Chicago White Sox: Conor Gillaspie

Rapid Reaction: Twins 6, White Sox 4

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
3:54
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox failed to finish off the series sweep when they were defeated 6-4 on Sunday by the Minnesota Twins.

How it happened: White Sox starter Hector Noesi gave up two second-inning runs and the Twins were off and running. Noesi finished by allowing five runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings. Jose Abreu and Conor Gillaspie had RBI singles for the White Sox, while Adrian Nieto hit his second home run. Abreu then hit a solo home run in the ninth inning, his 35th, giving him a home run in back-to-back games after not hitting one before that since Aug. 22. The 35 home runs tied Ron Kittle's White Sox rookie record set in 1983.

What it means: Despite the defeat, it was a successful homestand as the White Sox won five of the seven games, including three of four against the playoff-contending Oakland Athletics. Now come more contenders as the White Sox first travel to Kansas City for a three-game series that starts Monday. The Royals and Detroit Tigers are battling down the stretch for the American League Central title and the White Sox could have a say in how the division finishes with three games against Detroit before the season ends and seven against Kansas City.

Outside the box: The defeat officially ended the White Sox’s chances of winning the AL Central and also of earning the first wild card spot. They have an elimination number of one when it comes to the second wild card spot.

Off beat: it’s easy to bash Dayan Viciedo's defense and many have this season. To his credit, he made a nice sliding catch on the left-field foul line in the seventh inning. Viciedo’s start in left field came a day after he started at first base in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. The White Sox could be interested in tapping into any defensive versatility he could offer next season, especially if they go a different route in left field, but still want to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible. Abreu still figures to get the most time at first base.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander John Danks (9-11, 5.05 ERA) to the mound Monday at Kansas City in the opener of a three-game series. The Royals will counter with right-hander James Shields (14-7, 3.13) in the 7:10 p.m. CST start from Kauffman Stadium.

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 5, A's 4 (12)

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
10:52
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – The Chicago White Sox rallied for a 5-4 victory in 12 innings Monday in the opener of a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics to end a four-game losing streak.

How it happened: Tyler Flowers made his mark in a big way, with a two-out home run in the ninth inning to tie it and another solo shot in the 12th to win it. Struggling on offense of late, the A’s used Sam Fuld's drag bunt on a squeeze to take a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning. White Sox starter Hector Noesi gave up three runs on four hits over 6⅓ innings. The White Sox scored on an error and a sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 lead in the opening inning without the aid of a hit. Conor Gillaspie hit his seventh home run, while Josh Reddick and Jed Lowrie went back-to-back for Oakland in the fifth. The White Sox won their 64th game, passing their victory total from a year ago.

What it means: While not a core building block for the future, Noesi continues to show that he could still have a role with the White Sox moving forward. The right-hander, claimed off waivers in late April, continues to keep Chicago in games. In five of his seven starts since the start of August, he has given up three earned runs or fewer five times and has not given up more than five runs in any of those outings.

Outside the box: The three runs Noesi gave up Monday was a nice enough outing, but it was almost double what the starting staff had given up the previous three games. White Sox starting pitchers had combined to give up four earned runs over 19 innings at Cleveland this past weekend. Even with Noesi’s outing against the A’s, the White Sox staff still has a 2.49 ERA over the past four games.

Off beat: Adam Dunn drew more cheers than boos when he came to the plate for the first time as a member of the A's, in the second inning. Dunn then managed to single into center field. In his next at-bat, he struck out against Noesi, with White Sox fans finally able to cheer a Dunn strikeout instead of boo one. Dunn struck out 720 times in nearly four seasons with the White Sox. He ended the night 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander John Danks (9-10, 5.12 ERA) to the mound Tuesday in the second game of the four-game series. The A’s will counter with left-hander Jon Lester (13-10, 2.54) in the 7:10 p.m. CT start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Gifts and laughs all part of Dunn's return

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
7:58
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Adam DunnAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastAdam Dunn catches up with former manager Robin Ventura before Monday's game.

CHICAGO – It was as though Adam Dunn never left, with the slugger back at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday, eight days after the Chicago White Sox traded him to the Oakland Athletics.

It was essentially as though Dunn had left on a road trip and returned, only now he must head to the visitors' locker room with the A’s.

Dunn is staying at his downtown residence this week, making his route to the ballpark the one he followed for nearly four years. And beyond the obvious change of uniform, there were other signs that things were different.

Former teammates Chris Sale and John Danks went in on a going-away gift they presented to Dunn on Monday. The only catch was that he had to come to the White Sox trainer’s room to get it. When he reluctantly came into the opposing clubhouse and opened the double doors to the back room, Dunn was actually moved.

