Chicago White Sox

Streak struck - Sox starters no longer unscathed

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Streak struck - Sox starters no longer unscathed

Saturday, March 5, 2011
4:43 p.m.
By Brett BallantiniCSNChicago.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. All good things come to an end, even when the good things are happening in spring training, untelevised and on the down low.

But indeed, the Chicago starters' streak was snapped with two outs in the first inning of the Cleveland Indians 5-3 win over the White Sox on Saturday.

Physically, I felt great, Gavin Floyd said of his rough two-inning, four-run outing. Youd like to make an adjustment early, especially when youre missing up in the zone; I just didnt make the adjustment You want to go out there and get your pitches in and be consistent with it. Today, it was a little hit or miss.

He was off a little bit, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He couldnt find the strike zone; I expected him to make an adjustment right away, but he was up in the strike zone. But as a second outing, theres no panic, he threw the ball well, velocity was good.

The Wahoos did all their damage in the first three frames, pushing across five runs, aided by one of two throwing errors by Mark Teahen in his six innings of play. The White Sox mounted a minor comeback in the fifth, pushing across all three of their runs on hits by Omar Vizquel, Lastings Milledge, and Gordon Beckham.

Floyd gave up only two hits, but walked another two batters and hit Jason Donald, who immediately left the game for x-rays. Floyd also was drilled in the leg (just a flesh wound) by the second batter of the game, Asdrubal Cabrera, and was wearing an ice wrap after he left the game.

It didnt bother me until the trainers got in there, Floyd said. They had to spread the swelling out. You press a couple of thumbs in there and it kind of hurts a little bit. Its there, but its no big deal.

When he got hit in leg, that bothered him a little bit, Guillen said. Im not going to make that excuse, but he got hit pretty good.

After compiling a 3.68 ERA through five spring games through Friday, White Sox hurlers coughed up six earned runs vs. Cleveland. And somebody noticed.

Thats the worst our pitchers have been in spring training, Guillen said. This one was pretty ugly. We walked a lot of people. But this is what the sixth game? We should start playing better after the split-squad Monday. I expect them to pick it up. Right now, Im just letting them play and get ready, get their stuff together.
Teahens troubles

It would be remiss to call Teahens effort on Saturday his worst game as a member of the White Sox, but given whats at stake for hima starting position at third, and possibly even a roster spotit was a devastating effort. Not only did he make two poor throws for errors and stumble over the bag at third on an inning-ending popout, he was thrown out trying to score from second base by right fielder Chad Huffman in the fifth inning.

Weve got to give Teahen a shot, but obviously, weve got to make plays, Guillen said. Our biggest friend to a pitcher, especially when a pitchers in trouble, is defense. But Teahens only been out there for a couple of games.

Clearly, however, while just a week into Cactus League play Guillen is worried about how his roster pieces will fall together with Teahen in the mix.

Ive got to talk to our coaching staff and GM Kenny Williams in the next meeting and see what were going to do, if were going to give him a shot at third base or move him all over the place. Thats the next step, because its not fair for him or anybody. It will clear his mindwill I be at third or not? Weve got to try to make the decision as quick as we can and go from there.

No relief

While Chisox hurlers have been generally strong in the first week of play, two pitchers bidding for bullpen stops continued to struggle on Saturday. Kyle Bellamy came on to relieve Floyd in the third and wasnt fooling anyone with his sidearm delivery. His ERA in two spring training innings remains 9.00. Freddy Dolsi has also struggled, today surrendering three runs (two earned) in 1 23 innings, kicking his spring ERA over 2 23 innings to 10.13.

Bright spots?

According to Guillen, there were indeed bright spots to todays worst spring training effort of the season. Just not one youd expect.

The White Sox batboy beating the Indians batboy was the highlight, Guillen said with a loud laugh. Thats how bad the game was. That was the only excitement we had in the game.

There was a friendly competition between batboys when hustling for foul balls early in the game. Guillen and bench coach Joey Cora were yelling on every foul ball, both for their own ballboy to hustle and for the opposing, older batboy to slow down and not treat fouls back to the screen as if at Wimbleton.
The LAST word on the streak

Indeed, Floyd claimed he only became aware of the hitless, scoreless streak by White Sox starters this springthe streak he started back on Mondayyesterday, when his fellow rotation members were warning Jake Peavy not to screw it up. Predictably, Floyd played off caring much about seeing the streak snapped.

Its whatever. Its spring, Floyd said with a smile. Im sure Ill be texting them saying Im sorry I screwed it up for them.

Still, Floyd recognizes that the sort of buzz created by a relatively meaningless spring training streak is indicative of the kind of talent the White Sox rotation possesses.

