First Pitch: Assessing Sale

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First Pitch: Assessing Sale

Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010
6:41 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

BALTIMORE Chris Sales self-evaluation of his major league debut was as slender as the 65 leftys frame, and modest as his Floridian roots.

Bemused at the very question, Sale smiled, shook his head and said, Bad.

But you better believe the Chicago White Sox had a sunnier assessment. The rookiethe first member of the 2010 draft class to reach the majors, just a shade quicker than two months after he was selectedshowed poise and focus both on and off the mound on Friday.

His results to open the eighth inninga four-pitch walk to Brian Roberts and an 0-2, jam-shot single by Nick Markakis, (who was an incendiary 4-5 on the night)were not ideal. But Sale was right on the plateonly one of his seven pitches was off the plate and his speed on seven fastballs topped 94 mph.

Most importantly, the Chisox jefe has the young fellas back.

Maybe Sale was nervous, but I liked what I saw, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. Markakis had a jam shot. I want to see what I havethats why hes up here, in that spot. I like him. One thing about him: Hes not scared.

I feel worse than anybody going out there and doing what I did in a close ballgame, Sale said. For Guillen to say that stuff, its pretty encouraging. It still doesnt hide the fact that I went out there and had a bad day, but tomorrow when I show up there will be a little less pressure on me.

Thats certain, as is another thing: The White Sox know what they have in Sale.

Ozzie came out to remove me and said, Good job, no worries, Sale said. My teammates were great, saying Hey, dont worry about it, its your first game, its not a big deal. Its out of the way now, nothing you can do about it. Youll get more chances.

Sale was almost immediately philosophical about his rough debut.

I just went out there hyped up, and wanted to do well, he said, while making it clear that nervousness was no excuse for his outing. I just didnt have any feel and didnt show up, thats pretty much it. I walked a guy and made a bad pitch 0-2, and you cant do that. Ive just got to get more prepared for next time and take this as a learning experience.

Sale even displayed some humor over his debut, which goes down as 0.0 innings pitched as he failed to record an out.

Yeah, get the bad stuff out now, the southpaw said with a chuckle. Hopefully later on down the road it gets better.

Later on down the road could be as soon as tonight, if you ask Guillen.

Youre going to see Sale in those types of situations more often because I want him to help Matt Thornton, Chicagos only other healthy lefty reliever. We tried to debut him in an easier spot, but we couldnt do it. Hes here for a reason. Were going to see how it works.

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

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A torrid two months at the plate helped Jose Abreu end what he found to be an extremely trying 2016 season with numbers close to his career norms.

But even though he finished with an .820 OPS and 100 RBIs for a third straight season, Abreu admits that 2016 was a season unlike any other he'd faced.

While he didn't disclose any theories for the cause of his lengthy struggles, the White Sox first baseman said Sunday he's pleased to have finished on a positive note and thinks that rebounding from those difficulties will only make him stronger. Abreu — who hit .293/.353/.468 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in 695 plate appearances — is also a fan of new White Sox manager Rick Renteria and is equally impressed with the prospects the club acquired this winter.

"Yes, those were different challenges, especially in my mind," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I never in my life experienced some of the kind of struggles like I did last year. But that put me in a better position as a player, as a person too. I'm in a better position now for this season because I learned from the experience."

In spite of his struggles, Abreu was still a league average player through the first four months of the season. But the 2014 All-Star hardly resembled the player who produced a 153 OPS-plus over his first two seasons. His timing was off and Abreu — hitting .269/.325/.413 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs through July 30 — wasn't driving the ball as he typically had in his first two seasons, when he smacked 66 homers.

Abreu was lost at the plate and nobody could figure out why.

But after the arrival of his son, Dariel, who visited him for the first time since he moved to the United States, Abreu took off. He hit .338/.402/.568 the rest of the season with 14 homers and 44 RBIs in 249 trips to the plate.

"Right after last season ended, I had my meeting at my house with my family, just to explain to them how the season was because they know about baseball," Abreu said. "But sometimes they can't register how the process is in a season as long as the major league season is. We talked about it. I explained to them all of the challenges, the problems I had during that season. Once we ended with that meeting, last season was in the past. We moved on and we were trying just to figure out things and how can I do better for this season."

Now in his fourth season in the majors, Abreu has a firm grasp on how the White Sox operate and likes some of the team's modifications. He likes how Renteria thoroughly communicates what he has in mind for the club. Abreu also enjoys being seen as one of the team's leaders and wouldn't mind being a mentor to prized prospect Yoan Moncada.

Now he hopes to carry over his strong finish to the start of the 2017 campaign.

"I'm working on it," Abreu said. "That's one of my goals. Everybody knows that at the beginning of last season, I wasn't performing good. It was kind of a surprise for me, too. But I'm in good shape right now and I believe I will be able to succeed."

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The leading candidate to be the team’s starting center fielder, Charlie Tilson has been temporarily shut down after suffering a stress reaction in his right foot.

The White Sox rookie said Sunday that he noticed the injury gradually building up before he decided to stop his workout on Friday and headed for the training room. An MRI performed Saturday on Tilson -- who is rehabbing from a torn left hamstring that ended his 2016 season early -- revealed the reaction, which isn’t severe as a stress fracture. Given Tilson previously had a stress fracture in his right foot, the White Sox said he'll be sidelined from impact work for 10 days, at which point he’d be re-evaluated.

“It started very minimal, and I tried to work through it a little bit, and by the time I addressed Herm, thankfully I caught it before it was anything that would keep me out for too long,” Tilson said. “It’s a minor thing, and it will give my other leg a chance to get stronger in the meantime, and hopefully we’ll turn this negative into a positive.”

Tilson wouldn’t be surprised if his injury is related to overcompensating for his left leg, which he has worked tirelessly to rehab since he suffered the injury on Aug. 2 and then had season-ending surgery. Manager Rick Renteria described it as an “irritation” in the area where Tilson suffered a stress fracture in 2013. In the interim, the White Sox will test some of their other options in camp, including veteran Peter Bourjos and minor leaguers Adam Engel and Jacob May, among others.

“But we don’t foresee it to be a long-term issue,” Renteria said. “By being able to shut him down now, it’ll be something he’ll be able to recover from. We’ll just readjust his timetable.”

Minor as Tilson and the White Sox say it is, the outfielder admitted he’s down about having to deal with it after the progress he’d made in his rehab.

The White Sox acquired the New Trier High School product from the St. Louis Cardinals last July in exchange for left-hander Zach Duke. Tilson was immediately called up as the White Sox intended to try him out in center field the rest of the season. But he suffered a season-ending injury in his major league debut while tracking down a fly ball and had surgery several days later.

Tilson made enough progress to be a full participant in a hitter’s camp at Camelback Ranch last month. Earlier this week, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Tilson was a top candidate to take over as the club’s starting center fielder if he was healthy.

“I guess you could say I’m disappointed,” Tilson said. “But it’s a very minor setback and it’s part of the process. I had a major repair, and these things come up and hopefully we can minimize them as much as we can and hopefully this is the last one. But I’m just going to deal with it and do whatever I can to move forward.”