Floyd, Sox try to avoid series sweep on CSN

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Floyd, Sox try to avoid series sweep on CSN

Thursday, April 21, 2011Posted: 11:20 AM

Associated Press

A loss to the Chicago White Sox earlier this month dropped the defending AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays to 0-6 for the first time in franchise history.

Another victory over the White Sox can put the Rays over .500 for the first time this season.

Tampa Bay goes for its first four-game sweep of Chicago on Thursday night when the visiting White Sox try to avoid their eighth straight defeat.

Since a 5-1 loss at Chicago (7-11) on April 7, the Rays (9-9) have won nine of 12 to join the 1991 Seattle Mariners as the only teams since 1900 to reach .500 in April after opening the season with six losses.

"The fact that we're back to that level is great, but our goal is well above .500," manager Joe Maddon said following Wednesday's 4-1 victory.

While Tampa Bay is batting .297 and scoring 5.0 runs per game during its 8-1 stretch - up from .163 and 2.2 during its first nine games - the team's starters are 6-1 with a 2.22 ERA during this recent run, a vast improvement from their 5.26 ERA through nine games.

Jeff Niemann (0-2, 6.32 ERA), who starts the series finale, also pitched better in his last start. After allowing 10 runs in his first two outings, the right-hander struck out a season-high six in Saturday's 4-3 win over Minnesota, giving up three runs and eight hits in seven innings.

"I was more comfortable in what I was seeing," Maddon told the Rays' official website.

That wasn't the case in a 6-1 loss in Chicago on April 10 when Niemann lasted just 2 2-3 innings, yielding five runs and five hits.

He had been 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his previous two starts against the White Sox.

Niemann faces a Chicago team that has scored 13 runs during its seven-game skid, including just two in the first three games of this series. Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Adam Dunn are hitting a combined .129 (13 for 101) during the slide.

"We had better at-bats (Wednesday)," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "That's all you can do. Go and fight for your at-bats, and see what happens."

While the White Sox's bullpen has received plenty of blame with a major league-high six blown saves, the starting rotation is also struggling, posting a 5.57 ERA in the last five games after Phil Humber surrendered four runs in 5 1-3 innings Wednesday.

Gavin Floyd (1-1, 4.29) will try to help Chicago avoid its first eight-game skid since Sept. 14-21 and split the eight-game season series with Tampa Bay. The right-hander improved to 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA against the Rays after striking out eight and allowing one unearned run in eight innings April 10.

Floyd, though, gave up season highs with six runs and eight hits in Saturday's 7-2 loss against the Los Angeles Angels. He also threw three wild pitches in six innings.

Floyd probably wouldn't mind if Rays left fielder Johnny Damon misses a fourth straight game with an injured left ring finger. Damon is 11 for 19 with a homer off Floyd.

White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin, 1 for 9 off Niemann, is batting .438 (14 for 32) on the road after homering Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

White Sox avoid arbitration with Todd Frazier, four pitchers

The White Sox agreed to one-year contracts with five players on Friday, including a $12-million deal for Todd Frazier.

Frazier established a franchise record for home runs by a third baseman in 2016 when he blasted 40 in his first season with the White Sox. A free agent after the 2017 season, Frazier hit .225/.302/.464 in 666 plate appearances, drove in a career high 98 runs and produced 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. 

Starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez is set to earn $5.9 million this season. The team also agreed to deals with relievers Dan Jennings ($1.4 million), Zach Putnam ($1.1175 million) and Jake Petricka ($825,000).

The White Sox acquired Frazier in a three-player trade from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2015. It's expected they would try to trade Frazier, who has hit 104 homers since 2014 and participated in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby three consecutive years, before the Aug 1 non-waiver trade deadline as part of the club's rebuilding efforts. 

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Gonzalez went 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) after he was signed to a minor-league deal in early April. 

Jennings posted a 2.08 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. 

Putnam had a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 30 strikeouts before he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. 

Petricka was limited to nine appearances before his season was ended by hip surgery.

Both Petricka and Putnam are expected to be ready for spring training.

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

Top White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada impresses club at minicamp

It was a limited look, but Yoan Moncada made a strong first impression on the White Sox this week.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox last month in the Chris Sale trade, Moncada arrived in Glendale, Ariz., earlier this week with the franchise hopeful he'd offer a glimpse of the skills that earned him the designation as baseball's top prospect.

Moncada didn't disappoint, either, as he had White Sox evaluators excited throughout a three-day hitters camp. Whether it's his physicality, how he carried himself or his baseball IQ, White Sox staffers couldn't have been happier about their first experience with their new prized possession.

"(Moncada) looks like a linebacker, but he moves like a wide receiver," player development director Chris Getz said. "He's got good actions. He's obviously a switch hitter. He's got power. He can hit. He's got a good smile. He seems to be enjoying himself out here, he interacts well with his teammates.

"So far it has been very impressive, and we look forward to seeing more."

Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Moncada, 21, looked every bit the part when he first observed him from across the hall at the team's facility. Steverson spoke to friends in the scouting community and wasn't the least bit surprised when he encountered the 6-foot-2, 205-pound second baseman. Moncada was just as impressive on the field with his skills and effort, Steverson said.

"This is a large specimen right here," Steverson said. "He's put together pretty well.

"On defense it looks like he has some really good hands.

"He got in the box and he hadn't swung for a while. But still, you could tell he had good hands going through the zone, has a nice approach and wants to work real hard."

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Moncada's fancy tools have been well publicized since he received a $31.5-million signing bonus from the Red Sox in March 2015.

MLB.com graded Moncada's hit tool at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale while his base running is 65 and arm is 60. Moncada's power received a 55 grade, and his fielding is 50. Moncada received an overall grade of 65, which suggests he has the ability to be a perennial All-Star and worth 4 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com.

But the White Sox weren't just impressed with Moncada's physical ability.

One of manager Rick Renteria's top objectives for the camp was to emphasize fundamentals and what's important to the team. Renteria wanted to identify specific game situations and how players are expected to handle them so they're well prepared for the future. Moncada handled that area well, too.

"Yoan is a very knowledgeable baseball player who has experience on a multitude of levels," amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. "In the brief time we had with him this week, he showed a tremendous ability to drive the ball the opposite way as well as drive balls to the gap and out of the ball park from both sides of the plate. That ability will help him handle and any all situations that Ricky asks him to do at the plate. Defensively his hands and feet are very good and will have no problem there. He's a bright hard-working kid that is part of a bright future for the organization."