A burnt-orange golf cart with a Texas Longhorns logo on the side was waiting for him. Dunn, a native of Texas, attended the university, where he played baseball and was a backup quarterback on the football team.

“I don’t know. It’s awesome. I don’t know how else to put it,” Dunn said. “For Chris and John to do that -- and they’re pitchers, which is kind of weird -- but for those two guys to think about doing it and actually do it, that means everything. I won’t tell them now, but everybody says it’s the thought that counts and it’s true. They could have handed me a Texas pencil, but it’s really cool of them. I probably won’t sell it immediately. I’ll probably keep it for a while.”

Finding a connection with his teammates was never difficult for Dunn. Finding a bond with the fans was another matter. After signing a four-year, $56 million contract, Dunn hit just 11 home runs, with 42 RBIs and a .159 batting average, in 2011, his first season on the South Side. He had just 66 hits.

The booing started quickly and never really relented, even though Dunn did hit 41 home runs the following season, with 96 RBIs. His 700-plus strikeouts with the White Sox were always a reminder of an unfulfilled contract.

“I get it. I get it,” Dunn said. “I had a fantasy team not do very well this week and I wasn’t happy with those guys, either. But I get it. Obviously it makes it harder, but it comes with the territory. Hopefully we can make them boo again tonight.”

Dunn admitted that it is awkward to return to his old stomping grounds so soon, and added that it’s too early to assess his time in Chicago. He’s trying to put his energy into helping the A’s into the playoffs and experience the postseason for himself for the first time.

As for where the White Sox are headed, Dunn figured it was going to be a tough transition this season as the roster was rebuilt, but he is impressed with the direction the team is headed.

“I know they have some really talented players,” Dunn said. “Obviously with Jose [Abreu], and you have Chris [Sale] at the top of the rotation, but people don’t talk about guys like Alexei [Ramirez]. A lot of times he’s the forgotten guy, and Conor [Gillaspie]. They have a great nucleus around them. It won’t surprise me one bit if these guys come out and do something really cool next year.”

As for saying on the day he was traded that he would retire at the end of the year, the 34-year-old has cooled a little on that stance, but doesn’t feel like discussing it anymore.

“Yeah, now that I’m in it, I haven’t even given it any more thought,” Dunn said. “I have enough to think about now. That’s the farthest thing from my mind right now. Luckily I don’t have to make that decision now and we’ll worry about that at the end of the year.”

Stock watch: Sale making Cy Young push

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8
1:25
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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SaleJon Durr/USA TODAY SportsWhite Sox ace Chris Sale has a 2.08 ERA over his last six starts but is just 1-2.

RISING


Streaking
Chris Sale, SP: The left-hander looks like he will have to go it alone in a final push for a potential Cy Young Award. Sale is just 1-2 over his last six starts (the team is 2-4 in those starts), while posting a tidy 2.08 ERA over that span. Sale leads the American League with a 2.09 ERA, just ahead of Felix Hernandez (2.18), who is considered his biggest competitor for the Cy Young honor. Sale is 11-3, while Hernandez is 14-5 this season.

Jose Abreu, 1B/DH: Abreu is close to becoming the first rookie to finish in the top five of all three triple crown categories. He will enter play Monday fifth in batting average (.320) and third in home runs (33) and fourth in RBIs at 99 after not recording any so far this month. Abreu's batting average is on the rise significantly as he has hit .471 since Aug. 22. As for that recent RBI drought, that is more a result of not having anybody to drive in since he is 5-for-15 since the start of the month.

Adam Eaton, CF: Despite going 0-for-4 on Sunday at Cleveland, Eaton is still batting .386 (51-for-132) over his past 34 games, a stretch going back to July 10. He has raised his overall batting average from .265 to .303, eighth best in the American League. He has a .382 batting average since the All-Star break.

FALLING


Slumping
Conor Gillaspie, 3B: It's hard to knock the left-handed hitter who has exceeded expectations offensively, but Gillaspie is batting just .209 since raising his batting average to an impressive .327 after a three-hit performance at Detroit on July 29. His batting average didn't fall under .300 for the first time until Aug. 30, and he will carry a .294 mark in to Monday's game, which is still 10th-best in the American League.

Alexei Ramirez, SS: The All-Star had a burst of energy in August to get his batting average near the .300 mark, but the start of September has been a struggle. Ramirez did hit a home run Friday at Cleveland, but is just 1-for-16 in the five games he has played this month. Those five games have come on the heels of a rare off day, Aug. 31.

