Chicago White Sox: Gordon Beckham

Abreu starts collection of rookie honors

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
3:42
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Jose AbreuMike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsJose Abreu remains humble about his accomplishments as a rookie.


CHICAGO -- In a prelude to what is expected to be the result of the official American League Rookie of the Year award, the Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu was honored Monday for his outstanding debut season.

The 27-year-old Abreu was named the Sporting News Rookie of the Year, a honor not related to the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award that is voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Abreu earned 149 of a possible 160 votes to win the honor in balloting conducted among major league players. The Los Angeles Angels' Matt Shoemaker earned four votes, while New York Yankees teammates Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka each earned three votes. The final vote went to Abreu’s White Sox teammate Marcus Semien.

“For me, it means a lot that the players who play against me recognize my efforts and my numbers,” Abreu said through an interpreter Monday via conference call. “I am thankful for all of them to give me support. I don’t have words to describe what I’m feeling right now.”

Abreu finished the season with a major league-leading .581 slugging percentage, while also posting a .383 on-base percentage in 145 games. He was second in the American League with a .964 OPS and second in total bases with 323.

Abreu’s 36 home runs not only were a White Sox rookie record, they were also third most in the AL. He was also fourth in RBIs with 107 and fourth in extra-base hits with 73.

“When spring training started, I just [wanted] to be 100 percent for the season and be able to help the team win games,” Abreu said. “When the season was finished and I had the opportunity to check my numbers, I feel very comfortable. Now, I prepare for whatever is in the future. The next award for me is OK. I’m very humble for all the accomplishments I had this year.”

Abreu was uncomfortable talking about personal accomplishments all season long, constantly saying he was more in tune with the team aspect of the game.

“All the numbers all the stuff during the season was for me, my family, the White Sox,” he said. “I don’t have words to describe how I feel about this year. I am humble for all that stuff.”

Abreu’s power did wane during the final two months of the season as he participated in a 162-game season for the first time in his career. In his native Cuba, Abreu never had more than 312 at-bats in a season for his Cienfuegos club. He had 556 at-bats for the White Sox this past season.

His performance suggests even better numbers moving forward if he can pace himself for the long schedule.

“I really am not a person that follows the numbers from the past; I don’t like to talk about it,” Abreu said. “I will prepare every year to get the numbers I got this year and make them better.”

Abreu became the first rookie in major league history to rank among the top five in his league in each Triple Crown category. He also joined Hal Trosky (1934), Ted Williams (1939) and Albert Pujols (2001) to hit at least 30 doubles, 30 home runs and collect 100 RBIs in a rookie season.

The last White Sox player to win the Sporting News rookie honor was Gordon Beckham in 2009. Abreu is also the 11th White Sox player to be honored with the rookie award from the publication.

The official American League and National League Rookie of the Year awards will be announced Nov. 10.

Sox don't want to be second guessing

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
11:08
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – The next generation of Chicago White Sox second basemen had a rough go of it Tuesday in an 11-2 defeat to the Oakland Athletics.

The White Sox are loaded with no fewer than three prospects ready to break through at middle infield, and two of them got a chance to show what they can do. With Carlos Sanchez actually playing second base Tuesday, Marcus Semien was asked to tap in to his versatility and play third.

In the end, it wasn’t pretty. Semien made three errors while going 0-for-3 at the plate with a strikeout. Sanchez had his own issues. He collided with Oakland’s Craig Gentry while late to cover first base in the fifth inning, and Gentry had to leave the game with a concussion. Then, on his RBI double in the seventh inning, Sanchez appeared to lose track of the ball and was easily thrown out while trying to stretch his hit into a triple.

Growing pains aren’t unexpected at this time of the year, and the White Sox know the issues they saw from their young infielders Tuesday all are correctable.

“You want them to get it out of their system,” manager Robin Ventura said. “They're good players -- bad night. We've seen Marcus make plays. Sanchez, same thing. They're up here, and you try to get that experience and get it out of your system and play better. That's a part of being up here. There's been guys that have been around a long time that had nights like that.”

Not in action Tuesday was probably the most talented second-base option of the bunch, Micah Johnson, whose season ended after he developed hamstring issues late in the year at Triple-A Charlotte.

Johnson ultimately projects as the long-term answer at second base, with his ability to use speed, his occasional power and an improving glove that has the White Sox excited for the future. Johnson entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the fastest base runner in the Chicago system.

Where Semien and Sanchez fit into the mix remains to be seen. One or both could be used as trade bait this winter, which makes their time on the major league stage over the next few weeks a valuable showcase.

Then there is the idea that Semien or Sanchez takes over at second base for perhaps another year, until Johnson is ready to assume the job. But Johnson will already be 23 next year, and the White Sox might be ready to give him his chance.

In 2009, Johnson was a ninth-round draft pick out of Indiana University. He didn’t get his first taste of Triple-A until this season, after he started the year at Double-A. He batted a combined .294 with five home runs, 44 RBIs and 22 stolen bases, though he was caught 13 times.

