After a dreadful start to the 2015 season in which the team scored only two runs in two of the three games against the division rival Kansas City Royals, the White Sox will face the dismal Minnesota Twins in front of a packed house, on beautiful day on the south side.
The Sox will send right-hander Hector Noesi out to the mound against a Twins team that has combined to score one run in three games in their opening series against the Tigers. In his career Noesi has a 2-1 win-loss record against the Twins with a 4.19 ERA.
The key player to watch in the Twins lineup today is an obvious one in Joe Mauer. The first baseman is the only player on the twins with more than two hits and is the Twins only run on the season. Mauer has been Mr. Consistent in his career, although he is coming off a career low .277 average last season. With the White Sox having issues getting their offense going, it’ll be important to keep Mauer from causing too much damage by keeping second baseman Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar off the bases.
On the White Sox side of the field, the team needs to focus on trying to find a spark against a bad team to get the offense going. Against the Twins left-hander Tommy Milone, Adam Eaton needs to get the lineup going at the top of the order. Eaton’s had only one hit in twelve at-bats and is a key to making the pitchers uncomfortable on the mound by being on base when Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche come up to the plate.
While starting 0-3 isn’t ideal and not what every White Sox fan expected it’s also not the end of the world. However 26 out of the first 29 games are against the central division so it’s important the White Sox find their stride quicker than usual.
Lineup for the Sox according to WhiteSox.com:
1. Eaton – CF
2. Cabrera – LF
3. Abreu – 1B
4. Garcia – RF
5. LaRoche – DH
6. Ramirez – SS
7. Beckham – 3B
8. Flowers – C
9. Johnson – 2B
Noesi – SP
Under the blue skies at Camelback Ranch in Arizona the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers are getting ready to toss the first pitches in the 2015 spring training season for both teams.
Jose Quintana will take the mound for the north side against the stout Dodgers lineup that features Jimmy Rollins and Carl Crawford at the top of the lineup and a healthy mix of lefties and righties throughout the lineup. The mix in the lineup will give Quintana an excellent chance to work on whatever he needs to for hitters on both sides.
A couple players to keep an eye on during the game would be how Gordon Beckham does at third base and Carlos Sanchez at second base, Both players are looking to make a statement this spring, going forward it’ll be interesting to see how both positions play out in the next month.
Another thing to watch out for is the lineup in general for the White Sox. Throughout the offsesason it was expected that the lineup would feature Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, Avisail Garcia, and Alexei Ramirez as the order of the top six. It’ll be interesting to see if this lineup will prosper as is or how Manager Robin Ventura might tweak the lineup throughout the spring to see what different combinations are the most successful since a majority of the positions are already set.
The rest of the week will see the south side ball club take on the Dodgers again tomorrow, then will go to the Padres at , come back to Camelback Ranch to take on the Mariners Saturday and will go to the Athletics on Sunday. Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s games are at 2:05 Central Time and Sunday’s game will be at 3:05 Central Time.
The 2014 season wasn’t exactly kind to Adam Eaton as he spent 32 days total on the disabled list. The same can be said about Avisail Garcia and his 2014 season. Although Eaton was only on the disabled list for two stints totaling 32 days, Garcia was stuck on the list for a majority of four months with a torn labrum in his left shoulder that happened 8 games into the season.
Eaton was exactly what the White Sox needed a lead-off man to be. While he didn’t steal a lot of bases, 15 in 24 attempts, but he had a .362 on base percentage hitting the entire time out of the top spot. He gave the White Sox something they’d been lacking using Alejandro DeAza, a lead-off hitter who’d set the stage for the middle of the batting order. Instead, when DeAza was in the top spot in previous seasons, he would try to strike out attempting to hit home runs and as a result would leave no one on base for Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, or anyone else who’d hit in the heart of the lineup.
The biggest problem Eaton ran into, other than trying to stay healthy by not letting walls beat him up is having the second hitter in the lineup hit a double play eliminating the chance to get the offense rolling. The hitters who spent some time in the second spot combined for a total of 57 double plays throughout the season. That plus the countless number of fielder’s choices supplied throughout the lineup kept the offense sputtering at times when they would finally get runners on base.
