Chicago White Sox

Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson show promising signs but White Sox fall to Yankees

Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson show promising signs but White Sox fall to Yankees

NEW YORK — The good that emerged from Wednesday night's 9-1 loss to the New York Yankees didn't provide the White Sox with much immediate help.

But the fact that Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu both put together a series of good at-bats, including the latter's most complete offensive game of the season, could be critical for the White Sox in the days ahead. Abreu doubled twice and produced his first three-hit game of the season and Anderson also doubled and lined out to deep center in the losing effort.

Their collective efforts weren't enough, however, to keep up with the Yankees, who blasted three home runs off Rule 5 selection Dylan Covey in the series finale. Covey allowed eight earned runs and 10 hits in five innings.

"(Abreu) had a completely different outlook today for whatever reason and it just happens that way," manager Rick Renteria said. "Some good at-bats. So did Timmy. We had a few good at-bats in there, a couple situations we didn't capitalize on. It was one of those games that got away from us."

The White Sox offense has been very hit and miss early this season. They've provided runs by the barrel full in a few games and minimal production in others.

One reason for those struggles is the early slumps of Anderson and Abreu, two of their more prominent performers. Anderson entered Wednesday's finale with a .389 OPS and Abreu was at just .380. In short, neither has provided much for an offense that entered Wednesday ranked 13th among 15 American League teams with 48 runs scored.

But both looked sharp against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka.

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Abreu — who Tuesday said he was merely looking to make solid contact once again — started early with a double down the left-field line past a diving Chase Headley.

"Right now we're just working on trying to gain that confidence at the plate, because right now I don't feel it," Abreu said through an interpreter on Tuesday. "That's a process you have to pass through to get it again. That's why we're working right now.

"Right now, I'm not making any contact with the ball."

The slugger made plenty on Wednesday night.

Down 4-0 in the fourth, Abreu followed a leadoff double by Anderson with a booming one-out double of his own to produce the only White Sox RBI. The ball exited Abreu's bat at 109.3 mph, according to MLB.com.

"It was a while from the last time I heard that sound when I hit the ball," Abreu said Wednesday. "Besides the loss, I think it was a good game for me. I hit the ball the way I used to do it and that's a step forward."

Abreu also hit an outside pitch in the sixth inning for a hard single into right field. Abreu finished the contest 3-for-4, his fourth multi-hit game of the season but first since Thursday at Cleveland. He also made an outstanding defensive play to end the second inning with a diving grab to start an unassisted double play.

Anderson has shown little signs throughout the Yankees series he's about to break out. His fourth-inning double off Tanaka would have gone for a solo home run in most ballparks. But he settled for a double high off the left-field fence despite a 102.8-mph exit velocity.

Two innings later, Anderson lined another fastball to dead center only to have Jacoby Ellsbury track it down near the fence. The ball exited Anderson's bat at 102.1 mph, an outcome that normally produces a hit 79 percent of the time, according to Baseball Savant. Anderson finished 1-for-4 but still raised his batting average on balls in play to .200, which is well short of the .375 he hit in 2016 and what he routinely produced in the minor leagues. Those factors would suggest Anderson is due for a market correction at the plate, which would be extremely beneficial to the 7-7 White Sox.

But it didn't amount to much on Wednesday.

Covey allowed a double and a two-run Chase Headley homer in the first, and yielded two more runs on two hits in the second inning. Starlin Castro tattooed a 3-0 fastball from Covey for a three-run homer in the fifth inning before Aaron Judge crushed a hanging curve 448 feet for a solo shot and an 8-1 lead.

"Obviously today didn't go the way I wanted it to go," Covey said. "But you kind of have to take it like it is and learn from the mistakes. Come back (Friday) and put work in to get better. Just get better with all my pitches."

Young White Sox pitchers offering 'a glimpse of what's to come'

Young White Sox pitchers offering 'a glimpse of what's to come'

Carlos Rodon is on a roll, Carson Fulmer made his first big league start and Lucas Giolito’s White Sox premiere is on deck. With Reynaldo Lopez already in the majors and Michael Kopech now at Triple-A Charlotte, the first wave of the White Sox pitching future is on hand.

Rodon turned in another good outing to help the White Sox to a split of Monday’s doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field. The third-year starter overcame a slow start and delivered 6 1/3 strong innings in a 7-6 victory in Game 1 at Guaranteed Rate Field. While Fulmer was knocked out after only 1 1/3 innings in the nightcap, White Sox manager Rick Renteria is enthusiastic to see that several of his young pitchers have reached their final stage of development.