The glut of options is why the White Sox were finally comfortable severing ties with longtime second baseman Gordon Beckham. He was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in August, though he still had one more season of arbitration eligibility remaining before he hits his free-agent years.

It was Semien who started at second base on Opening Day when Beckham was out with an oblique injury. He showed flashes of brilliance early, especially with clutch hitting, but he was prone to striking out -- something he still needs to work out of his game.

As for his defense, Tuesday wasn’t a proud moment, but the White Sox won’t let one game change their feelings about him.

“You know what, you just have to move on,” Semien said afterward. “There are some plays I should have made -- I didn’t make ’em. We had a tough night tonight, so that’s it.”

Maybe next the White Sox will find out how Semien can put the rough days behind him, something Beckham always seemed to struggle with.

“Yeah, I can look at the plays all I want, [and] I can practice them,"Semien said. "I just want to come back tomorrow, have a good day at work, and if I’m in there, forget about today and move on."

White Sox get started on latest changes

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
10:41
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Chris BassittAP Photo/Matt MartonChris Bassitt gave up five runs on seven hits in his first major league start.

CHICAGO – A sluggish August for the Chicago White Sox has been a reminder that more roster tweaks are needed, even with activity already underway.

Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of a day/night doubleheader was mostly significant for the White Sox because of who wasn’t available. Alejandro De Aza was held out of the starting lineup with a trade in the works and before the fifth inning was complete, he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

The De Aza deal, combined with one that sent Gordon Beckham to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 21, was not unlike rearranging the living room to create space for a potential new piece of furniture.

The second-base spot is first being handed to Carlos Sanchez, and perhaps Marcus Semien as well, over the final month. Micah Johnson will then have a say in second-base matters next spring.

As far as left field, it remains to be seen who the White Sox plant there first, but Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell could see time as potential September call-ups. Perhaps Semien plays in left, too. The White Sox can then decide if they like what they see in one of those options, elect to stay with Dayan Viciedo or go another route.

“There's opportunity there,” Hahn said about the left-field job. “There's opportunity for someone to step up and seize that job, and if not, it's something we'll be looking to explore filling in the offseason.”

By moving Beckham and De Aza before the season was complete, the White Sox also save short of $1 million on each, but combined that isn’t an insignificant amount of money. It makes even more financial sense when considering both were probably going to be cut loose as arbitration-eligible players who might not have been tendered contracts.

Both Beckham and De Aza were headed toward raises over the $4 million-plus each was making. Going off what those salaries are this season, the White Sox have another $8.4 million to work with. Then consider Adam Dunn's $15 million, Matt Lindstrom's $4 million and Paul Konerko's $2.5 million all come off the books for 2015. Ronald Belisario ($3 million) could be a non-tender candidate.

Money to spend is for the offseason, though. This next week is about young players getting their chance to audition for a roster that will have even more reinforcements soon.

“You are going to have some guys up here for those are positions that now have opportunities,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You are going to see some guys in there that are different than what we’ve had for the last couple of years. They are going to get a chance.”

Another player whose audition began Saturday night was right-hander Chris Bassitt, who gave up five runs on seven hits with four walks in 6⅓ innings. Bassitt will remain with the team through the rest of the season and could even get some starts over the final month.

“For a first time up here, I’m sure he’s real nervous, but besides the couple of innings there, he settled down and really kind of gathered it back together,” Ventura said. “It was nice to see -- he had a real live arm. For his first time, it’s intriguing. It’s one of those where you like what you see. He’s pretty young, so he’ll be up here in September, and we’ll see what we do.”

Bassitt not only got his first chance to pitch in the major leagues, but he also saw a major league teammate get traded for the first time, and it wasn’t lost on him that changes are happening, with multiple opportunities available.

“Yeah, I mean definitely,” Bassitt said. “You look at it as pretty much 'go out there and prove your worth from here on out' and just pretty much just try to go out there and compete as much as you can, just to show them that, ‘Hey, I can compete at this level.’ Not only that but, you deserve to be here. You have a little space for them to go and say: ‘Hey, this guy can make us win in the future.’”

Playoff rosters for contenders aren’t due to the league office until Sunday, so the White Sox still have time to make deals. Dunn could even get moved to a contender that needs some left-handed power.

“The deadline's 11 [p.m. CT Sunday], so we're going to have to keep working and exploring some opportunities,” Hahn said.

Another season of change has arrived in earnest.

Defensive shortcomings to be addressed

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
11:11
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Team defense will be addressed in the offseason, which means the Chicago White Sox could be looking for a new left fielder come 2015.

