Chicago White Sox: Paul Konerko

Sox nemesis Chen cut loose by K.C.

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

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

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

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

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

Konerko: Regulars can't complain in Sept.

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
7:37
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- According to retiring captain Paul Konerko, any Chicago White Sox regular who complains about reduced playing time when rosters expand in September only needs to look in the mirror.

“If we didn’t want it to get to a situation in September where they were going to be calling up young guys, putting guys in, sitting down older guys, then we should be better in the standings,” Konerko said. “We should have earned that right and we haven’t done that. I don’t think anybody can take exception that. It’s kind of the way of the baseball world.”

It remains unclear who the White Sox will call up when rosters expand next week, although general manager Rick Hahn already has made it clear that Marcus Semien will be one of a handful of players.

As the White Sox entered play Wednesday on a seven-game losing streak, the late-season play is starting to resemble last season when a stagnant White Sox team finished with 99 losses. Konerko returned for one more year to get the taste of last year out of his mouth, and despite the team struggles again this year, he has been able to get some personal closure.

“I think so,” Konerko said. “I’ve never had the thought all year of, ‘Why did I do this?’ So that means to me that it was right. I think I would have probably had that thought that had I not come back.

“To me, the six-month season is where it’s at, so the closure will be when I wrap it up right and walk away from it knowing that not only the whole career but this year, I came, I showed up from spring training on, I worked the whole 7 months and gave it my all, and combined those with the other years, I walk away from it. I definitely have no regrets about coming back.”

The White Sox plan to honor Konerko during each of the 11 home games in September, even creating a Konerko seating section in the left-field stands. And with the White Sox out of playoff contention, Konerko’s bench role will be expanded so he gets more at-bats.

“We’ll see some lefties in there (in September) but I’m sure he’ll get a few more at-bats just for everybody’s sake,” manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s important to us to have him play quite a bit in that last weekend that we’re home if he can do it. If he can pull it off. I know a few of the days in a row that he has played (he’s been sore). I don’t know if we’ll get all four out of him, but we can get a few.”

The White Sox end the season with a four-game home series against the Kansas City Royals Sept. 25-28.

Konerko joked that four in a row might be pushing it.

“If they play me too much, I might demand a trade,” Konerko said with a smile. “I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. It would take me a while to get in shape again. I play like two games in a row and I’m sore now.”

All kidding aside, Konerko knows that he has the rest of his days in retirement to recover from any excess soreness and is willing to play as much as Ventura requests.

“I caught probably as good of a manager as you could in this situation like mine,” Konerko said. “He’s a guy who played for a long time and had a career that was similar. He was a good guy to play underneath because I think he understands everything that I had to go through this year and I’m still going through.

He’s made it real easy for me. There’s not one thing he could do to me or not do for me. He’s good in my book forever. He definitely made this year a lot more fun for me and a lot better for me because he was the manager. Whatever he wants, I’ll do whatever he needs.”

Once the season ends, the first thing on Konerko’s docket is coaching … just not on the minor or major league level. He said he already has an assignment to coach his 6-year-old son’s youth fall league.

“Yeah, it’s all going to be about family and my kids and stuff,” Konerko said. “Baseball, come a month from now, will take a back seat to everything. If there is something inside me down the road that says ‘Hey, do you want to get involved in this?’ then maybe I’ll do it, but I can tell you, as I sit here today there is nothing inside me that says I will do anything (with coaching).”

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
Archive
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

Defeat can't hide White Sox's talent

August, 20, 2014
Aug 20
10:55
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Even in sweeping the Chicago White Sox during a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field, the Baltimore Orioles can see the building blocks of an opposing team on the rise.

The time might not be now for the White Sox, who fell to a season high nine games under .500 (59-68) after a 4-3 defeat to the Orioles. But the runway is almost visible from here.

Avisail Garcia hit a home run in the first inning Wednesday, a day after Jose Abreu hit his own long ball, leaving Orioles manager Buck Showalter to take notice.

[+] EnlargeAvisail Garcia
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastOrioles manager Buck Showalter was impressed with Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia and hinted that the future is bright for the White Sox when healthy.
“[Garcia] is just ... he's ... I'm glad he's somebody else's problem,” Showalter said after his American League East team completed the sweep. “They're going to be a good club to be reckoned with. They're in their process and they've got the pieces there when they get everybody healthy, so you just feel fortunate to catch ’em on a little different side of the season and get out of here.”

