Chicago White Sox: Micah Johnson

White Sox's chemistry test begins in earnest

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- Adding a glut of experienced major league players is one thing. Getting them to play together and transform the Chicago White Sox into a winner will be something else entirely.

The White Sox introduced three of their new additions Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field, handing out new jerseys to starter Jeff Samardzija, closer David Robertson and outfielder Melky Cabrera. Other offseason additions include relievers Zach Duke and Dan Jennings, as well as first baseman/designated hitter Adam LaRoche.

If second baseman Micah Johnson and catcher Rob Brantly make the Opening Day squad, those eight players alone, many of them in key roles, represent nearly one-third of the roster. It is a serious shakeup for a club that has designs on making the postseason for just the second time since winning the World Series in 2005.

[+] EnlargeMelky Cabrera
AP Photo/M. Spencer Green"It takes a spring training to know each other, and then we become better friends when we have a team that we can play with and bring a championship or make it to the playoffs," Melky Cabrera said, referring to the time it takes for a team to jell.
But the playoffs won’t happen unless manager Robin Ventura can mesh all the parts of his revamped squad into a winner.

“As long as that common denominator is winning, I think it happens pretty quick,” Samardzija said about getting the team to come together quickly. “I think as a team and as a veteran group of guys, when everybody is on the same page and playing winning baseball, I think everything comes together pretty quickly.

“I think there is a formula for winning games in the major leagues consistently, and it’s pretty simple: You play hard, you prepare and have each other’s backs and you play for each other. I think as long as everyone is doing that, you’ll see a pretty quick mesh in personalities and camaraderie among the team, for sure.”

Samardzija got his first chance to assimilate to a new team last season when he was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Oakland Athletics. He learned the do's and don’ts of making a transition and expects to apply what he learned once spring training starts.

He even got a jump on the process, calling Chris Sale to start learning the ropes early.

Robertson, though, has only been with the New York Yankees in a seven-year major league career. While he is making the transition to a new team for the first time, he isn’t anticipating any awkward stages.

“I’ve been a part of a changing team, an evolving team before,” said Robertson, who did play with Cabrera in New York for a few seasons. “Every year there’s change, and it doesn’t take long for guys to get together and figure it out. You’re around each other every single day, you get to know everyone and figure things out.”

While spring training is designed to get players’ bodies in shape, it will also be a quasi-spiritual retreat where the herd of new players will try to fit in with returning White Sox players.

“It takes a spring training,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “We start getting along together; we start knowing each other, and after spring training comes and it’s like we’ve been playing forever together. It takes a spring training to know each other, and then we become better friends when we have a team that we can play with and bring a championship or make it to the playoffs.”

The transition probably will work best if the new players defer to returning players such as Sale and John Danks for leadership roles. It will help if Alexei Ramirez takes a more vocal leadership role, as well.

As it is with nearly all teams that have made sweeping changes, all eyes will be on the club’s camaraderie starting on Opening Day. If the club starts winning, the clubhouse vibe will be credited, and if they lose, the lack of a tight-knit group will be blamed. With so many changes, the White Sox are going to have a hard time avoiding it.

“The one thing we were cognizant of along the way in this endeavor was, let’s not only target the best players, but the best fits in the clubhouse, character-wise and intensity, and people who can put it together,” executive vice president Kenny Williams said. “As I explained to David Robertson, it took us some lessons in the early 2000s that it’s not just the talent you throw against the wall, it has to fit together.”

As a college football player and a major league baseball player, Samardzija has been in plenty of differing sports environments and he has learned a thing or two about deferring to others.

“I pitch every fifth day, so any opportunity I get to watch other guys perform and do it at the highest level possible, I enjoy doing it,” Samardzija said. “Chris [Sale] is one of those guys, David is one of those guys, Melky is one of those guys, [Jose] Abreu and so on down the list. LaRoche, I have been a big fan of for a long time. I enjoy watching good baseball so we can learn from these guys and bounce ideas off them. It’s a great resource to have, and you’d be an idiot not to take advantage of it, for sure.”

Say what you want about clubhouse unity and whether or not it’s valuable, but the White Sox have made a point to recognize it. Ultimately, it will be their ability to play well that will take them to where they want to go, but seeing eye to eye will be one fewer obstacle to avoid.

“These are veterans who have seen a lot of people come and go into clubhouses,” Williams said of the trio the White Sox welcomed Tuesday. “They’ve had to be the veterans who welcome guys in. They’re comfortable and confident because they’ve been on both sides. They know the drill.”