[+] EnlargeAlejandro De Aza, Adam Eaton
David Banks/Getty ImagesLeft fielder Alejandro De Aza made this catch against the Indians despite colliding with Adam Eaton, but overall has been a defensive liability all season.
Just one batter into Thursday’s eventual 3-2 defeat to the Cleveland Indians, Alejandro De Aza misplayed a ball along the left-field stands into a triple. It led to a quick 1-0 Indians lead and the White Sox were left to play catch-up much of the night.

That it was a low-scoring affair Thursday only highlighted the impact one misplay can have.

De Aza and Dayan Viciedo have been defensive liabilities all season and whether either returns next season remains to be seen. The White Sox are set to go with Adam Eaton in center field and Avisail Garcia in right field next year.

Defense isn’t the only area where they White Sox need to make fundamental improvements, but it is an area that continues to hurt them often.

“Being fundamentally sound in every aspect of the game is a priority for us,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “We have made some improvements in certain areas, but we are not where we need to be. We know that, whether it's an element of personnel or instruction, it's something that we look to fairly regularly during the season and then more intensely early in the offseason, when we try to address some of those needs.”

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Beckham: 'I'm happy for a clean slate'

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
7:01
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -– As tough as it was for Gordon Beckham to leave the only franchise he has ever known, he is excited for his chance to play for a playoff-contending team in the Los Angeles Angels.

Beckham spoke respectfully about the Chicago White Sox while sounding optimistic about the future in a conference call with Chicago reporters Tuesday, five days after he was dealt to the Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

“It's an exciting time, it really is, because of where this team's at and where I'm at in my career,” Beckham said about playing for the first-place Angels. “I'm happy for a clean slate, I really am, and anything I can do to help this team win is much more important than anything personally. I just want to be here, show up every day, do the work and contribute when I get called upon.”

Beckham tried to be that player in six seasons with the White Sox, but it never panned out after an impressive rookie season in which he batted .270 with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs in 2009. He played in only 59 minor league games before his arrival on the South Side.

Beckham batted .244 in 2,607 career at-bats with the White Sox, hitting 61 home runs with 276 RBIs and a .306 on-base percentage.

“I think being up there so quick and not having much failure in the minors, I had to learn kind of on the big stage how to fail and how to fail with grace, I guess,” Beckham said. “It would have been easy for me to just make excuses and blame other people for my shortcomings. I'm glad I handled it like that and didn't blame anybody else. But I just didn't fail a lot in the minors.

“To come up in the big leagues and fail in front of a big league audience, it was definitely tough and it took a lot from me. But it made me a better person, it made me a better player, honestly, as much as some people probably wouldn't believe that. I learned how to play the game. I learned the ups and downs are difficult but manageable.”

Beckham knew all along that a trade was likely, especially with the White Sox heavy on second-base prospects, and despite not knowing about his own trade options he had no issues with the process.

“I had a conversation with a couple people just about trying to do well, I guess,” he said. “I didn't expect them to keep me in the loop [on trades]. As a player you go and play and you do what you're told. I didn't expect it and I didn't ask. No, there was no communication and I didn't expect that. I didn't expect them to communicate with me, saying that there's a chance I still might be traded. That's not really my place to ask, honestly, so I didn't.”

The White Sox and Angels have identified a pool of players in the Angels’ system that the player to be named later will be picked from. General manager Rick Hahn has said that decision won’t be made until the offseason.

Series preview: Indians at White Sox

August, 26, 2014
Aug 26
3:01
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Seven more days remain before the Chicago White Sox will get some reinforcements in the form of September call-ups from the minor leagues.

General manager Rick Hahn has already suggested that the White Sox will call up five to eight players, with that set to happen after the current homestand is completed. That homestand begins Tuesday night with a three-game set against the Cleveland Indians, followed by a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers that includes a day/night doubleheader Saturday.

The dog days of August certainly seem to have taken their toll on the White Sox, who are fading fast. They are just 6-15 in August, after going 14-12 in July and will enter Tuesday night's game a season-high 12 games under .500 at 59-71.

Where the White Sox need the most help is in the bullpen. They are 13th in the 15-team American League in bullpen ERA at 4.41, 14th in save percentage at 60 percent and last in strikeouts from their relievers at 297.

The bullpen is operating without a left-hander, although that could change if they add Carlos Rodon to the mix next month. The team's first-round draft pick this June already has delivered two impressive outings at Triple-A Charlotte over the past week.

The expected number of reinforcements might be one player less since infielder Carlos Sanchez has already arrived, joining the team after Gordon Beckham was traded to the Los Angeles Angels last week. And Hahn already has said that infielder Marcus Semien will join the team on or after Sept. 1.

One year after being completely dominated by the Indians, when the White Sox went 2-17, they are a much-improved 8-5 against their division rivals, although each team has scored 58 runs in the season series.