The White Sox certainly want to see what their offense would look like when healthy. Garcia played for just eight games in April before he went down with a shoulder injury for four months on the day after he hit his first two home runs of the season.

Wednesday’s homer was just his third of the year.

“Yeah, you know, it's hard because I lost a lot of time and being here, you gotta work hard for that because the pitching here is not easy,” Garcia said. “So you gotta work hard, be focused and swing at good pitches.”

Garcia really could be hitting his stride once Adam Eaton returns, likely next week. Eaton has been out with an oblique injury. Perhaps then the White Sox can finally see an extended run with their new leadoff man and their relatively new power threats in Abreu and Garcia.

Abreu hit third in Wednesday’s lineup while Garcia was in the cleanup spot, presenting a back-to-back challenge that could be as good as any in the league moving forward.

“Yeah, I think we have a lot of talent for the future,” Garcia said. “I think Abreu is amazing. Alexei [Ramirez], [Alejandro] De Aza, [Dayan] Viciedo, me, [Paul] Konerko, we have a lot of future. Let's see what's going to happen; you gotta keep working.”

Well, Konerko might not be part of the future, but he is around for another five-plus weeks to pass the torch to the next generation of White Sox power hitters. Garcia knows he can take it and run with it only if he is healthy, which is why he is now playing it safe in the outfield.

On balls that he otherwise might have made a diving attempt to catch in the series, Garcia stayed on his feet instead. He might be missing out on the chance to make a great catch, but he wants to be around to make up for potential runs lost with his offense. Garcia hurt his shoulder during the second week of the season while trying to make a diving catch in right field.

“As we see him go along, we're going to like what we see,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think people are going to like what they see. He's a good young player, and it's nice to have him back.”

Progress is coming fast for Garcia now. It might not be coming as fast for the White Sox as a whole, but the positive pieces, like Garcia, are easy to see.

“Yeah, I feel great right now,” Garcia said. “Last night I didn't feel very good, but we've been working hard in the cage. The hitting coach told me a couple things, so I put it in the game. So that's why you see the work today.”

Buehrle, Garcia highlight night of returns

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
11:22
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- It was a night of big returns Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field as Mark Buehrle came back to pitch in his old ballpark and Avisail Garcia took the field again far earlier than what was originally projected.

It gave Chicago White Sox fans plenty to cheer about on a night that was far more energetic than most have been this season.

“It's fun to have a lot of people here, obviously,” said John Danks, who started for the White Sox opposite Buehrle and his Toronto Blue Jays. “We know the reason why and whatnot, but nonetheless it was a good atmosphere; it was fun to pitch.”

For Buehrle, the thank yous were delivered in four separate standing ovations, two before the game even began. And on multiple occasions Buehrle acknowledged those who had his back for 12 seasons on the South Side.

It seemed only fitting that when Garcia got the White Sox on the board finally with an RBI single in the sixth inning, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons removed Buehrle from the game. It was a symbolic torch passing in a lot of ways from the guy the fans came to honor in Buehrle to Garcia, who has returned to pick up where he left off when he went out with a serious shoulder injury in April.

Buehrle raised both arms in the air when he walked off the field, waving to the first- and third-base sides.

Immediately afterward, he wondered if that was the proper thing to do.

“I actually texted [Paul] Konerko and kind of apologized and said, ‘Hey, I hope nobody is pissed on the team that I tipped my hat kind of walking off the field,’ because I don’t know what the rule is as far as being a visitor and kind of tipping your hat,” Buehrle said.

“It’s one of those things that I didn’t want to piss anybody off on the other team, but at the same time the reaction I was getting from the crowd, I felt it was right.”

If anybody felt it was improper that Buehrle showed his appreciation to the outpouring of love and support, they probably will be sent lumps of coal at Christmas.

“Obviously coming out of the dugout and running out, fans started chanting and going crazy, but I just tried to focus and realize what I had to do,” Buehrle said. “The reception I got, I was kind of thinking it might be good. But what they did, coming off the field, every time I ran out, to hear people cheering, walking off around the dugout, it was exceptional.”

During Garcia’s first at-bat after four months away because of surgery to the labrum on his left shoulder, the cheers weren’t as intense as those Buehrle received. That changed eventually as the burly outfielder doubled during his first at-bat. He lined out to center in the fourth inning before his sixth-inning RBI single.

