag, Beckham grounded right to him for an easy double play.

“We were just trying to get something going instead of just bunting him over,” Ventura said. “Gordon hit it hard, but it just so happened to be right where the guy was running to.”

The White Sox were fourth in the American League in runs scored last season.

“That’s just baseball,” Ventura said. “It’s frustrating. It can be cruel in all those weird ways.”

Wise released: The White Sox made a roster move Saturday, placing outfielder Dewayne Wise on waivers that will allow them to give him his unconditional release.

Wise, 35, had been on the 15-day disabled list since May 30 with a right hamstring and right oblique strain.

“I don’t know if it’s a younger [thing] or how you look at it,” Ventura said. “It’s seeing other guys and seeing what they can do. And also giving him a shot to see what else he can do.”

During his rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Charlotte, Wise was hitting just .170 in 16 games.

The move may mean newly acquired Avisail Garcia could be in a White Sox uniform soon.

In a game with Triple-A Charlotte on Friday, Garcia was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and four RBIs. He also drew a walk.

“We’re just looking forward to seeing what we got,” Ventura said. “We’ve seen him from afar, but it’s always different when you get them on your team and you see how they fit in and how you’re going to use them.”

Gameplan seems to irk Chris Sale

July, 22, 2013
7/22/13
11:00
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Give Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale some credit. The All-Star isn’t afraid of anybody.

Sale appeared visibly upset over the plan to intentionally walk the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera in the fifth on Monday, and before the dust had settled, Sale walked Prince Fielder and gave up a two-run single to Victor Martinez that was key in an eventual 7-3 defeat.

The point the White Sox now seem ready to make to their talented left-hander is that sometimes you have to pick your spots.

“He probably wants to pitch to (Cabrera) but that’s my decision,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s one of those that with a lefty on deck, really any lefty -- I know Prince is a great hitter -- Chris against a lefty, you’re going to take that any time just to stay in the game.”

(Read full post)

Baby steps: White Sox back at .500

May, 26, 2013
5/26/13
5:17
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Memorial Day might not be a milestone marker for Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura, but getting back to .500 sure is.

The White Sox reached the break-even point Sunday with their 5-3 victory over the Miami Marlins and will now take aim at their next team goals, with the ultimate plan of catching the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers in the standings.

“You wouldn’t think [.500 is a goal], but it is,” Ventura said of his 24-24 club. “From where you started, you then find your way back. I think this stretch we started -- when we went to Minnesota -- is a nicer stretch than what we started with, and, again, it starts with the pitching and defense, and the hitting has come along to get big hits and knock in runs when you need it.”

The last time the White Sox were at .500 was on April 10 when they were 4-4. That was also the last time they were as high as second place in the standings.

It was a 3-10 stretch in April that left the White Sox with a 7-12 record on April 22, and they were still five games under .500 at 10-15 on April 30.

Since then, the play has been much better. The hitting has improved and the defense is much better ever since Ventura had the team go through extra fielding practice on the most recent road trip.

Only the bullpen has yet to get its legs under it after some unexpected struggles to start the season, although Jesse Crain and Addison Reed have been a dynamic duo at the back end of games.

“Things are starting to click and everybody is coming through,” Reed, whose seventh consecutive scoreless appearance gave him his 17th save in 18 tries, said. “Earlier on in the year, either our offense was producing and the pitching wasn’t doing so well, or vice versa. Now, everything is clicking, and we are playing the ball we know how to play.”

The White Sox have not lost more than two consecutive games this month, they already have a four-game win streak to their credit in May and they are on a run during which they have won nine of 12 and five of their past six games.

It was at this exact time last year when the White Sox were on a nine-game winning streak that helped them move back into contention in the American League Central.

“It’s huge [to be at .500] because I definitely don’t think we’ve played our best baseball,” Adam Dunn, who had a two-run home run Sunday, said. “If people think we have [played to the team’s capabilities], I think they’re crazy because we started out playing terrible defense, offensively we haven’t got it going, and yet we’re right in the middle of it.”

A sense of better play is what Ventura is focused on, instead of taking stock in a team that is straightening up to head down the backstretch of the season.

“I don’t know if I necessarily subscribe to [the Memorial Day team assessment],” Ventura said. “Your team kind of goes through different things during the season. We didn’t start off that great, but in the last couple weeks we’ve gained some footing; just the feeling of going out and feeling you’re going to win games.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing or who’s throwing or anything like that. You feel better about your team the way it’s playing. For me, the defense was the stuff early, but, even offensively, you’re doing things that help you win games.”

It’s not like the White Sox have left all of their concerns in the past. The pitching was solid in the three-game sweep of the Marlins, but because the offense sputtered, each victory against the team with the worst record in baseball was hard to come by.

Their consecutive walk-off victories Friday and Saturday were the first time the White Sox had game-ending hits in consecutive games since April of 2010, when Andruw Jones and Alex Rios each hit home runs for victories.

