Rios' reaping rewards with new plate approach

774606.png

Rios' reaping rewards with new plate approach

NEW YORK -- The White Sox havent yet reached the halfway point and Alex Rios is already only three home runs shy of equaling last seasons 13.

The veteran outfielder -- who is hitting .341 with nine homers and 25 RBIs in his last 32 games -- has a .836 OPS, his highest mark since he was with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2007. Though his comeback perhaps hasnt received as much attention as those of Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn, Rios is clearly played a significant role in the White Sox strong first half.

He enters Thursdays series opener at the New York Yankees with .302 average, 10 homers and 40 RBIs. Last season, Rios hit .237 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs. He believes his success is the result of simplifying his process at the plate.

Im focusing on having a good approach at the plate and Im leaving the mechanics out of the equation, Rios said. Im just focusing on my approach more than anything else. (Last season) was tough. Who wants to come to the field and do bad? Now Im focusing on this year.

Manager Robin Ventura thinks a key for Rios is he isnt as concerned about failure. Ventura also noted Rios is more comfortable in right field compared with center field and feels like he can contribute with his glove.

Rios moved to right this season after he spent the previous two years as the White Sox full-time center fielder.

This season, Rios has a 6.9 Ultimate Zone Rating -- a metric that measures the runs a player saves against an average defender at the same position -- in right field, according to fangraphs.com. Last season, Rios had a -7.4 UZR in center.

He feels like hes playing well and I think thats something that pushes guys over the top is hes not worried, Ventura said. In some ways, where guys get to that part where they are concerned about the consequences of not doing well, hes just playing. Hes confident enough he doesnt have to be concerned about results. He feels like hes going to contribute every day.

Rios -- who is signed through 2014 -- admits hes in a more comfortable spot than he was last season. He has done his best to put those struggles behind him. The way the White Sox have played thus far has made that task easier.

Last year is something of the past, Rios said. Im trying to help to us win games. Our team is pretty well-balanced. We have a good offense, good pitching. We have big name hitters who have been doing great and you have to be glad to be part of a team like that. Hopefully we can keep doing good and make the playoffs.

Preview: Carlos Rodon makes season debut as White Sox face Yankees on CSN

Preview: Carlos Rodon makes season debut as White Sox face Yankees on CSN

Carlos Rodon makes his season debut as the White Sox take on the New York Yankees tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN Plus and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 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: Carlos Rodon (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 5.74 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

Confident Jose Quintana gets 'back to who he's always been'

The White Sox said all along they were confident Jose Quintana would rebound and now that he has no seems the least bit surprised.

Quintana provided yet another round of proof that he’s far removed from those May woes when he silenced the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. While the left-hander earned a no decision, he was rewarded when the White Sox rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field. Quintana finished June with a 1.78 ERA.

“We have a very good relationship, very good communication,” teammate Jose Abreu said through an interpreter. “When (Quintana) was passing through that, the first two months, I let him know, just keep your confidence, don’t hesitate, do your job, keep working hard because we have confidence in you. Now he’s just showing us what he’s capable of doing and doing what he’s been doing his whole career. We’re glad he’s the same Jose Quintana he’s been the last couple of years.”

Quintana has gone from a period where many of his mistakes got hit to a spot where he’s been borderline untouchable. He limited the second-best offense in the American League to two hits and four walks in 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday. With good fastball command and a sharp curve, Quintana had New York hitters out of whack.

This is a much different pitcher than the one who was tagged by the Boston Red Sox on May 30, an outing after which he said he was embarrassed. Since losing to Boston, Quintana has lowered his ERA from 5.30 to 4.37. In that span, Quintana has allowed 21 hits and six earned runs with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.

“Sometime bad games are going to happen,” Quintana said. “But when it happens, I go check the video to see if I’m doing something wrong and try to make adjustments. But I feel pretty good and I have my confidence high and for me I turn the page and focus on the next one.”

[VIVID SEATS: Get your White Sox tickets here]

The 2016 All-Star thrived in the few instances when he got into trouble on Tuesday.

He struck out Tyler Austin with two men in scoring position to end the fourth inning and erased a leadoff walk in the fifth with an Austin Romine double play. After Quintana surrendered a two-out double to Judge in the sixth inning, he got Sanchez to pop out to strand the tying run.

Quintana only threw strikes on 55 of 101 pitches on Tuesday. But, of those 55, 10 were swings and misses.

“It's just been him commanding the zone, attacking,” manager Rick Renteria said. “A lot more strikes. He still had some at-bats today where he got to 3-2, but then he'd execute, he'd finish and make a pitch that induced a very weak fly ball or groundballs. That's who he is, I mean you all have seen him like this before. For us it's just seeing him get back to who he's always been.”