“It was great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Garcia’s return. “I think it’s a shot in the arm for us, adding another bat. I think he’s really excited. You can see it in the way he was playing.

“He’s a great player and we’re excited to have him back. I think he showed the talent that he has and why we’re excited about having him.”

Buehrle and Garcia admitted to being more nervous than they expected, although Buehrle said he was actually more anxious to talk to the media Friday.

“Honestly, I told my wife I was so glad Friday was over,” Buehrle said. “Pitching today, I knew there was going to be some emotions and nerves going, but it's just kind of what do you do.”

Garcia’s early nerves came with a little confusion attached.

(Read full post)

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

Series preview: Twins at White Sox

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEAD TO HEAD


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

NOTES


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

PITCHING MATCHUPS


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

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.

Thomas' success started behind scenes

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
12:45
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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Frank ThomasAP Photo/Kathy WillensFrank Thomas didn't put up Hall of Fame numbers just by being big and strong. He put in the work.


COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- There are plenty of traits that led Frank Thomas to one of the best careers in baseball history, but it might have been an awareness of his own swing that yielded Hall of Fame credentials.

Picking apart Thomas’ positive offensive traits has been a popular subject this week in advance of his induction to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday.

There was Thomas’ patience at the plate that led to some robust numbers since he was a master at swinging at strikes. There was his ability to hit to the opposite field, essentially taking what the pitcher gave him, that helped to keep his run production high.

His raw, natural power has also been cited. Thomas has even suggested that the steroid era might have been influenced by hitters trying to match his natural strength. Thomas has long boasted that he did not touch performance-enhancing substances, crediting coaches from his football days at Auburn for setting him straight on the subject.

But for all Thomas did on the field, it was the things he did behind the scenes that might have been the most important. Thomas’ work with hitting guru Walt Hriniak laid the groundwork for a .301 career batting average over 19 seasons, a .419 on-base percentage, 521 home runs and 1,704 RBIs. In 16 seasons with the White Sox, he hit .307 with a .427 OBP, 448 HRs and 1,466 RBIs.

Thomas didn’t have the prettiest of swings, rocking his weight forward during a pitcher’s delivery and often kicking back his right foot at the point of contact. While many power hitters load up on their back foot, Thomas’ upper-body strength allowed him to cheat the process and get his weight centered earlier than most.

It may not have been a swing to teach, but Thomas got himself where he needed to be at the point of contact. More importantly, he knew how to get himself back into his ideal hitting zone as soon as that swing started to stray.

“Just from what I saw the years he was here, something he had learned obviously before I got here, but he was just really consistent and dialed in with his work,” said former teammate Paul Konerko. “He knew when things went bad and [he] wasn’t swinging the bat the way he wanted to. He had drills and just a whole formula on how to get himself back. He was very aware at all times where he was at with his swing.

“He knew what to do when it was good and knew what to do when he didn’t feel good. He kind of just knew and learned how to kind of get it back to where he wanted to and knew little tricks to do it. That all leads to the numbers and not going through long stretches with bad results. That’s what I saw.”

Another behind-the-scenes trait that served Thomas well was his ability to be self-motivated. Often criticized for focusing on personal statistics, it was that desire to have better numbers than anybody else in the game at the time that enabled Thomas to deliver success for the team.

“People used to ask me about his numbers [and say], 'Well, he's selfish,’” broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson said. “I said, 'He's not selfish. Guys do that.’ They have to find ways to motivate themselves. You know, 162 games, that's tough. It's really tough, and guys find ways to motivate themselves.”

Konerko seemed to have no issue with Thomas’ perceived stats fetish.

“Well I don’t know if that’s [it]; that sounds kind of bad to say just stats,” Konerko said when asked about Thomas’ motivator. “I just think it was a by-product of his work and his routines. Whoever got him early, when it was when he first got to pro ball or the big leagues, I think gave him kind of a framework and a structure on how to work. He stuck to it, and that produced all the numbers.

“When you are a first baseman/DH type, that’s kind of how people are going to judge you. Not too many times are they going to give you credit or care about anything else besides that.”

And what worked for Thomas probably wouldn’t have been the right course of action for anybody else. Former teammate and current White Sox manager Robin Ventura was a good hitter in his own right, but knew that he wasn’t going to have much success doing it Thomas’ way.

“He was a different hitter and he could do different things than everybody else, so I wasn't going to be in his league as far as being able to do those things,” Ventura said. “So you'd talk about certain things, but he was just able to do a lot more than everybody else. I wasn't going to be able to hit for power the way he did, so it had to be different for me.

