White Sox continue to talk to Pierzynski

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White Sox continue to talk to Pierzynski

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Though it appeared unlikely not long ago, the White Sox have continued their pursuit of A.J. Pierzynski, according to a baseball source.
On Tuesday, one day after White Sox general manager Rick Hahn went out of his way several times to say the club hasnt ruled out Pierzynskis return, and amid swirling New York Yankees rumors, a baseball source confirmed the two sides continue to have dialogue.
The events of the last two days are in stark contrast to early November, when all signs appeared to point to Pierzynskis departure after eight seasons on the South Side. After all, the White Sox had several needs and limited funds; the veteran is due a raise after hitting a career-high 27 home runs last season; the club has a viable replacement in Tyler Flowers and also appeared to be inclined to solve their other issues first.
Though Hahn has stated all along hes interested in Pierzynski returning, he also has thoroughly backed Flowers as a potential replacement.
The White Sox are high on Flowers game-calling abilities coupled with his receiving skills and arm. Though he at times struggled at the plate last season, the team also believes Flowers is capable of 20-home run power and all at a bargain price compared with Pierzynski, who earned 6 million last season and made it clear he wants a market-value deal.
Over the last few days, Mike Napoli signed a three-year, 39 million contract with the Boston Red Sox and Russell Martin received 17 million over two seasons from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sources made it sound as if the White Sox were OK with the prospect of handing Flowers the reins and letting Pierzynski leave because of expected high prices.
But the White Sox position may have shifted recently for several reasons.
One prominent issue is the team would almost certainly need to find a left-handed bat to replace Pierzynski were he to leave. While Hahn has said he doesnt believe it to be a fatal flaw, the White Sox lineup would be down to Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza as their only regular left-handed hitters if Pierzynski left.
Hahn has also noted the team would weigh the cost of signing or trading for a third baseman versus their own internal options. On Tuesday, Hahn and manager Robin Ventura said they wouldnt rule out the chance of Brent Morel making the team were he healthy. Morel -- who eight homers and had 19 RBIs in 27 games in September 2011 -- missed most of the 2012 season with a back injury, but the team believes hes on the road to recovery.
Another significant issue is Hahn doesnt sound like he wants to break up the White Sox pitching depth to solve their issues. Even though Gavin Floyds name has been mentioned consistently among trade rumors, the White Sox would likely need to bring in another arm were they to move Floyd, whose 9.5 million salary next season is a bargain. The White Sox would likely need to spend more money than theyd like to find a pitcher capable of providing them 200 innings.
Floyds durability -- he has made at least 29 starts in each of the last six seasons -- could also prove important for several other reasons. Jake Peavys 219 innings were his most since he had 173 23 in 2008. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana each eclipsed career highs for innings in 2012. And though indications are John Danks is well on the road to recovery, hes still coming off an August shoulder surgery.
While recent developments appear to be a 180-degree shift, none of it should come as a surprise, either.
Last month, Hahn refused to handicap the situation because of the sentiment factor. Last time Pierzynski was a free agent before the 2010 season, owner Jerry Reinsdorf stepped in at the last minute to ensure the catcher stayed in town.
Pierzynski, who likely is looking at his final contract, has also spent eight years with the White Sox. Hes comfortable in the clubhouse and is loved by fans for helping to bring Chicago its only World Series title in the last 95 years.
So while chances once appeared remote, and another source suggests they may still be, the possibility of Pierzynskis return to the South Side next season still exists.

White Sox offense struggles in front of Quintana in shutout loss to Twins

White Sox offense struggles in front of Quintana in shutout loss to Twins

The White Sox haven’t had many big hits in their last dozen games.

The White Sox never seem to deliver any timely knocks in Jose Quintana starts.

Those two forces collided in a 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night in front of 22,072 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Quintana allowed two Brian Dozier home runs, including a decisive three-run shot in the sixth inning, and dropped a seventh straight decision. His offense finished 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position as Kyle Gibson twirled seven scoreless innings.

Outfielder Melky Cabrera also left the game early with a sore left wrist.

“We didn’t do nothing as hitters,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “We have to find a way. We had an off day. Everybody was nice and relaxed coming back. We’re professionals here as hitters. We have to find ways to get guys in.”

The White Sox didn’t have many shots against Gibson.

They butchered those that they did.

