Licorice whip: White Sox offense stymied in loss

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Licorice whip: White Sox offense stymied in loss

Saturday, March 12, 2011Posted: 4:50 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Never has a strong offense ever seemed so impotent.

The White Sox entered play second in the American League with a .281 average but could only muster a single hit in the first three inningsa bunt single by Juan Pierre to lead off the gameen route to a 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers at Camelback Ranch.

Matt Harrison stymied the White Sox for four innings, striking out four. The Pale Hose mustered just three more hits in the game against Rangers relievers.

On the White Sox side, Edwin Jackson threw four innings and was hammered for four runs and eight hits. The hurler said that Saturdays outing was the best hes felt all spring.

"I'm looking at pitches, ahead in the counts, behind in the counts, aggressiveness," Jackson said. "Those are things you can take into the season. Numbers are numbers. It's spring training. At the end of the month, everyone will be at zero all over again. You are working on things, and you want to see where you are at pitch-wise and continue to progress from there."

Chicagos second hit came courtesy of Omar Vizquel, who was promptly picked off of first base, turning an Adam Dunn strikeout into a fourth inning double play. Later, Dunn added a stand-up triple, aided by Texas centerfielder Craig Gentrys attempted catch on the play. Dunn scored the only White Sox run of the game one batter later, when Alex Rios tapped an excuse-me, check-swing infield single.

The hot-and-cold Chicago attack doesnt please White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, but hes been extremely patient this spring, continuing to point to the plan he diagrammed in the offseason.

Ten games, seven games before we break camp, youll see starters play nine innings, he said. You havent seen that in the past Everyone has to play seven-eight innings because we have started poorly in the last four to six years. After Opening Day we play very bad because we dont play together enough late in spring training.

In or Out?

Guillen joked postgame that he had been ejected from the contest, but theres no evidence in the box score to support that. Chalk it up to another case of wishful thinking for the jefe.

Jackson Four

Jackson threw all of his pitches and continued working toward his regular-season debut, but Texas easily solved him after two strong starts to begin Cactus League play (the righthander entered todays action 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA).

The only difference is the score, I guess, he said. The pitches were the same. I went out and worked on the same thing. I was throwing high a little bit more than I like.

Spring training can be a grind, with Jackson still due for four starts before the Cactus League mercifully closes its doors for another year. But the hurler wouldnt blame the grind for taking his eyes off the ball in his effort today.

You have to go out and you are still trying to have success, Jackson said. But you can be the most successful spring training pitcher and the worst season pitcher. And you can be the least successful spring training pitcher and when the season starts, you dominate.

The main thing is getting through spring training. As long as you feel good and healthy into the season, thats the most important thing.

Vote of confidence

After a fairly strong start at the plate, third baseman heir apparent Brent Morel has seen his OPS fall to .488. Yet Guillen wouldnt say that Mark Teahentearing the cover off the ball (hitting .474 after an 0-for-2 effort on Saturday)had won the job.

Morel is not going to make the team because hes going to hit .600-.700, Guillen said. But the way Teahen is playing the last couple of games is outstanding. Hes playing better defense than he was in the past.

The plan, according to Guillen, is to continue alternating the two candidates in games.

Its going to be a battlewere going to keep throwing them out there, Guillen said. Were going to alternate them. I want to see who responds the best.

Morel has to continue to be considered the front-runner, given Guillens predilection toward defense.

Are we going to go with better defense Morel, or Teahens offense? Guillen mused, noting that he has seven more meetings scheduled with staff to discuss the White Sox roster. Im not afraid to play Morel with this ballclub at all.

Ditto closer

Guillen also hasnt made up his mind with regard to the White Sox closer. Matt Thornton has made three appearances, with a 6.00 ERA and just one strikeout, while Chris Sale stands at 4.26 with eight strikeouts.

I can throw a coin up, and wherever it lands, thats the guy, Guillen said. I dont worry about either of those two guys. Coop will have an idea, Kenny has an idea, I have an idea, and well put the best guy out thereI dont care who it is, because I have confidence in both guys.

The manager was quick to remind of options beyond primary candidates Thornton and Sale, as well.

If Thornton and Sale are overused, then we have Jesse Crain. Crain and Will Ohman can close, too.

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

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Wednesday’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields vs. Jerad Eickhoff

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

Carlos Rodon has once again found the kind of groove that makes the White Sox hopeful about the direction in which he’s trending.

