Roster changes, White Sox winning stays the same

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Roster changes, White Sox winning stays the same

Friday, July 30, 2010
Updated 11:45 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

While there was one significant change for the Chicago White Sox on Friday, a key constant remained: Home winning.

Mere hours after swapping rookie fifth starter Daniel Hudson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Edwin Jackson, the Chicago 9 trotted out onto the familiar turf of U.S. Cellular Field for yet another win, 6-1 over the Oakland As. The White Sox have won 12 straight and 19 of their last 20 at home.

Rookie Lucas Harrell, an early-morning call-up from the Class AAA Charlotte Knights, wound his way through six eventful innings to earn the win. In his first big-league start, the righty scattered four hits and five walks, striking out one. Harrell became the first White Sox starter since Kip Wells in 1999 to win his major league debut.

When I got the call this morning, I thought it was Brent Morel playing a trick on me, a beer-soaked Harrell said postgame. Then I heard, No, this is really Buddy Bell.

Thats a big day for Harrell, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I was glad. It was a special day for everyone. It doesn't get better than that.

The White Sox, who are now 3-1 in the rotation spot vacated by Jake Peavy, struck first, beginning with an Ozzieball run in their first at-bats: Juan Pierre leading off with an infield single, a one-out steal, and an Alex Rios RBI base knock.

Yesterday, we had four home runs, Guillen said. Today, we scored in different ways. We pick each other up. We dont have to wait for just one guy.

Despite just getting the call to the Show this morning, Harrell admitted being amped on the plane ride north. With no Major League Debut Motorcade available paging Mayor Daley, Harrell was tied up in traffic and didnt hit the clubhouse until 5:15, when he was embraced by former Knights teammate Dayan Viciedo, who started at third base and cruised to a 3-for-3 night.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski trotted to the mound on more than one occasion to calm the rookie, who admitted both pregame and in-game jitters.

A.J. just came out and said, 'be yourself, thats what got you here, Harrell said.

That simple advice worked, as Harrell worked out of several jams, stranding seven As baserunners. His biggest scare came in the second, when Harrell walked the bases loaded with two outs and escaped when Daric Bartons deep fly to center fell five feet short of a grand slam.

We were pulling for him, said Paul Konerko, who admitted he didnt have a feel for how Harrell was pitching because he wasnt sure if hed ever played behind him in a spring training game. They werent getting great swings on him, but that ball to the warning track carries a little, that would have been a different game.

In the fourth, the As briefly tied the game when Mark Ellis led off with a single to center and was advanced to third on Gabe Gross and Rajai Davis groundouts. Oakland scratched what would be its only run off Harrell when Cliff Pennington lined a single off the pitcher, scoring Ellis.

The tie didnt last long, as Konerko led off the fifth with a blast to right-center that fell just a few feet short of a home run, which would have made for his fifth straight game with a round-tripper. The first baseman settled for a double, and was driven home by Pierzynskis single. Viciedo pushed the feisty backstop to third with a double, and both runners would score before the inning was extinguished, Pierzynski on an Andruw Jones ground out and Viciedo on a Gordon Beckham single.

Chicago added two more tallies, in the sixth on another RBI single from Beckham and the seventh on a Konerko sacrifice fly.

Oaklands rally attempt in the eighth, having put two men on with none out, was extinguished with the first pitch from Tony Pena, who induced a double play from Kevin Kouzmanoff, then retired Ellis on a ground out to tourniquet the As on two pitches.

That was a big thing for us, Guillen said of Penas work. We didnt want to have to use Matt Thornton or Bobby Jenks. Two pitches, three outs, thats perfect.

Beckham, who made his major-league debut last season under slightly less tense circumstances, was full of admiration for Chicagos spot starter.

The first game is tough, and Harrells circumstances were not easy, he said. He was asked to help keep us in first place.

The rookie is already on his way back south to make room for new acquisition Edwin Jackson, but on a key transition day at the end of July, he did just that.

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

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana has been named the Opening Day starter — for the White Sox.

While many are surprised he still hasn't been traded, few should be shocked by the news manager Rick Renteria delivered on Friday, when he announced Quintana would pitch the April 3 opener.

With Chris Sale gone to Boston, Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016, has been the odds-on favorite to take over as the team's ace. The only question seemed to be whether or not he'd still be in a White Sox uniform when the season began. But the club made it clear Friday that Quintana is their guy and he'll face the Detroit Tigers in the first game of 2017. The only one who seemed a little taken aback about the news is Quintana.

"I was surprised," Quintana said. "I knew I may get the ball for that day, but they didn't say nothing, so you didn't know. I just kept going and doing my workouts and all my stuff. I'm really, really happy with this opportunity. It's huge for me. I can't wait for that day to come.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity. It's a huge honor for me to have the ball for Opening Day the first time in my life. And I think it's a once-in-a-life opportunity."

Asked about the announcement earlier in the week, Renteria said he needed more time. Many speculated that it meant the White Sox were continuing to listen to offers for Quintana, who has drawn constant interest since the team began its rebuild in December.

