Pujols goes deep as Angels blast Floyd, Sox

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Pujols goes deep as Angels blast Floyd, Sox

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Albert Pujols welcomed his new hitting coach to town with a go-ahead three-run homer and Vernon Wells added a two-run shot to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 7-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.Jim Eppard was with the Angels for the first time as hitting coach after replacing Mickey Hatcher, who was unceremoniously dumped Tuesday night by new general manager Jerry DiPoto 1 12 months into Hatcher's 13th season on the job. The team's offensive struggles led to the firing, including Pujols' slow start after signing a 10-year, 240 million contract as a free agent.It was an easy transition for Eppard, who is in his 10th season in the organization and nurtured current Angels players Howie Kendrick, Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo, Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos and Bobby Wilson as the hitting coach at Triple-A Salt Lake.Jerome Williams (4-1) won his fourth straight decision, allowing two runs and 10 hits over eight innings with five strikeouts and no walks. Last Friday at Texas, the right-hander relieved C.J. Wilson the night before his scheduled start because of a 56-minute rain delay - then gave up six runs and 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings without getting a decision because the Angels were already trailing in the first inning when he came in.Gavin Floyd (3-4) surrendered seven runs and 10 hits in six innings, including both home runs. The right-hander had allowed just one homer in 40 2-3 innings over his previous six starts after giving up three in his season debut at Texas.Trailing 2-1, the Angels grabbed a 4-2 lead with one swing by Pujols, who drove an 0-1 pitch over the center field fence after Mike Trout and Albert Callaspo opened the inning with singles.It was the 447th career homer and second this season for Pujols, the three-time NL MVP who ended the longest regular-season drought of his career after 33 games and 139 at-bats in the finale of the Angels' previous homestand. The Halos increased the margin to 7-2 in the sixth with Kendrick's sacrifice fly and Wells' sixth homer.The No.8 hitters for the Angels and White Sox each drove in their team's first run. Aybar opened the scoring in the second with an RBI double after a two-out walk to Wells, and Dayan Viciedo tied it in the third for the White Sox with a home run into the rock pile in left-center. Alejandro De Aza singled two batters after Viciedo's fifth homer and scored on Gordon Beckham's double.Notes: The White Sox were in mourning over the death of longtime pregame instructor Kevin Hickey, who died Wednesday at age 56 in Chicago after a lengthy illness. Hickey, who spent six seasons in the majors as a reliever for the Chisox and Baltimore Orioles, had been hospitalized since the day before the season opener in Arlington, Texas. "No one wanted to win more, no one was more optimistic, no one cared more and no one took more pride in his job," 1B Paul Konerko said. "Ask anyone in our clubhouse, every person who appreciated what Kevin did to help the White Sox win baseball games." ... With Hatcher's departure, the only coach left from manager Mike Scioscia's original staff in 2000 is 1B coach Alfredo Griffin. Joe Maddon, Bud Black and Ron Roenicke all left to become managers. ... During Hatcher's watch, the Angels set franchise records in 2009 for average, hits, home runs, runs scored, RBIs and average with runners in scoring position - and won a World Series title in 2002. ... All of Floyd's last six starts against AL West teams have been on the road (1-5, 4.35 ERA). ... One of the many Angels employees handing out Bourjos bobbleheads to the fans as they entered the ballpark was Bourjos himself - in full uniform. ... It was a rough night on the basepaths for Trout, who was picked off first by RHP Jesse Crain in the seventh and was thrown out by LF Viciedo when he tried to stretch a single into a double in the fifth.

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

The White Sox agreed to one-year contracts with five players on Friday, including a $12-million deal for Todd Frazier.

Frazier established a franchise record for home runs by a third baseman in 2016 when he blasted 40 in his first season with the White Sox. A free agent after the 2017 season, Frazier hit .225/.302/.464 in 666 plate appearances, drove in a career high 98 runs and produced 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. 

Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is set to earn $5.9 million this season. The team also agreed to deals with relievers Dan Jennings ($1.4 million), Zach Putnam ($1.1175 million) and Jake Petricka ($825,000).

The White Sox acquired Frazier in a three-player trade from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2015. It's expected they would try to trade Frazier, who has hit 104 homers since 2014 and participated in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby three consecutive years, before the Aug 1 non-waiver trade deadline as part of the club's rebuilding efforts. 

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Gonzalez went 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) after he was signed to a minor-league deal in early April. 

Jennings posted a 2.08 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. 

Putnam had a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts before he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. 

Petricka was limited to nine appearances before his season was ended by hip surgery.

Both Petricka and Putnam are expected to be ready for spring training.

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

It was a limited look, but Yoan Moncada made a strong first impression on the White Sox this week.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox last month in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada arrived in Glendale, Ariz., earlier this week with the franchise hopeful he'd offer a glimpse of the skills that earned him the designation as baseball's top prospect.

Moncada didn't disappoint, either, as he had White Sox evaluators excited throughout a three-day hitters camp. Whether it's his physicality, how he carried himself or his baseball IQ, White Sox staffers couldn't have been happier about their first experience with their new prized possession.

"(Moncada) looks like a linebacker, but he moves like a wide receiver," player development director Chris Getz said. "He's got good actions. He's obviously a switch hitter. He's got power. He can hit. He's got a good smile. He seems to be enjoying himself out here, he interacts well with his teammates.

"So far it has been very impressive, and we look forward to seeing more."

Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Moncada, 21, looked every bit the part when he first observed him from across the hall at the team's facility. Steverson spoke to friends in the scouting community and wasn't the least bit surprised when he encountered the 6-foot-2, 205-pound second baseman. Moncada was just as impressive on the field with his skills and effort, Steverson said.

"This is a large specimen right here," Steverson said. "He's put together pretty well.

"On defense it looks like he has some really good hands.

"He got in the box and he hadn't swung for a while. But still, you could tell he had good hands going through the zone, has a nice approach and wants to work real hard."

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Moncada's fancy tools have been well publicized since he received a $31.5-million signing bonus from the Red Sox in March 2015.

MLB.com graded Moncada's hit tool at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale while his base running is 65 and arm is 60. Moncada's power received a 55 grade, and his fielding is 50. Moncada received an overall grade of 65, which suggests he has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and worth 4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

But the White Sox weren't just impressed with Moncada's physical ability.

One of manager Rick Renteria's top objectives for the camp was to emphasize fundamentals and what's important to the team. Renteria wanted to identify specific game situations and how players are expected to handle them so they're well prepared for the future. Moncada handled that area well, too.

"Yoan is a very knowledgeable baseball player who has experience on a multitude of levels," amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. "In the brief time we had with him this week, he showed a tremendous ability to drive the ball the opposite way as well as drive balls to the gap and out of the ball park from both sides of the plate. That ability will help him handle and any all situations that Ricky asks him to do at the plate. Defensively his hands and feet are very good and will have no problem there. He's a bright hard-working kid that is part of a bright future for the organization."