Melk Man helps pour out better lineup

December, 14, 2014
Dec 14
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- With a source confirming the Chicago White Sox's addition of Melky Cabrera to play left field and bat second, an impressive lineup has emerged with spring training just more than two months away.

A team that had Conor Gillaspie bating third on Opening Day in 2014 has its pieces in better alignment now, especially up top, where the first five hitters weren't even in the organization at the All-Star break in 2013.

How the 2015 Opening Day lineup now looks:

Adam Eaton, center field
Melky Cabrera, left field
Jose Abreu, first base
Adam LaRoche, designated hitter
Avisail Garcia, right field
Alexei Ramirez, shortstop
Conor Gillaspie, third base
Tyler Flowers, catcher
Micah Johnson/Carlos Sanchez, second base

Suddenly, manager Robin Ventura's refusal to ponder a potential lineup while being interviewed at the winter meetings earlier this week makes much more sense.

Of the 1,211 games Cabrera has played in his career, the biggest number has come in the No. 2 spot. He is batting .292 there with a .341 on-base percentage, and represents a much better fit in the second spot instead of Ramirez, who had his issues with situational hitting behind Eaton last season.

With Eaton and Cabrera in the first two spots, it also would give more RBI opportunities to rookie of the year Abreu, who still managed to drive in 107 runs in 2014.

White Sox No. 2 hitters had a combined .237 batting average last season, 26th in baseball, and a .279 on-base percentage, 29th in baseball. Cabrera had a .351 OBP last season with the Toronto Blue Jays in 139 games. He also has a career .339 on-base percentage over 10 major league seasons.

The Cabrera addition also provides better lineup balance with the left-handed hitting Eaton up top, followed by the switch-hitting Cabrera, the right-handed hitting Abreu and the left-handed hitting LaRoche and the right-handed hitting Garcia

Gillaspie and Ramirez are presumably interchangeable in the sixth and seventh spots, depending on the pitcher. Gillaspie's presence as a No. 7 hitter gives the lineup a left-handed line-drive hitter toward the bottom of the order for the first time since A.J. Pierzynski departed as a free agent following the 2012 season.

Gillaspie was batting .321 as late as July 31 and was among the league leaders in hitting most of the season. He faded late, though, batting .222 in August and just .208 over the final two months to finish with a .282 batting average and a .336 OBP to go along with a .416 slugging percentage.

The second base job is the only real spring training battle remaining among position players. Sanchez has a slight edge based on his 28 games of experience there in 2014, but Johnson has more upside, and his speed in the No. 9 spot, leading to Eaton in the leadoff spot, provides intrigue.

White Sox bring productive week to a close

December, 11, 2014
Dec 11
Padilla By Doug Padilla
SAN DIEGO -- The Chicago White Sox helped to put on a good show at the annual winter meetings, starting the gathering with a bang Monday as a prelude to some major fireworks around the league.

The White Sox addressed key needs in a trade for right-handed starter Jeff Samardzija and right-handed closer David Robertson, showing a bold and daring side in the process, especially with Robertson.

Coughing up $46 million for a reliever signaled that the White Sox are eager to push their roster rebuild forward at a much quicker pace, while telling the rest of the club, not to mention the fan base, that help has arrived.

The White Sox closed the meetings Thursday by adding another bullpen piece. While not as flashy as the Robertson signing, left-hander Dan Jennings was added in a trade from the Miami Marlins. Building a better relief corps has been the White Sox’s priority since the season ended.

“We’re pleased with this week; it was a good week,” general manager Rick Hahn said shortly before departing the meetings Thursday. “We picked up three of our targets, addressed three different needs. We’ll take that any old week. I don’t know if we’re necessarily going to be able to replicate it next week but we’re certainly going to try.”

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2015 lineup? Not so fast, Ventura says

December, 10, 2014
Dec 10
Padilla By Doug Padilla
SAN DIEGO -- Hold on with those Chicago White Sox starting-lineup projections, even as it looks like the club is running out of money to spend on the free-agent market.

Manager Robin Ventura refused to play around with a lineup Wednesday, saying only that Chris Sale would be his Opening Day starter, with Jeff Samardzija pitching in the second game, followed by Jose Quintana.

At least the Kansas City Royals know what they are up against for the opening three-game series during the first week of April.

Reading between the lines with Ventura, the sense is that the White Sox will zero in on trade targets. Making a change in left field could be high on the team’s priority list.

