Fractured thumb ruins Viciedo's spring, birthday

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Fractured thumb ruins Viciedo's spring, birthday

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Posted: 4:56 p.m. Updated 11:01 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Glendale, Ariz. - Dayan Viciedo, whose great work in the field and at the plate early in Cactus League play had positioned him as the darkhorse 25th man on the roster, will be sidelined for up to a month after a right thumb fracture suffered vs. the Texas Rangers on Thursday (which also was Viciedo's 22nd birthday).

Texas hurler Dave Bush hit Viciedo with a 1-0 changeup in the top of the eighth inning. The right fielder remained on the ground for a short period of time, before getting to his feet and leaving the game.

Trailing 5-3 at that point, with Mark Teahen on second with a leadoff double, the White Sox rallied to take a 7-6 lead with a run in the eighth and three more in the top of the ninth. Ironically, it was Viciedos replacement, Andrew Garcia, who doubled in the winning run.

Floyd sparkles as Sox sweep split-squad games

The White Sox won both games on their most challenging day of play yet this spring, winning two road games.

Ironically, it was Viciedos replacement, Andrew Garcia, who doubled in the winning run. Three batters earlier, Michael Restovich had tied the game at six with a two-run single.

White Sox pitching took the day, as starter Phil Humber opened the game with a strong, scoreless three innings and was followed by strong outings from Gregory Infante (two innings) and Kyle Cofield (one).

Brandon Hynick lost a step in his battle to become the 12th man out of the bullpen, as he blew a save in spectacular fashion, surrendering five earned runs in the sixth. Nate Jones finished the game vulturing a win courtesy of the Chisox comeback despite giving up Texas sixth run in the eighth.

For the nightcap of sorts, the White Sox shuttled eastward to Scottsdale to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-3. Gavin Floyd had a terrific outing, the longest of the spring for a White Sox starter. The righthander hurled 4 23 innings and was touched for only three hits and one run, a homer by Russell Branyan.

Chris Sale came on and continued to scuffle a bit, surrendering a two-run homer to Gerardo Parra and raising his ERA to 4.26. Sergio Santos and Brian Bruney pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively, nailing down the win for Floyd.

Gordon Beckham was the offensive star at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, falling just a triple short of the cycle en route to a 3-4, two RBI night that raised his spring average to .429. Dallas McPherson and Alexei Ramirez also contributed two hits and an RBI apiece.

Viciedos injury narrows the 25th man spot on the roster down to three likely contenders: Lastings Milledge, Brent Lillibridge, and Alejandro De Aza. De Aza has the strongest track record with manager Ozzie Guillen, Milledge has been singled out for praise of late by Guillen, and Lillibridge offers the team the most flexibility and has had the strongest spring of the trio.

The White Sox now enter their Friday home tilt against the Cubs sitting at 4-7-1 on the spring.

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

White Sox grieve Jose Fernandez's death along with rest of MLB

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White Sox grieve Jose Fernandez's death along with rest of MLB

CLEVELAND -- Whether they knew him or not, the overwhelming sentiment throughout the White Sox clubhouse on Sunday is that baseball was robbed of one of its most likeable players when Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was tragically killed in a boating accident.

Known for his vivid celebrations on the field and his wide, endless smile, Fernandez made a strong impression, whether with his skillset or infinite love of the game. White Sox players had their eyes fixed on several televisions littered throughout the visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field on Sunday during a morning press conference confirming the death of Fernandez, 24, and two others.

White Sox reliever Dan Jennings played with Fernandez for two seasons. Though he enjoyed a 3-0 White Sox win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, Jennings said his happiness was muted as he mulled the death of Fernandez, who was killed when the boat he was on slammed into a jetty in Miami Beach, Fla.

“He seemed invincible is what it was,” Jennings said. “A lot of guys know what I mean when I say he was invincible on the mound. There were days he was unstoppable, and that’s how you viewed him is invincible. It’s too hard to really put into words what he meant to the game and what he meant to Miami.”

“I just hope to love the game as much as he does some day. It’s tough to do, but he did. He had fun, and he loved the game more than anything.”

Todd Frazier remembers how approachable he found Fernandez in their limited interactions. The two met in the outfield one day after they faced each other for the first time and joked around.

“I was like, ‘Dog, you don’t throw me any fastballs,’ ” Frazier said. “He was like, “Why would I throw you fastballs?’ And we just started laughing.