However with a 5.2 wins above replacement number and a .338 average with runners on base, Eaton was able to come away with last season knowing he’d done his job. It also showed he’d taken the step forward the Sox had hoped he would after they had acquired him in the trade with Arizona. He’ll look to keep his foot forward this season and hopefully he’ll keep his body away from the outfield fences that had him seeing time on the disabled list last season.
Last season was supposed to be the breakout season for Avisail Garcia. He was supposed to take a leap towards becoming the player everyone has projected the 24-year old to be. However one play in April changed the route Garcia’s season would take. He would spend the next four months recovering and rehabbing from a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He finally returned later in August from the DL quicker than some expected and was able to get work in at the major league level in the outfield and at the plate. He would go on to hit just .244 last season in a total of 46 games, but that wasn’t as important as him taking advantage of the playing time on a team that wasn’t going anywhere.
The obvious hope for the White Sox is to get to see Garcia the whole season, especially after he’s lost the extra weight he gained at the end of 2014. Garcia’s been dieting and working out trying to get his speed back to make him once again a projected five-tool player. If the Sox intend to be successful this season and compete for the division and the World Series, it’ll take Garcia being successful from wherever in the lineup Robin Ventura sees him fitting. The most likely spot in that lineup will probably be at number five hitting behind either Adam LaRoche or Jose Abreu.
Other than Emilio Bonifacio who is listed as a back up to all the outfielders, Leury Garcia is also among the list to back up Eaton in centerfield. As a utility fielder in 2014, Garcia only hit .166 in 74 games playing a multitude of positions including one inning in relief during an extra inning game. The 23-year old Garcia needs to come out firing on all cylinders come the February 24th when the Sox position players report and spring training gets going. He’s going to have competition for utility player with the acquisitions of Gordon Beckham, J.B. Shuck, and Emilio Bonifacio. If he does have a mediocre spring, it could be his versatility that keeps him on the 25-man roster coming out of Camelback Ranch.
Non-roster invitee and former Chicago Cub Tony Campana was supposed to be in the mix for a bench role but on February 10th the White Sox twitter account reported that Campana had torn his ACL while training recent to the announcement and would most likely be out for the entire 2015 season.
While the Sox tried to set their roster up with defensive depth in all three positions, it may have come at the cost of offensive depth. The starters shouldn’t have an issue producing runs, but we’ll have to see what combination of bench players Sox management gives themselves heading into the regular season. However, for what we as Sox fans have dealt with over the recent seasons, we’ll take the starting three as is and deal with the lack of offensive depth when it becomes an issue.
Opening day is one of the most beloved days of the year on the calendar. It is the time of the year where every Major League team and fan base have hope of making it to the World Series.
The White Sox entered the game Monday with the hope that the retooling effort they put in during the offseason will pay off throughout the 2014 campaign and beyond.
Monday’s season opener saw the Chris Sale and the Sox take on Ricky Nolasco and the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale was wildly effective during the first couple innings. No matter whether it was nerves, the chill, or something else he looked tight. He faced the minimum through two innings despite giving up a hit in the top of the second.
The Twins would get to Sale for two Runs in the third starting with a lead-off base on balls to Twins right fielder Oswaldo Arcia. That would be followed by a single to left field by Aaron Hicks, then they were moved into scoring position by shortstop Pedro Florimon on a bunt back to Sale. Two hitters later, Kurt Suzuki roped a two out single to left, scoring both Arcia and Hicks.
Sale would give up one more run in the eighth after being taken out of the game with one out and having already a given up a double by Hicks to left field. Reliever Ronald Belisario would come into the game and give up a rope single to left off of the bat of Suzuki, scoring Hicks. Sale closed the day with 7.1 innings pitched, three runs on five hits, and had eight strike outs to go with one walk.
The offense showed signs of how good it could be this year if every thing falls their way.
Sox center fielder Adam Eaton tried making sure the season got off to a good start with a shot right back up the middle to start off the season for the new look offense. Unfortunately, last year’s issue showed up in the next batter when Marcus Semien grounded into a five, four, three double play.