“I mean you'd talk about little stuff here and there. You could talk to him and probably get information, but he was just different.”

With that ability to make solid contact, it didn’t take Harrelson long to tag Thomas with his “Big Hurt” nickname.

“He’d just go on a streak there for a while and every time he swung the bat I'd say, 'Man, he hurt it. He hurt it,’” Harrelson said. “All of the sudden I'm up there one day and he was running around first base and he had hit one out there deep, real deep, and it just blurted out. I'm watching him go around first base and, ‘The Big Hurt!'

“That's how it came about and it was a good one. I think it was voted what, third- or fourth-best [nickname] in baseball history. And he deserved it because he was the Big Hurt, no question about it.”

Thomas turned doubts into Cooperstown

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
7:42
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- The initial reactions to Frank Thomas were about what he couldn't do. That soon changed to the things he did which were unlike any other, and it eventually evolved into a Hall of Fame career.

Thomas will be inducted Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. It will be a celebration of a groundbreaking career that saw him win two MVP awards and compile a .419 career on-base percentage that is third-best all-time among right-handed hitters.

[+] EnlargeFrank Thomas
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty ImagesFrank Thomas, a two-time AL MVP, hit 521 home runs during his 19-year career.
But when Thomas first took the field in the minor leagues as a first-round draft pick (seventh overall) by the White Sox in 1989, some questioned whether he would even make it to the big leagues to show off his offensive prowess.

"I didn't know he was great right off the bat because the first time I saw him was in A-ball and I had doubts that he could play first base," chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "When I saw him play, it looked like he didn't know where first base was."

Thomas managed to figure out some subtle nuances around the bag, although defense never was his strong suit. He simply hit so well that he was able to overcome any defensive liabilities he had, and moving to the designated hitter spot only increased his overall productivity.

When he arrived in the major leagues in 1990, his unique approach at the plate was on full display.

"You're looking at it and you're thinking, at that time you didn't see big guys that get a base hit the other way and walk," former Thomas teammate and current White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He had the power, but you're just talking about the smaller part of the game, where back then it was just swing as hard as you can and see how far you're going to hit it. But he took his walks, he didn't like striking out, and that was a change at that time for somebody his size."

Interestingly, the walks and the base hits the other way came early, but the home runs did not.

"I remember the first month he was up here he didn't hit a home run, and so we were wondering, 'Does this guy really have power?'" Reinsdorf said. "But after a couple of years he started putting up numbers like (Lou) Gehrig and (Jimmie) Foxx and (Mel) Ott and (Babe) Ruth. You knew if he stayed healthy he'd get into the Hall of Fame."

The time has arrived for the Hall of Fame to open its door to Thomas, and clearly he is worthy of the honor.

Paul Konerko played with Thomas for seven seasons (1999-2005) and calls Thomas the best hitter he has ever seen.

Konerko

That year in 2000, up close, that's about as good as I've seen anybody just kind of dominate. Even his outs, nothing looked bad. Maybe one at-bat out of every 15 it was a bad at-bat. It's pretty hard to do for six-month period.

-- Paul Konerko on Frank Thomas
"That year in 2000, up close, that's about as good as I've seen anybody just kind of dominate," Konerko said. "Even his outs, nothing looked bad. Maybe one at-bat out of every 15 it was a bad at-bat. It's pretty hard to do for six-month period."

Thomas batted .328 in 2000 with a 1.061 OPS, but finished second in the MVP voting to Jason Giambi, who later admitted that performance-enhancing substances were part of his early-career routine. Assuming Thomas would have added a third MVP award if Giambi hadn't cut corners only enhances his Hall of Fame credentials.

Thomas was in the Hall of Fame argument when he left the White Sox after the 2005 season, and he seemed to print his ticket to Cooperstown when he delivered a .926 OPS with 39 home runs and 114 RBIs with Oakland in 2006, finishing fourth in the MVP voting.

"I don't think anyone questioned whether he still had it, it was all injury; that gets people at the end of their career," Konerko said. "He had a couple of those, ankle or foot, where if he can get it healthy there was no question whether he would hit or not. That's different than playing healthy and not doing the job. We never really saw that from Frank.

"If he didn't hit well, it was related to injury. When he came back that year with Oakland, as long as he could swing the bat, the numbers would be there. It was that simple."