“That’s the kind of guy he was. You could come up and talk to him. He had an infectious smile and just had a love for the game that I hope every ballplayer could have. It’s a terrible, terrible day.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Fernandez’s death reminded him of the March 22, 1993 accident that took the lives of Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews. Only pitcher Bob Ojeda survived that crash and Ventura remembers the shockwaves it sent through clubhouses throughout baseball.

“I can still remember … just how sad that was,” Ventura said. “You don’t have to know them personally. But they’re within their group, and it breaks everybody up. It really does.”

White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon didn’t have a chance to meet Fernandez, a pitcher he admired for his competitive style and bulldog mentality. But another reason Rodon looked up to Fernandez is for the way he seemed to play the game with such joy. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said during a press conference Sunday that Fernandez enjoyed the game like a Little Leaguer does.

Rodon recently spoke about rediscovering his own joy of baseball. Naturally, Rodon’s thoughts drifted toward Fernandez when he took the mound on Sunday.

“You could tell,” Rodon said. “We had a beautiful day to come out and play and sad to say that one person is never going to get to play again. He’ll be very missed. You can’t take these days for granted. Just hope you guys go home today and tell the people you love, you love them. Losing a person like that is hard.”

Carlos Rodon strikes out 11 as White Sox top Indians

Carlos Rodon strikes out 11 as White Sox top Indians

CLEVELAND -- Carlos Rodon and his filthy repertoire made sure Cleveland’s celebration would have to wait for another day.

Rodon had his best outing of the season on Sunday afternoon and the White Sox prevented the Cleveland Indians from clinching an American League Central title with a 3-0 win in front of 24,118 at Progressive Field. Rodon matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts and allowed just two hits and three walks over eight scoreless innings. David Robertson struck out the side in the ninth to convert his 36th save. The two White Sox pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts in the two-hitter, including eight of the last nine.

“That’s the best I’ve seen (Rodon),” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Strike one was the biggest thing and it was with authority, it was placed well. After that it just seems like he got better as the game moved along. A couple of guys get on and he turned it up in key situations. In the middle of the game, late in the game. He had it all.”

Working with a strong fastball and a wipeout slider, Rodon had no-hit stuff from the outset as he breezed through the early innings. The left-hander retired the side in order in the first on 10 pitches and only slowed down once.

He worked around a leadoff walk in the second inning and didn’t put another man on base until he walked Jose Ramirez with one out in the fourth inning. But Rodon rebounded from that with a strikeout of Mike Napoli and a Carlos Santana pop out.

Brandon Guyer ended Rodon’s no-hit bid with a leadoff single to center in the fifth inning and Coco Crisp followed with a walk. Both runners moved into scoring position on a sac bunt, but Rodon toughened up and escaped the jam with his 1-0 lead intact. Michael Martinez’s fly out to shallow right wasn’t deep enough to score Guyer from third and Rodon blew a 95-mph fastball past Rajai Davis to strand the pair in scoring position.

“When he did get in a jam he settled down,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “You didn’t see him get antsy or excited. You see it in pitchers’ faces. Sometimes guys got antics out there with the pouty face. He didn’t have any of that, he just bulldogged his way through and I couldn’t be happier for him. Hopefully there’s more of that to come for him next year.”

Rodon was superb the rest of the way as he retired the side in order in the sixth and eighth innings, including striking out all three men in the latter. Rodon struck out five of seven batters between the seventh and eighth innings to establish a new season-high and tie his career mark with 11.

Rodon improved to 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 starts since Aug. 6.

“I was able to drive the ball today and when I’m going good that’s the way it is, driving the ball through the zone and attacking hitters,” Rodon said. “It needs to stay like that.”

The White Sox offense provided just enough support for Rodon against Josh Tomlin and Co.

Frazier’s leadoff single in the fifth inning and stolen base set up the team’s first run as Carlos Sanchez singled to left with two outs to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead.

The White Sox later capitalized on a Michael Martinez error as they loaded the bases with one out. Pinch runner J.B. Shuck tagged on Sanchez’s fly ball to shallow center and scored even though the throw beat him as catcher Chris Gimenez couldn’t hang onto the ball.

Frazier drew a one-out walk in the ninth, stole second base and advanced to third on an error. Omar Narvaez then provided insurance with a two-out RBI single to put the White Sox up by three runs.

That was plenty for Rodon and Robertson to work with.

“There’s a lot on the line for these guys playing on the other side being able to clinch something and he just had his mind set on it,” Ventura said. “Today he was going out with a purpose. He was locating, he had great command on his changeup. It’s a lineup that has been able to rough us up before and he responded.”