Chicago White Sox

Danks nearly untouchable in White Sox win

Danks nearly untouchable in White Sox win

Sunday, March 13, 2011
Posted 5:31 p.m. Updated 6:43 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Never mind that he faced a lineup of Los Angeles Dodgers N-teamers, John Danks will take a one-hit effort any day of the week.

Danks threw the White Soxs longest outing of the Cactus League season, scattering one hit and three walks over five innings and pacing the White Sox to a 6-1 win at Camelback Ranch on Sunday.

I feel good. I feel like I can throw most of my pitches, Danks said. There were a couple of instances where I got lucky, but for the most part I felt good. I was able to throw the ball in to righties a lot better than I have all camp.

He threw the ball better, manager Ozzie Guillen said. We try to eliminate the walks during spring training. Thats the goal right now. He threw pretty good and is pitching pretty well.

Danks punctuated his good feeling with two Ks and plenty of splintered lumber, dropping his spring ERA to a lean 1.74.

How well I pitched showed with all the broken bats, Danks said, adding that he didnt even see the first barrel that came flying at him to end the first inning. There were like two or three broken bats. All in all, I felt good. Everything is progressing right on track. Thats where I need to be.

Milledge making the team?

Carlos Quentin jumped on Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda early, clocking a first-pitch deep to left for his first homer of the spring. In the fourth, the hot-and-cold White Sox offense lit up L.A., courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Lastings Milledge, chased by a two-run homer from an unlikely source, second baseman Omar Vizquel. The White Sox pushed their advantage to five after Juan Pierre doubled in Brent Morel in the seventh.

Will Ohman found his spring streak of perfection snapped by allowing a run-scoring double to Justin Sellers in the Dodgers half of the inning. In the eighth, a Sellers throwing error was responsible for the final White Sox run of the day, as a failed double-play scored Eduardo Escobar.

The biggest hitters on the day were the Chisox most struggling offensively this spring: Quentin, Paul Konerko, and Morel all entered action hitting less than .200 and were the only Chicago hitters to strike two safeties on the day.

Brawny Danks

As his hair is growing back (after Mark Buehrle shaved it early in camp in honor of the St. Baldricks childrens cancer-fighting effort), Danks is letting his face grow long, sporting a beard that may not last too much longer.

Moms coming in town on the 24th, so well see what happens then, Danks said. It will be cold in Cleveland Ive got to have a little face coverage for April 1.

Milledge lasting

Fourth outfielder candidate Milledge continued to state his case for the 25th spot on the roster, playing a flawless center field and going 1-3 with an RBI.

Im happy with the way Milledge is playing right now, Guillen said. Hes playing very good. Catching the ball is very important.

Guillen wasnt worried about Milledge getting picked off of first after leading off the ninth inning with a single.

I want players to create some confidence in spring training to steal bases.

Vote of confidence: Morel

Guillen was pleased to see Morel clock a couple hits (raising his OPS on the spring to .566) and make several sweet plays at third.

Hes fine, he said. As a kid, you are going to be kind of anxious. I wont say he was panicking, but he tried to overdo stuff to impress people. We talked to him about backing up, make sure you are yourself. He swung the bat better today.

Vote of confidence: Flowers

Guillen sees a world of difference in catcher Tyler Flowers this spring compared to prior camps.

Out of everyone, Flowers is the one Im very happy about, Guillen said. That kid came to spring training this year as a different guy. He swings the bat better and more comfortably. Behind the plate, hes outstanding."

Its safe to say that if the White Sox knew theyd see this sort of change in the 25-year-old slugger, hed be breaking camp with the big club instead of seeing his ticket again punched back to Charlotte.

Im pretty excited and happy for this kid, from one spring training to another, Guillen said. Ive talked to everybody about it. Hopefully, no matter where he goes, hell keep up playing this way so people can count on him for the future.

B-Game roundup

The White Sox won their B-Game against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday morning in come-from-behind fashion, 11-8. The game, which stretched more than three hours, was studied closely by the entire White Sox coaching staff: We told players, B-Games count, because were watching, Guillen emphasized. (That he mimed falling asleep during the game was merely for comedic effect.)