“It's a glimpse of what's to come,” Renteria said. “I think they should be excited. We're excited to finally get to have them here with us and start to see them a little bit more and we can start to gauge where we're at, where they are in their development. We look forward kind of starting to scratch the surface of what's coming in the future.”

The White Sox need look no further than Rodon’s own path to identify how a young pitcher’s development can zig and zag. The third pick of the 2014 amateur draft raced through the minor leagues, struggled with command once he arrived in the majors, found some solid footing late in the 2015 season, battled again early in 2016 before he righted the ship over the final two months. And that’s before Rodon spent three months on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder and had command issues when he returned nearly two months ago.

But now, Rodon is on yet another of those rolls in which he appears to be a front-of-the-rotation starter. His re-emergence has yet again presented the White Sox with hope that Rodon can front the new wave of starting pitchers. After Monday’s effort, Rodon has five straight quality starts with a 2.25 ERA and 36 strikeouts over his last 36 innings.

Even so, Rodon knows he has more work ahead to get where he wants.

“There’s still stuff to work on,” Rodon said. “There’s stuff I need to get better at and more strikes, more command and trying to get back to that no walk thing.”

The White Sox understood they needed to be patient with Rodon and are even more aware of how they’ll need to be now that Giolito, Lopez and Fulmer have reached their final stages of development.

Fulmer, who was up for the day as the team’s 26th man, is headed back to Charlotte. As much as he struggled in his first chance, Fulmer — who allowed two three-run homers — is almost certain to get another down the road. Even if it never pans out as a starter, Fulmer almost certainly would be given a chance to succeed in relief.

“I guess perhaps we have a longer-term view of a given player, more rope so to speak, to prove who they are, show who they are over an extended period at the big-league level,” general manager Rick Hahn said earlier this month.

The same goes for Lopez, who appears to be improving after he was placed on the DL with a strained back, and Giolito, who has shown a vast improvement after a slow start at Triple-A Charlotte. The team announced he and reliever Brad Goldberg were headed back to Triple-A following the game. The option of Goldberg makes room for Gioliito, who will be added to the 25-man on Tuesday.

“I’m still confident in my ability to go out there and throw strikes and help us win,” Fulmer said. “I’m always going to continue to learn. That’s never going to stop for me as a baseball player and I have to go through these experiences to get better as a baseball player and as a pitcher. Take the positive out of this outing and learn from what happened to tonight.”

The White Sox went into their rebuild with the long-term approach in mind, knowing how critical it was to develop. For Giolito, it was regaining the confidence that had him rated as the top pitching prospect in baseball headed into last winter.

Whether it’s simplifying his thought process, trusting his routine between starts or finding confidence in his curveball, Giolito knows he’s in a better place as he makes his first White Sox start since they acquired him last December. After posting a 5.40 ERA in his first 16 starts at Charlotte, Giolito has rebounded with a 2.78 ERA in the last eight turns he has made.

“Started out pretty rough,” Giolito said last week. “Certain times where it’s like, ‘What do I have to do? What do I need to work on?’ And then finally putting together a really, really solid routine — certain drills, certain things I’m doing every day to better myself and trusting it.

“The results are starting to come with that and I feel like I’m much better off than I was in the beginning of the year and the confidence is much better.”

Having worked with them in a spring training and later spent a month in the minors on his rehab assignment, Rodon has anticipated the arrivals of Lopez, Giolito and Fulmer. He’s excited to see what everyone can do and how they handle their on-the-job training.

“It’s fun for these guys to be back up here and part of this team again,” Rodon said. “It was good to be down there and watch them. It’s time to watch them grow up and play in the big leagues.”

Grand theft foul ball: Thievery in White Sox stands

Grand theft foul ball: Thievery in White Sox stands

The scrum for a foul ball is one of baseball's great traditions. Usually, it ends with one hyped fan hoisting the souvenir high above his or her head while surrounding fans look on with intense jealousy. 

Not Monday night, though. Something far weirder happened after a ball found its way into the Guaranteed Rate Field seats. 

One Sox fan seemed to have scooped a keepsake until a sly woman committed straight thievery, prying it right from his hands. 

The dude's baffled face is high-level entertainment as he struggles to comprehend how he just got straight up hoodwinked. 

Watch the video above to see the robbery and Jason Benetti debate Steve Stone on what really happened.