Paul Konerko, 1B/DH: A bone fracture in his left hand will limit the retiring Konerko down the stretch. The team captain has refused to give up on his final month, though, and hopes to return at least by the final home series of the season which will include Paul Konerko night on Sept. 27. With 432 White Sox home runs, he won't catch Frank Thomas (448) for the top spot all-time in franchise history, but he does need one more HR to match Jason Giambi for 41st place in baseball history.

Sox nemesis Chen cut loose by K.C.

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
7:43
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- There just weren’t enough Chicago White Sox lineups out there to keep pitcher Bruce Chen employed, as the left-hander was designated for assignment Friday by the Kansas City Royals.

Chen's mastery of the White Sox surfaced primarily over the past few years with the Royals. The soft-tossing 37-year-old has tied the White Sox in knots start after start.

Chen has an 8-5 career record against the White Sox with a 3.40 ERA over 129 2/3 innings. The only American League teams against which he has a lower ERA are the Astros (2.72), Royals (3.14) and Blue Jays (2.97); most of his innings against the Astros came when they were in the National League, and he has only two starts against the Royals.

Chen is a combined 8-2 against the White Sox over the past four seasons in 14 starts. Only once in those four seasons did he have an ERA over 3.12 against Chicago. He was 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two starts against the Sox this year.

Paul Konerko has five career home runs against Chen, but even he has been reduced to a .222 (12-for-54) batting average against the lefty, while Alejandro De Aza is 4-for-18 (.222), Adam Eaton is 1-for-6 (.167), Tyler Flowers is 1-for-12 (.083) and Conor Gillaspie is 1-for-9 (.111).

Series preview: Tigers at White Sox

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
3:17
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers have played plenty of games against each other as American League Central rivals, but the second game of Saturday's day/night doubleheader will provide a unique moment.

White Sox starter Chris Bassitt and Tigers starter Kyle Ryan each will be making their major league debut against each other. The doubleheader came about after the June 10 game against the two teams was rained out.

Both players will be their team's extra 26th player, permitted for split doubleheaders that come about when a game is rescheduled. That means that each will be removed from the roster immediately after the game, but the White Sox have already said that Bassitt will be a part of their September expanded roster.

The opening game of the doubleheader will provide its own intrigue as American League ERA leader Chris Sale takes on the Tigers' Max Scherzer, who won the AL Cy Young Award last season. The Tigers originally planned to start Scherzer in the second game, but reportedly switched when they found out Sale was pitching in the first game.

Before the second game of the doubleheader, the White Sox are planning to honor the Jackie Robinson West Little League team from the South Side that won the United States championship at the recently-concluded Little League World Series. The team lost the international championship game to South Korea.

The second game is also Tony La Russa Bobblehead Night, with the White Sox also planning to honor their former manager, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in July.

HEAD TO HEAD



The White Sox's Jose Abreu is 4-for-9 (.444) against Tigers starter Justin Verlander this season with two solo home runs. ... The White Sox's Adam Dunn has six combined home runs against Tigers starters Scherzer and Verlander, but he has also struck out 37 times against the duo, including 23 times in 47 at-bats against Scherzer. ... The White Sox's Avisail Garcia is 5-for-10 (.500) against Tigers starter Rick Porcello, while Conor Gillaspie is 9-for-20 (.450). ... White Sox starter Scott Carroll has not faced the Tigers. ... The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera is 6-for-24 (.250) against White Sox starter Chris Sale with a pair of home runs. ... Cabrera is 7-for-20 (.350) against White Sox starter Jose Quintana with a home run.

NOTES



The White Sox have lost eight of their past nine games and six of their last eight at home. ... Abreu is 13-for-28 (.464) during his current eight-game hitting streak and has also hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games, going 20-for-49 (.408) in that stretch. ... Abreu is three RBIs short of becoming the fourth White Sox rookie to reach the 100 mark. ... Alexei Ramirez has not only shown some slick fielding of late, he also has 10 multi-hit games in the month of August. ... White Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton is coming off a series against the Cleveland Indians when he went 4-for-11 (.364) with a double, triple, RBI and four runs scored. ... Sale's 165 strikeouts are a franchise best through 21 starts of a season and his 2.03 ERA would be the lowest by a White Sox starter since Wilbur Wood had a 1.91 mark in 1971. ... The Tigers will enter the weekend series 1 1/2 games behind the first place Kansas City Royals in the American League Central. ... The last time these two teams met to close out July, the White Sox won the series at Detroit and have since gone 7-17 in the month of August.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (5-8, 5.05 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (11-11, 4.82), 7:10 p.m. CST
Saturday: Game 1: White Sox LH Chris Sale (10-3, 2.03) vs. Tigers RH Max Scherzer, (15-4, 3.13), 12:10 p.m. CST; Game 2: White Sox RH Chris Bassitt (0-0, 0.00) vs. Tigers LH Kyle Ryan (0-0, 0.00) 6:10 p.m. CST
Sunday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.48) vs. Tigers RH Rick Porcello (15-8, 3.06), 1:10 p.m. CST

Abreu pleased with direction of offense

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
7:36
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – As the losses mount, the Chicago White Sox still have a chance to accomplish some impressive feats, especially on offense.

