White Sox tempted to promote prospect Sanchez

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White Sox tempted to promote prospect Sanchez

With a vacancy at third base and no easy solution, theres no doubt the budget-conscious White Sox are tempted to promote prospect Carlos Sanchez to the majors.

The Venezuelan-born middle infielder is the franchises most buzzworthy prospect after he sped through the farm system last season. Sanchez, 20, followed it with a stellar Arizona Fall League performance.

How strong was his showing? Enough for the White Sox -- who are already near or past their 97-100 million budgeted payroll for 2013 -- to at least consider the second basemanshortstop as an option at third if they cant sign free agent Kevin Youkilis or someone else even though Sanchez has only 158 at-bats above Single-A.

But for now the White Sox plan to ward off those temptations, discover a different solution and leave the 20-year-old alone.

Hes the kind of kid who can deal with any kind of adversity, assistant general manager Buddy Bell said by phone Wednesday. The track he was on is very quick. He has tremendous makeup. He knows how to play and how to survive.

But I dont think theres any question about (delaying his arrival).

But boy is a promotion tempting.

With only 10 players under contract, the White Sox have already spent 89.95 million for 2013. That leaves general manager Rick Hahn with very little wiggle room as he expects payroll to be similar to last season, when the White Sox boasted an opening day figure of 97.7 million.

The top free agent at third, Youkilis might be difficult to fit into the budget.

Sanchez -- who was 17 when the White Sox signed him in May 2009 -- has done just about everything to put himself squarely in the conversation. Bell admits freely the White Sox have discussed the possibility of a move to third for Sanchez.

When youre as talented as this kid you would have to consider it, Bell said.

But the team likely prefers to keep Sanchez up the middle.

In a recent Baseball America write up, Single-A Kannapolis manager Tommy Thompson is quoted as calling Sanchez one of the best defensive players he has ever seen.

After he hit a combined .281 in 2011, Sanchezs bat improved significantly in 2012. He hit a combined .323.378.403 with a homer, 56 RBIs and 26 steals in a season that started at Single-A Winston-Salem, included a stop at Double-A Birmingham and ended at Triple-A Charlotte.

As if that werent enough, Sanchez has White Sox decision-makers drooling after he hit .299 in the Fall League and finished with 12 runs, 16 RBIs and 11 steals in 22 games.

Hes a good little player, Hahn recently said. Hes (on the radar) for good reason. Were very enthusiastic about his future, but at the same time we have to resist the temptation to rush him. He has been swinging it real well. Hes a solid contact hitter with good plate awareness and can drive the ball, good line-drive stroke. The glove is pretty good. The first go-around (Kannapolis) was defensively, but all he has done since then is hit. Hes a very well-rounded player.

Baseball America has Sanchez rated as the No. 3 prospect in the organization, a noteworthy jump from 2011 when the publication didnt have him listed among the White Sox top 30 minor-leaguers.

He kind of came from out of nowhere, Bell said.

Though Sanchez isnt on the 40-man roster -- he doesnt have to be protected until next November -- an invite to big league camp sounds like a strong possibility. At the GM meetings in California earlier this month, Hahn noted the White Sox have a history of bringing the best players with them to Chicago when they leave spring training.

At the same time, the White Sox must continue to remind themselves Sanchez has only 1,151 plate appearances in four professional seasons.

I dont think were at the point of talking big leagues yet, Bell said.

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.”