White Sox left searching for answers, fall five back

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White Sox left searching for answers, fall five back

Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010
Updated 12:11 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

MINNEAPOLIS You cant say these havent been exciting games. But unfortunately for the White Sox, its excitement that is filed more in the heartbreaker category than the thriller one.

Filed again under the former was Wednesdays tilt, in which the Minnesota Twins rallied from a 5-3 deficit to defeat Chicago, 7-6, pulling five games ahead in an AL Central race that is all-too-rapidly reaching the finish line.

Theres no concern, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. The Twins play good against everybody. Thats why theyre in first place.

The White Sox pushed Minnesota ace Francisco Liriano from the game after he burned through 106 pitches in just five innings, yet in a series where neither team has seemed to enjoy prosperity, Pale Hose starter Gavin Floyd gave the lead right back, surrendering seven earned runs over 5 13 innings to take his second straight loss.

When a teams hot, theyre hot, Floyd said. I had good stuff, but apparently not good enough.

The Twins again jumped on Chicago early and threatened to bury the White Sox with instant offense, Joe Mauer doubling home Denard Span, then Michael Cuddyer singling home Mauer for a 2-0 first inning lead.

It is what it is, said second baseman Gordon Beckham. Theyre very good. We bring the infield in, and I dont think Mauers double is a hit if were back. That was just sort of the story of the night.

Similar to Tuesdays game, Chicago fought back, with Andruw Jones driving a monster, 436-foot shot to center that plated three and gave the White Sox a 3-2 lead.

I didnt think Liriano was going to mess around after walking A.J., Jones said of looking for a sweet fastball on his three-run blast. But it was too early in the game to think we had the advantage. We know theyre not going to give up.

Early on we had Liriano on the ropes, could have scored more runs, and couldnt get it done, was how Guillen summarized it.

The back-and-forth continued with Jason Kubel singling home Span to tie the game at three in the bottom of the third, and the White Sox pushing back for two in the fifth on Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski RBIs.

Mauer launched a solo home run in the bottom half of the inning-his first at Target Field-that barely cleared the wall in left, drawing the Twins to 5-4. One frame later, Delmon Young, Danny Valencia and J.J. Hardy batted in runs that pushed Minnesotas tally to seven and its lead to two.

They just find holes, find where our players arent, all the time, Floyd said, grin-grimacing at his tough luck in the sixth. I had a couple of bad pitches, and sometimes you hope those go at fielders. I just try to execute and hope for the best. It wasnt the best today.

Every time we come back, they score more, said Jones, who noted that through work with White Sox batting coach Greg Walker hes hitting more like he did during his Atlanta Braves heyday. But weve got to keep battling. Theyre on a good hot streak and everything is going their way.

Juan Pierres fourth hit of the night drove home Beckham, and it appeared that another game-tying rally on Minnesota closer Matt Capps was in the offing. But Capps extinguished Alexi Ramirez and Rios on corner grounders, and the Twins escaped.

Every game we play vs. Minnesota is a one-run game, Jones said. You look back and wonder if you could have just gotten that one more run, it would be different.

In spite of the heartbreaker, Chicago remains positive in light of a suddenly huge deficit and the hourglass reading just 43 games remaining, and four vs. the Twins.

Were not worried, but its tough, Jones said. We fought a long way to get where we want to be, and after one bad week, were down five games in the standings. Weve got to come back and get one game, then look forward to the next series.

Today and yesterday were big games for both clubs, Guillen said. Weve got to be ready for tomorrow and change things. Hopefully, this thing goes to the end. Theres a lot of season left, its a big game tomorrow again.

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

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.

But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.

“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens. 

“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”

The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.

In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.

"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."

[MORE: Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right]

Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.

"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."

His struggles continued when he got to The Show.

In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.

"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."

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Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.

"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.

"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.

Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who MLB.com has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again. 

"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."

The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.

The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.

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While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality. 

Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.

"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."

"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."

In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.

When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse. 

Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.