As expected, if it has to do with the offense, then Jose Abreu must be involved. Abreu’s .308 batting average at the start of play Tuesday was eighth in the American League and just three points behind fifth place Michael Brantley of the Cleveland Indians.

Right behind Abreu in ninth place was Adam Eaton, who was batting .304. Eaton returned to the White Sox lineup Tuesday night after missing the last two-plus weeks while on the disabled list because of a strained right oblique.

Rounding out the top 10 of the American League batting chase was Conor Gillaspie, who was at .303.

“Definitely I’m very happy about that and I think it is a good sign the team is headed in the right direction,” Abreu said through an interpreter Tuesday. “I am proud of the individual accomplishments that I have been able to get, but I am not very happy with where we are at as a team, so we will have to work on that.”

The Detroit Tigers were the only other AL team with more than one player in the top 10 batting leaders. Victor Martinez was second at .328, while Miguel Cabrera was seventh at .308.

“It’s a sign in the right direction from where we were last year,” manager Robin Ventura said. “We have Jose in the middle of it. There were signs of turning it around. Alexei (Ramirez’s) year has been pretty nice, too. Eaton and Abreu, it helps offensively of what you’re going through from what we had last year, you feel like you’re able to score some runs.”

According to STATS LLC, the last time the White Sox had two players who finished in the top 10 in batting average was in 1993 when Frank Thomas was sixth with a .317 mark and Lance Johnson was 10th at .311.

The last time the White Sox had three or more players in the top 10 was in 1960 when Al Smith was second with a .315 average, Minnie Minoso was third at .311, Roy Sievers was sixth at .295 and Nellie Fox was ninth at .289.

Conor Gillaspie hitting his stride

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17
6:49
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Even without the kind of power he flashed Sunday, Conor Gillaspie has managed to show this season that he has long-term potential at third base for the Chicago White Sox.

As recently as the start of the season, that didn't seem a likely scenario. Gillaspie had a tendency to overthink things and failed to show consistency at the plate last year (his first with the White Sox), and his defense raised some red flags.

The White Sox even went out and traded closer Addison Reed to get power-hitting third baseman Matt Davidson into the system. If Gillaspie was prone to having his mind moving too fast, the presence of Davidson would surely spin him off his axis.

Instead, the Wichita State product has managed to lock in, mentally. He beat Davidson for the third-base spot this spring and has not looked back. After posting a batting average that reached as high as .353, on June 9, Gillaspie entered Sunday seventh in the American League with a .311 mark.

[+] EnlargeConor Gillaspie
David Banks/USA TODAY SportsThe White Sox gave up major league talent to get Gillaspie, who is in the AL's top 10 in batting average after a forgettable 2013 season.
"He's getting better at third base, so I think the way he swings the bat, he's definitely a piece that you like, and he's a good player," manager Robin Ventura said when asked if Gillaspie has developed into a core player. "I think on winning teams he's going to be a good player."

If there was an area Gillaspie seemed to sacrifice to get more base hits, it was the power department, but he showed Sunday that he hasn't given up on taking pitchers deep. His first-inning grand slam started the White Sox on their way to a 7-5 victory and a series win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Gillaspie is far from power obsessed, though. Instead of trying to add the power element now that he is settling into an everyday, big league role, he seems just fine being a contact guy who takes the home runs when they come.

"Like I've been [saying] all year, I try not to give away at-bats," Gillaspie said. "It's a bad feeling when you go up there and, for whatever reason, you don't compete or you take an at-bat off. No matter what the results are, that's a bad feeling. I went through it a lot last year, and I've been through it at times this year, so I always try to do my best to do the right thing when I'm up there, and I try to think ahead.

"The home runs are great, but at the end of the day, regardless of what happens hit-wise, if I'm not giving away at-bats, I at least know I'm putting in the effort and I didn't take at-bats off."

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 7, Blue Jays 5

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17
4:11
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 7-5 on Sunday to win their first series since the start of August.

How it happened: The White Sox opened with a six-run first inning and then held on for the victory. Conor Gillaspie hit a grand slam to get the White Sox on the board and Jordan Danks followed with a two-run home run. Scott Carroll worked in and out of trouble to earn the victory, giving up five runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. Four White Sox relievers combined to take it the rest of the way, with Jake Petricka pitching the ninth inning to earn his ninth save.