The Sox offense got started again in the second when Jose Abreu smashed a fastball that was on the edge of the left hand batters box to right field. The ball one hopped the fence so fast that all Arcia could do was jump and hope he could get it some how. The ball would bounce away from Arcia allowing Abreu to turn the hit into a double. Adam Dunn would follow with a full count walk in a solid at-bat, but he would be erased by a Avisail Garcia double play. Alejandro DeAza would come up next, and would start his season off with a bang. DeAza turned around a slider that hung in inner half for a two run home run that would score Abreu.
The Sox would add two more runs in the third on a RBI single to left by Jose Abreu, and an RBI sacrifice fly by Adam Dunn. Dunn’s sacrifice fly started out a normal pop out to the shortstop but drift all the way to the tarp in foul territory due to the strong winds blowing across the field. Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon drifted with the ball and made a sliding catch going away from home plate which allowed Sox third baseman Connor Gillaspie to score from third.
The Sox would add one more in the sixth on another DeAza line drive home run to the right field bullpen.
Matt Lindstrom, who was named the closer on opening day by manager Robin Ventura and called upon in the ninth to shut the door on the Twins. Even though he did give up a one out double to designated hitter Chris Colabello, Lindstrom was able to close out the Twins and preserve the 5-3 victory.
After a day off on Tuesday, the White Sox will return for another matinee on Wednesday against the Twins. The Sox will send right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino against fellow right-hander Kevin Correia for the Twins. The game is a 1:10pm start in Chicago.
In a Sunday matinee, Jose Quintana and the White Sox looked to get back on the winning track. After back to back terrible outings, Quintana was trying to settle down and pitch the best he could in his next to last start of the spring.
Sunday’s game was definitely Quintana at his best. In a five inning shutout, he gave up only one hit to Wilin Rosario to center field. After a fly out, Quintana would pick Rosario off first base and then would get Josh Rutledge to ground out to get out of the second inning. Quintana would also finish with a pair of strike outs as well.
Connor Gillaspie continued his solid spring with two doubles in the game. Outfielders Alejandro DeAza and Blake Tekotte would also get two hits in the game. One of Tekotte’s hits was a double to right field that scored DeAza in the second. The Sox as a team would get 11 hits as a team.
Tyler Flowers would tally the second run for the Sox as he scored on a single by Leury Garcia. Adam Eaton would follow Garcia with a single to left scoring Blake Tekotte. These runs would give the Sox a three to nothing lead.
They would also add two more runs in the fifth on a Konerko single and a Tyler Flowers fielder’s choice. These were the last runs that the Sox would put across the plate on Sunday for the pitchers. Quintana left the game after the fifth with the lead.
Colorado would crawl their way back into the game with a ground out by Jackson Williams in the bottom of the sixth to score DJ LeMahieu. They would add another in the bottom of the seventh on a single by Jordan Pacheco to left that scored Drew Stubbs making it 5-2.
The Rockies would add three more in the eighth inning to tie the game up on one hit. Josh Rutledge would lead off the inning against reliever Scott Downs with a single to left field. A wild pitch by Downs would lead to Josh Rutledge scoring after he stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Kevan Smith. An error by shortstop Marcus Semien would then allow both Charlie Culberson and Ryan Wheeler to score who got on base by walks.
Neither team would add runs in the ninth leading to the game being called a tie. It’s the White Sox’s fifth tie of the spring. The next game is Monday afternoon affair against the Seattle Mariners with rookie Eric Johnson getting the nod for the Sox.
On a day where the White Sox had their game against the Cleveland Indians was washed out, they got back to the negotiating table with 24 of their players. With these signings the Sox now have all their players on the 40-man roster locked in for the 2014 season.
The players were given one year deals with the largest deal going to Jose Quintana which brings him up to $550,000 and possible closer Nate Jones at $545,000.
Others amongst the 25-man active roster that were able to reach a deal include Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, Josh Phegley and top prospect Erick Johnson.
Notable minor leaguers who received a deal today also include Leury Garica, Carlos Sanchez, Marcus Semien, Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson.
All these players are in their pre-arbitration part of their careers. Next season Nate Jones, Donnie Veal, and Jose Quintana reach their first year of arbitration. The best news for the Sox is most of the young talent they have on the current roster still has at least one year of arbitration left such as Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, and Erik Johnson.