Thomas was simply so good with the bat that he got everybody to forget what he couldn't do with the glove.

"I just know watching Frank, I thought he was the greatest right-handed hitter I've ever seen," Reinsdorf said. "Now I think he's one of the three greatest because I think (Miguel) Cabrera and (Albert) Pujols are probably in that category. Still, that's pretty special. I didn't see (Rogers) Hornsby so I don't know how good he was."

White Sox's goal: A bullpen like KC's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flowers' adventure recalls 'Major League'

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
3:01
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Tyler FlowersJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesTyler Flowers knew his wife was in labor by the sixth inning of Monday's game.


CHICAGO -- Tyler Flowers was back in the starting lineup Wednesday, after a wild opening to the week, where he just managed to squeeze in Monday’s Chicago White Sox game before the birth of his second child.

That towering drive Flowers hit right along the left field foul pole Monday that ultimately was ruled foul came after Flowers had already heard his wife was admitted to a downtown hospital while in labor. The fly ball that hit the facing of the suite level went under replay review by the umpires, but the foul call was not overturned.

“I knew like in the sixth (inning) that it was pretty much time to go,” Flowers said. “That’s why I was really hoping they would correct that (home run) call because it would put me in a good spot to where I was maybe coming out of the game. When that didn’t happen, I was, ‘I hope she can hold out a little bit,’ and she did. A bunch of the (players’) wives were there helping her out.”

(Read full post)

Abreu gets day to catch his breath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More lessons ahead for Abreu

July, 19, 2014
Jul 19
7:12
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Jose AbreuAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastNeither Jose Abreu nor manager Robin Ventura seem concerned about the rookie wearing down.

CHICAGO – The learning never stops for Chicago White Sox rookie Jose Abreu, and one of his bigger tests is fast approaching.

As a member of the Cienfeugos team in Cuba’s Serie Nacional for 10 years, Abreu played in regular seasons that consisted of 90 games. On Saturday night, Abreu entered his 84th game (he lost 14 earlier this season to an ankle injury).

That means a season in Cuba would essentially be over at this point. But the hard-working Abreu still has another 64 games on the White Sox schedule, and the hottest part of the summer hasn’t even arrived yet.

To his credit, Abreu said he isn’t concerned about the marathon schedule.

“I don’t really think it’s going to affect [me],” the 27-year-old said through an interpreter. “We’ve just got to continue to work hard and stay mentally tough and continue to be a good person so you can get the results that you want at the end of the season. But I don’t think the length is going to affect my performance or anything like that.”

Manager Robin Ventura is aware of the situation but isn’t too concerned just yet.

“I think right now he's so excited with the way things are going, [and] that can carry a lot of guys through that period, but again, you don't know until he gets there and you see it," Ventura said. "There will be days when he can [play designated hitter], so you take care of him and give him maybe a day here or there where you can do that. You're watching everybody for that same thing. Everybody has their limit.”

There doesn’t seem to be any slowing down at this point. Abreu entered the day with the major league lead in home runs, at 29, and had a hit in 27 of his previous 28 games.

Abreu has only played in the majors for three and a half months, but one White Sox veteran has no problem putting the rookie in the class of great players.

“I think the more he gets comfortable, there is reason to believe he will do even better,” captain Paul Konerko said. “I think the more he faces guys, the strikeouts will go down, there will probably be more balls in play [and] he will probably take more walks, and that usually leads to a higher average, more hits, more runs driven in -- that kind of stuff.”

Konerko said Abreu has the rare gift of being able to get to pitchers the more he sees them, instead of the league catching up to him the more he is scouted and the more tape there is on him.

“The more he sees, the better he’s going to get," Konerko said. "But you don’t want to hang on a guy -- if he goes out and drives in 120 runs and hits 40 homers and hits .300 -- that, ‘OK, he should do better next year and even better the next year.' At some point, good is good, and you’ll just take the same thing or something close to it every year. But I wouldn’t expect him to go backward any.”

The learning never stops. And what struck Abreu most at this week’s All-Star Game?

“First of all, it was very normal," he said. "It was nothing out of the ordinary. The one thing that comes to mind was how good of people some of those guys are; people first, before the player. That was something that caught my eye."

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
10 2.03 165 142
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .316
HRJ. Abreu 33
RBIJ. Abreu 97
RJ. Abreu 70
OPSJ. Abreu .979
ERAC. Sale 2.03
SOC. Sale 165