Chicago White Sox: Leury Garcia

Scout Paul Provas dies at 63

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
10:35
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Longtime Chicago White Sox scout Paul Provas passed away Thursday morning at the age of 63.

Provas was hired by the White Sox in the winter of 1992 as an amateur scout whose coverage area ranged from Kansas and Missouri, through Nebraska and Colorado and on into Wyoming. He scouted future major leaguers like Joe Crede, John Danks, Kip Wells, Boone Logan and Chris Young.

He became a full-time professional scout for the White Sox during the 2005 World Series championship season. He has been inducted into both the Texas Scouts Association Hall of Fame and the Midwest Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame, both in 2011.

Most recently, Provas recommended both reliever Maikel Cleto and infielder Leury Garcia.

Provas, a Shawnee, Kansas native, was also a scout for the Chicago Cubs from 1987-92.

Services are scheduled to take place next week in Overland Park, Kan.

Rapid Reaction: White Sox 6, Tigers 2

August, 31, 2014
Aug 31
4:18
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox earned a 6-2 victory Sunday over the Detroit Tigers, ending the four-game series in a split.

How it happened: Adam Eaton, Carlos Sanchez, Avisail Garcia and Tyler Flowers each had two hits as the White Sox toppled the Tigers, who committed four errors. Tigers starter Rick Porcello wasn’t horrible, but he did give up 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings while dealing with all the extra outs he had to get. Of the six runs Porcello gave up, only three were earned. White Sox starter Jose Quintana gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings.

What it means: The trade of Adam Dunn early Sunday gave Andy Wilkins the chance to make his debut at first base. The MVP candidate in the International League, after hitting 30 home runs with 85 RBIs in 127 games at Charlotte, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his debut. On defense, he failed to handle a throw in the dirt from shortstop Leury Garcia, resulting in an infield single. Wilkins, who bats left-handed, is expected to take over the Dunn role over the final month of the season.

Outside the box: Jose Abreu recorded his 99th RBI, moving him one short of becoming the fourth White Sox rookie to hit the 100-mark in that category. Ron Kittle was the last, collecting 100 RBIs in 1983. With 32 doubles and 33 home runs already this season, Abreu is looking to become just the fourth rookie in major league history with 30 doubles, 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in his rookie season. The others were Hal Trosky (1934), Ted Williams (1939) and Albert Pujols (2001).

Off beat: It was the White Sox who had an unfamiliar defense of Wilkins at first base, Sanchez at second and Leury Garcia at shortstop, but it was the Tigers with all the fielding issues. Three of Detroit's season-high four errors were made in the first two innings, and it should have been four errors in the first two innings after left fielder J.D. Martinez dropped Adam Eaton's first-inning fly ball in left. It was scored a double. The Tigers aren’t one of the best fielding teams anyway, sitting 23rd in baseball with 87 errors at the start of the day.

Up next: The White Sox have an off day Monday and will open a brief two-game series at Minnesota on Tuesday when White Sox right-hander hector Noesi (8-9, 4.75 ERA) faces Twins left-hander Tommy Milone (6-4, 4.08), in a 7:10 p.m. CST start from Target Field.

Series preview: Blue Jays at White Sox

August, 15, 2014
Aug 15
10:32
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- While the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays start their three-game series Friday night, all eyes will be on Saturday's matchup at U.S. Cellular Field.

Longtime White Sox staff ace Mark Buehrle will finally mark his return to the mound in his old ballpark when he pitches for the Blue Jays on Saturday night. Pitching for the White Sox will be Buehrle's good friend John Danks.

A no-hitter and a perfect game are among Buehrle's highlights at U.S. Cellular Field, a ballpark he called home for 12 seasons before leaving to the Miami Marlins via free agency before the 2012 season. One year later, he was traded to the Blue Jays.

Buehrle owned the South Side ballpark for his dozen years, pitching in 205 games, 190 of which were starts. He has a career 90-54 record there with a 3.71 ERA. He also pitched 11 complete games in a White Sox home uniform, four of which were shutouts.

While the start to Buehrle's 2014 season was shades of his dominance with the White Sox, his year has taken a drastic turn. After his first 12 starts, Buehrle was 11-1 with a 2.10 ERA and well on his way to a spot on the American League All-Star team. Over his last 12 outings, though, the left-hander has gone 1-7 with a 4.76 ERA.