HEAD TO HEAD



Indians rookie starter T.J. House faced the White Sox in his third career outing in May, giving up one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings of a game the White Sox eventually won. ... The White Sox's Jose Abreu is 3-for-9 against Indians starter Corey Kluber this season with a home run. ... The White Sox's Alejandro De Aza is 5-for-10 (.500) with two doubles and four RBIs against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco. ... The Indians' Michael Brantley is 7-for-15 (.467) with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs against White Sox starter Jose Quintana. ... The Indians' Jason Kipnis is 0-for-10 with two strikeouts against White Sox starter Hector Noesi. ... The Indians' Ryan Raburn is 14-for-42 with five doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs against White Sox starter John Danks.

NOTES


Adam Eaton, who has been out since Aug. 9 with a strained right oblique, has been reinstated to the active roster. ... The White Sox are on a season-long six-game losing streak and they have also lost 13 of their last 17. ... Abreu has hit safely in nine of his last games and is batting .395 (15-for-38) over that stretch with two home runs and eight RBIs. ... De Aza is batting .354 (23-for-65) with six doubled and two RBIs over his last 18 games, hitting safely in 15 of them with seven multi-hit contests in that stretch. ... De Aza needs one hit for 500 in his career. ... Adam Dunn needs three home runs to tie Jose Canseco (462) for 34th on the all-time list, and needs two walks to tie Ken Griffey Jr. (1,312) for 41st on the all-time list. ... Paul Konerko needs one home run to tie Jason Giambi (44) for 41st on the all-time list. ... The Indians' Brantley is batting .100 (3-for-30) over his last eight games.

PITCHING MATCHUPS


Tuesday: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (6-10, 3.25 ERA) vs. Indians LH T.J. House (2-3, 3.80), 7:10 p.m. CST
Wednesday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (7-8, 4.39) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (13-7, 2.46), 7:10 p.m. CST
Thursday: White Sox LH John Danks (9-8, 4.96) vs. Indians RH Carlos Carrasco (5-4, 3.14), 7:10 p.m. CST

Series preview: White Sox at Yankees

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
2:57
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago White Sox will begin life without Gordon Beckham on Friday night when the team opens a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Beckham, whose departure had been expected for some time, was traded to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday for a player to be named later or cash considerations. With no less than three young second base prospects ready to break through to the major league level, Beckham was considered expendable.

Micah Johnson and Marcus Semien are two of the White Sox's highly-touted second-base prospects, but it is Carlos Sanchez who will take Beckham's roster spot and be available in the series at New York. Semien will be called up when rosters expand in September, while Johnson has been shut down for the rest of the year with a hamstring issue.

Johnson is considered the second baseman of the future and the team remains high on Semien, despite his strikeout issues during his time with the major league team earlier this season. Sanchez's future with the White Sox is cloudier.

The White Sox could let Sanchez play every day in the hopes that potential success could make him attractive on the trade market this offseason. Or he could be the starting second baseman to start next season if Johnson isn't quite ready to break through and he is deemed a better option than Semien.

What is a certainty is that the White Sox's depth at second base is better than at any other position in the minor leagues, which made Beckham's days numbered.

HEAD TO HEAD



Yankees rookie starter Shane Greene, who will be making his ninth career appearance and eighth career start, has not faced the White Sox. ... The White Sox's Alexei Ramirez is 8-for-21 (.381) with two home runs and eight RBIs in his career against Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda. ... The White Sox's Adam Dunn has seven hits and two home runs in 27 at-bats against Yankees starter Chris Capuano, while the rest of the players on the White Sox's active roster have a combined 15 at-bats against the lefty. ... The Yankees Derek Jeter is 6-for-20 (.300) against White Sox starter John Danks. ... Yankees hitters are a combined 0-for-9 with a walk and four strikeouts against White Sox starter Scott Carroll. ... Jeter is 3-for-8 (.375) with a home run against White Sox starter Chris Sale.

NOTES



The White Sox moved to a season high nine games under .500 at 59-68 after going 2-4 on their just-concluded homestand against the Blue Jays and Orioles. ... Leadoff man Adam Eaton is on a minor league rehab assignment for an oblique injury and is eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, but he is not expected to play in the series against the Yankees. ... Since returning from the disabled list last weekend, White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia is 5-for-16 (.313) with a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored. ... Expect Paul Konerko to be in the starting lineup Sunday, which will be his last game at Yankee Stadium. Konerko has hit safely in nine of his last 14 games, is hitting .283 against left-handers this season and the Yankees will have a lefty in Capuano on the mound for the series finale. ... In the 17 games the teams have played at new Yankee Stadium, the Yankees have won 12 of them, including five consecutive over the White Sox.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday: White Sox LH John Danks (9-8, 4.94 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Shane Greene (3-1, 2.91), 6:05 p.m. CST
Saturday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (5-7, 4.99) vs. Yankees RH Hiroki Kuroda (8-8, 3.97), 12:05 p.m. CST
Sunday: White Sox LH Chris Sale (10-3, 2.12) vs. Yankees LH Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.35), 12:05 p.m. CST

Sox gave Beckham every opportunity

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
8:23
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Gordon Beckham Rob Tringali/Getty ImagesGordon Beckham never quite lived up to expectations that came with being a top-10 draft pick.

