A few days after trading Josh Phegley to the Oakland Athletics, the Sox pick up another catcher off the free agent market. A journeyman catch, George Kottaras has been with seven teams in seven seasons and now will be with his eighth according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Kottaras agreed to a minor league contract with the team and will be the fourth catcher appearing at spring training. Tyler Flowers and his backup, Adrian Nieto are already on the 40-man roster from 2014, but the Sox also claimed Rob Brantly off waivers from Miami and now have Kottaras, all to fight for the two spots on the 25-man rotation.
Kottaras brings some power, draws walks, but does strike out often. His strikes outs to walks ratio is almost two to one. Last season he played for three teams and had 14 strikes outs in 25 at-bats. If he’s on the roster going into the season, it’ll be as a body to be able to give Flowers a day off and occasionally provide a good at-bat.
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.
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.
In a Friday afternoon matchup versus the crosstown rival Cubs, John Danks took on the challenge of trying to stop the White Sox streak of bad pitching performances.
After a couple of days of White Sox pitching getting crushed, Danks looked solid while taking the loss. Danks was decently efficient in his pitches, throwing 66 percent of them for strikes. Unfortunately for him, Luis Valbuena took one of his pitches deep in the top of the fourth for a three run home run to give the North Siders a 4-0 lead. Danks would end up leaving at the end of the fifth inning and finished with a stat line of four runs on six hits and two strike outs.
Danks has had a pretty efficient spring which is always good. He’s doing so by locating his pitches well, especially cut fastball pitch that he’s been working on which was very flat last season.
In an interview with WhiteSox.com, Danks had this to say, “I felt real good. I was able to throw all my pitches and I felt good about where I’m at.” Danks continued, “Obviously, there are a couple I would like to have back, but the goal today was not to walk anybody and I did that. I feel like I got my command better than what it has been and still got some good stuff on the ball.”
It would be helpful for the White Sox can go to battle with three efficient lefties at the top of their pitching rotation. Most teams have trouble finding and keeping two left-hand pitchers to fill out their rotations. The Sox are hoping that Danks could give them something substantial back on the three years at $14.25 million per year investment they have in him.
Luis Valbuena struck again in the seventh off of Scott Downs to make it 5-0. The Cubs would go on to add two more on a wild pitch in the seventh and a single in the ninth.
The Sox hitters seemed baffled by the Cubs pitching staff. Abreu, Dunn and Garcia had one hit each which was all the offense the White Sox could manage to produce.
The only note for the offensive side of the ball was catcher Tyler Flowers leaving the game in the bottom of the sixth after swinging at a pitch from Cubs reliever Alberto Cabrera with leg cramps. He would be replaced by pitch hitter Jaime Pedroza in the at-bat and by Adrian Nieto behind the plate on defense.
Next on the block was a split squad against the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants on Saturday.
The Chicago White Sox welcomed Jesse Chavez and Oakland A’s yesterday at Camelback Ranch, but the bright sunny Tuesday in Glendale turned dark in a flash for the Sox.
Jose Quintana was hoping to forget his last outing when he gave up 7 runs to the LA Angels in three innings on the mound, but things got even worse for him in this outing. Without recording a single out in the first inning, Quintana gave up three singles, two doubles, a triple, a home run and two walks in the nine batters he faced.
He isn’t in trouble of losing a spot in the rotation, and Robin Ventura will still have the confidence to put him out there. However the last two games have to be slightly concerning, especially games like Tuesday’s where he didn’t get a single out.
Connor Gillaspie, who’s in control of the winning the job at third base got one back for the Sox with a home run in the last of the second inning. Gillaspie has taken the lead in the competition for the starting role at the hot corner by hitting .273 in the spring games with three home runs.
Jeff Keppinger was also involved in the race for the spot at third, but with a stubborn shoulder injury that he had cleaned out at the end of last season, he is likely going to start the season on the disabled list.
Matt Davidson has only one less hit than Gillaspie in spring games, but has accumulated half of those in just two games. In an interview Davidson had with Whitesox.com he said, “I’m human and I want to be in the big leagues and I’m not satisfied with going to the Minors but then again, I’m not going to be disappointed. I still want to have a collective great 2014.” Davidson is still a 50-50 shot to make the big club this season. There are still 13 more moves that need to be made after the six moves from today.