“I don’t know necessarily if you are done doing anything; it’s premature to do that,” Ventura said. “I can tell you that I know, I’m very hopeful, I will start Chris on Opening Day and Jeff on Day 2 and Jose, Day 3. Other than that, we’ll see what happens. It’s premature, lineup-wise, [to say] what we are doing.”

The White Sox elected to tender a contract to the arbitration-eligible Dayan Viciedo, and as of now he would be the leading candidate to start in left field. The 25-year-old still has youth on his side, and general manager Rick Hahn has remarked how hard it is to find right-handed power these days.

But Viciedo is a defensive liability in the outfield -- and defense is the only one of the White Sox’s offseason needs they have not yet addressed.

If the season started today, the White Sox lineup would look something like: Adam Eaton CF, Alexei Ramirez SS, Jose Abreu 1B, Adam LaRoche DH, Avisail Garcia RF, Conor Gillaspie 3B, Viciedo LF, Tyler Flowers C and Micah Johnson/Carlos Sanchez 2B.

Just don’t write that down in ink.

“We have a lot of time left,” Hahn said about the window to make moves this offseason. “I meant it when I said there was no urgency to get anything done [at the winter meetings], and obviously we did get two major things done. We aren’t on any time frame, other than getting the best team on the field by Opening Day. If nothing happens until January, that’s fine. We know the areas we want to address.”

Sox's optimism up as meetings near

December, 5, 2014
Dec 5
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- With two roster moves already finalized and a bevy of groundwork conversations complete on potential trades and free-agent acquisitions, the Chicago White Sox appear headed to the annual winter meetings next week ready to do business.

General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that it is not a priority that the club makes moves at the yearly gathering of baseball executives, but this is where the White Sox made the move to acquire center fielder Adam Eaton last year, and all around baseball activity is picking up in earnest.

“There’s been a fairly steady level of dialogue probably going back to the GM meetings (in November) and soon thereafter,” Hahn said, not long after the New York Yankees acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-way deal that also involved the Detroit Tigers.

“I think you’re starting to see a few deals around the league, whether it’s via trade or free agency, starting to come to a head here. Whether that means there’s going to be more activity over the next few days or next week or next few weeks, it’s certainly understandable as things are starting to get moving. 'Tis the season.”

The White Sox head into the meetings at San Diego with a bevy of needs, the most glaring being additions for a bullpen that was among the worst in baseball last season.

“I'm not going to rate the positions of need simply because there isn't a strategic advantage for us relaying public what our targets may be,” Hahn said. “We've made no secret about our desire to become younger and more athletic. Including (Carlos) Rodon in the future, we have a fairly left-handed leaning rotation. We've made no secret that our bullpen needs to improve. (New addition) Zach Duke is a nice step in that direction but we're not finished addressing 2015 improvements either.”

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Rumors heat up on Samardzija-to-White Sox

November, 29, 2014
Nov 29
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- In need of a right-handed starter with a proven track record, the Chicago White Sox appear to have strong interest in making a trade to add Jeff Samardzija into the fold.

Multiple reports say that the White Sox have targeted the Oakland Athletics pitcher to potentially join a rotation heavy on left-handers with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks. A report from the Bay Area News Group also suggested that the Atlanta Braves could be in talks to acquire Samardzija.’s Ken Rosenthal did say, via Twitter, on Friday that Samardzija was not the subject of an upcoming trade, but that swap ended up being Josh Donaldson's move to the Toronto Blue Jays.

There are plenty of indications now to suggest the A’s are willing to listen to offers on Samardzija, whom they acquired in a trade from the Chicago Cubs at the midway point of the 2014 season.

The A’s could be looking at middle-infield pieces in return, which makes shortstop Alexei Ramirez a potential target. But the track record of A’s general manager Billy Beane is to acquire players on the upward arc of their careers, and the 33-year-old Ramirez might not qualify under those standards, although Oakland did acquire Jon Lester for Yoenis Cespedes this past season.

The White Sox are loaded with players ready to break through at second base, including Marcus Semien, Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson. But one of those players alone would not be enough to complete a Samardzija deal.

White Sox players like Quintana and Avisail Garcia are young and on the upward arc of their careers, but there is no indication the club would be willing to part with either.

Samardzija is headed toward his final year of arbitration eligibility in 2015 and is set to make somewhere between $9-10 million. He would head into his first year of free agency after the upcoming season unless his current club can reach a long-term deal before then.

