Williams, White Sox liking their chances

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Williams, White Sox liking their chances

Despite dropping four straight series, the White Sox entered Monday's BP Crosstown Cup matchup with the Cubs in first place, a game and a half ahead of Cleveland and three games ahead of Detroit. It's been a good-news-bad-news run in the last dozen games, plenty of which the Sox have dropped by only a run or two.

"We wasted games over the last week, week and a half," general manager Kenny Williams said prior to Monday's game. "And it's unfortunate because it came at a time we could have created distance between ourselves and the clubs behind us. It is what it is and it's part of the grind and you're going to have these stretches. But that's the bad news, that we had an opportunity to stretch out our lead. The good news is we've been in every game, we've been leading some of those games. We're still in position and still feel like we're a good club that can continue to grind it out and contend for the season."

Taking a step back, that the bad news is the White Sox didn't stretch their lead atop the AL Central isn't the worst news ever. Three months ago, no prognosticator expected the White Sox to be in first place, and many didn't even think they'd be in contention at this point. By the All-Star break, they'd look to sell.

Instead, the Sox are looking for ways to improve the club as late June approaches. And while Williams reiterated he does have restrictions on who he can add, the fact that the Sox are in a position to add players is probably shocking enough to those who pegged the Sox for dead last in the division.

"It's nice we're in it and we're competing. It's still kind of early, but it's starting to get to that midpoint," said first baseman Paul Konerko. "You just have to try to mentally prepare for that and don't kill yourself every night if we don't win, but at the same time you realize how important every game is, too. So balancing those things out is the hard part. We didn't play terrible on that road trip, but obviously it wasn't a good road trip wins and losses, but we just have shake that off and come out tonight strong."

The six-game road trip saw plenty of good pitching, be it from Jose Quintana, Jake Peavy or the bullpen. But the struggles of Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber continued, although Wiliams isn't planning on ditching either pitcher any time soon.

"We keep waiting and we see little things that are signs of progress," Williams explained. "Then you'll see the little blip on the radar here and there. We look at it optimistically. The great thing is we've been able to bring some of these young guys, whether it be in the bullpen, or in the case of Quintana, into the mix and he's performed great. We continue to allow ourselves the best opportunity by putting the quality starters out there."

Quintana's outstanding job filling in for John Danks hasn't gone unnoticed. Manager Robin Ventura said Monday the 23-year-old lefty "isn't going anywhere" and Williams sees Quintana's success keeping up long-term.

"Take a look at the teams he's pitched against," Williams said. "Maybe you could still guess about it if he hadn't pitched against some of the teams he has. But he's been on the stage, and he's had to produce, and he's come through. I don't see why there's any reason he can't keep this up."

The Sox don't quite know when they'll get Danks back, as the lefty underwent an MRI Monday, the results of which weren't known before the game. Williams expects Danks make an impact when he re-joins the rotation, but he also knows he and the coaching staff need to be calculated in their roster and role decisions when Danks comes back.

"No matter if they were here or not, we're still going to look at potential places where we can improve the club," Williams said, also referring to injured third baseman Brent Morel. "But you've got to be careful with that, because once guys start to believe in themselves as a unityou've got to be careful to disrupt that chemistry.

"Right now, it's pretty good."

Preview: Quintana takes the hill as White Sox face Twins on CSN

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Preview: Quintana takes the hill as White Sox face Twins on CSN

The White Sox take on the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana vs. Ervin Santana

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

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White Sox Top Prospects: Alex Call thriving at the plate

White Sox Top Prospects: Alex Call thriving at the plate

Alex Call is picking up right where he left off from college.

The White Sox 2016 third round pick has continued to swing the bat extremely well in the first couple months of his professional career.

In three seasons at Ball State, Call had 19 homers and 119 RBI, while batting .351/.425./.530. 

In two levels with the White Sox, Call is hitting .315/.407/.452 with six homers and 31 RBI.

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The 21-year-old played 27 games with Rookie Affiliate Great Falls before getting promoted to Class-A Kannapolis.

In 41 games with Kannapolis, Call's .319 batting average ranks second on the team and his .460 slugging percentage leads the Intimidators.

Alex Avila gets best of former teammate Justin Verlander, homers in White Sox loss

Alex Avila gets best of former teammate Justin Verlander, homers in White Sox loss

DETROIT -- Things might be a little awkward between Alex Avila and Justin Verlander.

The two former teammates faced off on Wednesday afternoon for only the second time ever and Avila didn’t treat the Tigers’ ace too kindly.

Avila, who caught Verlander for six seasons, ripped a 435-foot solo homer to dead center in the fourth inning, but the White Sox still lost to the Detroit Tigers 3-2.

Avila is now 2-for-5 with a walk in two games against Verlander. They also faced each other on June 5.

“I know I’m going to be hearing about it,” Verlander told Detroit reporters. “I think I’m going to ask him back for one of the watches I’ve gifted him. It’s only fair, I think.”

Avila and Verlander have shared a ton of memories over the years.

Avila was Verlander’s primary catcher from 2010-2015. He caught him 116 times, including in 33 of 34 starts when Verlander won his only Cy Young Award and was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Verlander had a 3.10 ERA with Avila behind the plate, including a 2.35 in 2011.

Avila hit against Verlander three times on Wednesday, striking out twice. He thought his old teammate looked extremely sharp as Verlander held the White Sox to two runs and three hits in seven innings. Verlander struck out nine.

“He has pitched great all year, really exposing hitters’ weaknesses with that mid-90s fastball, staying at the top of the zone with that,” Avila said. “His slider-cutter worked well for him. He’s pitching great. It’s tough to get runs off him.”

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Avila was excited to not only face Verlander, but also to catch Chris Sale. He said White Sox manager Robin Ventura told him he’d catch Wednesday’s game a few days earlier and he anticipated the game.

Verlander said he thinks the catcher has the advantage in these types of meetings.

“Alex having caught me a lot, cheated a little bit to that first pitch heater in, and that’s fine,” Verlander said. “A lot of guys do that and I just need to execute it a little better.

“It’s like he’s faced 1,000 times, so you can’t get upset because it’s an ex-teammate.”

Avila said it “felt great” to homer off Verlander, but he hadn’t yet talked to him or texted.

“I’m sure we’ll talk about it at some point,” Avila said.

Verlander figures this won’t be the only time the two square off. If Avila wants to keep hitting homers, he might think about leaving personal items at home.

“I think I’ve gave him two or three (watches),” Verlander said. “I’ll start with the least expensive one and work my way up because we face each other a lot.”