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Quintana, who went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings last season, has looked fantastic all spring. Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts on Thursday, Quintana made his first Cactus League appearance in a month and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander also put on a brilliant performance for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Team USA hitters he faced before allowing a hit.

"He's very happy about it," Renteria said. "He has obviously earned it.

"I don't know if he was surprised as much as he was elated and proud to be given the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter. It's a privilege."

Quintana's resume of consistency made him a clear-cut choice for the nod. He heads into 2017 having pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. In that span, he's produced a 3.32 ERA and 18.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. That figure represents the seventh-highest WAR total among all big league pitchers in that span.

Even though he's viewed as the staff ace, Quintana — who potentially has four years and $36.85 million left on his current contract — said he was surprised by the news because the club hadn't yet informed him of the honor.

"It means a lot for me, especially after last year when you make the All-Star team and this year the opportunity to play in the WBC and now you have the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day," Quintana said. "That's a lot of things happening for me now and I'm happy. And really blessed. You just try to do all my things every time.

"Maybe they don't know what it means for me, but it's a big thing."

Carlos Rodon slated for MRI, could start season on disabled list with bicep tightness

Carlos Rodon slated for MRI, could start season on disabled list with bicep tightness

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carlos Rodon has been scratched from Friday’s start with tightness in his upper left bicep and it could land him on the disabled list to start the 2017 season.

Though the development came as a surprise, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said that the team’s initial exam of their third-year starter was “positive” because they don’t believe he has any structural damage. But the White Sox intend to be extremely cautious with Rodon, who was headed for an MRI on Friday instead of the mound and is also likely to receive a second opinion early next week.

Rodon had been scheduled to face the Oakland A’s at Mesa, Ariz.

“We’re going to err on the side of caution here, even if it winds up costing him his first couple starts because we’re slowing down the schedule now by scratching him,” Hahn said.

“It’s too early to speculate how long we’re going to be without Carlos. I hate to speculate, but since we are slowing down his schedule by having him miss the start today, the odds are probably that he starts the season on the DL. But again we’ll know more after he takes his further exams.”

Both Hahn and White Sox manager Rick Renteria admit they’ve been caught off-guard by the sequence of events. Rodon informed the White Sox he felt some tightness in his bicep on Thursday, which led to an internal examination. But it was only Wednesday when Rodon said he felt great following a Tuesday bullpen session and asked about the possibility of his first regular season start being moved up. Rodon, who had been online to make his first start on April 8, had also responded well in the aftermath of striking out five batters over four scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut at Tempe, Ariz. on Sunday.

“As far as we know right now he’s OK,” Renteria said. “From the physical, clinical tests it seems like he’s fine, but obviously he’s going to get checked up. He still wanted to pitch. I think that even talking to him yesterday or two days ago, he was feeling great. For all of us it’s a little bit of a surprise.”

Rodon requested to make his start against Oakland after the initial exam, but the team declined and opted for an MRI.

With the intent of helping him avoid the fatigue he experienced last summer and also reaching the 200-inning mark this season, the White Sox took a slow approach with Rodon this spring. Similar to how they handled Chris Sale last spring, much of Rodon’s work this February and March on back fields and in simulated games.

Rodon -- who went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA in 28 starts last season, striking out 168 batters in 165 innings -- finally debuted in the Cactus League on Sunday and flourished. Though his slow start drew some suspicion along the way as to whether or not Rodon was healthy, Hahn said his bicep issue is a total coincidence.

“I don't know if ironic is the right word, but we obviously tried to come up with a plan to keep him healthy for the long term and toward the end of this plan he expressed this discomfort yesterday,” Hahn said. “Again, he was feeling great, he was saying, with how he was coming along, with the program we had set up. Sometimes you make plans and the baseball gods laugh.”

While it’s too early to know how the length of Rodon’s absence, the White Sox have begun to develop contingency plans. The team has a few days off in April that could help them navigate through the issue, primarily on April 4 and April 10. Rodon originally was scheduled to pitch in the team’s fifth game, an April 8 home contest against Minnesota.

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Hahn suggested that despite the uncertainty he knows one tactic he won’t use is call upon one of the team’s top prospects. Reynaldo Lopez is close to major league ready and Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer have also already each accrued service time. But Hahn wants to avoid a taxi situation with frequent trips back and forth to the minor leagues.

He listed Saturday’s starter Dylan Covey and minor leaguers David Holmberg and Tyler Danish as among the possible replacements for Rodon.

“Our intention is to not have any player in Chicago simply because there’s a need in Chicago,” Hahn said. “It’s because they’ve answered all the questions that they have to answer developmentally at the minor league level and are ready for further development in Chicago. This is particularly true in the situation where it could just be a spot start or a few starts. None of us are inclined to potentially derail anyone’s development by moving them up and down, up and down. Our young pitchers, when the time comes for them to come to Chicago, will be guaranteed to get the ball every fifth day. We don’t have a specific plan for where it goes with Carlos, we need further examination and studies. And we don’t have a plan for how we’ll fill the void if one is created.”