Miguel Gonzalez has bolstered back of White Sox rotation

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Miguel Gonzalez has bolstered back of White Sox rotation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Overshadowed in a weekend’s worth of bungled games is the fact that Miguel Gonzalez has strengthened the back end of the White Sox rotation.

Signed to a minor-league deal on April 3, Gonzalez has delivered the kind of consistency the White Sox have hoped for from the fifth spot in the rotation. He only has one win to show for it because of two blown saves, but Gonzalez has a 3.57 ERA in his last four starts with an average of 5 2/3 innings per turn. While the White Sox continue to explore outside options, including San Diego’s James Shields, Gonzalez has to have them feeling more secure about the guys behind Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.

“He’s come in and given us a chance,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Every time he pitches, it seems like we have a chance to win that game. (Friday) it started out a little rough and after that he did a very good job of getting us to the seventh and doing his job. He looks in control as well as mannerisms and his personality, it's his stuff. He’s not walking people, he’s not getting himself in trouble, making guys swing the bat.”

Gonzalez has made five starts for the White Sox and has a 4.50 ERA. He made one start April 25 and went back to Triple-A Charlotte. But after returning, Gonzalez has since remained in the rotation each of the last four turns.

Whereas Gonzalez walked five batters in a May 15 contest, he has since walked none in 12 1/3 innings and struck out 13. Gonzalez has been happy to have consistent work and to be able to make adjustments in between starts with pitching coach Don Cooper.

“I’m getting to feel a little better with all my pitches, command and changing speeds,” Gonzalez said. “We’re doing the best we can to minimize the damage and that’s what it’s all about.”

Unsure what they’d receive from Mat Latos or John Danks, the White Sox saw a fit in Gonzalez, who was waived by the Baltimore Orioles in late March because his velocity hadn’t returned and if he were kept they owed him $5 million. Rick Hahn said that Gonzalez’s velocity began to return late in spring and they liked the potential of a pitcher who went 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA from 2012-14 before he struggled last season.  

Essentially, the White Sox didn’t see Gonzalez as a scrap heap project.

“We knew that even when it happened to him at the end of spring training,” Ventura said. “That was our first conversation of guys that you’ve either played against or you see and think something’s there and can help you. He was definitely that guy.”

89 Days to Kickoff: Yorkville

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89 Days to Kickoff: Yorkville

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26.

School: Yorkville Foxes

Head coach: Dam McGuire

Assistant coaches: Mike Guzaldo, Ben Graham, Tom Regnier, Matt Williams, Shawn Schumacher, Joe Nauman

How they fared in 2015: 4-5 (1-3) Northern Illinois Big 12 East. Yorkville failed to qualify for the 2015 IHSA state football playoff field.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Foxes bring several inexperienced starters up to speed sooner rather than later this fall?

Names to watch this season: TE Austin Avery, DE Sean Kuhn

Biggest holes to fill: The Foxes will need to find help in several spots but none will be as vital than in the offensive skills with just senior tight end Austin Avery the lone returning starter. 

EDGY's early take: Yorkville will have a ton of youth and inexperience this season and that can be a very dangerous proposition in the rugged NIB12 conference. If the Foxes can get off to a good early start they have a chance at getting back to the IHSA state playoffs.

Alex Avila on White Sox: 'Come back tomorrow and make something happen'

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Alex Avila on White Sox: 'Come back tomorrow and make something happen'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — They may be reeling from two awful losses, but Alex Avila expects he won’t see any let up from his White Sox teammates.

He’d better not.

Whereas they should be in position to close out a sweep of the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, the White Sox are trying to avoid one after consecutive stunning losses, including allowing seven runs in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday in an 8-7 loss.

Asked how they have to respond, the veteran catcher said his White Sox teammates have little choice — play hard or don’t bother showing up.

“The way you stop it is you come back tomorrow and make something happen,” Avila said. “They’re not going to feel bad for us. So you can’t feel sorry for yourself. It’s an extremely tough loss for sure. That’s a game we should have won. There’s been a few games we should have won. The way we’ve been playing have given a lot of people doubt.

“But guys in here, if they have any shred of doubt in their mind of what they can do, even though we’re struggling, don’t even come. No one’s going to feel sorry for you in this game. Even if you’re struggling, battle your ass off. There’s no room for feeling sorry for yourself and doubting your ability and your team’s ability. We’re going through a tough two-week stretch. The good thing is it’s right now at the end of May here. Try to finish these last few games in May strong and take it into June and see if we can make a better month out of it.”

The White Sox appeared to respond well to Friday’s game, one in which they blew a four-run lead, until the bullpen melted down for a second straight day. Even though none of their big run producers came through, the White Sox pulled ahead 7-1 on the strength of home runs by Tyler Saladino and Avisail Garcia.

But then the impossible happened and the Royals rallied to win a game in which their win probability was 0.1 percent after David Robertson struck out Paulo Orlando to start the ninth inning. Robertson only recorded one more out as he allowed six runs and Tommy Kahnle allowed another in an 8-7 loss.

“I’m not surprised or satisfied the way our team has responded to tough losses,” Avila said. “I expect it. No matter what the situation was the game before, I expect each guy in here to be prepared the very next day. If they’re not, then there’s an issue. Guys have been coming to play every single day and doing their homework and getting prepared for each game. If they weren’t, it’d be an issue. But guys have been doing that and we’re kind of going through one of those spells where instead of finding ways to win, we’re finding ways to lose games. Most teams will go through it or have gone through it. I know the first month we were playing great and the Royals weren’t playing well, the Tigers weren’t playing well and Cleveland wasn’t playing well. It was like, ‘Well, we’re going to run away with it,’ and flipped the script. Things can change pretty quickly over the course of a week or two weeks, even a month. That’s my point on why you have to come and make sure you’re prepared — that doubt in your mind about the day before is gone and you have to be ready no matter what because nobody is going to feel sorry for you.”