Chris Sale and the White Sox opened the spring training part of their schedule today against their in house neighbor, the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in Arizona.
Sale’s fastball looked great in his season debut. It was so good that he started out throwing fastballs on the first 8 pitches of the game with good command. He ended up with 42 pitches thrown in the game when he left with two outs in the third inning. His stat line had four strike outs and only one hit given up against the everyday line-up of the Dodgers.
Adam Eaton’s White Sox debut went well as he went one for one with a single and a walk. He seemed very patient and willing to take pitches which will be important if he stays in the lead-off spot throughout the season.
Both Jose Abreu and Dayan Viciedo looked like they just wanted to crush the ball in their first appearance of the season. Abreu swung through a pitch so hard he fell off balance and ended up in the opposite batter’s box, while Viciedo spun around in one of his at-bats. Abreu went hitless with a fly out and a ground out. Viciedo managed to take a fastball to the opposite field for a single, and reached for a pitch which he drove to deep right for an out.
A double down the left field line and a check swing dribbler back to the pitcher are how Matt Davidson celebrated his White Sox debut.
In the first game of his retirement campaign, Paul Konerko went hitless and didn’t look comfortable in the batter’s box. The Dodgers, in both at-bats jammed Konerko inside with fastballs and he wasn’t able to do much with them. He ended the day after the 4th inning with a first pitch ground out to third and a fly out to the first baseman in foul territory.
Donnie Veal, Mitchell Boggs, and Charlie Leesman looked decent in the spring debuts. The three relievers combined to give up one hit in three innings of work with two strike outs by Leesman. It wasn’t until Jake Petricka and Omar Poveda came into the game that the Dodgers started scoring.
All in all some players had their good day today and others didn’t. That’s what spring training is for though is working on your fundamentals and getting the kinks out.
During the Ozzie Guillen tenure as manager of the White Sox all the talk was of how the team was going to play small ball. The team didn’t exactly follow that philosophy with players like Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and others jacking home runs as the main way of producing runs.
It seems like the White Sox of 2014 are going to try to mix their philosophies up. Today at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, AZ Adam Eaton and Alejandro DeAza were working on their bunting skills in the cages.
Eaton talked to Scott Merkin of WhiteSox.com yesterday and said, “Another part of my game that you have to work on, and I think any small guy has to. It’s all the same message: Get it down in a place where no one else can get it; different techniques and different styles, and how to go about it. As long as you have production, you are all right.”
Eaton had four singles off bunts with the Diamondbacks last season in 250 at-bats. DeAza actually had seven bunt hits last season as well. Both will more than likely be utilized at the top of the lineup, and are left-handed hitters. If the two are put at the top of the lineup, then that would have all three everyday left-handed hitters in the top four.
In this scenario it would leave the Sox vulnerable in later innings when the opponent brings in relievers. If they put all three left handers in the top four spots, the other team can bring in their left-handed specialist. If he manages to get both DeAza and Eaton out they could walk the third hitter, and try to get Dunn out in the fourth spot.
Production from the lineup is very important this year, especially considering how little there was last season. This leaves Manager Robin Ventura with a big decision on how he handles the lineup, especially since Adam Dunn and DeAza have right-handed replacements on the bench if the situation arises. This will definitely be something that he’ll tweak and test out throughout spring training.
Welcome to the start of the 2014 season! This season has several offensive story lines to keep an eye on, and most of them will have an impact on whether the Chicago White Sox can climb out of the basement of the American League Central.
One of the story lines that’s been hovering over the team this off-season is the pending retirement of Paul Konerko. Konerko, coming off one of his overall worst seasons, announced this off-season that he will retire at the end of the year. He also is going to have his role on the team reduced with the signing of Jose Abreu.
Almost every year that Konerko has had a rough season, he’s managed to recover and have solid seasons. In 2003, he hit .234 and turned his fortunes around the following year for a .277 average. Again in 2008, he could only manage a .240 average but spun it around the next year for another .277 average. He has shown the ability in the past to fight back the next year for a decent season.
What will the story lines read for Paul Konerko at the end of 2014? Did a cut in playing time affect his chances of bouncing back, and did the decision to publicize the fact that he’ll retire at the end of the season be a distraction?