Thats what were capable of, he said. Thats the kind of starting rotation weve got. Were capable of feeding off and encouraging each other. We have the talent to do something pretty good. Im not surprised, but you know the streak was going to end some day.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

White Sox see pitcher Reynaldo Lopez's injury as 'temporary thing'

White Sox see pitcher Reynaldo Lopez's injury as 'temporary thing'

The White Sox are fairly encouraged about Reynaldo Lopez’s progress and hopeful he returns soon to the mound.

Manager Rick Renteria said before Monday’s doubleheader that Lopez, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a strained back, said he has increasingly felt better. Lopez went on the DL on Saturday, two days after he made his second start since being promoted to the majors. The right-hander played catch in the outfield on Monday. Renteria also noted that Yoan Moncada would play in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader but he would sit out the second contest to rest his shin splints.

“He’s doing very, very well,” Renteria said of Lopez. “I ask him every day. (Sunday) night before we got off (the plane) he said he’s feeling much, much better. Now it’s a matter of where he’s at, and what we start doing with him activity wise before we he gets back in the rotation.

“This is a temporary thing.”

Similar to Moncada in July, Lopez is the first heralded prospect on the pitching side to appear in the majors. He had a strong debut against the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 11, allowing two earned runs and striking out six in six innings. Lopez struggled in his second start, allowing six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against Texas before he exited. He struck out six and walked four batters before complaining of soreness on his side.

“There’s nothing that’s going to hold this young man back,” Renteria said. “The disappointment is more that he can’t get back out there every five days right, not in terms of his performance. He’s done pretty well. It’s just that he can’t be out there right now. Once he’s healed up he’s going to be fine and be out there every five days.”

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

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USA TODAY

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

Put the shift on against Nicky Delmonico and he’s going to drop down a bunt to beat you.

The White Sox rookie has tried his solution for shift-happy defenses already three times this season and it’s worked in each instance.

And while its undoubtedly the long ball -- he’s hit five home runs -- that has caught everyone’s attention during the White Sox rookie’s unbelievable start, don’t overlook the little things, especially Delmonico’s ability to bunt for a hit and the impact it’s had on opposing defenses.

Whenever opponents try to employ a shift, and they’ve done it more often this season, Delmonico has shown no fear in trying to beat them with a bunt down the third-base line.

He bunted for a single in Sunday’s win when he reached base three times to bring his on-base percentage to .451 through 71 plate appearances. There’s no question that forcing defenses to play him straight up is partly responsible for Delmonico reaching base safely in 15 of 17 games to start his major league career.

“It opens up a hole,” Delmonico said. “There’s been a lot of times in Charlotte where you hit a hard ground ball through the four hole and think it’s a hit, but then there’s a guy deep in right field. You want those (to be hits). Any time you can take advantage of bunting and show you can bunt they’ll move out of the shift.”

Take a look at Delmonico’s spray chart and it’ll tell you he’s pull-happy. He’s pulled 47.9 percent of all balls put in play since reaching the majors, according to Fangraphs.com. Were he to be qualified for a batting title, Delmonico would currently be 15th in pull percentage in baseball, easily within range of leader Salvador Perez’s 54.6 percent.

Either way, Delmonico’s spray chart is the type that often leads defenses to load up three gloves on the right side of the infield no matter the count (teams tend to shift to a hitter’s pull side most often with two strikes).

But Delmonico has made them think twice --- at least early in the count.

“Any time I see them all over that’s when it’s the best time to lay one down,” Delmonico said. “You’ve just got to get it past the pitcher and fair.”

You also have to catch the attention of advance scouts. Based on the way he’s been defended so far, hitting coach Todd Steverson thinks opponents have taken notice of Delmonico’s skills.

“It’s got to be in their notes,” Steverson said. “It’s got to be in their data: “This guy will bunt.” Even just the words “he will bunt” keeps somebody close for a minute before they move to another spot. If you have none, then they don’t have to do nothing.

“They want to play him in the full shift. That’s what they did to him from the get-go. He dropped two bunts down on them and said ‘Ok.’ ”

Delmonico said he’s seen an increased number of shifts since reached Triple-A two years ago.

“But it was all different kinds of shifts,” Delmonico said. “Very rarely I would see them all over until two strikes.”

Delmonico works on bunting the same as anyone else. There’s the round he takes each day at the start of batting practice each day. And every few weeks or so, Charlotte brought out the pitching machine.

But what may make him standout are his confidence and conviction. While Delmonico realizes he may be taking the potential for extra bases out of his hands for one at-bat, he’s knows he’s still giving himself a chance to jumpstart a rally and he’s creating a world of opportunities for the rest of his trips to the plate.

“I feel like they’re pretty good,” Delmonico said. “I’ve worked a lot on it the last two years because I know eventually they will shift and to get that hole open you’ve got to prove to them that you will bunt.

“Overall it helps you out and two, it gives you a chance to get on base and get going. That’s the biggest thing for me.”