CHICAGO – If there is one thing the Chicago White Sox can’t be accused of, it is quitting on Gordon Beckham too soon.

Beckham, who was traded Thursday to the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations, played six seasons on the South Side and never did manage to meet the expectations he set for himself as an eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft. Only one year later the infielder arrived at the major league level and turned heads.

It turned out that Beckham’s coming-out party in 2009 ended up being his curse. As much as he tried to be the guy who batted .270 over 103 games in that 2009 season, with 14 home runs and 63 RBIs, he became a modern-day Sisyphus, rolling the boulder up the hill only to see it roll back down again.

Beckham alternated slumps with hot streaks that reminded anybody watching of that 2009 season. In the interim, he made huge strides defensively at second base after growing up a shortstop. Beckham wasn’t a Gold Glover, but he turned himself into an above-average player with the leather.

But solid defense, and the continued promise of better offense, couldn’t sustain Beckham forever, especially since he was making $4.175 million this year and in line to make more in 2015, his final season of arbitration eligibility.

“You want to give everybody a fair opportunity and especially a guy you have drafted and developed and especially those who have had success at the big league level,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “You want to give them the chance to fulfill and reach and extend on that potential. With Gordon having close to 2,900 plate appearances in a White Sox uniform, I think we are all very comfortable that we did give him that chance.”

Hahn said he talked to the 27-year-old Beckham on Thursday to inform him of the deal, and even though a trade had been anticipated for some time, Beckham was said to be a little surprised when it finally went down. Beckham also expressed his appreciation that the White Sox stuck with him so long.

“Everyone throughout baseball, all 30 teams I think, are biased in favor of their own guys, and you take a little bit extra pride when it’s one of your own guys succeeding," Hahn said, "so none of us wanted to pull the plug prematurely on a guy who had the talent like Gordon, and I think we did not err on that side.”

In the end, Beckham never could find an offensive approach that sustained him for long periods. It was also clear that Beckham struggled with the mental side of the game, and his struggles that appeared when the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approached were no surprise.

“I don’t think that any of us are really in the position to explain what he was going through in his mind or what he felt,” Hahn said. “We just saw the byproduct of the hard work trying to pull himself out of the struggles when they occurred. He’s obviously of tremendous character, a great makeup guy it just didn’t work for him.

“The big part of this game, as we all know, is mental, and that can be extremely difficult to get past. Perhaps with a change of scenery it becomes easier with the new organization, not the one that drafted him, to become easier on himself or to let go of those expectations a little bit and fulfill that potential. He’s obviously still quite young and filled with talent.”

Beckham tried to let fate take its course when it came to a pending trade. He said all the right things, but his offensive struggles, which went back to the start of July, suggested it was squarely on his mind.

“You just have to let it happen the way it’s going to happen,” Beckham said just over a week before the July 31 deadline. “It’s not one of those things I’m going to worry about. If it’s here or somewhere else, that’s what’s supposed to happen.”

Hahn complimented Beckham’s work ethic and desire to win, and Beckham himself prided himself on doing whatever it took to prepare himself.

“Yeah, a lot goes into it; just a lot goes into it,” Beckham said in late July. “You show up every day, you work hard, you want it to work out for you and your team. Baseball is a very unforgiving game. You’re going well [and then] it tends to not go well. It’s a tough game. But there is a lot more that goes into it than the box score.”

Figuring how to get more consistency out of Beckham is something that plagued the White Sox year after year. Now it’s the Angels’ job to figure out what will get the talented Beckham over the hump.

“Obviously this is an extremely difficult game and a game of constant adjustments, and part of the failure that guys go through in the minor league system is learning how to adapt and pull themselves out of that failure,” Hahn said. “When you have to do that on the major league stage in a major market for the first time in your career and you have never had to fall back on those survival skills and the ability to adjust, it becomes a little more difficult.

“A lot was asked of Gordon Beckham to try to pull out of that and fulfill the expectations his talent and early performance certainly set for him. I don’t think that alone is the explanation but it may as well have contributed.”

Beckham, De Aza get night off

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
5:53
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham both were out of Tuesday’s Chicago White Sox lineup as manager Robin Ventura went with a slightly different look.

De Aza got the day off because he is nursing a sore left knee after fouling a ball off it in the sixth inning of Monday’s game. Beckham, whose struggles have lasted for more than a month, was getting a day to “recharge.”

“[De Aza] came in and at first we thought he was all right, then we went out to run and [the left knee] was pretty sore,” Ventura said. “He’s out of there.”

Moises Sierra got the start in right field, batting ninth, while Dayan Viciedo moved to left field. Sierra brings instant improvement on defense and also has been known to get hot at the plate on occasion. He has delivered two four-hit games since joining the White Sox in May, the most recent coming Thursday at Detroit.