In four of his last five outings, Buehrle has given up at least four runs, and in his most recent outing, Sunday against the Detroit Tigers, he was only able to last 3 1/3 innings. The Blue Jays and Tigers ended up playing 19 innings that day with the Toronto bullpen hanging on for a 6-5 victory.

Buehrle has faced the White Sox twice in his career, both in Toronto. In April of 2013, Buehrle picked up his first victory as a member of the Blue Jays when he held the White Sox to two runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings.

This past June 29, Buehrle gave up just two runs on six hits over eight innings against the White Sox, but he was outdueled by Jose Quintana, who pitched seven scoreless innings in a 4-0 White Sox victory.

HEAD TO HEAD



Blue Jays rookie starter Marcus Stroman, who stands all of 5-foot-9 and weighs 185 pounds, has faced the White Sox just once, on June 28 at Toronto, and gave up two runs on two hits over 6 2/3 innings of a no-decision, in a game the White Sox won 4-3. ... Three White Sox batters have as many as six at-bats against Buehrle (Tyler Flowers, Leury Garcia, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo), with Ramirez going 3-for-6 with a double. ... Over two seasons and 35 career starts, the Blue Jays' Drew Hutchinson has never faced the White Sox. ... The Blue Jays' Melky Cabrera and Munenori Kawasaki are a combined 4-for-5 against White Sox starter Hector Noesi. ... The Blue Jays' Dioner Navarro is 8-for-20 (.400) against Danks with two doubles and a home run. ... In his only start against the Blue Jays, the White Sox's Scott Carroll have up five runs (three earned) on seven hits over five innings and took the loss on June 26.

NOTES



The White Sox went 2-4 on their six-game West Coast road trip to Seattle and San Francisco and are 57-64 on the season. ... The last time the White Sox and Blue Jays faced off, the White Sox won three games of a four-game series at Toronto. ... The White Sox have allowed 18 runs over their past five games, which is down form the 67 runs they allowed over the first seven games of August. ... Before going 0-for-4 on Wednesday at San Francisco, Alexei Ramirez was batting .341 (28-for-82) with 16 RBIs over his previous 20 games. ... Konerko remains one home run shy of tying Jason Giambi (440) for 41st place on the all-time list. ... Despite not hitting a home run since June 29, Jose Abreu is still tied for the most long balls in baseball at 31 with the Orioles' Nelson Cruz and the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton. ... The Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion, who has been out since July 5 with a strained right quadriceps muscle, is expected to return to action in this series.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday: White Sox RH Hector Noesi (6-8, 4.67 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH Marcus Stroman (7-3, 3.34), 7:10 p.m. CST
Saturday: White Sox LH John Danks (9-8, 4.96) vs. Blue Jays LH Mark Buehrle (11-8, 3.31), 6:10 p.m. CST
Sunday: White Sox RH Scott Carroll (4-7, 4.81) vs. Blue Jays RH Drew Hutchison (8-10, 4.60), 1:10 p.m. CST

Beckham, De Aza get night off

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
5:53
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
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.

(Read full post)

White Sox stand pat as deadline passes

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
6:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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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.”

Beckham refuses to put blame on rumors

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
7:17
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Gordon BeckhamDavid Richard/USA TODAY Sports"You just have to let it happen the way it's going to happen," Gordon Beckham said of trade rumors.

CHICAGO – Gordon Beckham struggles as the scouts gather to watch him play, and it would be shortsighted not to think that the latter is having a major influence on the former.

The Chicago White Sox infielder knows a trade is likely coming. He is well aware of his situation as a solid major league mainstay who is only getting more expensive as a bevy of young second-base prospects are refining their talents right behind him.

He doesn’t want to go, but also knows that a deal will possibly land him with a contender, so that isn’t all bad. Ultimately it seems as if the uncertainty of it all is bothering the 27-year-old the most.

To Beckham’s credit, though, he isn’t blaming the unknown for his struggles. He doesn’t want to make excuses. He won’t make excuses.

“There is always a chance of [a trade],” Beckham said Monday before the White Sox opened a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals. “It’s there, but that’s about it. You just have to let it happen the way it’s going to happen. 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.”

As the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline gets closer, the struggles only seem to mount. Beckham is batting just .083 (4-for-48) over his past 12 games. Over his past 31 he is batting .136 (16-for-117). He is no longer hitting the ball hard up the middle as he was early in the season, and the scouts have taken notice.

