Manto, Ventura discuss Beckham's approach

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Manto, Ventura discuss Beckham's approach

On Wednesday, Frank Thomas offered up his thoughts on Gordon Beckham's new hitting approach. In looking at Beckham, Thomas figured the second baseman could use a few days off to clear his head and really nail down his timing, which has escaped him in trying to get his front foot down.

While Beckham isn't in Thursday's getaway day lineup, don't expect him to get multiple days off to get comfortable with his swing.

"Any time you do something different, it's going to take a little time. But it's not like we're asking him to hit left-handed," manager Robin Ventura said prior to Thursday's game. "We're just asking him to get started a little earlier. It's something that happens to most guys -- everybody changes an approach or tinkers with things enough during the season that you're used to doing that. I don't see it taking a whole long time for him to do that."

Hitting coach Jeff Manto and Ventura are on the same page: Beckham's change really isn't very drastic.

"What we're asking is not invasive at all," Manto said. "It's a very easy fix -- it's a timing mechanism, it's not like we're moving hands, moving feet, moving heads -- it's just a matter of getting your foot down and the at-bat's over. Let the at-bat take care of itself once you get ready to hit. If we got a little bit to where it's invasive, that would be a problem."

The goal of having Beckham getting his foot down early is to improve his pitch recognition, which has escaped him for extended stretches since his outstanding rookie year. Since he hit .270.347.460 in 2009, Beckham's production has slid to a .238.303.351 line with just 19 home runs in 1,091 plate appearances -- only five more than he had in 430 trips to the plate three years ago.

Thomas and Manto agree that Beckham has too much talent to stay down for much longer. And Beckham's struggles haven't been for a lack of effort, either.

"He's been working his butt off in the cage every day, he hasn't backed down from the work," Manto said. "He's not complaining, he's staying positive, and he is close. Like Frank's saying, as soon as he gets the ability to stay behind the ball, he's going to be fine."

When he's going to be fine, though, is still the question. The White Sox have been waiting for him to be fine for three seasons now. Beckham's had flashes of his 2009 self here or there -- he had an .811 OPS through his first 13 games in 2011 and had an .877 OPS after the All-Star break in 2010 -- but he hasn't been able to sustain those bursts of success.

Perhaps working in his favor, too, is that the Sox don't have a viable replacement for him at second base in their organization. Eduardo Escobar hasn't hit outside of short spurts in Arizona, while Brent Lillibridge may not have the defensive prowess the Sox want.

Short-term, though, Manto won't panic if results don't start to come for Beckham as the Sox head to Seattle and Oakland. Although two-thirds of the year is a bit of an exaggeration.

"I hate to put a timetable on it, because you don't know what we're going to run into out west," Manto said. "But more importantly, he's in a good frame of mind, we just work it from there. He stays positive. Hell, we got eight months left, so there's no urgency."

Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

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Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

The White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale vs. Edison Volquez

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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Seven-run ninth inning dooms White Sox in loss to Royals

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Seven-run ninth inning dooms White Sox in loss to Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What an implosion.

A day after they inexplicably gave away one contest, the White Sox outdid themselves on Saturday afternoon.

Instead of evening the series with a decisive victory, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle allowed the Kansas City Royals to rally for seven ninth-inning runs to send the White Sox to a stunning 8-7 loss in front of 31,598 at Kauffman Stadium. Brett Eibner’s bases-loaded RBI single off Kahnle capped an improbable comeback and delivered another crushing blow to the White Sox, who have lost five straight and 13 of their last 17 contests.

“This is a tough one, no matter how you look at it,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “You saw what happened. You can go back and think about it, game we should have won and didn’t win.”

“We’re all professionals and we’ve seen crazy things in baseball. This is one of them.”

Saturday’s loss ranks as one of the craziest in club history. The White Sox went from a state of joy, cruising toward a pivotal victory, to disarray in a span of 51 pitches.

Leading 7-1, Robertson took over and struck out Paulo Orlando.

Cheslor Cuthbert then singled and Eibner doubled to deep right when Adam Eaton lost the ball in the sun. Robertson walked Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar consecutively to force in a run, which prompted a visit from White Sox manager Robin Ventura.