On the bump, Cleveland roughed up just two of the White Sox hurlers, Kyle Cofield (two innings, six hits, six runs, five earned runs, and a long triple-home run-home run in back-to-back-to-back fashion) and Miguel Socolovich (one inning, three hits, two earned runs).

Brandon Hynick started the game and acquitted himself well, pitching around three walks in two innings of work. Shane Lindsay stayed hot, throwing two innings with a walk and two strikeouts (pushing his total spring scoreless streak to five innings). Nate Jones finished off the Wahoos, twirling two scoreless innings and allowing a hit and a walk against two strikeouts).

At bat, two likely Charlotte Knights stars let a power surge for the Chisox. Stefan Gartrell had two homers, five RBI, and three runs scored on the day, reaching base three times total. Jordan Danks hit a grand slam as part of a 2-5 day and his brother, John, expressed his pleasure during the afternoon game, saying, Yeah, hes having a great camp. Hes progressing and getting closer to where people thought he would be at this point. Im thrilled to death with how hed doing.

Escobar went 2-5 with two doubles then, as last B-Game, subbed into the spring training game proper, vs. the Dodgers. Alejandro De Aza and Brent Lillibridge both went 3-5 in the game.
Scenes from a B-Game

After Gartrell's first home run, a three-run shot, the Wahoos walked off the field (Clevelands hurler hit his pitch count). When I asked him why he had to ruin a perfectly nice game, Gartrell trotted back out to right field, laughing and yelling, Guess we automatically win! Guess the games over!

Jordan Danks had been taunting Gartrell for being too slow to get to a foul fly down the right-field line but when Gartrell made the next one, a nice grab right at the foul wall, Danks changed his tune and shouted, web gem!

White Sox first base coach Harold Baines, looking on from the sidelines and chiding the Wahoos batboy, whose extreme hustle caused his mullet to fly freely in the wind.

Jim Gallagher was chasing hard after a foul pop, but missed the carom after it hit off a light pole in foul territory and headed back to the field: That scared the ( out of me!

Box Score

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Joining Hall-of-Fame company the latest feat for Jose Abreu, White Sox model of consistency

Joining Hall-of-Fame company the latest feat for Jose Abreu, White Sox model of consistency

Just how valuable is Jose Abreu to the White Sox?

Well, whenever you join Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only baseball players ever to do something, you must be pretty darn valuable.

Abreu joined that elite company Saturday night, driving in both runs in the White Sox forgettable 8-2 loss to the visiting Kansas City Royals. Those RBIs brought his total to 100 on the season, making him the third major leaguer ever to hit at least 25 homers and drive in at least 100 runs in his first four seasons.

“Every year after a season I meet with my family and we review my season and my stats. Last year when we had the meeting, I told them next year I’m gonna hit 30 homers, I’m gonna drive in at least 100 and I did it,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I was able to do it and that’s something that made me feel proud of myself and proud of my family, too, because they have been the ones who have been supported me through my whole career."

Abreu’s known as an extremely hard worker, a template to follow for many if not all of the youngsters coming up as the future stars of the White Sox rebuild. And so it makes this moment all the sweeter for him and those around him.

“It is especially important not just for me but for my family and my team,” Abreu said. “I think that this is a reward for the effort and all the work you put in for preparation for your season. It’s special when you get this kind of result and consistency in your stats. But the most important thing is it’s a reward for my family. And this organization, maybe we are not in the position we want to be right now as a team, but I know that better times are to come.”

“He works extremely hard,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think everybody was feeling it for him tonight. He’s been pushing. He fouled a ball off of his left shin the other day, and you see him kind of gimping around there. … He’s not one to do anything to deter from continuing to help the team win first and foremost, but along the way he’s able to collect some individual merit points, so to speak. And put himself in a very special class.”