One major league scout noted Monday that Beckham is the perfect example of a player who just needs a fresh start with a new organization.

Beckham knows what is happening, and he is trying to block it out, but it has been difficult.

“A lot goes into it,” Beckham said about being a successful baseball player. “You come in, show up every day, you work hard, you want it to work out for you and your team. Baseball is a very unforgiving game. When you’re going well, all of a sudden 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.”

That seems to be Beckham’s way of saying that baseball players are human and they have distractions too. But he doesn’t say it and he won’t make that excuse, even if it is a legitimate one.

“You just have to go play the game and it’ll turn. ... It’ll turn,” he said, trailing off.

The Toronto Blue Jays were the team that was rumored to have the most interest in Beckham and have had a scout on hand for each of the four games of Chicago's current homestand.

If Beckham is dealt, the White Sox could immediately plug Marcus Semien into his spot. Eventually, though, it seems clear that Micah Johnson will be the second baseman of the future. The White Sox also have Carlos Sanchez and Leury Garcia, who can play second.

But right now Beckham is their man, and manager Robin Ventura is trying to get the most out of him.

“He really is focusing more on going the other way, which would help him a bit,” Ventura said. “But when you press, it’s harder to buy all in to be able to do that. You have to take baby steps, maybe give a little ground on power and things like that to get it over there.”

The answer likely lies with the calendar changing to August. Then Beckham will finally know his fate.

“I haven’t really talked to him about it but I’m sure some of that is probably there,” he said. “You hear about it enough and any kind of distraction can be it. Hopefully it’s not.”

Beckham is simply trying to keep his head up and plug along the best he can. The White Sox are the only organization he has ever known and that might all change before the next 10 days come to a close.

“Yeah, I’m not worried about that,” Beckham insisted, before quickly changing gears. “It will be tough to leave because I have always been here, but whatever happens, will happen and I’m prepared for anything.”

Rapid Reaction: Royals 9 White Sox 1

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14
4:23
PM CT
By Sahadev Sharma
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox fell to the Kansas City Royals, 9-1, on Saturday for their second straight defeat to their division rivals as their losing streak reached three games overall. Here's a quick look at how it happened:

How it happened: For the second game in a row the Royals posted a five-run inning against the White Sox. This time it happened in the fourth inning after Hector Noesi appeared to be going strong through the first three innings. Noesi allowed the first six batters of the inning to reach, on a walk, four singles and an error by third baseman Leury Garcia. Garcia's error was quite costly, coming with the bases loaded and no outs. Instead of turning two on the grounder, the ball kicked off Garcia's glove and rolled into the outfield, allowing the first two runs of the innings to score and leading to a total of three unearned runs in the inning. Noesi failed to get out of the inning, while his counterpart, Danny Duffy, shut down the White Sox offense and squashed any hopes of a comeback. Duffy tossed seven shutout innings, giving up just five hits, equaling a career-high nine strikeouts and walking just one. Paul Konerko hit a solo home run in the ninth, the 438th of his career, to keep the Sox from being shut out.

What it means: The up-and-down season continues for the White Sox. After taking two of three from the first-place Detroit Tigers, the Sox have dropped two in a row to the red-hot Royals. In a division where all five teams are bunched together, the Royals have won six in a row and are trying to establish themselves as the main contender to dethrone the Tigers in the Central. Meanwhile, the Sox fall to three games below .500 and are searching from some consistency in all facets of the game.

Outside the box: The White Sox made a minor trade Saturday, acquiring Triple-A outfielder Michael Taylor from the Oakland A's for low-A pitcher Jake Sanchez. Taylor, who has played in 26 MLB games from 2011 to 2013, will report to Triple-A Charlotte.

Up next: The White Sox wrap up the series and look to avoid against the Royals on Sunday with Andre Rienzo taking on Royals ace James Shields.

Sox winning on roster full of contributors

May, 28, 2014
May 28
11:50
PM CT
By Sahadev Sharma
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Waiver claims coming up big. A pinch-runner stealing a key base. An error starting a game-winning rally. The Chicago White Sox are using every roster spot and taking advantage of mistakes by opponents to win ball games.

The White Sox claimed Hector Noesi off waivers in late April. He delivered his best performance in a Sox uniform on Wednesday night. Noesi allowed just one run in 7 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking none during Chicago’s 3-2 victory against the Cleveland Indians.

