Tagged: Erik Johnson

Sox Hold On After Hot Start Versus Mariners

The White Sox took a trip to bright, sunny Peoria Stadium Monday afternoon to take on Blake Beavan and the Seattle Mariners. The White Sox, who haven’t seen the winning side of games in a week, turned to rookie pitcher Erik Johnson to lead the way for the Sox.

Paul Konerko got the offense started in the second with a single. Dayan Viciedo followed it up with a sharp single to right field which was misplayed by Michael Saunders which allowed Viciedo to advance to third and Konerko to score from first. Alexei Ramirez would follow with a single to left field to score Viciedo. After a Tyler Flowers single, Marcus Semien would crush an inside fastball out to left field for a three run home run. The Sox would take the 5-0 lead.

Johnson would give a couple back in the bottom of the second after he hit Mariners’ designated hitter Stephen Romero with a pitch, and gave up a single to first baseman Logan Morrison. He would give up a single by Dustin Ackley that scored Romero, and then would get Michael Saunders to ground out to Jose Abreu at first which would score Morrison from third making it a 5-2 Sox lead.

Johnson would give up another run in the fifth inning on a Robinson Cano single to right field that scored catcher Mike Zunino cutting the Sox lead down to two.

The Sox’s rookie fourth starter looked solid in his last start of the spring. His fastball looked crisp and located it well. This spring Johnson has given up 12 earned runs in 17 innings. The number skew by the seven runs he gave up to the LA Angels last Wednesday. He should make a good back end starter for the Sox and has the abilities to end up with seven to ten wins and a mid to high three ERA.

The White Sox would add two more runs in the top of the sixth inning off the bat of Paul Konerko when he hit a home run to left center that scored Connor Gillaspie making it 7-3. That would cap the White Sox offense as the Sox would generate only two more hits in the last three innings including a Viciedo one out double in the ninth inning off of Seattle’s closer Danny Farquhar.

Donnie Veal came into the game in the bottom of the seventh. After the first pitch single to Mike Zunino, Veal couldn’t keep the ball in the strike zone. He would fly open with his shoulder in his delivery causing the ball to sail into the left handed batter’s box. After almost hitting the next two hitters and consequently walked them, he would give up bases clearing double to Cano in the seventh inning in relief of Johnson. After the double, Veal would get three straight outs to get out of the seventh.

Manager Robin Ventura would tap Zach Putnam to come in for the save. Putnam is in competition for the last spot in the bullpen with Daniel Webb. He would get the five out save, only giving up one hit in the process. He got the last two of the eighth and the first in the ninth quickly. He’d give up a single to Tyler Smith to center field, but came right back with a fastball that Mariners third baseman D.J. Peterson hit into a double play to end the game.

As a team the Sox look like their ready for the regular season. With only days left there are still a couple cuts that need to be made. The White Sox broke camp today after the Cubs game, more information on the cuts coming as soon as they’re announced.


A Buffet of One Year Deals for the White 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.

Pitching Storylines Going Into 2014 for the White Sox

In part one of the 2014 story lines articles, I discussed some of the story lines that hover over the offense this season. The pitch staff has some story lines of their own.

The first of these story lines is “What two other pitchers will man the starting rotation along with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks?” Baseball Prospectus has listed Erik Johnson as their top prospect in the White Sox organization. He and the newly acquired Felipe Paulino have an edge in getting the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.  The Sox are looking for Andre Rienzo to show more consistency in his command before they’d give him a shot at the bottom of the rotation.  If he doesn’t show signs of better command, he’ll probably end up starting the year in triple A.

The 24 year-old Johnson had three years of pitching experience between the minors and majors. In his two years of pitching in the minors, he pitched 234.1 innings and had a solid 2.21 ERA (Earned Run Average). He won 18 games and lost 8 of them. He briefly spent time in the rotation last September when he was called up. He pitched in 5 games and went 3-2 in those games. In the games he pitched in, Johnson gave up 16 runs, but only 10 of those were earned. The defense didn’t help the rookie out any. It will be interesting to see what Johnson could do with a better defense.

Felipe Paulino, who was signed from free agency in a 1 year deal, is expected to take one of the two places in the rotation. The former Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals player has a career 4.93 ERA and a 13-32 record. In a year, the Sox are trying to compete and retool; his signing was for him to fill in the last spot of the rotation. On the other hand, it could also give pitching coach Don Cooper a chance to show his stuff, and turn around a player’s fortune.

Another story line that’ll hang about in 2014, “Who’s going to be the next closer?” It is hard to believe the Sox didn’t have a plan for Nate Jones to become the next closer since they traded Addison Reed. They had control of Reed till 2018, so they had to have thoughts that Jones was a solid enough pitcher in his first two seasons to make Reed expendable. He holds a 12-5 record with a 3.31 ERA, which was somewhat inflated last season as mentioned in my previous article on his current injury.

There is some competition for the role with the Sox signing former closer Mitchell Boggs, veteran Matt Lindstrom and others on the roster who could also step into the role when needed. “Will Jones get the role?”, and “Can he hold on to the role the whole season?” could be a couple of questions that will be answered as the season moved on.

There is also some question as to whether John Danks will ever be able to get back to a 200+ inning pitcher, with a sub four ERA. He hasn’t lived up to taking over the ace position for Mark Buehrle. With Chris Sale in firm control of that, he can focus on getting back to pitching as a number two or three. Between ’08 and ’10, Danks carried a sub four ERA with double-digit wins. The Sox are hoping that with another year recovered from the injury he’ll bounce back from his 4-14 season last year, especially since they’re paying him $14.25 million each of the next three years.

In this day and age, where people are so caught up the story lines that run reality television and such.  Each new baseball season can also bring with it story lines that can keep people drawn to it. Now we wait for baseball’s season premiere to see how the stories will unfold!