Chicago White Sox

Adam Engel's role in White Sox future boils down to one thing

Adam Engel's role in White Sox future boils down to one thing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are few questions about the glove or his ability to run the bases. But whether or not Adam Engel’s role in the White Sox future is a big one or as a reserve will boil down to hitting.

Engel continued one of his best offensive stretches of the season on Wednesday with a two-run double early in a 5-3 White Sox win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Over his last six games, Engel is batting .375/.400/.667 in 25 plate appearances.

It’s a nice respite for the center fielder after a lengthy slump that began in mid-August. But no matter the difficulties he’s facing, Engel — whose overall OPS is .585 this season — said he tries to separate the different aspects of the game and works to stay upbeat when it comes to hitting.

“I’ve had stretches where I hit really well and stretches where I haven’t,” Engel said. “I know every day I come to the yard the consistencies are going to be defense and base running. And then offensively, just get to work every day. Every day is a new day. Try not to let yesterday’s failures or successes dictate what’s going on today. I think that’s been a big part of trying to get back on track is just separating. Just because you have a tough day the day before, it’s not the end of the world.”

Engel has had plenty of success with his glove. He’s viewed as a plus-defender and can handle center field. Whether it’s robbing home runs or snagging hard liners on the run, Engel’s routes are superb.

But he hasn’t been nearly as consistent offensively. Prior to this stretch, Engel produced a .360 OPS over 82 plate appearances with 35 strikeouts. He struck out twice more on Wednesday, which brought his K-rate to 34.6 percent. Among all hitters with more than 200 plate appearances, Engel’s K-rate is the 11th-highest in baseball.

Manager Rick Renteria would love to give Engel a day to rest and work with hitting coach Todd Steverson, but the club doesn’t have that luxury with Leury Garcia and Willy Garcia on the disabled list. That has left Engel in a position to fend for himself on a daily basis and attempt to get positive results. With that in mind, Steverson said his focus with Engel has been simplified.

“The number one key is timing and pitch selection,” Steverson said. “When you’re struggling, that tends to be most of the issue. It’s at the highest level. Guys have good stuff. At the end of the day it comes down to pitch selection. Being on time and swinging at a good pitch. Physically, mechanically, that is what it is. I just want him to be ready for the opportunity of a mistake or something you can handle.”

Engel’s ability to defend has without question kept him in the lineup. Renteria also said he likes how Engel has worked as he tries to establish himself as a big-league hitter.

"He’s just trying to get comfortable with who he is,” Renteria said. “We still see him work extremely hard in trying to maintain an approach and a mechanical balance. As long as he’s here we’re going to give him every opportunity to give him as many at bats as possible.”

Engel has soaked up as much advice as possible from the coaching staff. His biggest takeaway is that everything revolves around confidence. Even though he’s struggled, Engel knew that by separating he has made an impact on the field and base paths. He also continues to believe he can hit and offer the White Sox another dimension that could lead to a larger role in the club’s future plans.

“It’s just staying confident throughout the whole thing,” Engel said. “Believing in yourself is huge, especially if you’re struggling.

“Any time you hit a tough stretch the biggest thing to be able to bounce back is to believe it’s coming around. If you’ve got to make adjustments here and there — but I think the biggest thing is not to lose confidence and keep pushing forward and eventually things will catch up.”

Chris Volstad earns first MLB victory in five seasons as White Sox top Astros

Chris Volstad earns first MLB victory in five seasons as White Sox top Astros

HOUSTON -- Two weeks ago Chris Volstad was focused on Hurricane Irma prep when the White Sox called to invite him to the majors. On Thursday night, he earned his first major league victory in more than five years as the White Sox defeated the Houston Astros 3-1 at Minute Maid Park.

Volstad, who had only made 10 big league appearances the previous four-plus seasons and spent all of 2017 at Triple-A Charlotte, allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings to pick up his first win since Sept. 10, 2012.

He hadn’t just shut it down after the Triple-A season ended, Volstad was actually shuttering his Jupiter, Fla. home and business the day the short-handed White Sox called.

“I was probably a little mentally shut down,” Volstad said. “But yeah, it’s kind of crazy how things can change. I guess it’s been about two weeks now. At home getting ready for a hurricane and then getting called back up to the big leagues.”

Volstad received word he might pitch early in Thursday’s game when a blister on Carson Fulmer’s right index finger worsened. Fulmer felt some discomfort after his Friday start at Detroit.

The White Sox let Fulmer try to go but yanked him after 20 pitches, including two walks. That brought out Volstad, who along with Al Alburquerque was promoted Sept. 10 after the White Sox lost several pitchers to injury.

The White Sox actually had to track Volstad down two weeks ago as he’d already been home for a week. He spent part of the time prepping for Irma, including boarding up his brewery.

He escaped a first-inning jam with a double play ball of the bat of Carlos Correa and ended a threat in the second with a pickoff at second base of Alex Bregman. After he surrendered a solo homer to Brian McCann in the third, Volstad retired the final eight men he faced.

[MORE: Why the White Sox are optimistic about their middle infielders' potential

He was awarded his first victory since he defeated Thursday’s Astros starter Dallas Keuchel 1,836 days ago here. Volstad remembered the win because Houston was still in the National League and he had a base hit in the five-inning start for the Cubs. He went 3-12 for the Cubs that season.

“You’re able to lock it in pretty quickly and get focused at the big-league level, you have to,” Volstad said. “But being home in Triple-A for the last few years, just getting called up about 10 days ago, I’ve got people following it, but it’s kind of unknown I guess. It’s a little surprising, but I’m glad to be a part of a team for sure.”

Fulmer, Volstad, Jace Fry, Mike Pelfrey, Gregory Infante, Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar and Juan Minaya combined on a three-hitter for the White Sox. Tim Anderson extended his hit streak to 12 games with a ninth-inning solo homer, his 17th.

White Sox add two cross checkers to amateur scouting department

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White Sox add two cross checkers to amateur scouting department

The White Sox hired two new national amateur scouting cross checkers, Tim Bittner and Juan Alvarez.

Bittner was a one-time White Sox farmhand who was included in a package for Scott Schoeneweis in 2003 while Alvarez was an undrafted pitcher who pitched in 80 major league games for the Angels, Rangers and Marlins from 1999-2003.

Bittner previously worked as a Houston Astros area scout while Alvarez held the same role for the Cleveland Indians. They replace Joe Siers, who moved over to the team’s pro scouting staff, and Mike Ledna, who took a job with the New York Mets.

“Both are very smart guys with playing experience,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “And they’re also coming from two clubs with a lot of recent success.

“I want to add as many smart, passionate, high-energy scouts to what I feel is a department already filled with scouts that check those boxes.”

The White Sox expect to have at least a top-four selection in the 2018 amateur draft. They headed into Thursday’s game with the second-worst record in the majors. Hostetler praised the 2018 draft class for its depth earlier this week.