Manager Robin Ventura has been impressed with his development over the past month.

[+] EnlargeHector Noesi
AP Photo/ Matt MartonApril waiver pickup Hector Noesi pitched with strength and accuracy Wednesday, striking out five, walking none and yielding one run in 7 1/3 innings.
“When he first got here, he was in the bullpen,” Ventura said. “He's really transitioned well from going as the long guy in the bullpen to being a starter. I think he's gotten a better feel for some different pitches just because now he's going through the lineup a couple times.

“And he's able to get a feel for it instead of being in there for an inning or an inning and a half. He's progressed fairly well as far as the strength and endurance of being a starter.”

Noesi was getting little run support from his offense early, but a pair of run-scoring sacrifice flies in the seventh and eighth gave the White Sox a short-lived lead. It was in the ninth that Moises Sierra, another waiver wire acquisition, came through.

“I think it was in the sixth inning I told [Sierra], ‘You gotta do something for me,’” Noesi said. “He did it in the last inning.”

Sierra came up in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at 2-2 and a man on third and lined a single into right field to give the White Sox the walk-off victory.

How the winning run got to third was another example of the White Sox taking advantage of mistakes and doing the little things to win games.

Tyler Flowers led off the ninth with a grounder to Indians third baseman Mike Aviles, who one-hopped his throw to first. The ball ricocheted off Lonnie Chisenhall’s glove, allowing Flowers to reach. He was immediately replaced with a pinch runner in utility man Leury Garcia. Garcia then stole second and advanced to third on Marcus Semien’s long fly out to right field. Garcia would go on to score the winning run on Sierra’s single.

“To win games, you like to talk about different people every night because it takes the whole roster to be able to do it,” Ventura said. “With the injuries and things that happened to us early, waiver claims are doing that. We went out and you start getting guys and bringing them in; these guys have been a good fit so far.”

The White Sox have battled an assortment of injuries early on in the year, but they’re slowly getting closer to full strength. Still, they’ve managed to have different players step up on different days.

With their biggest bat, Jose Abreu, set to return from the disabled list on Monday, things are looking up.

Indeed, Monday is shaping up to be a big day for the Sox.

They’ll be coming off a series against the league’s worst offense, the San Diego Padres. If they can take care of business over the weekend, they’ll start next week with a healthy Abreu rejoining the team in Los Angeles and ace Chris Sale on the mound in a marquee matchup against the reigning NL Cy Young award winner, Clayton Kershaw.

Of course, it’s too early to start calling the White Sox contenders. They’ve shown flashes before, only to lose series to struggling teams such as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros.

However, a roster that’s finally healthy and getting contributions from unexpected sources is at least trying to make the season interesting.

Micah Johnson promoted to AAA Charlotte

May, 13, 2014
May 13
4:00
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
The Chicago White Sox promoted highly-regarded second base prospect Micah Johnson to Triple-A Charlotte on Tuesday after the 23-year-old tore through the Double-A Southern League this season.

[+] EnlargeMicah Johnson
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesMicah Johnson leaves the Southern League as its leading hitter with a .329 batting average.
Johnson entered the season as the sixth-best prospect in the White Sox's system, according to Baseball America, and has shown he might be even better than that with his play at Birmingham. Johnson is leading the Southern League in hitting with a .329 batting average and in total hits with 48. The speedster also has 18 runs scored, nine doubles, 16 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.

Johnson was a ninth-round pick in the 2012 draft out of Indiana University, but has raised his stock ever since. He was solid on two Single-A levels last season before an August promotion to Double-A. In last season's Southern League playoffs, Johnson batted .368 with seven steals in 10 playoff games as the Barons won the championship.

Johnson's rapid ascent suggests that he could be a regular in the White Sox's major league lineup as early as next season. Current White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham has one more season of arbitration-eligibility, but it's possible that the former first-round draft pick could be moved before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The White Sox are flush with second base prospects in Johnson and Carlos Sanchez, who now will have to share time at Charlotte. Sanchez has played two games at shortstop this season and has 150 games of experience there in the minor leagues, but Johnson does not have any shortstop experience.

In addition to those two players, Marcus Semien and Leury Garcia, both on the major league roster, can play second.

Also promoted to Charlotte on Tuesday was left-hander Nelvin Fuentes, who has a 1.06 ERA over 17 appearances at Birmingham and has not been scored upon in his last 16 trips to the mound. Fuentes, a former 16th-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2007, was signed by the White Sox in December as a minor-league free agent.