The Valparaiso, Ind., native was a combined 7-13 this past season, but delivered a 2.99 ERA over 219 2/3 innings with the Cubs and A’s. He went 5-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 111 2/3 innings after he was traded to the American League and had a whopping 8.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Oakland.

Projected lineup: LaRoche cleaning up

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- With a few exceptions, Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura expects to use new left-handed hitting run producer Adam LaRoche as his cleanup hitter.

For now, the plan is to have the right-handed hitting Jose Abreu bat third, have the lefty swinging LaRoche in the No. 4 spot and the right-handed hitting Avisail Garcia batting fifth.

“Yeah, that’s how I see it,” Ventura said. “You’re able to split that up and it really balances out our lineup to have Conor (Gillaspie) in a more comfortable spot of just being a line-drive hitter just batting in the sixth hole.

“I would expect (LaRoche) to mostly be in the four-hole unless we somehow end up where Jose’s batting fourth and then (LaRoche) is probably fifth. As of right now, I have him batting right behind Jose in the four-hole.”

Gillaspie played 43 games last season in the No. 3 hole as Ventura tried to balance his lineup between right-handed and left-handed hitters. Gillaspie was even the surprise No. 3 hitter on Opening Day.

The upper two-thirds of the batting order seems to be set. Adam Eaton figures to be the leadoff hitter, followed by Alexei Ramirez, who has been in trade rumors but isn’t likely to be moved unless the White Sox get an impressive haul in return.

Abreu, LaRoche, Garcia and Gillaspie round out the top six spots. That would leave the left fielder -- whether it is Dayan Viciedo or somebody else -- aimed toward the seven-hole, with catcher Tyler Flowers the likely No. 8 hitter.

As of now, the lineup would appear to close with the second baseman. Candidates at second include Carlos Sanchez, Marcus Semien and the speedy Micah Johnson.

White Sox shun risk with proven additions

November, 21, 2014
Nov 21
Padilla By Doug Padilla
Adam LaRoche Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsWith a track record as a run-producer, Adam LaRoche isn't quite the gamble Jose Abreu was.

CHICAGO – If last winter was about taking chances on unproven commodities such as Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, the Chicago White Sox have gone with proven options as their roster rebuild continues this offseason.

This week alone, the White Sox have added veterans in left-handed reliever Zach Duke and left-handed-hitting run-producer Adam LaRoche, with a number of other holes left to fill. Sources confirmed to on Friday that LaRoche has agreed to a two-year, $25 million deal.

It's clear the club must continue to address its bullpen situation. The White Sox also desire a right-handed starter and an outfielder who potentially could take over in left.

So far, general manager Rick Hahn has filled two major needs in solid fashion and hasn't broken the bank to do it. LaRoche will average $12.5 million over his two-year deal, and Duke will make $4.5 million in 2015, with slight raises in each of the following two seasons.

Not only does Hahn still have more money to spend, but trades remain a possibility to fill needs over the next four weeks, which is usually the prime time frame for making deals. Baseball's winter meetings are set for Dec. 8-11.

It was during last year's winter meetings that Hahn pulled off the trade for center fielder Eaton. The biggest piece the White Sox gave up in that deal was left-hander Hector Santiago, who was in and out of the Los Angeles Angels' rotation last season.

By this time in 2013, Hahn already had slugging first baseman Abreu in the fold. The six-year, $68 million deal to land the Cuban standout was considered risky at the time, but it's now looking like a steal after the disciplined power hitter was the first rookie in major league history to finish in the top five in all three Triple Crown categories.

With a farm system that had been much maligned in the recent past, Hahn now has the option of plugging some holes in next year's roster with highly regarded prospects. The second-base job could end up going to the speedy Micah Johnson, and first-round draft pick Carlos Rodon could end up helping the team out of the bullpen next year before he takes a spot in the rotation down the road.

While the White Sox are not believed to be shopping shortstop Alexei Ramirez to other teams, they have received inquiries on the 2014 All-Star. That kind of a deal doesn't figure to go down, though, unless the White Sox can receive, at bare minimum, a solid defensive shortstop to go along with either a late-inning reliever, a left fielder or a potential starter.

Trading Ramirez for top prospects seems less likely, since they have so many needs at the major-league level and the club has shown with the additions of Duke and LaRoche that it believes it can win sooner rather than later.

There remains a sense the White Sox can get at least one more key deal done before the winter meetings begin, if not more. Just this week club executive vice president Kenny Williams was sounding optimistic.