“Still, offensively we’re still not clicking,” Dunn, who was hitless in his past 17 at-bats before he went deep, said. “It seems like we get one or two guys going and the rest of us kind of don’t swing the bats well. We’re playing good baseball, but we’re just not getting the offensive production that we’re accustomed to getting.”

Now that the White Sox are on level footing again, they can look out ahead of them and see mostly teams with losing records on the docket until the end of June.

“You need to win the games you're supposed to,” Ventura said. “If you don't, then you're looking at this series differently. We'll take them.”

Schedule says time is now for White Sox

May, 23, 2013
5/23/13
1:13
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
QuintanaAP Photo/David BanksThe White Sox better give their fans something to cheer about, or a makeover may come.
CHICAGO -- Backed into a hole because of a stagnant offense, a Swiss cheese defense and a bullpen that has been anything but relief, the Chicago White Sox now have four-plus weeks to get it straight or kiss it all goodbye.

And it might not be just the season that they will bid farewell to, but the entire look of a roster that is among the top third in payroll in all of baseball.

(Read full post)

Axelrod burned by Nats' patient approach

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
11:21
PM CT
By Jeff Seidel
Special to ESPN Chicago
Archive
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals have a lineup that doesn’t mind taking pitches or fouling them off. They want to make a pitcher work early in the game in order to wear him out later.

That’s just what happened to Chicago White Sox right-hander Dylan Axelrod Thursday night. Washington’s patience forced Axelrod to throw 103 pitches in just 3⅔ innings as the Nationals completed a three-game sweep of the Sox with a 7-4 victory at Nationals Park.

Axelrod’s problems began in the first inning. The Nationals scored just one run on two hits, but the right-hander needed to throw 40 pitches just to get out of that inning after Washington fouled off pitch after pitch.

“That’s not the way you want to start: 40 pitches in the first inning,” Axelrod said. “I guess I could have done a better job of challenging early. They made me work.”

Yes, they did. And that set the stage for other problems afterward. Axelrod (0-1) retired the Nats in order in the second, but Washington wore him down the second and third times through the order.

The Nationals kept staying patient and working deep into counts. That’s why they manufactured runs off of Axelrod. There were walks, stolen bases, a sacrifice fly, a double from Washington starter Dan Haren -- who scored the go-ahead run on an Axelrod wild pitch in the fourth -- and the back-breaker, a two-run double from Ryan Zimmerman in that inning, which gave the Nats a 6-3 lead and ended Axelrod’s night.

“They make it extremely hard,” Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. “Every time you go around, it gets a little harder, so [he] wasn’t able to get through that one. This is a tough team.”

Axelrod made some good pitches in different spots but ended up allowing six runs on seven hits in those 3⅔ long innings, which took nearly two hours to play. He also walked four and struck out two as the Nationals kept pushing.

“I felt all right [after the first inning], but obviously, you know, the more pitches you throw, your stuff just isn’t the same, just doesn’t have that zip on it," Axelrod said. "They're an aggressive team … they got deep into counts and made me work real hard."

White Sox's woes with runners on continue

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
10:52
PM CT
By Jeff Seidel
Special to ESPN Chicago
Archive
WASHINGTON -- The White Sox couldn’t come through with clutch hits in the first two games of the Washington series. They didn't do much better in the series finale.

Chicago was a combined 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position in losses on Tuesday and Wednesday. The White Sox went just 3-for-13 in the same category Thursday despite getting 13 hits overall, and that lack of timely hitting proved very costly and let Washington wrap up a series sweep with a 7-4 victory.

“We actually swung it pretty good,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We left a few guys on [base] early. This is a tough team. You have to take advantage of everything if you’re going to beat them.”

The White Sox didn’t take advantage of much at all. They knocked around Washington starter Dan Haren for three runs on 10 hits in five innings, but the right-hander kept squirming out of trouble and got the win.

Chicago left 11 runners on base overall, but eight of those came in the first five innings when Haren was pitching. The Sox kept getting the hits. In fact, five players finished with two hits in this game. They just didn’t come at the right time.

That was the difference in this game. Washington finished with 10 hits -- three fewer than the Sox -- but the Nationals went 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Plus, the Nats went 6-for-14 with runners in scoring position in those first two games and finished the series 11-for-25. That’s a long way from Chicago’s 4-for-28, and it's also why Washington kept scoring runs at the right times.

“We didn’t play terribly; we just got beat out there,” Chicago first baseman Paul Konerko said. “I mean, they did just every little [thing]. All the parts of the game -- we weren’t bad at them. We were OK at them actually, but they were just a little bit better, and that’s why they won the games.”

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
.292 29 74 52
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 29
RBIJ. Abreu 74
RJ. Abreu 52
OPSJ. Abreu .959
WC. Sale 9
ERAC. Sale 2.03
SOJ. Quintana 118