Beckham turned over the second base position for the day to Leury Garcia, who will bat eighth. Tyler Flowers, who is batting .458 with 13 RBIs over his last 15 games, was moved up to the No. 7 spot.

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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.”

Stock watch: Eaton up, bullpen crashes

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
1:57
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Adam EatonAP Photo/Andrew A. NellesComing off a .340 July, Adam Eaton is batting .538 through three games in August.

RISING

Streaking
Adam Eaton, CF: Four months into the season and the team's new leadoff man continues to impress. A current 10-game hit streak and 20-game on-base streak is one thing, but Eaton has also helped to stabilize defense in center, a spot previously occupied by Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios. The White Sox moved starter Hector Santiago and minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs to get Eaton and at this point they have zero buyer's remorse.

Jose Abreu: 1B: Going hitless in his past two games doesn't necessarily sound like somebody on the rise, but nobody dares to call Abreu a hitter on a slide after the monster July he produced. Abreu's power numbers seemed to have cooled of late, but he had a hit in all but one July game and batted .374 during the month with a 1.099 OPS. Abreu's six home runs in July are just one more than he hit in May, when he spent two weeks on the disabled list. Blame a sore lower back that plagued him late in the month.

Starting pitching: White Sox starters own a 3.42 ERA over their past 36 starts, one of the best marks in the American League over that stretch. Since June 23, when the solid stretch began, the White Sox have lowered their overall starters' ERA from 4.77 to 4.30. White Sox lefties Jose Quintana, Chris Sale and John Danks have combined to go 25-14 with a 3.21 ERA this season in 61 combined starts (44 quality).

FALLING

Slumping
Ronald Belisario, RP: It might make more sense to simply qualify the entire bullpen as on the decline, especially after its meltdown Sunday (15 runs in four innings), but Belisario has managed to stand out from the rest. The right-hander has given up at least three runs in three of his last four outings. The former Dodgers reliever has always been an up-and-down proposition, starting slow, pitching better in the middle of the season and fading late. What is troubling is that his career 4.17 ERA in August is his worst of any month.

Eric Surkamp, RP: Give the left-hander credit for trying to adapt to a bullpen role after being called up in June from Triple-A Charlotte where he was a starter. The transition has had its rough spots. Surkamp's contribution to Sunday's bullpen troubles was two runs on four hits over one inning. He has given up a run in three consecutive outings, and four of his last five, and now has a 7.84 ERA on the season.

Gordon Beckham, 2B: A two-hit game on Saturday showed some signs of life, but since the start of July, Beckham's overall production remains alarmingly low. An 0-for-3 day on Sunday means that Beckham is batting just .149 (16-for-107) since July 1. Although he wouldn't admit it, the thought has been that the approaching July 31 non-waiver trade deadline was messing with his mind. Now that the deadline has passed, it wouldn't be surprising to see Beckham improve at the plate.

White Sox stand pat as deadline passes

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
6:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DETROIT – A Chicago White Sox team still in the midst of a roster rebuild was unable to take advantage of trade deadline player movement Thursday.

Gordon Beckham, Dayan Viciedo and John Danks were all trade possibilities, but no deals went down. The asking price on Alexei Ramirez was said to be too high for suitors, while Adam Dunn remains a possibility to be moved during the trade waivers period in August.

“If there was something there we would have done something,” manager Robin Ventura said. “We know people are making moves all over the place, but like (what was) said earlier, we probably expected to have these guys in here today and tomorrow, and that’s what we’ve got.”

At this point last year, the White Sox had already added Avisail Garcia, doing it July 30 when Jake Peavy was sent to the Boston Red Sox. In August of last year, the White Sox pulled off a move that sent Alex Rios to the Rangers. That deal not only freed up some cash, but also brought back Leury Garcia in return.

In the offseason, center fielder and leadoff man Adam Eaton was brought into the mix via trade and Jose Abreu was signed. The White Sox also traded closer Addison Reed for third baseman Matt Davidson, but that move has yet to yield a return since Davidson remains at Triple-A Charlotte.

The White Sox still have areas of the roster that could use bolstering. Their bullpen has gone through some difficult times and the back end of the rotation has proved to be vulnerable. Moving forward, the White Sox still need to decide if Viciedo is the answer in left field and if Tyler Flowers is their guy at catcher.

None of those needs were met Thursday, but it didn’t mean the White Sox would not see the awkward trade process first-hand. In the seventh inning, with Beckham at the plate, the Tigers pulled center fielder Austin Jackson out of the game because he had been traded to the Seattle Mariners.

Tigers starter Drew Smyly already had been told that he was headed to the Tampa Bay Rays, with former Cy Young Award winner David Price headed to Detroit.

