Sox Drawer: Offensively Offensive

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Sox Drawer: Offensively Offensive

Monday, April 12, 2010
5:40 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

A week into the baseball season, everything gets magnified. Good is great. Great is gargantuan. Whats better than gargantuan? Well...

How about the Braves' Martin Prado? Hes batting .542.
Twins closer Jon Rauch has 4 saves, to go with about 60 tattoos.

Last year the Jays' Alex Gonzalez hit eight home runs. Hes already belted four. All solo shots. Meaning if he keeps this up, hell finish the season with 108 HRs and 108 RBIs.

I dont know much, but what I do know is that none of those guys are this good. And yes, the White Sox offense is not this bad.

It just feels like it.

In the opening six-game homestand, the Sox batted .203, second to last in the majors. The individual batting averages look like Bill Meltons scorecards after 18 holes:

Juan Pierre .125
Mark Kotsay .154
Alex Rios .174
Alexei Ramirez .182

Id personally take Mark Teahens average of .071. 17 pars and a birdie.

The biggest frustration is probably Pierre. When hes on, he slaps the ball into every open space on the field, and motors around the bases like Speedy Gonzales. But when hes off, like now, theres no motor, no Speedy, just a guy batting .125.

Slow starts are nothing new for Pierre. Just ask your friendly Cubs fan. In 2006, Pierre was ice cold in April and May, but then went on to lead the majors in hits with 204.

Glass half-full? Juan turned it around.
Glass half-empty? The Cubs were out of it by June and it didnt matter (a belief held by 100 percent of my Northside friends).

This is Pierres first season in the American League. Hes got some pitchers to figure out. Give him some time. But have you noticed a certain leadoff hitter who has been tearing it up so far this season? Maybe youve heard of him:

Scott Podsednik.

Monday, the 05 World Series hero had his second four-hit game in less than a week for the Royals. Hes batting .444 with five stolen bases, and is currently the best player on my fantasy baseball team. Not bad for a 26th round pick. But even I know better. Pods isnt this good.

But again, everything is magnified.

And yet, there is one dose of White Sox reality that you cannot overstate. Sunday, a Sox pinch-hitter actually drove in a run. Last year it took 109 games for this to happen. Andruw Jones did it in game number six.

The bench is better. The offense will be better. Unfortunately, theyve got 4 games this week in Toronto, where they havent won since 2007, and scored just 8 runs in 4 games last year.

A lot of weird things happen in that place, Ozzie Guillen said. Hopefully, things will turn around there, and we can come back with a smile on our face.

You can watch the smiling faces of Bill Melton and I on White Sox Post-Game Live Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday night.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox try to sweep Phillies tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Wednesday’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields vs. Jerad Eickhoff

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

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White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

White Sox reward Carlos Rodon's outstanding start with win over Phillies

Carlos Rodon has once again found the kind of groove that makes the White Sox hopeful about the direction in which he’s trending.

The left-hander continued a strong August on Tuesday night with his best start of the season.

The 2014 first-rounder pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and the White Sox crushed the Philadelphia Phillies 9-1 in front of 18,843 at U.S. Cellular Field.

Rodon — who has a 1.46 ERA in 24 2/3 innings this month — won for the second time in four starts and Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau homered as the White Sox were victorious a third straight time.

“If (Rodon) keeps running like that, he’s going to be a superstar,” said rookie catcher Omar Narvaez.

Rodon’s second season has begun to shape up much like his rookie campaign.

He pitched better through his first 14 starts of 2016 than he did a year ago, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 10 of those turns. But Rodon didn’t have much to show for it as he surrendered leads or pitched with a razor thin margin of error because of lackluster run support.

Same as last season, Rodon has turned it on in August. Over his final eight starts in 2015, Rodon went 5-2 with a 1.81 ERA.

With some help from Narvaez and an overpowering fastball, Rodon looked strong throughout a 109-pitch effort.

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He worked around a first-inning jam and took off.  Rodon struck out Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp after he allowed a pair of one-out singles, which began a stretch where he retired 14 of 15 batters. Rodon also worked around a leadoff double in the sixth inning as he lowered his ERA to 4.02.

One key to the effort was finding a different way to make his slider more effective. Narvaez said he and Rodon began to use it as a backdoor slider after he struggled early with command and hitters laid off it.

“The slider wasn’t working too good down and in, they’d take it, so Omar set up a tad outside and just brought it back in,” Rodon said. “It was nice. It was huge. Had something to gauge off of to get that slider off the outside corner and it worked out well.

“Just comfortable, got on a roll and everything worked out.”

Rodon allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four. He has struck out 20 and walked only six batters in his last 24 2/3 innings.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Rodon’s effort has been in large part to improved power pitching. Rodon averaged 95.6 mph with his fastball on Tuesday, according to brooksbaseball.net.

“He’s made some strides from where he was before,” Ventura said. “He was trying to pick. When he’s like that he’s not that guy. Everything he does has effort, and its strength. When he has it going on it looks really good. He doesn’t need to get away from his strength and physicality is one of them. When he picks around and throws soft stuff he’s not as effective.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: First-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League]

Rodon’s offense rewarded him handsomely.

Adam Eaton tripled and scored on Tim Anderson’s RBI groundout in the first inning. Anderson then tripled in Eaton in the third to make it a 2-0 game. Abreu, who blasted a two-run homer in the fifth, singled in a run in the third and Todd Frazier had a sac fly to put the White Sox ahead by four runs.

Morneau’s solo shot in the fifth followed Abreu’s two-run homer off Jake Thompson to put the White Sox ahead 7-0. Carlos Sanchez also had an RBI single and Melky Cabrera had an RBI double.

Rodon was victorious for only the fourth time in 12 decisions this season. Prior to the start of the second half, Rodon said he needed to throw out his rough first half and start over.

The way he has pitched of late has him confident in himself once again. The next step is putting it together from the start of the season, he said.

“When you’re in a zone you just try to stay in it, to be honest,” Rodon said. “Hopefully in the future you have a complete year instead of just doing it in the second half.

“It’s all a process, what Coop says. It’s building up to it and trying to get like Q and Sale. Those guys are very good, top of the line starters, left-handers in the game, probably the very best. I’d love to be like that.”

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins headed to Arizona Fall League

Zack Collins’ first pro season just got a little longer.

The White Sox’ first-round pick will head to Arizona in October to participate in instructional camp and in the Fall League, player development director Nick Capra said Tuesday.

Taken with the 10th pick in the June draft, Collins has a .794 OPS in 110 plate appearances at Single-A Winston-Salem. Though the plan calls for him to be a catcher, the White Sox have limited how much playing time Collins has had behind the plate this season. Of his 29 professional starts, 11 have come as a designated hitter.

“He’s had a long season,” Capra said. “He caught almost every day in Miami. He looks like he’s beat up a little bit, but he’s been fine. We are kind of taking care of him a little bit. He’s not catching every day. He’s DHing sometime. He looks good.”

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Collins appeared in 62 games for the Miami Hurricanes this season. He received the Johnny Bench Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.

The 21-year-old has nine extra-base hits at Winston-Salem this season, including four homers. He has walked 17 times and struck out 30. Collins would only make a brief appearance for instructs before AFL play.

“Looks good,” Capra said. “Catching well. He’s swinging the bat well.

“We just want to get him out there and see him play.

“He looks like he can swing the bat. We are happy with his progress.”