Another story line walking into spring training is, “Will the in-season and off-season acquisitions help to bring the White Sox back to October?” Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson all have the ability to make an impact on this year’s roster.
Avisail Garcia came on via trade at the end of July last season, and tried to create a spark in the team when he was called up a week and a half later. He hit a .304 average last season and had 4 doubles, 2 triples, and 5 home runs in the 42 games he played in for the Sox. He has yet to play in more than the 42 games in a season.
The “Next Miggy” (as people have named him, comparing him to Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers), Garcia will get the chance to prove the nickname true as he heads into his first full season. The 22-year-old will roam the field in right for the White Sox in 2014, and bring his solid defense with him (having only committed 3 errors in the 92 games he’s play in the majors). If he is still a beast defensively, can maintain the .300 average, and be a major extra base threat at the plate, he’ll be a major asset for the Sox as the season and his career go along.
The White Sox went on and signed Jose Abreu in October. The 6 foot, 3 inch, first baseman was sought after as the heir to Paul Konerko’s first base position. He is projected to be a .290 hitter with 30 plus home runs a season. The Sox are hoping that those projections start with his rookie season. The 27-year-old first baseman may have an adjustment period coming in to this season- especially being in a rotation at first base and designated hitter with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.
The first player traded for in December was Adam Eaton. The Sox were looking for a young center fielder that could be productive and under their control for a while. With Eaton, they receive a center fielder that’s hard-nosed like former Sox player, Aaron Rowand. He also gives them a 25-year-old that isn’t up for arbitration till 2016, and the earliest he can reach free agency is 2019.
In the 88 games he’s seen as a pro, Eaton has put up a .254 average, 24 extra base hits, and 31 walks. The White Sox are hoping that he brings with him some of his abilities in the minors. He probably won’t hit the .348 average like in the minors, but closer to a .280 avg. with a mid .300’s OBP (On Base Percentage). The Sox are going to be looking at the former Arizona Diamondback to get on base and cause some havoc.
The final acquisition from the Diamondbacks was third baseman, Matt Davidson. The 23-year-old, rookie was traded for less than a week after Eaton. He will compete with Jeff Keppinger and Connor Gillaspie, who combined for around a .230 average last season for the starter’s role at third base. Davidson’s projected as a 30 home run hitter but comes with a high strike out rate. If he can hit even .240 with 25-30 home runs in his first couple seasons, he’ll be a big improvement on offense compared to his competitors at third base.
These are the major story lines on the offensive side for the White Sox heading into a 2014 with unknown potential ahead of them. Could all these story lines mesh together to have a magical season, we’ll find out as the season moves along!
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it!” Those words couldn’t possibly be the way any White Sox fan, player, coach or office guy thought of the team going into the off season. In fact, this has been one of the most efficient off-seasons the White Sox have had in a while.
The team signed an international player who has the potential to be a future star in first baseman Jose Abreu, who will be the heir to Paul Konerko’s spot at first base when he retires at the end of the season. They then proceeded to trade twice with the Arizona Diamondbacks in less than a week of each other. In those transactions they picked up a center fielder, Adam Eaton and a third baseman, Matt Davidson who will be under the team’s control for several years.
The Sox also signed right handed pitchers Ronald Belisario and Mitchell Boggs to contracts while letting Brent Morel go to Toronto on waivers. Catcher Adrian Nieto was also claimed off waivers but this time by the Sox from the Nationals.
In return for all this work General Manager Rick Hahn has done to retool, not rebuild the White Sox hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, Sports Illustrated has given the team an A minus for it’s off season work. They are tied for second with Kansas City and the San Francisco Giants to only the St. Louis Cardinals who received an A plus for the job they did.
White Sox fans will still have mixed feelings going into this season. They’ll especially feel that way when Baseball Prospectus has their PECOTA standings with the Sox finishing fourth behind the Tigers, Indians, and Royals at 76 wins and 86 losses. Will the offense come back? Can the young guys in the bullpen close out games for the starters, and who’s all going to be in the rotation behind Chris Sale and John Danks? Who’s going to be the everyday catcher and third baseman this season? Like the old adage says, “That’s why they play the games!”