“It was odd,” Ventura said. “At first I thought the pitcher might have been hurt, but we’ve seen that before when deals were going down. I don’t know how many minutes it was before (the deadline). But when you see that happen, I’m sure it’s weird for them. It’s odd in the middle of the game even for their team to have that happen. You can tell it affects some guys.”

An inning after the trade, the White Sox added two runs to help wrap up a 7-4 victory.

Beckham, who acknowledged that the past few weeks have been awkward, looked comfortable when he doubled in a run in the second inning. But, otherwise, the White Sox have insisted that nobody was feeling any trade-deadline pressures.

“Truthfully, it wasn’t even a topic of conversation in here between anybody,” Danks said. “There’s nothing anybody can do about it. It’s part of the game, and, yeah, I don’t think that had any effect on any of us, to be honest.”

Now comes August, when players who go through trade waivers can be moved. The restrictive nature of the process tends to reduce the anxiousness.

“The deadline doesn’t mean you can’t get (a trade) done,” said Dunn, who could end up being an August target of a team in need of left-handed power. “If you are worried about that, you aren’t worried about what you are supposed to be worried about. I mean, personally, I don’t ever think about it. I know a lot of times a lot of guys read stuff they probably shouldn’t read and start believing it.”

While Thursday brought the official end to this deadline, indications are that White Sox players knew there might not be a deal as far back as a week and a half ago. It could help to explain the 5-2 record on their just-concluded road trip to Minnesota and Detroit, as well as their eight victories in 13 games since the All-Star break.

“They were pretty good today as far as being able to not really pay attention to it,” Ventura said of his team that pounded out 16 hits. “I think even this road trip, two weeks ago it was probably in their head a little bit, and this road trip was good.”

Now comes a six-game homestand against Minnesota and Texas and maybe a chance for some guys to cancel that pending order for moving boxes.

“It ended on a good note,” Ventura said of the road trip. “Guys swung the bat today, even early on putting pressure on. And you’ve got a guy like Moises (Sierra) swinging like he did. Any time the bottom of your order is swinging like that you have a chance to score some runs. I wouldn’t say (Danks) was particularly sharp, but we battled through it.”

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 7, Tigers 4

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
4:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive

 
DETROIT -- The Chicago White Sox pulled out a 7-4 victory Thursday to complete their series victory over the Detroit Tigers.

How it happened: Paul Konerko, making a rare start as the designated hitter, had two hits and brought in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning when he was hit by a pitch. John Danks had a rough start, but limited the damage to four Tigers runs, including back-to-back home runs from Torii Hunter and J.D. Martinez in the third inning. Jose Abreu had three hits to extend his hit streak to 20 games. He also has a hit in 38 of his last 39 games. Abreu and Adam Eaton each reached base in all five of their trips to the plate. Moises Sierra had his second four-hit game of the season. The White Sox had 16 hits.

What it means: The non-waiver trade deadline has passed, which will go a long way toward relieving some tension in the clubhouse. Gordon Beckham, who has been out of sorts as the deadline approached, figures to benefit the most from the breath of fresh air. Danks, Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez all had been mentioned in possible trades at some point this month, but none appeared close to happening.

Outside the box: Abreu’s hitting streak is the longest from a White Sox player since Carlos Lee hit in a franchise-record 28 consecutive during the 2004 season. During the current hit streak, Abreu is batting .407 (33-for-81) with four home runs and 14 RBIs. He also took sole possession of third place on the White Sox’s all-time hitting streak list for rookies, behind Guy Curtright (26 games in 1943) and Chico Carrasquel (24 games in 1950).

Off beat:
The White Sox didn’t make a deadline deal Thursday, but were witnesses to the blockbuster move that involved the Tigers. With Beckham at the plate in the seventh inning, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus came out of the dugout to call time out, and center fielder Austin Jackson was removed from the game. Jackson was headed to Seattle in a three-team deal that also involved the Rays and brought left-hander David Price to Detroit.

The White Sox and Tigers might be rivals, but there was a playful spirit in the air Thursday. Danks hit Hunter with a breaking ball, with both players laughing about it as Hunter limped away. Ramirez playfully swatted at Miguel Cabrera's glove on a play at first base, and when a foul ball bounced back on the field near the White Sox’s on-deck circle, Beckham playfully swatted it away from Alex Avila as if it were still a live ball. Plenty of competitiveness remained, with the interaction showing a mutual respect between the teams.

Up next: The White Sox will send left-hander Chris Sale (10-1, 1.88 ERA) to the mound Friday against Minnesota in the opener of a three-game series. The Twins will counter with left-hander Logan Darnell (0-1, 7.88) in the 7:10 p.m. start from U.S. Cellular Field.

Game to take minds off deadline

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
12:15
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DETROIT -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura had the lineup posted early outside the clubhouse doors and the names of all the usual suspects were written in black permanent marker.

There are no definitives when it comes to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but as the White Sox sat a few hours before moves were supposed to be completed, a sense of calm permeated the locker room that earlier in the month had an edge to it.