Baines recalls 25-inning marathon ... barely

May, 8, 2014
May 8
7:26
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO – On the 30th anniversary of one of the craziest games in Chicago White Sox history, Harold Baines was frowning.

It isn’t as if the quiet Baines didn’t want to talk about the White Sox's marathon affair against the Milwaukee Brewers that began on May 8, 1984, and ultimately ended a day later on his home run in the 25th inning. Baines’ issue: “I don’t remember anything about it.”

As it turns out, Baines -- now the White Sox assistant hitting coach -- could recall a lot more than he was letting on.

[+] EnlargeSox
AP Photo/Fred JewellHarold Baines delivered the winning home run on May 9, 1984, in the 25th inning of a game that began the previous day.
“The only details I know is that [Tom] Seaver won both games [a day later],” Baines said. “Obviously I hit the home run in the 25th inning, but I don’t remember anything more than that. Oh, and I remember the error by Randy Ready when they had a three-run lead or something like that.”

Seaver did indeed get both victories. After the teams played 17 innings the previous day, the game was resumed May 9 before the regularly scheduled contest. Seaver was scheduled to start the latter game, but he was brought into the resumed game in the 25th inning.

Baines proceeded to win it a half-inning later with his home run; in the nightcap, Seaver pitched the White Sox to another victory.

So does Baines see another 25-inning game happening again?

“Impossible,” Baines said. “It’s not going to happen again.”

His point is that teams in this era would use position players to pitch rather than extending a reliever as the White Sox did with Juan Agosto, who contributed seven scoreless innings. Position players on the mound mean runs are likely, as was the case in a 14-inning game with the Boston Red Sox on April 16, when infielder Leury Garcia took the loss for the White Sox.

Making Agosto’s 1984 relief outing even more memorable was that his first four innings came on the first day and he pitched three more when the game resumed the following evening.

And using a starter in relief isn’t likely. Well, not one the stature of Seaver, anyway. The White Sox went 11 innings against the Minnesota Twins on April 2 this season, and starter Erik Johnson made his way to the bullpen but never pitched.

Baines’ home run might have come late, but it was timely enough to allow Seaver to pull off the rare double. It also allowed Baines to redeem himself after coming into the at-bat 1-for-9 in the game.

“You didn’t have to bring that up,” Baines said. “For me it’s about wins and losses. I could have gone 0-for-10 as long as we won. But to be a part of history, that was pretty nice.”

If it's the end, Beckham won't go quietly

May, 7, 2014
May 7
12:08
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Refusing to play the sandy cliff at high tide, Gordon Beckham showed Tuesday that he isn’t about to erode away just yet.

Scuffling ever since he returned from the disabled list two weeks ago, Beckham had four hits against the Chicago Cubs, including the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning as the White Sox went on to a 5-1 victory.

It gave the White Sox victories in their two games at Wrigley Field this season after losing all four of the battles against their crosstown rivals last season.

[+] EnlargeGordon Beckham
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastGordon Beckham might live up to his potential soon, and that might make him trade bait.
There is a unique dynamic playing out this season with Beckham, the former first-round draft pick who has struggled to meet the promise of his rookie season in 2009.

Some of the lowest hanging fruit on the White Sox’s tree these days is at second base. Marcus Semien can play there, as can Carlos Sanchez, Leury Garcia and Micah Johnson, currently doing impressive things at the Double-A level.

At no other position do the White Sox have so many high-ceiling players, so it wouldn’t be so crazy to surmise that Beckham is feeling the heat.

“It can be hard, but he’s got a great attitude about it,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s playing, he knows he’s a good player and he’s got to continue to just play. That’s stuff you can’t really control, of whatever’s behind you. Just take care of what’s right now, and that’s what he’s doing.”

With just seven hits in 11 games since he returned from an oblique injury, Beckham went the drastic route Tuesday of changing his hitting mechanics in early batting practice. Talk about paying off in a hurry. Beckham had singles in the first, fourth and sixth innings. His home run in the eighth left the park despite a firm headwind.

“Yeah, my mechanics are OK, they're better,” Beckham said. “They're better than they were last night. I'm in a better spot.”

Beckham was brutally honest afterward, saying it’s not like he has never had to figure his way out of some struggles. He always seems to be on the edge of emerging, but something goes wrong. This year it was the oblique, last year it was a broken hand.