What it means: Things haven’t gone so well of late, but the White Sox managed to make a positive out of the weekend. Not only did they win the series against the Blue Jays by taking two out of three games, the offense resurfaced in victories Friday and Sunday. And even in the game they did lose Saturday, Avisail Garcia returned to the lineup, and Mark Buehrle was celebrated in his first start as an opponent at U.S. Cellular Field. It was the White Sox's first series victory this month.

Outside the box: Showing he’s not just a batter who hits for average, Gillaspie tapped into his power side with his grand slam. It was just the fifth home run of the season for the third baseman, who hit 13 for the White Sox in 134 games last year. At the start of the day, Gillaspie’s .311 batting average was seventh best in the American League. Jose Abreu's .306 average was 10th best and Adam Eaton’s .304 mark was 11th.

Off beat: This time, manager Robin Ventura avoided an ejection when a call at home plate didn’t go his team’s way. The White Sox appeared to get Jose Reyes at the plate in the first inning when he stepped on catcher Adrian Nieto's leg and was tagged out. After a replay review, though, it was determined that Nieto blocked the plate and the run was allowed to score. On Wednesday at San Francisco, Ventura was ejected and subsequently fined when an apparent out at home was reviewed and the run was allowed to score.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Chris Sale (10-2, 2.01 ERA) to the mound Monday against Baltimore in the opener of a three-game series. The Orioles will counter with right-hander Bud Norris (10-7, 3.75) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Series preview: White Sox at Giants

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
2:14
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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A struggling Chicago White Sox team has just the right guy on the mound Tuesday night as Chris Sale is set to pitch against the San Francisco Giants.

The White Sox are playing their last two interleague games of the season on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon against the Giants, and Sale is 3-0 lifetime with a 2.52 ERA in six starts against National League teams.

In fact, the last time he pitched in an interleague game, Sale earned the victory over the Giants on June 18 when he gave up three earned runs over six innings.

Sale is also coming off just his second defeat of the season, though. He gave up just two runs on three hits over six innings Wednesday against the Texas Rangers so that defeat was more a result of the White Sox being held down by Rangers pitching.

Sale is 10-2 with a 2.14 ERA this season and is making a Cy Young Award push, despite spending time on the disabled list earlier this season with a sore arm muscle.

On the road this season, Sale is 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA over six starts, five of which have been quality. Sale also has 39 strikeouts in those six road outings.

HEAD TO HEAD



The only active White Sox player who has faced Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong is Adam Dunn, who is 2-for-6 against the right-hander, with a home run and four walks. ... Giants starter Jake Peavy faced the White Sox on April 15 as a member of the Red Sox, giving up just one run on three hits with eight strikeouts over six innings against his former team, as Dunn hit a third-inning home run. ... White Sox starter Scott Carroll, who has never faced the Giants, is 0-1 in two outings against National League teams this season, with a 8.22 ERA. The Giants’ Buster Posey is 2-for-2 against Sale, while Gregor Blanco is 3-for-5.

NOTES



The White Sox have lost five of their past six games and seven of their last nine. ... The White Sox have been outscored 60-17 over their last eight games, totals that show the White Sox’s issues are in more than one area. ... After going 1-for-4 on Sunday at Seattle, Jose Abreu has a hit 28 of his past 29 road games and is batting .391 over that stretch with nine home runs and 24 RBIs. ... The White Sox are now 1-3 over a stretch of 15 consecutive games where they will face teams with winning records. They also have 19 of their last 22 games in August against teams above .500. ... The White Sox are 31-28 against teams with winning runs this season and 25-35 against teams under .500. ... The White Sox's Conor Gillaspie enters the series against his former organization with a .318 batting average, seventh best in the American League, and a .362 on-base percentage that is 17th best in the AL.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Tuesday: White Sox LH Chris Sale (10-2, 2.14 ERA) vs. Giants RH Ryan Vogelsong (7-8, 3.77), 9:15 p.m. CST
Wednesday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (4-7, 4.81) vs. Giants RH Jake Peavy (0-3, 4.82), 2:45 p.m. CST

Sox bullpen gets the break it needed

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
12:09
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Hector NoesiAP Photo/Andrew A. NellesHector Noesi kept the White Sox bullpen off the field a day after it allowed 15 runs to Minnesota.

CHICAGO -- Rain fell in buckets Monday, giving the Chicago White Sox's bullpen a symbolic cleansing following a filthy performance Sunday.

A 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers, called after 6½ innings because of a downpour, meant that the bullpen had to only sit back and do some soul-searching.

The relievers will have to take the mound soon enough, most likely Tuesday in support of starter John Danks, but there was no work Monday, a day after they were bruised and battered in giving up 15 runs on 18 hits over four innings against the Minnesota Twins.