Tyler Flowers added another home run to center field in the bottom of the third. Flowers beat out Josh Phegley for the starting position at catcher still has to prove himself as a hitter in the majors. The White Sox are hoping he can turn around his injury plagued 2013 season. The team can’t afford another to have Flowers hit .195 again this season if they plan to compete for the central division.
One of the hottest players on the team right now is outfielder Jordan Danks. Danks contributed a pair of home runs in the seventh and ninth innings. A hot Danks could give the Sox an opportunity to trade either or both Alejandro DeAza or Dayan Viciedo.
The Sox relief pitchers didn’t fare much better in the game Tuesday. They used six relievers and only two of them didn’t allow a run. Most of the pitchers seemed like they had lost control of most of their pitches, and couldn’t consistently hit their targets. With only a couple of weeks left before the start of the season it’s a little concerning that most of the six were wildly ineffective.
The game was a blow out from the beginning. The Sox ended up losing 16 to 6 and gave up 20 hits in the game with Alexei Ramirez having the only error in the game.
Sunday’s spring training game left a lot to be desired by starter Felipe Paulino, while the offense managed to get nine runs off Texas pitchers.
Newly acquired Paulino only lasted an inning and two thirds in his Sox debut. With 42 pitches thrown, he gave up four runs on eight hits. He also had a balk, walk and a strike out during his time on the mound.
Other pitchers of note from today’s game are: non-roster invitees David Purcey, Deunte Heath, Scott Snodgrass, and Zach Putnam who all held the Rangers hitless and off the scoreboard in relief. Purcey and Heath had three strike outs a piece.
Offensively the Sox managed 13 hits and had nine runs cross home plate. Mike McCade and Carlos Sanchez led the team with two hits each, and Tyler Flowers smashed a two run home run in the sixth inning.
In the ninth inning the Sox were able to get five runs across off Texas relievers. New comer Adrian Nieto and prospect Jared Mitchell were responsible for four runs on singles by both players. Carlos Sanchez had the game winning RBI on a single to left field scoring Leury Garcia from third.
Paul Konerko was held out of the game due to a stomach matter. Robin Ventura gave Adam Dunn the day off after a morning workout to accept a once in a lifetime invitation to the Oscars. Dunn decided that he would accept his opportunity today, and was given tomorrow off so he didn’t have to worry about getting back to the team in a hurry.
Next stop for the rest of the team on the road to the regular season is the Kansas City Royals at Camelback Ranch. The matchup has Jose Quintana going for the Sox versus Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals. First pitch is at 2:05pm CT.
One position that was a major issue for the White Sox in 2013 that wasn’t addressed in the offseason was catcher. The three catchers that played a most of the season combined for a .198 average.
Tyler Flowers, Josh Phegley, and Hector Gimenez started behind the plate in all but six games last season. There were rumors afloat in the off-season that the Sox were trying to trade for a catcher from the Tampa Bay Rays. Whether the talks fell through or the White Sox convinced themselves that Flowers or Phegley can rebound, those are the catchers they plan to start the season with.
On Saturday Manager Robin Ventura gave the fan base a hint as to which way he is leaning for a starting catcher. He announced that Tyler Flowers is going to start the first spring training game against the Dodgers on Friday.
“We know what we get with Tyler, and I like the way he calls games,” said Ventura Saturday.
Going into Flowers’ first season as a starter, pitchers complement him often on his size (giving pitchers a bigger target to throw to). They also bragged about how he called games as well. He proceeded to only hit for a .195 average, 10 home runs, and 94 strike outs. As a career .200 hitter, it doesn’t seem like Flowers will turn the offense around but will give a solid glove behind the plate. Hector Gimenez will likely start the season out with triple A Charlotte Knights.
The possible surprise in camp could be Rule 5 Draft pick Adrian Nieto. This is his first run through a major league training camp, but the 24 year-old switch hitting Cuban has to make the 25 man roster for the White Sox otherwise they will lose him back to the Nationals. In the Carolina League last season, Nieto hit .285, 11 home runs, and 82 strike outs in 390 at bats.
The career .254 minor league hitter, according to the Rule 5 Draft rules on MLB.com must stay on the 25 man roster the entire season. His biggest advantage, if he can hit like he did in the minors, is the fact he’s a switch hitter. It isn’t a secret that the Sox lack left handed hitters, so if he can provide any production from the left side it would a positive.
The catching position was pretty much a nightmare last season. It seems like the coaching staff is asking Tyler Flowers to lead the young catching crew into the 2014 season. The fan base is hoping that they can improve even a little compared to 2013 because it’d be hard to be worse.