BALTIMORE -- He may have been disappointed when he was sent to Charlotte last month, but Carlos Sanchez hasn’t let it affect his play.
Sanchez’s play at Triple-A has been so good that he’s back with the White Sox, at least temporarily.
The White Sox promoted the middle infielder on Thursday after they placed closer David Robertson on the bereavement list. Sanchez, who appeared in 120 games for the White Sox last season, is hitting .309/.356/.469 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 89 plate appearances at Charlotte.
“It’s never a good feeling for a guy trying to make the team,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He played well enough in spring training, but you make decisions based on what you need on the roster and it’s a tough one. But he’s always handled that well. Any time he’s gone down there he has gotten his work in.”
Sanchez said he tries to avoid looking at the big picture, which helps him remain focused on a daily basis. After they acquired Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier in the offseason, the White Sox no longer had an everyday role for Sanchez, who spent most of last season at the starting second baseman. Because he’s only 23, the White Sox told Sanchez they wanted him to play every day and continue to improve. He has taken the message to heart.
“They don’t want to keep me here just to be on the bench,” Sanchez said. “They need me to play every day to keep developing my game, and I took it.
“I feel really good. My game is really good right now, so I’m just going to try to help the team. Whatever they need, I’m going to be there for my team.”
BALTIMORE -- The White Sox feel like they’re in the best position possible to handle the temporary loss of David Robertson, who they’ll be without until Sunday.
The White Sox closer has been placed on the bereavement list to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, who passed away earlier this week after battling cancer.
Robertson -- who has eight saves in nine tries and a 0.87 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings this season -- closed out Wednesday night’s four-run win over the Toronto Blue Jays even though it wasn’t a save opportunity. He joined his family on Thursday, which allowed the White Sox time to promote both Daniel Webb and infielder Carlos Sanchez. Sanchez replaced Robertson on Thursday while Webb joined the team on Wednesday after Miguel Gonzalez was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte.
“We knew a few days ago, so I thought he handled it great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “As tough as the news is, he knew he was going to need three days. He was with us for a couple of days after he got the news. He pitched in a game and gave us the opportunity to kind of maneuver a little bit. For him to get through this, all the way around it was the best you could hope for.”
The White Sox have utilized a 13-man pitching staff for a big chunk of their current stretch, which includes 19 games in 19 days. But with an off day around the corner, the White Sox chose to go back to a 12-man staff and call upon Sanchez, who could be necessary if any of their four games against the Baltimore Orioles are rained out.
Though Nate Jones is a likely option at closer, Ventura didn’t commit to how he’d manage his ‘pen in Robertson’s absence. He also listed Matt Albers and Zach Duke as potential options. And, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka have experience in the role dating back to the 2014 season.
Jones picked up his first career save during the team’s last homestand.
“We just talked about treating it just like any other inning, no matter who it is,” Jones said. “We have to close out the sixth, we have to close out the seventh. Even though it’s the final three outs of the game, it’s a little bit different. A lot of people put emphasis on it. But that’s what we’re going to try and do -- just treat it like it’s the whatever inning.”
The White Sox bullpen has been outstanding this season. The group leads the major leagues with a 1.32 ERA. Over the past nine games, White Sox relievers have only allowed two earned runs in 24 2/3 innings (0.73 ERA).
“Those guys have handled it as well as you can,” Ventura said. “They feel for Robby. In a lot of ways they want to help him out as well. Robby is a good teammate and part of this is being able to flow with it. I think these guys are going to step up. That’s what you do.”
The no-hitter drama lasted about two minutes on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Milwaukee Brewers leadoff guy Jonathan Villar made contact with Jake Arrieta’s fifth pitch (95 mph) and knocked it into left field for a soft broken-bat single. The Cubs wouldn’t have any Johnny Vander Meer flashbacks.
Arrieta still continued to press his case to be a repeat Cy Young Award winner, a Game 1 starter in the playoffs and the recipient of a seven-year megadeal worth somewhere north of $200 million. But so much can happen between now and the end of the 2017 season, which means the Cubs have to maximize this two-year window to win a World Series with Arrieta.
Speaking in full paragraphs at his locker for almost 15 minutes on Tuesday, Arrieta had already answered and dismissed the questions about performance-enhancing drugs and his metamorphosis into one of the game’s best pitchers.
The muted clubhouse TVs showing ESPN and MLB Network still had the talking heads running with that chemistry debate for the next two days. To be honest, on some level it felt like Arrieta enjoyed the attention and wanted to get this off his chest.
One week after no-hitting the Cincinnati Reds, Arrieta responded with a low-stress 7-2 victory over the Brewers. This felt like a total mismatch, Arrieta vs. a rebuilding Milwaukee team that is so much closer to the beginning of a five-year rebuilding plan than the end. Ryan Braun – an admitted PED user – got the boos before his at-bats at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs only needed Arrieta (5-0, 1.00 ERA) to throw 92 pitches and pulled him for pinch-hitter Jorge Soler with a four-run lead and runners on the corners in the fifth inning, trying to play the long game.
The front office and coaching staff obviously won’t root against a no-hitter, but that 16-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds was exactly the kind of situation the Cubs outlined in spring training, how they didn’t need to ride Arrieta so hard and could keep him fresh for October after throwing almost 250 innings last year.
Arrieta – who gave up one run across five innings – saw the end of his consecutive quality-starts streak (24) and scoreless-innings run at Wrigley Field (52.2). The Cubs have still won his last 18 regular-season starts and don’t expect anything to throw their ace off his game.
Arrieta got ready for the biggest start of his life – last year’s National League wild-card game – by trolling Pittsburgh Pirates fans on Twitter and telling them the blackout atmosphere at PNC Park “doesn’t matter.”
Arrieta has become a fashion model, signing endorsement deals with SAXX underwear and the Mizzen+Main clothing line. He says he finds the PED accusations to be “flattering.”
If the Cubs keep up this best-in-baseball pace (16-5), Jake will become a legend in Chicago.
“I haven’t seen him change a bit,” said manager Joe Maddon, who last year compared Arrieta to a male Jane Fonda. “He really handles those particular moments when he’s confronted really well, because he’s very matter of fact.
“He’s very self-confident. He knows who he is. So when he answers the questions, he can answer them in a genuine manner and feel really good about himself.
“Wouldn’t we all like to be like that? It’s a pretty good way to live. And I think he’s got it down. He takes care of everything about himself. So I’m all about Jake. We all are. We support everything he does and says.”