Credit White Sox starter Hector Noesi with a seven-inning start, one that technically will go down as a complete game. The rest of the credit goes to the rain that shortened the game, not to mention a Tyler Flowers two-run single in the sixth inning that broke a tie a half-inning before the game was stopped.

“You know, I said to one guy in the bullpen that I wanted to go eight innings to help them,” Noesi said. “I tried to and I went seven, and rain gave me a complete game.”

The bullpen did get some reinforcement Monday in the form of Maikel Cleto, who was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte. More help is on the way, as Zach Putnam started a rehab assignment at Charlotte as he recovers from a sore shoulder. Matt Lindstrom is also at Charlotte, getting close to his own return after ankle surgery in May.

But White Sox manager Robin Ventura did not want Monday’s break for the bullpen to be about getting one day closer to the returns of Putnam and Lindstrom.

“We’re going to have to use them, so, for them, they’re just going to have to be ready,” Ventura said. “They’re going to have to be better.”

Noesi’s intention of going deep into Monday’s game was nice, but in the early going it didn’t look as if that was going to happen. Pitching against the team that designated him for assignment in April, the right-hander made a costly error in the second inning.

While covering first base, Noesi couldn’t handle a flip from first baseman
Jose Abreu and touch the bag at the same time. Instead of recording the third out of the inning, the Rangers got another chance and Rougned Odor took advantage with a two-run home run that gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead.

Abreu got the White Sox close in the third inning with a two-run single and Flowers tied the score with a solo home run in the fifth. With rain starting to fall in the sixth, the White Sox put runners on second and third and looked to have a prime scoring chance.

Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza struck out, though, and with the White Sox bullpen starting to stir, Flowers came through with a two-run single.

"We had that error early in the game and every time you have an error, it always seems to bite you," Flowers said. "They hit that home run and it was looking like it might be a tough day, but [Noesi] did a good job of bouncing back, command pitches, changing speeds and anticipating the rain coming too. So to be able to get deep into the game and save the bullpen, it was pretty good."

Daniel Webb threw some warm-up pitches in the seventh, but Noesi got through the inning, pumping his fist when Conor Gillaspie made a solid play on the infield to get the third out. The delay started shortly after the half-inning ended.

As he did last month after a victory over the Seattle Mariners, another of Noesi's former teams, the right-hander donned a baseball cap with the word “REVENGE” written on the front. He wasn’t about to hide the joy of beating his former team, but then tried to deny it was on his mind.

“I just try to pitch,” Noesi said. “Like with Seattle, I just go and try to throw my pitches.”

Noesi said all the right things, but he admitted that he will bring his “REVENGE” cap with him on the next road trip. He just happens to be on track to start at Seattle over the weekend.

After this outing, anyway, perhaps members of the bullpen can come up with a cap that says “THANK YOU” across the front.

“I don’t know that you can necessarily plan it, but in the end, you’re happy that Hector was able to go seven,” Ventura said. “We didn’t have to use anybody out there in a rain-shortened game.”

Series preview: Twins at White Sox

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
4:21
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
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CHICAGO -- They say the major leagues is extremely difficult, but Minnesota Twins starter Logan Darnell must think it’s downright unforgiving at this point.

The Twins’ left-hander will make his second career start (third appearance) Friday at U.S. Cellular Field and will have to face off against Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale for a second consecutive time.

The first meeting went predictably enough: Sale struck out 12 over eight scoreless innings, while Darnell gave up seven runs on 11 hits over five innings in his debut. Darnell, a Tennessee native, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Twins in 2010.

Sale has two months remaining in his Cy Young award push. He will enter Friday night’s game at U.S. Cellular Field with a 10-1 record and a 1.88 ERA. Sale is one of just three starters in baseball with a sub-2.00 ERA, along with the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.71) and the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (1.92).

Sale is 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA over his last seven starts and is 5-1 with a 1.33 ERA and 7-0 strikeouts over his last eight starts at home.

The lefty is the first White Sox pitcher since Mark Buehrle in the 20005 championship season to open a season 10-1 for the White Sox. In addition to leading the American League in ERA and win percentage (.909), he also leads in WHIP (0.86) and opponents’ batting average (.194).

HEAD TO HEAD


The White Sox’s Tyler Flowers, Conor Gillaspie, Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez all had two hits against Darnell last Saturday. … After just seven career starts, the Twins’ Yohan Pino has already found a team he matched up well against in the White Sox. Pino has given up a combined four runs over 13 innings in two starts against the White Sox, and the Twins won both games. … Twins starter Kyle Gibson has not faced the White Sox this season, but last season he held them to three runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings of an eventual Minnesota victory. … Sale is 2-0 in two starts against the Twins this year, posting a 1.76 ERA. … In two appearances against the Twins this season (one start, one in relief) White Sox starter Scott Carroll has given up just one run and six hits over 9 2/3 innings. … The Twins’ Josh Willingham is 9-for-18 with three home runs in his career against White Sox starter Jose Quintana, but Oswaldo Arcia and Trevor Plouffe are a combined 2-for-16 (.125) against the lefty.

