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.

Chris Sale ties career-high 17 wins as White Sox power past Rays

Chris Sale ties career-high 17 wins as White Sox power past Rays

Chris Sale had no trouble earning his 17th win of the season, tying his career-high set in 2012, in what may have been his final start of the season.

Sale pitched seven innings and recorded seven strikeouts as the White Sox offense powered past the Tampa Bay Rays 13-6 on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

Sale also allowed three earned runs on eight hits and no walks. It was Sale’s 16th career game with at least seven strikeouts and no walks — a franchise record by a wide margin —according to CSN’s stat guru Chris Kamka.

"I feel as good now as I ever have on a baseball field, physically," Sale said. "I think this year was the best overall in terms of feeling strong at the end and still having more in the tank."

"I’ve said it a lot of times before and I can’t stress to you enough, how awesome the people I have in my corner helping me get back out there every fifth day. That starts in the offseason. It trickles into spring training. I thought we had a really good spring training mindset in getting just enough to where you feel good and this is what we wanted.

"We wanted me to feel good at the end of the year. I think we accomplished that goal. Unfortunately it’s for nothing, but it still is what it is."

Sale said his goal this season was to eat up innings and go deeper into games to help out his bullpen. He's done just that, having worked 221.2 innings this season, extending his career high.

"We went into this year knowing what we were going to get ourselves into," Sale said. "Just trying to do something better for the long haul and looking back, I got burned a couple of times. Just like anybody, though. It’s not to say I wouldn’t have done the same thing in previous years. So, you just make some adjustments and go forward."

With five games left, Ventura hasn’t decided if Sale will make one more start before the 2016 campaign ends — or even in a White Sox uniform. 

Sale reiterated that he'd like to be back in Chicago next season, but it's not up to him.

"I can’t say this from experience, but I don’t think there’s probably a better feeling than winning with the team that drafted you and staying with the team that drafted you," Sale said. "Talking with Paulie (Konerko) a little bit in his final year, he definitely had some very good things to say about staying with one team and being here from start to finish. All of that going into it, yeah. But this is baseball, this is sports. You can’t always choose and pick what you want to do or where you want to be."

The White Sox extended their winning streak to four games. The last time they won four consecutive games was July 23-26 against the Cleveland Indians and Cubs. The White Sox had winning streaks of at least four games three times in their first 33 games of the season.

Eaton went 2-for-5 with two runs, an RBI and a double in his return to the lineup after missing three games with an injury.

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Tim Anderson got things started with an RBI single in the first and RBI double in the second. Anderson also added a solo homer in the eighth inning.

Melky Cabrera hit his 14th homer of the season in the first, bumping his RBI total to 82 on the year, five shy from his career-high.

In the third, Leury Garcia smacked his first homer of the year, a three-run shot to left-center field to extend the White Sox lead to 8-2. Two more runs were scored in the fifth on a fielder’s choice and an error. Jason Coats, pinch-hitting for Justin Morneau, and Todd Frazier each had an RBI single in the eighth.

Sale issued a two-run double to former White Sox infielder Alexei Ramirez in the second and a homer to Curt Casali in the fourth.

If roster stays the same, Adam Eaton believes White Sox can compete in 2017

If roster stays the same, Adam Eaton believes White Sox can compete in 2017

This season hasn’t exactly turned out the way the White Sox had hoped.

The White Sox took Major League Baseball by storm after beginning the season at 23-10, which led the American League Central by six games at the time.

But since then, the White Sox have been climbing an uphill battle. They lost 20 of their next 26 games and found themselves fighting to stay above .500.

The White Sox brought in reinforcements in an effort to get their season back on track, adding designated hitter Justin Morneau (via free agency), veteran pitcher James Shields (via trade from San Diego Padres) and 23-year-old shortstop Tim Anderson (Triple-A Charlotte). 

But the White Sox still couldn’t make things click.

“I think you learn how guys struggle and how they try and get out of it,” said manager Robin Ventura. “You see guys that continue to grind through it and try to find it. Some guys find it quicker than other guys. I think the biggest thing is their ability to grind through it.”

The White Sox were officially eliminated from the postseason last Friday and will finish with their fourth straight losing season.

What happens over the offseason remains a mystery. It’s uncertain how their opening roster will look like next season.

If little changes are made, Adam Eaton believes the White Sox can still be contenders in 2017.

“There is a lot of talent here,” Eaton said. “There are a lot of good baseball players in here. It’s not the year we thought. And I think with that exact quote, ‘It’s not the year that we thought,’ if we brought the guys back I think we might have the year we thought we would have.

“The camaraderie is great in here. It’s tough to say whether people will be leaving or whether additions will be added. I’m sure moves will be made. In the game of baseball, there’s never an offseason that’s quiet, I feel like. Whatever Rick (Hahn) and the organization sees would be more functional for this team to be better and more consistent on a day-to-day basis, then that’s what they see in the team.

“If I’m in those plans, great. If not, then it kind of stinks. But if they want me in this uniform next year, I’ll be proud to wear it and I’ll put everything I have on the field again like I did this year.”

Time will tell which direction the White Sox decide to go in. Will they continue to add immediate impact players and build around the same group? Make a few tweaks? Or perhaps even tear it all down and start from scratch?

One thing is for sure, it will be a busy offseason for the White Sox one way or another.

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If the White Sox decide to make any drastic changes like trade Chris Sale — who was a hot topic of discussion around the trade deadline — Eaton knows exactly what he'd do if they faced one another.

“Take the day off,” Eaton said. “No, I don’t want to give away too much because I hope I’m never on that side. Just see ball, hit ball. Be simple. Have a simple approach off him because he can make you look foolish at times. Just have a good competitive at-bat.

“But like I said, easier said than done. He’s made a lot of people look foolish. I hope I’ll never have to do that, to be honest with you. I’d love to be on his team for the rest of my life.”