Chicago White Sox

Rough first inning taught Dylan Covey some valuable lessons in White Sox loss

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USA TODAY

Rough first inning taught Dylan Covey some valuable lessons in White Sox loss

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Early Tuesday, Rick Renteria said he hoped Dylan Covey would trust the White Sox defense and the movement on his pitches and attack hitters.

While Covey eventually reached that point and got into a nice rhythm, the adjustment didn’t happen until it was too late. The rookie pitcher walked three batters in the first inning and dearly paid for it before he settled down. Covey yielded a Brandon Moss grand slam that propelled the Kansas City Royals to a 4-3 victory over the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium.

“I was struggling with command early on and you’d like to make the adjustment on your next pitch and that’s what I was trying to do,” Covey said. “It came a little later for me. I think halfway through the Moss at-bat I started kind of getting in the rhythm and got a feel for it. Unfortunately, he got a hold of one, but the walks did me in.”

The no-doubter Moss hit was the only damage Kansas City did against Covey, who was otherwise outstanding. The right-hander recovered almost instantly and offered the potential the White Sox saw when they selected him in the Rule 5 draft last December. Covey retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced and lasted into the sixth inning.

Covey recorded five outs on grounders and induced a bunch of weak contact in the air, essentially becoming the pitcher the White Sox hope he develops into.

But before Moss’s round-tripper, Covey wasn’t the same.

He started the game with a six-pitch walk to Whit Merrifield, including two fastballs that were just off the edge of the zone. Two batters later, Covey just missed with two more fastballs and a slider in a four-pitch walk of Eric Hosmer.

The trend continued against Salvador Perez, though the misses weren’t as close to the zone in a seven-pitch walk. After Covey jumped ahead of Moss 1-2 in the count, he missed low with two fastballs and put himself in an unenviable position and Moss made him pay with a 430-foot homer.

“A lesson learned,” Renteria said. “He was working on the fringes and didn’t have his best command early.

Why Covey might tend to nibble at times is understandable. He has taken his fair share of lumps during his rookie campaign, allowing 17 home runs in 49 innings before Tuesday.

But the White Sox think Covey’s capable of getting outs with his sinker and want him to trust it and avoid walks. As Jeff Samardzija often notes, home runs are going to happen — it’s better they do with nobody on.

Covey walked four batters on Tuesday, which raised his total to 27 free passes in 54.2 innings.

“I’ve kind of been prone to the deep ball a lot this year, and I wouldn’t say it’s in the back of mind but these are big-league hitters so I need to throw my best stuff up there,” Covey said. “One of the things is just learning just to trust myself and trust it in the zone and not try to nibble too much at the corners because that’s when I can get into trouble and start putting guys on base.”

Covey said he felt good with the adjustment he made after the grand slam. He and pitching coach Don Cooper talked about the importance of getting ahead early on the bench and Covey saw the impact. While he fell behind by four runs, Covey kept the White Sox within striking distance and they nearly rallied to win it. The White Sox had the tying and go-ahead runs on in the ninth only to come up empty.

“The story for him was once that happened he came back and attacked the strike zone,” Renteria said. “ He did a really nice job. After the initial blow in the first for him to come back and keep us in the ballgame was pretty impressive.”

Chris Volstad earns first MLB victory in five seasons as White Sox top Astros

Chris Volstad earns first MLB victory in five seasons as White Sox top Astros

HOUSTON -- Two weeks ago Chris Volstad was focused on Hurricane Irma prep when the White Sox called to invite him to the majors. On Thursday night, he earned his first major league victory in more than five years as the White Sox defeated the Houston Astros 3-1 at Minute Maid Park.

Volstad, who had only made 10 big league appearances the previous four-plus seasons and spent all of 2017 at Triple-A Charlotte, allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings to pick up his first win since Sept. 10, 2012.

He hadn’t just shut it down after the Triple-A season ended, Volstad was actually shuttering his Jupiter, Fla. home and business the day the short-handed White Sox called.

“I was probably a little mentally shut down,” Volstad said. “But yeah, it’s kind of crazy how things can change. I guess it’s been about two weeks now. At home getting ready for a hurricane and then getting called back up to the big leagues.”

Volstad received word he might pitch early in Thursday’s game when a blister on Carson Fulmer’s right index finger worsened. Fulmer felt some discomfort after his Friday start at Detroit.

The White Sox let Fulmer try to go but yanked him after 20 pitches, including two walks. That brought out Volstad, who along with Al Alburquerque was promoted Sept. 10 after the White Sox lost several pitchers to injury.

The White Sox actually had to track Volstad down two weeks ago as he’d already been home for a week. He spent part of the time prepping for Irma, including boarding up his brewery.

He escaped a first-inning jam with a double play ball of the bat of Carlos Correa and ended a threat in the second with a pickoff at second base of Alex Bregman. After he surrendered a solo homer to Brian McCann in the third, Volstad retired the final eight men he faced.

[MORE: Why the White Sox are optimistic about their middle infielders' potential

He was awarded his first victory since he defeated Thursday’s Astros starter Dallas Keuchel 1,836 days ago here. Volstad remembered the win because Houston was still in the National League and he had a base hit in the five-inning start for the Cubs. He went 3-12 for the Cubs that season.

“You’re able to lock it in pretty quickly and get focused at the big-league level, you have to,” Volstad said. “But being home in Triple-A for the last few years, just getting called up about 10 days ago, I’ve got people following it, but it’s kind of unknown I guess. It’s a little surprising, but I’m glad to be a part of a team for sure.”

Fulmer, Volstad, Jace Fry, Mike Pelfrey, Gregory Infante, Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar and Juan Minaya combined on a three-hitter for the White Sox. Tim Anderson extended his hit streak to 12 games with a ninth-inning solo homer, his 17th.

White Sox add two cross checkers to amateur scouting department

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White Sox add two cross checkers to amateur scouting department

The White Sox hired two new national amateur scouting cross checkers, Tim Bittner and Juan Alvarez.

Bittner was a one-time White Sox farmhand who was included in a package for Scott Schoeneweis in 2003 while Alvarez was an undrafted pitcher who pitched in 80 major league games for the Angels, Rangers and Marlins from 1999-2003.

Bittner previously worked as a Houston Astros area scout while Alvarez held the same role for the Cleveland Indians. They replace Joe Siers, who moved over to the team’s pro scouting staff, and Mike Ledna, who took a job with the New York Mets.

“Both are very smart guys with playing experience,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “And they’re also coming from two clubs with a lot of recent success.

“I want to add as many smart, passionate, high-energy scouts to what I feel is a department already filled with scouts that check those boxes.”

The White Sox expect to have at least a top-four selection in the 2018 amateur draft. They headed into Thursday’s game with the second-worst record in the majors. Hostetler praised the 2018 draft class for its depth earlier this week.