NOTES


Jose Abreu has a 20-game hitting streak and has a hit in 38 of his last 39 games. Over that 39-game stretch, he has a .365 batting average (57-for-156), a .415 on-base percentage, 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 32 RBIs. … When Konerko reached the 4,000 total bases mark Thursday at Detroit, he became the 83rd player in major league history to accomplish the feat. … Abreu and Adam Eaton are both coming off a game when they reached base in all five trips to the plate. Eaton is batting a robust .441 (15-for-34) during a modest seven-game hitting streak. … White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper rejoined the team Friday after missing the road trip because he had vertigo. … Ronald Belisario might have flamed out in his brief stint as closer, but he does have 26 scoreless appearances this season. … Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki was signed to a two-year contract extension Thursday for $12 million, with a vesting option for 2017. … The Twins are 4-9 since the start of the second half, while the White Sox are 8-5.

PITCHING MATCHUPS


Friday: White Sox LHP Chris Sale (10-1, 1.88 ERA) vs. Twins LHP Logan Darnell (0-1, 7.88), 7:10 p.m. CST
Saturday: White Sox RHP Scott Carroll (4-6, 4.29) vs. Twins RHP Yohan Pino (1-3, 4.38), 6:10 p.m. CST
Sunday: White Sox LHP Jose Quintana (6-7, 3.15) vs. Twins RHP Kyle Gibson (9-8, 3.94), 1:10 p.m. CST

Conor Gillaspie set to join list of leaders

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
8:35
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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DETROIT -- If the planets, suns and moons all align just right for the Chicago White Sox, there is the potential they could end the year with a Cy Young Award, a rookie of the year honor, an MVP and a batting title in one incredible haul of hardware.

The odds are certainly long, but they aren’t lottery-like, either.

Chris Sale is in the Cy Young mix, while Jose Abreu appears to have the rookie award in hand, while also taking aim at the MVP.

[+] EnlargeConor Gillaspie
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsAmong the individual trophies the White Sox might garner this season, a batting title is a possibility for Conor Gillaspie.
Meanwhile, the batting title gets a little tricky.

The White Sox don't have anybody among the batting leaders at the present time, but that could change in the next day or two. Conor Gillaspie entered Wednesday’s game at the Detroit Tigers with a .327 batting average and needing five at-bats Wednesday, or eight at-bats by the end of Thursday’s play, to qualify in the batting race.

Players need 3.1 at-bats for each of their team’s games played to qualify.

There has been little national acclaim for the season Gillaspie is having, possibly because he plays at third base, a position usually relied on to deliver power production. Gillaspie has just four home runs and didn’t hit his first until July 1, although he did have three in consecutive games July 8-10.

There is also the idea that on-base percentage and OPS are a better way to gauge a player’s offense, although a batting title remains a prestigious honor among the players.

"The numbers are great, but I would rather just do things the right way and whatever that ends up leading me to, it is what it is," Gillaspie said. "As far as a quiet season, anything is pretty quiet when you have a couple of guys on our team that are hitting the way they are hitting. That’s all relevant. It doesn’t change how much emphasis I put on trying to have quality at-bats. That’s what I’m going to keep doing until I’m done playing."

Gillaspie gives new White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson a lot of the credit for taking him from a rookie prone to struggles last year to a hitter who has settled into his own in his second campaign.

"I’ve related well to a lot of things he’s said and a lot of things he’s told me that make sense to me," Gillaspie said.

If Gillaspie had qualified to be listed among the batting leaders before Wednesday’s game, he would have been tied for second with the Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano. The Houston Astros' Jose Altuve led the American League with a .343 mark.

Yet even if his name does start to appear atop the batting list by the end of the week, Gillaspie won’t put too much thought into it.

"The problem with that is the more you place emphasis on that, the more you see yourself in whatever newspapers or leaderboards," he said. "For me, the more I look into that, the more disappointed it gets when you don’t do well.

"The biggest thing is to stay the course, focus on things you can control and at the end of the year, wherever that is, it would be a good feeling to know you made adjustments and learned over the course of a year. I’ve just been trying to control other factors that can cause you to have bad at-bats."

White Sox's goal: A bullpen like KC's

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
6:00
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHCAGO – Eventually the White Sox would like to have a bullpen that is the envy of the league, or in other words, have one that closely resembles what the back end of the Kansas City Royals' relief corps looks like.