Now he's dealing with the concept that not only can he lose his job to a younger player, but his tenure with the White Sox might not last another three months.

With all those young infielders ready to break through, it has fueled speculation that Beckham could be moved at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The return on a deal would be sweetest if the second baseman could get hot as the summer arrives.

In fact, the White Sox’s insistence in batting Beckham second in the lineup could be because they know he will get more pitches to hit in front of Jose Abreu. Opponents aren’t going to want to dance around a hitter that has so much RBI potential hitting behind him.

If the perceived plan works, Beckham will start producing, the White Sox can trade him for some high-level young talent and Semien will take over at second, with Johnson possibly taking the position at some point in the near future.

But the more Beckham can put all those scenarios out of his mind, the better he will be.

“I got a better feel today,” he said. “I mean, it was bound to happen. I was bound to do better than like 1-for-6 or so. I wasn't panicked. It was one of those things. I've kind of been here before. I’m glad I happened to do it.”

How odd that after all these years of trying to reach his maximum potential, he could finally do it this season only to get traded because of it.

“I mean when you pull an oblique, there should be more moments where you don't have the same swing because obviously the oblique has so much to do with your body and your swing and everything, so you kind of got to find it,” Beckham said. “But [hitting coach Todd Steverson], I worked with him today and he gave me a good idea, and I just took and ran with it. A lot of credit goes to him.”

With Gillaspie close, decision looms

May, 6, 2014
May 6
10:17
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -– Conor Gillaspie could come off the disabled list for the Chicago White Sox as early as Wednesday, leaving the team with an interesting decision to make.

The White Sox will have to clear a spot on the 25-man roster, and despite his early success, especially on defense and with clutch hitting, Marcus Semien could be on the outside looking in.

[+] EnlargeConor Gillaspie
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsConor Gillaspie hit .302 with 12 RBI in 16 games before going on the DL.
The White Sox could consider sending down guys such as outfielder Jordan Danks or infielder Leury Garcia, but the club might decide that Semien is better off playing every day at Triple-A Charlotte rather than rotating with Gillaspie at third and Gordon Beckham at second base for playing time.

“I’m not going to go into that until it happens,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That stuff’s always tough. It’s never good news for somebody. But Conor being close and coming back, we’ll have to make decisions and talk about it and see what fits best.”

Semien entered play Tuesday as the American League leader with 43 strikeouts, so there is plenty to work on, but he has been as clutch as anybody on the team in the late innings. Of his 16 RBIs, 15 of them have come in the sixth inning or beyond.

His latest well-timed hit came in the 12th inning Monday night when his double put the White Sox on top for good in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. But he also had two strikeouts on the night.

“Last year in the minors it was a different story,” Semien said. “I was laying off pitches and getting deep into counts and finding myself with two strikes. Now I want to make adjustments once I get to a 3-2 count and they’re not always going to come right at you with fastballs like they do in the minor leagues. Being able to focus in, lock in and see the ball will turn things around with strikeouts.”

Despite the strikeout totals, Semien has been among the nice surprises when it comes to newcomers, a group that includes Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu.

“There is stuff to work on, but he’s younger and that’s part of it growing into being a player,” Ventura said. “He’s started out at second, now he’s at third so he’s made some big adjustments. You know he’s a good player, but it gets tough and the end of the game and he’s come through. So that’s a bright spot if anything.”

Semien is just one of a number of second-base options the White Sox have in their system, but the time for change hasn’t quite arrived. If the White Sox can get Beckham to start producing he could be packaged in a July trade, perhaps for pitching.

Tough decisions ahead for White Sox

April, 24, 2014
Apr 24
1:13
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Marcus SemienRick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsMarcus Semien has been a bright spot in the Sox offense, including his grand slam against Detroit.


CHICAGO -- They call them good problems to have, but there will be no easy decisions when it comes to the Chicago White Sox's suddenly crowded landscape at second base.

Gordon Beckham is back from the disabled list and is set to take back his second-base job, but Marcus Semien has performed well there and has been one of the bright spots in the team’s new-look offense.

The facts are this: With a $4.175 million contract for this season, Beckham is going to have to play. But as Semien shows he can handle the challenges that come with a big league roster spot, he needs to be on the field as well.