[+] EnlargeJohn Danks
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsWith the trade deadline looming, John Danks took the mound for the White Sox on Thursday.
At one point well in advance of Thursday’s afternoon game with the Detroit Tigers, when manager Robin Ventura entered the clubhouse his presence elicited a mock warning alarm from a table that consisted of Alejandro De Aza, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo.

It got a grin out of Ventura, who was not there to tap a player on the shoulder and tell him to pack his bag. Discussion of the morning’s trade between the Oakland Athletics and the Boston Red Sox was airing nearby on a television.

“I can mess with you guys, but I expect these guys to all be here,” Ventura said. “The lineup is the lineup today, unless something happens. I’ll find out then.”

Ventura’s plan to “mess with” the media, and perhaps some players, was to take the lineup card down and rewrite a new one with some names missing.

“It looks like (A’s general manager) Billy Beane had his coffee on early this morning; he’s doing most of (the trade activity). You can mess with the guys if you want to, but I’ll let the players do that. They like doing that to each other.”

John Danks was mentioned in rumors this month, with the New York Yankees possibly interested, but he warned up and took the mound in the first inning, lessening chances a deal was coming. Gordon Beckham, whose days seem to be numbered with a healthy amount of second base prospects in the organization, was in the lineup as well.

Ramirez, Viciedo, and anybody else who popped up in a rumor this month was on the field playing out the last hours before the deadline.

“It is what it is,” Beckham said about the deadline. “I mean, it’s just another day, you know. ... Yeah, it will feel good to get that behind us.”

It doesn’t mean the opportunities for deals are done. If the roster remains intact by the end of Thursday, there is always trade waivers in August. Beckham, Viciedo and even Adam Dunn could all be traded then, depending on teams’ stretch-drive needs.

But Thursday is the day that players always sweat the most.

“For them it would be good (to get past the deadline),” Ventura said. “Even for us, we’re just talking about stuff that’s all hypothetical and you don’t know what it really holds. Everybody is going to be happy to get by (this day).”

White Sox taking trade deadline in stride

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
10:14
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DETROIT -- On the one-year anniversary of Jake Peavy’s trade to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, all was quiet with the Chicago White Sox.

That 2013 trade, which is now fondly known as the deal that brought Avisail Garcia to the South Side, signaled the start of the White Sox’s current roster rebuild, which is in full swing with Jose Abreu at first base and Adam Eaton in center and at the leadoff spot.

It also was announced Wednesday that Garcia is headed out on a minor league rehab assignment, with a return later this season still possible.

With this year’s non-waiver trade deadline fast approaching at 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, the White Sox don’t look to be in position to make much of a splash.

Gordon Beckham’s struggles, which have lasted well more than a month now, have crashed his market.

Dayan Viciedo had off-and-on interest, John Danks won’t yield both the salary relief combined with the prospect the White Sox are looking for, and nobody is willing to meet a steep price on Alexei Ramirez.

Adam Dunn is more likely to be moved in August through trade waivers, if at all, than in July.

If teams want to buy what the White Sox are selling, perhaps a final-day agreement can be brokered. Nothing pushes a deal to fruition like a set deadline.

After Wednesday’s 7-2 defeat to the Detroit Tigers, Beckham said the passing of the trade deadline will take a weight off his shoulder. But he added that he still has plenty more to deal with if he wants to start being productive again.

“I’m definitely not going to blame my struggles on the trade deadline; it is what it is,” Beckham said. “It’s been a little different, but you know what, I mean, honestly, I played so bad, unfortunately, I don’t know how much of a chance the White Sox have to trade me. So, that’s the unfortunate thing for them."

Teams interested in second basemen, such as the San Francisco Giants and Toronto Blue Jays, did have scouts in Detroit this week. But Beckham wasn't feeling like a wanted man.

“Obviously, I hold myself to a high standard and really haven’t achieved that this month," he said. "It’s just been frustrating. We’ll see what happens and go on to August.”

In regard to the deadline, White Sox manager Robin Ventura was asked which would be better: To know who he has on the roster moving to August? Or to not have to be asked trade questions any longer?

“Probably being asked about it,” Ventura said. “At this point, I expect the faces we have in there I will see the next few days. So just keep playing.”

The White Sox were handcuffed by Tigers starter Max Scherzer on Wednesday, but the day before their bats delivered a double-digit run total in an easy victory. That kind of game on Tuesday would not have been possible for the White Sox around last year’s deadline, as stress and uncertainty seemed to rule each day.

“Last year was different,” Ventura said. “This year, guys aren’t really concerned about it. I think they were a few weeks ago. Right now, it seems like a little bit lighter mood than it was when there was a lot of talk two weeks ago. It’s a little quieter right now. And I think guys are pretty loose for it being the trade deadline.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jose Abreu
BA HR RBI R
.317 36 107 80
OTHER LEADERS
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
WC. Sale 12
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208