Quentin loses Little League, wins Player of Week

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Quentin loses Little League, wins Player of Week

Monday, April 4, 2011Posted: 4:45 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

KANSAS CITYHe may have lost the video game battle with fellow Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn, but Carlos Quentin edged out his brawny teammate on the field, being named the first American League Player of the Week this season for his opening weekend outburst vs. the Cleveland Indians.

Quentin went 6-11 in three starts over the weekend, getting on base at a .583 clip and slugging 1.091 for an outrageous 1.674 OPS. While the White Sox mostly pummeled Wahoos pitching, slugging at a .459 clip, only Dunns eight total bases approach Quentins tidy dozen in Cleveland. Through three games, Quentin leads the AL in batting average (.545) and is tied for the lead in doubles (three) and RBI (seven).

Like that of many of his teammates, Quentins hitting approach to start the season has been ideal, driving the ball deep into the opposite-field gap.

His five RBI on Opening Day were the most by a White Sox player since Sammy Sosa also tapped in five in 1991, while Quentins seven RBI in the first two games of the season were the most for the White Sox since Minnie Minoso also had seven, in 1960.

After his Opening Day slugging, Quentin was typically low-key and sober, noting that he was just trying to keep his groove going and not over-thinka key impediment to his success in the past: Hitting is a thing you dont talk about too much because when its going well, you want to leave it as it is.

In winding up his brief remarks on Friday, Quentin rather hilariously noted, as only Q can, in unintentionally deadpan fashion: Im ecstatic. We won.

After a 2-4, two-double, two-RBI chaser on Saturday, Quentin opted out of a postgame interview, instead competing with Dunn on the visiting clubhouses classic Nintendo system. First up was Super Mario Kart, in which Quentin severely underperformed, immediately burning all of his speed boosters and spending more than one race driving counterclockwise (the wrong way). White Sox teammates Dunn, Matt Thornton, and John Danks had several laughs at Quentins expense, while the Cleveland clubhouse attendants were in near-tears listening to the clubs running commentary on Qs prowess behind the wheel.

After the massacre, Quentin opted for a game I can win, Little League Baseball. Dunnpossibly playing possumclaimed to be unfamiliar with the workings (how do I bunt? What, no bunting?) but, according to Dunn the next day and corroborated by the chuckling of Brent Lillibridge, the new White Sox slugger upset Quentin in their Little League game, 4-2.

On Sunday, Quentin was a mere 1-3 off of Justin Masterson, with an infield hit to third in his first at-bat. His second time up, Quentin walked and advanced to second on an A.J. Pierzynski single. When Alexei Ramirez popped out on his sacrifice bunt attempt, both Quentin and Pierzynski were caught far off base and became victims of the first triple play turned vs. the White Sox in 33 seasons.

Both general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen have called a successful year by Quentin as the most important component to a White Sox playoff appearance. After several attempts by both men to get Quentin to stop over-thinking and ease up on himself, Guillen finally gave up in spring training, saying he will just let Carlos be Carlos and stop trying to change him. So far, so good.

The weekly honor is the second of Quentins career. He was named the AL Player of the week for June 21-27, 2010 as well.

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

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

The White Sox continue their series against the Seattle Mariners, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (10-9, 2.84 ERA) vs. Ariel Miranda (1-0, 5.49 ERA)

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

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Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Felix Hernandez has proven for years that he doesn’t need much help.

But the White Sox provided him with three free outs on the bases anyway on Friday night.

Those mistakes allowed Hernandez to hold the White Sox in check as they wasted a 14-strikeout performance from Chris Sale in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 25,651 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale retired 16 in a row to end it, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox dropped back to five games below .500.

“We didn’t run the bases very well tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That ends up costing you. You’re getting something going against them, and it just takes the wind out of your sails. Both guys pitched great.

“They just executed better than we did when they got the chance. Both guys were going strong. The way we ran the bases, we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Sale (15-7) deserved much better than to lose for the fifth time in his last six decisions.

[MORE: White Sox trade catcher Dioner Navarro to Blue Jays]

Though he allowed a run in the second, third and fourth innings, Sale got on a roll late.