"I really cannot remember a time where so many good players have been discussed at the general managers' meetings leading up to the winter meetings," Williams said. "I think it's going to be awfully fun once the winter meetings kick off. You're going to have some scrambling going on and I like it like that.

"If it was left up to Rick and me, we'd have started in September and October filling out the roster, but agents and players don't seem to be on our timetable, they seem to be on their own timetable."

White Sox coaching staff looks set for 2015

October, 30, 2014
Oct 30
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- While Chicago White Sox roster decisions are still to come, the coaching staff appears set for 2015.

General manager Rick Hahn confirmed that, saying the club "expects" all the coaches to return. Next season will be Robin Ventura’s fourth as manager.

The club went through the 2014 season with Mark Parent as bench coach, Todd Steverson as hitting coach, Don Cooper as pitching coach, Joe McEwing as third-base coach, Daryl Boston as first-base coach, Harold Baines as assistant hitting coach and Bobby Thigpen as bullpen coach.

At the end of the season, Hahn left the coaching staff’s return unconfirmed saying, “We might lose some to these potential (manager) openings.”

McEwing was an early candidate for the Arizona Diamondbacks' manager opening, but the National League West club eventually hired Chip Hale as their new field boss. While the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays have manager vacancies, no White Sox personnel are being viewed as a strong candidate for those jobs.

The White Sox could still be in the market for a base stealing/base running coach. While not a member of the major league staff, a new base-running coach could be a roving instructor within the organization.

Leadoff man Adam Eaton excelled in many areas this past season with a .362 on-base percentage and a nomination as a Gold Glove Award finalist, but base stealing appears to be an area where he could greatly improve. In addition, speedy second baseman Micah Johnson is close to making a breakthrough to the major league level.

Hahn did not confirm if the White Sox are in pursuit of a base-running coach.

White Sox looking at Semien's SS skills

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- Two days after a disastrous night at third base, Marcus Semien got the start at shortstop for the Chicago White Sox on Thursday in the series finale against the Oakland Athletics.

Semien made three errors in a defeat Tuesday night, two of the fielding variety, and after sitting out Wednesday's game, he will have a chance to get that debacle out of his system.

"You're going to have to get him in there and move him around and with Alexei (Ramirez), you can give him a day off," manager Robin Ventura said. "He's going to be back in there and you're going to see how he plays. He's been all over the infield and you just want to make sure you get him in there."

Semien projects more as a second baseman, but his chance at third Tuesday and his game at shortstop Thursday is a clear sign the White Sox could be looking at him as a utility man off the bench in the future.

"There's some of seeing how he can handle short but we've seen him play it before," Ventura said. "He's done it for us earlier in the year and last year. You see him at short and it looks pretty good."

It is far-fetched that the White Sox are taking a look at Semien at shortstop in case they want to trade Ramirez in the offseason. It would take a monster return to pry Ramirez away from the White Sox, especially after he rebounded from a mediocre year in 2013 to become an All-Star this season and return to a well-above-average level of defense.

It is just the fourth game all season where shortstop wasn't occupied by Ramirez, who still has two more seasons remaining on a team-friendly contract, when counting his 2016 team option year for $10 million.

"Compared to what Alexei does, when you see the range Alexei has, that's an elite range shortstop of what he does defensively," Ventura said. "I don't know if (Semien) is necessarily like that, but can he play it? Yeah."

Just because the White Sox are exploring Semien's versatility on defense doesn't mean that he won't be considered for the starting second base job next season. The White Sox are expected to enter the spring with competitive battle for the job at second between Semien, Carlos Sanchez and Micah Johnson.

Johnson projects as the better long-term second baseman of the future, but he is the only one of the three options without any major league experience.

Sox don't want to be second guessing

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
Padilla By Doug Padilla
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."

Rapid Reaction: A's 11, White Sox 2

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
Padilla By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO – A sloppy effort Tuesday left the Chicago White Sox with an 11-2 defeat by the Oakland Athletics.

How it happened: It was a rough night defensively, as the White Sox made four errors in the first five innings and five total in the game. Marcus Semien made three errors, Avisail Garcia made one and pitcher John Danks made the other. On the mound, Danks gave up four runs (two earned) on seven hits over six innings. A’s starter Jon Lester gave up two runs on seven hits over eight innings. Dayan Viciedo hit a home run -- his 20th of the season -- for the White Sox. Oakland's Josh Donaldson set a career high with five hits and added four RBIs.