Thanks to a solid start by James Shields, the Royals only needed two innings from their relievers to hold back the White Sox in a 2-1 victory Wednesday, but those final two innings are where Kansas City does its best work, with setup man Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland.

Don’t be fooled by the Royals’ 3.48 ERA in the bullpen that is 13th-best in all of baseball. There might not be a finer setup man than Davis, who improved to 6-4 on Wednesday, and they have a dependable closer in Holland, who recorded his 26th save. Holland was an American League All-Star earlier this month.

“That's a good bullpen,” said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, who had two hits off Shields and never got a chance against Davis or Holland since they combined to retire all six batters they faced. “It seems like once they get to the seventh, it's a challenge to get a runner on base, much less try to get a run in. That makes it more important to take advantage of the situations early on.”

Contrast that to the White Sox’s plan and there couldn’t be two more different scenarios. The White Sox rotate their closer and setup man on a daily basis, a plan done out of necessity since nobody has been able to hold down the ninth-inning spot.

Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka and Daniel Webb have been trusted with the late innings for White Sox manager Robin Ventura, with none of the three holding a steady major league job before this season. Matt Lindstrom had the closer job first before an ankle injury, with Ronald Belisario taking it over only to struggle and be removed, even though the White Sox didn’t have a set replacement.

Bullpens can typically be rebuilt easier than other parts of the roster, but getting a dynamic back end won’t come easy. A key target area for the White Sox at next week’s trade deadline will be the bullpen. And what they can’t fix at the end of the month will be addressed moving forward and on into the offseason.

Since the calendar last year has been about revamping the offense by getting Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, the same type of targets, only on the pitching side, will be sought next. It will tough to find an arm like Davis' though.

When the right-hander walked Conor Gillaspie to start the bottom of the eighth in Tuesday's game, it snapped his streak of 18 consecutive batters retired. He also had eight consecutive hitless innings before Paul Konerko singled in the same inning Tuesday. Davis still didn’t give up a run in that game and came back with another scoreless inning Wednesday.

Konerko’s two-out hit Tuesday also prevented the Royals’ relievers from putting together a streak of nine consecutive hitless innings, otherwise known as a bullpen no-hitter.

Royals manager Ned Yost, who isn’t afraid to boast about his bullpen, was asked if he could think of anybody in baseball who has a better group of relievers.

“Not off the top of my head,” he said. “We're pretty good.”

Ventura would like to say the same one day, but it’s going to take some growth of from the current group, much better health and some key new additions heading into next year.

“They’ve got some good arms out there, so early on you’re wanting to do anything you can to add a little pressure and push a little bit to score,” Ventura said. “Not only to defend, but to be able to score.”

Abreu gets day to catch his breath

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
5:18
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu was held out of the Chicago White Sox’s lineup Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals, as manager Robin Ventura elected to give his sensational rookie first baseman a day of rest.

Ventura acknowledged a sore back for Abreu as his main inspiration for making the move, but said it is nothing serious.

“(Monday) night I was watching him run around,” Ventura said. “Going through the all-star stuff and everything else, not having a break, you just see little things, back stuff and him moving around. It looks like today is a good day to do it.”

Ventura brought Abreu into his office after Monday’s game for a little chat.

“I talked to him ... just being honest with him and him being honest with me so today was just a good day to do it,” Ventura said.

Conor Gillaspie was back up in the No. 3 spot of the lineup, while Paul Konerko was inserted at first base and slated to bat sixth. Adam Dunn was the designated hitter bating fifth, while Dayan Viciedo was the cleanup hitter.

It’s not like any minor aches and pains Abreu might have been experiencing have affected him much. He is currently riding a 12-game hitting streak and has a hit in 30 of his last 31 games. He has 29 home runs but hasn't hit one since July 12 at Cleveland.

Ventura said Abreu would be available as a pinch hitter late in the game.

“We talked about this a few days ago that every once in a while when things come up just knowing that he’s starting to get to the most games he’s ever played in a year portion, when things like this happen, you just give him a day,” Ventura said.

The regular season in Cuba, where Abreu has played the last 10 seasons, is less than 100 games. Abreu has already played 86 games this season.

“It’s not like (Abreu) is from another planet and he can’t do it,” Ventura said about the 162-game schedule. “I think every time a player does it for the first time there will be adjustments and things will be different. Other guys have done it and been able to manage it. I don’t think he will fall apart once he gets over 100 games.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.20 198 168
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .319
HRJ. Abreu 35
RBIJ. Abreu 103
RA. Ramirez 78
OPSJ. Abreu .975
ERAC. Sale 2.20
SOC. Sale 198