Whit Merrifield’s grounder then deflected off the glove of Robertson and a potential double play turned into a two-run single and made it a 7-4 contest.

“The worst part about it was looking back and seeing Brett (Lawrie) was right there,” Robertson said. “If I had let it go, I would have got us out of the inning. It’s frustrating when you make a mistake like that.”

Lorenzo Cain’s hustle kept the inning alive as he narrowly beat out a game-ending double play to drive in another run. Eric Hosmer followed with an RBI double to right-center field to make it a 7-6 game and end Robertson’s day.

“It’s a terrible performance on my part,” Robertson said. “Can’t say much else about it.

“It doesn’t matter what the score is, I still have to get three outs. I let the whole team down.”

Drew Butera lifted his team’s spirits. The backup catcher entered in the ninth inning after an apparent knee injury knocked Salvador Perez out of the game. Already on tilt, the Kauffman crowd erupted when Butera ripped a 99-mph fastball from Kahnle for a game-tying double.

The White Sox opted to intentionally walk Orlando. But it didn’t prevent Kahnle from allowing Butera to advance to third as he uncorked a wild pitch. Kahnle also intentionally walked Jarrod Dyson to load the bases for Eibner, who ended a 10-pitch at-bat with the game-winning single under the glove of Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

“The way games have been going, you go to the guy to close it out, because we haven’t been able to get to him,” Ventura said. “There’s no shot clock. There’s no time clock. If you can’t close it out, that’s what happens. And today we couldn’t close it out.”

The White Sox entered the ninth inning without a care in the world. They had bounced back definitively from Friday’s stunner, when the bullpen surrendered a four-run lead over the final three innings.

An opposite-field approach against Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura took hold with two outs in the fourth inning. Brett Lawrie, Alex Avila and Avisail Garcia all had opposite-field singles, Garcia’s providing the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Tyler Saladino then crushed a hanging 0-2 slider from Ventura for a three-run homer to left field and a four-run lead.

The White Sox offense continued to add on against Ventura. Avila doubled with one out in the fourth inning and Garcia hammered a 2-1 changeup for a two-run shot. Garcia’s homer, his fifth, traveled 428 feet at an exit velocity of 113 mph and gave the White Sox a 6-1 advantage.

They added another run in the fifth as Austin Jackson singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error by Omar Infante.

And then the Royals happened again.

“They have mojo over there right now,” Avila said. “They just keep coming at you and taking advantage of the fact that we’re scuffling a little bit right now.”

The devastating loss was the third in 18 days in which the White Sox bullpen surrendered a significant lead. The unit, which has a 4.73 ERA this month, also blew a five-run lead in a 13-11 loss at the Texas Rangers on May 10. Along with a blown four-run lead on Friday, the White Sox nearly surrendered a four-run advantage in the opening game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians on Monday.

“It might have a lasting effect,” Frazier said. “There are going to be some guys who are in here who tonight aren’t going to be real happy. Once you get in here and know we start over again, I’ve learned from the best that you start all over like nothing happened and go about your business.”

White Sox have interest in San Diego pitcher James Shields

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White Sox have interest in San Diego pitcher James Shields

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The White Sox have spoken to the San Diego Padres about acquiring starting pitcher James Shields.

The San Diego Union-Tribune confirmed an internet report Saturday that the White Sox have interest in the 34-year-old right-hander. Shields is 2-6 with a 3.06 ERA in 10 starts for the Padres this season.

A member of the Kansas City Royals from 2013-14, Shields is in the second season of a four-year, $75-million deal he signed with San Diego before last season. He is owed at least $44 million over the next two seasons. The contract includes a $16 million team option for 2019 with a $2 million buyout. He’s earning $21 million this season and in 2017 and 2018. Shields can opt out of the deal at the end of the 2016 season.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has made it no secret he hopes to add to a club that won 23 of its first 33 games in hopes of contending. Though the Sox had lost 12 of their past 16, they entered Saturday with a half-game lead over the Cleveland Indians and a game over the Royals.

The team’s interest in Shields was first reported Saturday on Twitter by @barstoolWSD.