(Read full post)

Bullpen struggles again, changes possible

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
1:47
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The way the Chicago White Sox tried to give this game away, it was amazing it lasted as long as it did.

Over 14 often eye-covering innings Wednesday night, the White Sox were finally their own worst enemy in a 6-4 defeat to the Boston Red Sox.

White Sox pitchers walked 15 batters and struck out just five, becoming the first team to walk that many and strike out that few since the Toronto Blue Jays did it in a 2002 game against the Seattle Mariners.

[+] EnlargeLeury Garcia
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesInfielder Leury Garcia was called on to pitch in the 14th inning and promptly walked the two Boston hitters who ended up being the deciding runs.
Another gem, according to the Elias Sports Bureau: The Red Sox became the first team since at least 1920 to reach base at least 23 or more times in a game with six or fewer hits.

"We just, for one reason or another, we didn’t seem to throw it over [the plate]," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "So, you know, a game that if you are going to give them that many opportunities, you are little surprised you are in it that late into the game."

When it was finished, utility infielder Leury Garcia took the loss. He had never pitched in a game before Wednesday, but he quickly followed the lead of the pitching staff by walking two batters, who came around to score and were the difference in the defeat.

Garcia could be excused for his control issues. The seven regular relievers to appear in the game walked a combined nine batters in seven innings. Daniel Webb walked three, but he looked worn down after three innings and a whopping 59 pitches.

It didn’t help that Ventura used four pitchers in the eighth inning alone, and with Lindstrom available, he let Maikel Cleto start the ninth inning with the White Sox clinging to a one-run lead. Cleto walked the first two batters before Lindstrom was called into the game.

Lindstrom ended up with the blown save when the tying run scored, but it was amazing he limited the damage to what it was. It was his third blown save on the young season, but in this one, there were actually positives.

"I could kind of see how they wouldn’t be confident in me in that situation, but I was feeling good," Lindstrom said. "I felt like I was ready and did my normal routine to get ready to go out there in the ninth. It was a tough loss. Our guys battled their [tails] off today."

The bullpen issues Wednesday came as no surprise. The White Sox entered the game with a 6.81 ERA over their past 13 games, and their 27 walks before Wednesday were last in the American League. They easily padded that total in the defeat.

So when the relievers gather in the bullpen for Thursday’s game against the Red Sox, Lindstrom said it will be time for a heart-to-heart.

"I think tomorrow, as a bullpen we can sit out there and talk a little about making sure we stay aggressive with our stuff in the zone, because we’ve got a pretty good defense behind us, too," Lindstrom said. “We need to realize that. It’s tough to hit, especially when it’s cold.

"As long as we can make sure we understand we have a good defense behind us and attack the zone, it’s going to be tough to hit. I found that myself a little tonight. I attacked the zone a little bit better with my sinker, and I got outs even when I wasn’t trying to do too much with it."

Who will be on hand for that meeting remains to be seen. After a hard work day, the White Sox could end up recalling a pitcher from the minor leagues. That would also mean somebody would be on their way out.

"I have full confidence in those guys," said starter John Danks, who walked four batters of his own. "I wish I could have gone deeper and saved those guys a little bit, but I have full confidence in those guys, and I believe, truly, whenever I come out of the game that it’s going to happen. Even the best bullpens in the league lose a lead like that. It’s part of it. There are 162 games, and it happens."

Thefts are coming, White Sox claim

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
7:24
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox have not sworn off the stolen base in the early going, but with decent speed and the best on-base percentage in the American League, it seems as if they have not reached their full potential in that department.

A check of the early numbers showed the White Sox's nine steals were tied for third most in the American League before play Wednesday, while their 82 percent success rate was sixth best among AL teams that had tried at least four stolen-base attempts.

Yet despite an impressive .418 OBP, speedy leadoff man Adam Eaton has only one steal in two attempts. Even more amazing is that his successful steal was of third base, not second. Alexei Ramirez, Leury Garcia and Marcus Semien all have more steals than Eaton.

Manager Robin Ventura was asked if steal numbers are lower than expected because the productive offense hasn't needed that part of its game yet.

"Well, you give guys an opportunity to swing the bat if they're swinging it good," Ventura said. "And we're not going to steal certain guys that aren't really base-stealers. So the guys that can steal, they're going to get a chance to go ahead and go, but guys that aren't your natural base steals aren't going to be going."

(Read full post)

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.17 208 174
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .317
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208