What it means: When you aren’t in contention, September is for letting the kids work out the kinks, which is what Semien did Tuesday. He made all three of his errors at third base. His first was a throwing error in a two-run fourth inning for the A’s, then he made a fielding error in Oakland’s two-run fifth inning and another fielding error in the ninth. Defense has been an issue all season, as the White Sox entered the game with the sixth-most errors in the American League, at 92.

Outside the box: Make that six consecutive games without an RBI for Jose Abreu, who remains stuck at 99 for the season. Abreu has had only two other RBI droughts longer than this current run. He went eight consecutive games without an RBI in early August and also went eight games without one in April. He is trying to become the fourth White Sox rookie to collect 100 RBIs in a season and join Smead Jolley (114 in 1930), Zeke Bonura (110 in 1934) and Ron Kittle (100 in 1983).

Off-beat: Manager Robin Ventura figured to give Josh Phegley or Adrian Nieto a day to play catcher Tuesday, but Tyler Flowers was back behind the plate. Why the change of heart? “You're going to see those guys, but right now, [Flowers] hits two homers the night before, he probably deserves to be back," Ventura said. "I want him to keep this little roll going because you are still trying to win games.” Flowers hit the game-tying home run in the ninth inning Monday and the game-winning homer in the 12th. Flowers ended Tuesday 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Up next: The White Sox will send right-hander Chris Bassitt (0-1, 7.36 ERA) to the mound Wednesday in the third game of the four-game series. The A’s will counter with right-hander Jeff Samardzija (4-5, 3.70) in the 7:10 p.m. start at U.S. Cellular Field.

White Sox get started on latest changes

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
Padilla By Doug Padilla
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.

Series preview: White Sox at Yankees

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
Padilla By Doug Padilla
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.


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.


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.


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

Micah Johnson out as Sox consider call-ups

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
Padilla By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- Scratch Chicago White Sox second base prospect Micah Johnson from the list of potential September roster additions.

Johnson, one of the top position player prospects in the system, will be shut down for the season with a strained left hamstring. He was batting a combined .294 between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte this season and had been struggling through leg pain of late.

[+] EnlargeMicah Johnson
Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesMicah Johnson, one of the Sox's top position player prospects, will be shut down for the season with a strained left hamstring.
“The other day during an at-bat, he actually felt something in the front by the knee, which led to him being pulled out of the game and being brought to Chicago for evaluation,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn said. “It turned out that even though the pain was from the front of the leg, it was actually related to the same hamstring strain. So we’ve elected to shut him down. We’re going to give the strain four to six weeks to heal, and we expect he should be 100 percent and go into next season without restriction.”

So who will the White Sox call up?

The team needs pitching help, especially in the bullpen, but the system is thin on major league-ready arms. First-round draft pick Carlos Rodon remains a strong possibility to see time in a White Sox uniform next month, possibly as a reliever.

Rodon made his Triple-A debut Tuesday night, and the left-hander gave up one run over three innings for Charlotte.

“There has been a lot of speculation about our plans for him in September,” Hahn said. “There is nothing set in stone in terms of him coming here or not coming here. The decision is going to be made strictly based upon his development and his long-term fit for us. If we feel that he has the ability to come up here and compete, excel and learn from the experience, then it’s something we need to talk about internally and make a decision.”

Two likely roster additions will be infielder Marcus Semien and catcher Josh Phegley, who are both on the 40-man roster. Infielder Carlos Sanchez also could be recalled, and Hahn even talked about the possibility that outfielder Jared Mitchell comes up. Mitchell’s minor league career has been marked with ups and downs, but he is currently hitting the ball well in Charlotte.

Another intriguing roster addition would be first baseman Andy Wilkins, who is putting on a power display at Charlotte with 29 home runs, 35 RBIs and 82 RBIs, while slugging .568. The problem with calling up Wilkins is that the White Sox would first need to add him to the 40-man roster.

While the club already has had internal talks about who to add to the roster, Hahn said nothing has been finalized.

“I don’t have an answer on that yet,” he said. “It’s going to be more than a couple. Historically, we’ve been in the five-to-eight range, and we’ll probably be back in that range this year.”

One delicate issue with the extra bodies is that regulars will start losing playing time. Semien could be starting over Gordon Beckham at second base, and Phegley could be cutting into Tyler Flowers’ playing time behind the plate.

“I'm going to talk to [Hahn] about it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “When you get closer to September, if guys are going to get called up and it's going to affect them, then you start talking to them about it. I don't think we’re there right now.”



Chris Sale
12 2.17 208 174
BAJ. Abreu .317
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208