No opportunity was bigger than the third inning, which began with singles by J.B. Shuck and Tim Anderson in front of the team’s 2-3-4 hitters. But Gibson delivered and the White Sox failed yet again.

Down 1-0, Adam Eaton couldn’t move the runners over as he flew out to center. Jose Abreu followed suit and flew out to center before Cabrera — who left in the top of the seventh and is listed as day-to-day — popped out to second.

One inning earlier, Brett Lawrie was stranded in scoring position when Gibson got Avisail Garcia to chase a two-strike pitch off the plate and in the dirt. It was more of the same in the fifth when Eaton flew out to center with a man on second. And again in the seventh when Shuck flew out and Anderson grounded into a fielder’s choice with two aboard.

“It started out well,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You get them on there. Any time we seemed to get something going against Gibson, he just really started going soft and using your aggressiveness against you. I think that's part of what played into it. He had a very good changeup, he used his curve when he had to. He went a little bit backwards. Any time we got into an aggressive count, he just took a little off. We couldn't get anything going against him.”

The team’s effort was the continuance of a nasty trend.

The White Sox are 12-for-98 (.122) with runners in scoring position in their last 12 games. The lengthy slump dropped them from hitting a formidable .260 with RISP, which ranked in the top half of the league, to below .240, which ranks in the bottom third.

That the performance arrived with Quintana on the mound should come as no surprise.

Whereas the White Sox scored 25 runs in Quintana’s first seven starts, they’ve relapsed into their old non-scoring selves whenever he takes the hill. Over his last nine starts, Quintana has had nine runs of support.

The left-hander said the lack of support isn’t something he focuses on because it’s out of his hands.

“I don’t have control on the runs,” Quintana said. “I say the same every time. But I don’t have control, man. I try to keep going. I try to be better next time and keep going. Next time be better out there, better outing and better everything.

“I never think about that. I just try to pay attention and do my job, focusing on throwing the ball well and that’s it.”

Quintana made two mistakes in seven otherwise solid innings.

Dozier’s solo homer to leadoff the second inning gave the Twins, who improved to 25-51, a one-run lead.

Eduardo Nunez then led off the sixth inning with a single and stole second base. He advanced to third on a passed ball. Quintana then walked Joe Mauer and Dozier made him pay when he got enough of a 2-1 curveball low and in to drive it out for a three-run homer and a 4-0 lead.

Quintana — who is 5-8 despite a 3.18 ERA — allowed six hits, walked one and struck out eight.

“I’m sure inside he’s frustrated,” Frazier said. “I would be too. He’s a competitor, gives it his all. One bad pitch.”

Tonight on CSN: White Sox continue series with Twins

Tonight on CSN: White Sox continue series with Twins

The White Sox take on the Twins on Wednesday evening, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with first pitch at 7:10 p.m.

Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields (2-9, 6.22) vs. Ricky Nolasco (3-5, 4.95)

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

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White Sox: Justin Morneau continues to progress, could start rehab next week

White Sox: Justin Morneau continues to progress, could start rehab next week

Justin Morneau is pleased with his progress and if it continues he could be headed out on a rehab assignment next week.

With his former team in town Tuesday, the veteran said he would travel with the White Sox to Houston over the weekend and figure out the next step if all in his rehab goes well. Morneau, who had elbow surgery last December, said he felt good headed into Tuesday’s workout after he took two days of batting practice over the weekend. The ex-Minnesota Twins player doesn’t anticipate he’d return to the lineup until sometime after the All-Star break.

“As long as everything goes good through the rest of this homestand and then in Houston, I think we’ll kind of assess where we’re at there,” Morneau said. “Everything so far up to this point, every time we’ve increased the activity and increased the intensity of it, everything has reacted well. Hopefully, it continues to go that way.”

Morneau expects he’d need a lengthy rehab once he gets underway. Not only does he have to acclimate to game speed once again — “there’s only one way to really find out,” he said — but Morneau needs to build up his endurance. He actually has worked hard to be prepared for that, he said, knowing he won’t have a month like spring training. And, Morneau also has to get his swing back in order after a layoff since the end of last season.

“I don’t know how many days that’s going to take,” Morneau said. “Once I go on a rehab assignment, I can’t see it being less than 30 at-bats before I’ll be ready. But who knows, I could feel great after 20 or whatever. But to say less than that would probably be pushing it a little too much.”