After Adam Lind’s two-out RBI double in the fourth, Sale found an extra gear and retired the last 16 Mariners to hit, including 10 strikeouts. He struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings and afforded his teammates a chance to rally.

“Thank God we did it early because as everybody saw, when he gets on a roll it’s like lights out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s obviously one of the best pitchers in the league for a reason. We had no chance, really, after the fourth and fifth inning. He got into a groove and got all his pitches working.”

Two of Seattle’s three runs off Sale came on opposite-field drives as Lind doubled to left in the fourth and Franklin Gutierrez homered to right in the second inning. Sale walked none and only allowed five hits and three runs in nine innings. He threw strikes on 88 of 120 pitches.

It was the 13th complete game of Sale’s career and his fifth this season.

“I wanted to find a groove and I felt like after the fourth inning I got into a pretty good groove, that cruising speed I was talking about,” Sale said. “I just tried to lengthen it as much as I could, just fill up as many innings as I could. Just give us a chance to win, keep us in the game.”

While Sale kept his team in the game, they repeatedly took themselves out of it.

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The White Sox had plenty of chances against Hernandez, none better than the bottom of the eighth inning. Trailing by two runs, Avisail Garcia and Tyler Saladino singled on both sides of a J.B. Shuck fielder’s choice. Adam Eaton’s one-out walk knocked Hernandez out of the game after 104 pitches.

But closer Edwin Diaz got Tim Anderson to hit into a fielder’s choice as third baseman Shawn O’Malley made a perfect throw home on the slow roller for a force out. Jose Abreu then fouled out to leave the bases loaded. Diaz retired the side in order in the ninth for his 11th save.

Todd Frazier homered in the seventh inning of Hernandez for the team’s only run, but they should have had more. The White Sox had the leadoff man reach base in five of eight innings started by Hernandez, who allowed a run and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. Hernandez erased two of those five as he picked off Frazier and Shuck in the second and third innings. He also got out of a first-and-third jam in the fifth inning when Shuck lined into a double play and Omar Narvaez was caught leaning.

“That’s the frustrating part,” Ventura said. “You know you’re not really going to have too many opportunities (against Hernandez). You might be able to hit and run or all of a sudden you’re first and third. But if you just take it out of your own hands, that’s where you scratch your head.”

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

The way he dominated the Pioneer League had to boost to Alec Hansen’s confidence. It also prompted his promotion.

When the White Sox sent their second-round pick to Great Falls last month it was in the hope he could rebound from a rough junior season at Oklahoma that caused his draft stock to fall. Once thought to be the potential first overall pick of the 2016 draft, Hansen was selected 49th after he posted a 5.40 ERA and walked 39 batters in 51.2 innings. But Hansen — who made his first start at Single-A Kannapolis on Friday — looked every bit the first-rounder at Great Falls with a 1.23 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.

“We wanted to put him in a position where there was a little less pressure to start off the season,” White Sox player development director Nick Capra said. “There's always pressure, but it's a little less magnified in the Pioneer League. We wanted to get him on the right road. We did a couple things with him mechanically and he took off with it.”

“We kind of held him hostage in Great Falls a little bit too long. He’s been really good. He’s double-digit strikeouts every night. He’s not walking people.”

Hansen is expected to make two starts at Kannapolis before the team’s season ends. He earned a no decision after he allowed three earned runs and five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Columbia Fireflies on Friday.

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Capra described the mechanical changes the White Sox made with Hansen as minor. Essentially, they want Hansen to take advantage of his 6-foot-8 frame and stay taller and release the ball more quickly. They believe it will help him better command his pitches.

Through 11 minor-league starts, Hansen has walked 18 batters in 49 innings (he also pitched seven innings in Arizona). That’s compared with the 96 batters he walked in 145 innings in college.

“Our player development guys deserve so much credit for the way they've handled it,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “There was a little bit of concern about the confidence part of it, just him taking the ball every fifth day and knowing that we believe in him. Our pitching guys and PD guys deserve a huge amount of credit for just the time they put into it. They really, really know how to make these guys excel and succeed. Been a pretty fun ride to watch and I hope it continues.”