The left-hander continued a strong August on Tuesday night with his best start of the season.

The 2014 first-rounder pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and the White Sox crushed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1 in front of 18,843 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Rodon — who has a 1.46 ERA in 24 2/3 innings this month — won for the second time in four starts and Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau homered as the White Sox were victorious a third straight time.

“If (Rodon) keeps running like that, he’s going to be a superstar,” said rookie catcher Omar Narvaez.

Rodon’s second season has begun to shape up much like his rookie campaign.

He pitched better through his first 14 starts of 2016 than he did a year ago, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 10 of those turns. But Rodon didn’t have much to show for it as he surrendered leads or pitched with a razor thin margin of error because of lackluster run support.

Same as last season, Rodon has turned it on in August. Over his final eight starts in 2015, Rodon went 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA.

With some help from Narvaez and an overpowering fastball, Rodon looked strong throughout a 109-pitch effort.

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He worked around a first-inning jam and took off.  Rodon struck out Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp after he allowed a pair of one-out singles, which began a stretch where he retired 14 of 15 batters. Rodon also worked around a leadoff double in the sixth inning as he lowered his ERA to 4.02.

One key to the effort was finding a different way to make his slider more effective. Narvaez said he and Rodon began to use it as a backdoor slider after he struggled early with command and hitters laid off it.

“The slider wasn’t working too good down and in, they’d take it, so Omar set up a tad outside and just brought it back in,” Rodon said. “It was nice. It was huge. Had something to gauge off of to get that slider off the outside corner and it worked out well.

“Just comfortable, got on a roll and everything worked out.”

Rodon allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four. He has struck out 20 and walked only six batters in his last 24 2/3 innings.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Rodon’s effort has been in large part to improved power pitching. Rodon averaged 95.6 mph with his fastball on Tuesday, according to brooksbaseball.net.

“He’s made some strides from where he was before,” Ventura said. “He was trying to pick. When he’s like that he’s not that guy. Everything he does has effort, and its strength. When he has it going on it looks really good. He doesn’t need to get away from his strength and physicality is one of them. When he picks around and throws soft stuff he’s not as effective.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: First-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League]

Rodon’s offense rewarded him handsomely.

Adam Eaton tripled and scored on Tim Anderson’s RBI groundout in the first inning. Anderson then tripled in Eaton in the third to make it a 2-0 game. Abreu, who blasted a two-run homer in the fifth, singled in a run in the third and Todd Frazier had a sac fly to put the White Sox ahead by four runs.

Morneau’s solo shot in the fifth followed Abreu’s two-run homer off Jake Thompson to put the White Sox ahead 7-0. Carlos Sanchez also had an RBI single and Melky Cabrera had an RBI double.

Rodon was victorious for only the fourth time in 12 decisions this season. Prior to the start of the second half, Rodon said he needed to throw out his rough first half and start over.

The way he has pitched of late has him confident in himself once again. The next step is putting it together from the start of the season, he said.

“When you’re in a zone you just try to stay in it, to be honest,” Rodon said. “Hopefully in the future you have a complete year instead of just doing it in the second half.

“It’s all a process, what Coop says. It’s building up to it and trying to get like Q and Sale. Those guys are very good, top of the line starters, left-handers in the game, probably the very best. I’d love to be like that.”

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

Zack Collins’ first pro season just got a little longer.

The White Sox’ first-round pick will head to Arizona in October to participate in instructional camp and in the Fall League, player development director Nick Capra said Tuesday.

Taken with the 10th pick in the June draft, Collins has a .794 OPS in 110 plate appearances at Single-A Winston-Salem. Though the plan calls for him to be a catcher, the White Sox have limited how much playing time Collins has had behind the plate this season. Of his 29 professional starts, 11 have come as a designated hitter.

“He’s had a long season,” Capra said. “He caught almost every day in Miami. He looks like he’s beat up a little bit, but he’s been fine. We are kind of taking care of him a little bit. He’s not catching every day. He’s DHing sometime. He looks good.”

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Collins appeared in 62 games for the Miami Hurricanes this season. He received the Johnny Bench Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.

The 21-year-old has nine extra-base hits at Winston-Salem this season, including four homers. He has walked 17 times and struck out 30. Collins would only make a brief appearance for instructs before AFL play.

“Looks good,” Capra said. “Catching well. He’s swinging the bat well.

“We just want to get him out there and see him play.

“He looks like he can swing the bat. We are happy with his progress.”