The big question surrounding Abreu isn’t whether he’s worthy of being the leader the young White Sox of the future need to turn rebuilding mode into contending mode a few years down the line. The question is whether he’ll still be around by then. His final year of arbitration is 2019, meaning if the White Sox are looking at 2020 as the year of true contention, it will take a new contract to keep Abreu in town.

A few things factor into that, of course. No. 1, Abreu could continue this consistently terrific pace and be lured away by another team willing to spend more to acquire his services. No. 2, though, is his age. He’ll be 33 years old when the 2020 season starts, and while that’s not old by most standards, it means he’ll demand a big contract — and likely a lengthy one — as he reaches the latter part of his prime. It’s not to suggest Abreu will dramatically slow down in terms of production, but it will most definitely be under consideration as the White Sox look to keep their window of contention open as long as possible.

For what it’s worth, Abreu is constantly thanking the White Sox organization for the opportunity to do what he’s done over the past four seasons, and he’s said how much he wants to keep playing for this franchise.

What is of no question, however, is Abreu’s worth as a top-of-the-line offensive player. His totals with a week’s worth of games left in the 2017 season: 31 homers, 100 RBIs and a .305/.356/.551 slash line. All those percentages would be his highest since his outstanding rookie season in 2014.

And his worth as a leader, as a guy who could be a rallying point for all these young players, that’s pretty darn valuable, too.

“I haven’t (tonight) made light of what I believe he’s becoming as part of this organization and what he is as far as what he does for the team,” Renteria said. “You got a couple of young men in there that are growing up and becoming a part of what I believe are leaders within that clubhouse. And he’s one of them. He’s certainly deserves it. He’s earned it. He’s worked for it. He’s been in this organization since the inception of his major league career. He’s someone that we all are happy is a part of us.”

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

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USA TODAY

White Sox not exactly sure what’s up with Carlos Rodon, but he’s confident he’ll be back for 2018

It’s been more than two weeks since Carlos Rodon was shut down for the season, one day after he was scratched from a start with shoulder inflammation.

And while we know Rodon won’t pitch again in 2017 — a season with just a little more than a week remaining for the rebuilding White Sox — the team still doesn’t know, or still isn’t ready to say, exactly what’s wrong with the former first-round draft pick.

“We’re just trying to get it right,” Rodon said before Saturday night’s game against the visiting Kansas City Royals. “Still trying to figure everything out and take everything we can and put it all together to get the most information and do what’s best for me and for this team.”

That kind of non-update might raise some red flags in the minds of White Sox fans, curious as to what is the latest ailment for a pitcher who missed three months this season while recovering from biceps bursitis.

Rodon was slated to get reevaluated shortly after that early September injury. He was, but no news came of it, at least not yet.

“Pretty similar to what our doc said,” Rodon said of that follow-up evaluation. “Like I said, we’re trying to still gather all the information and figure out what we’re going to do from there.”

Rodon ended his third season in the bigs with a 4.15 ERA in 69.1 innings of work. And while the White Sox still believe he’ll be a huge part of their starting staff moving forward, it’s plenty acceptable to wonder what kind of effects this season of injuries will have on Rodon as the franchise’s rebuild chugs along.

“He continues to be a big part of what we believe is the future of the organization,” manager Rick Renteria said after explaining several times that the team is still trying to figure out what’s wrong with Rodon. “Unfortunately, this year he's been down quite a bit. So assuming he comes back in a good situation and is healthy and is capable of going out and performing, he fits into one of the five guys that are going to be out there for us next season.”

For his part, Rodon is 100-percent confident he’ll be good to go for next year’s campaign.

“I just know that I’ll be ready for next season,” Rodon said. “The goal is to be ready for next year and be healthy through all of next season.”

That, though, will be the million-dollar question as the White Sox starting rotation of the future begins to take shape. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already penciled in for 2018, and Michael Kopech’s 2017 campaign in the minors was so sensational, he could potentially pitch himself into that starting five, too. With younger names like Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning also doing work in the minors, someone’s going to be the odd man out.

Rodon still has the confidence of his organization. But will he have the health to make that confidence pay off?