Chicago White Sox

AJ may need extra boost for All-Star bid

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AJ may need extra boost for All-Star bid

NEW YORK -- A.J. Pierzynski celebrated his 1,000th game with the White Sox in style on Saturday with two solo home runs.

Already with 14 homers this season, the veteran catcher is within four of the career-high 18 he established in his first season with the White Sox in 2005. His play has many in the clubhouse of the belief Pierzynski is worthy of a nod when All-Star rosters are announced on Sunday. Pierzynskis current .849 OPS is easily the highest of his career and hes hitting .285 with 45 RBIs.

A two-time All-Star, Pierzynski said hed enjoy the opportunity to head to Kansas City over the break, but its not something hes going to count upon. As of last Monday, Pierzynski was fourth among American League catchers in the fan vote, one in which Texas Mike Napoli held a hearty lead. Minnesotas Joe Mauer is also a likely candidate to make the team because he is easily his teams top -- and perhaps only -- candidate for consideration.

It would be great, Pierzynski said. Ive done it a couple of times. Its awesome. Its the ultimate personal reward as a player to be voted as an All-Star, to go there and enjoy the game. At the same time, I know how it works. Its a popularity contest and I know Im probably not going to win it and Im not going to go. Ive been there before. Ive had good first halves before and not gone so Im not going to put a whole lot of stock into it. Or get my hopes up. I think I deserve it, but if not its OK. Im not going to lose any sleep over it.

Pierzynski believes his home run total is up because of a combination of technique and maturity. Whereas in the past he hit with more top spin, Pierzynski said he has tried to hit with more backspin this season. He also said he has done a good job to avoid getting out in front when he swings.

I think now that Ive gotten a little bit older, Ive settled down a little bit, Pierzynski said. I still have my moments where I get mad, but Ive kind of learned to control especially this year a little bit better. Just trying to technique em and just get the barrel and back spin balls instead of getting a little bit anxious and getting out front. Ive always hit a lot of balls with top spin. Its gotten me a lot of hits, but it doesnt lead to hitting for power and this year Ive hit a lot more balls with backspin that have carried.

Good health has allowed Pierzynski to reach the 1,000-game mark with the franchise quickly at a position where durability is rare. Pierzynski has averaged 133 games a season since he joined the White Sox.

Ive been lucky, Pierzynski said. I havent had any major injuries, things that put me on the shelf. Last year was my first time on the shelf and it was miserable. Im fortunate to have been on competitive teams where the manager runs me out there a lot and I have to thank my parents for giving me good genes. I enjoy my job, taking the field every day. Its something I hope I can do for a few more years.

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.