White Sox look to avoid second sweep vs. Orioles

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White Sox look to avoid second sweep vs. Orioles

Monday, May 2, 2011
Posted: 10:00 a.m.

Associated Press
Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen returned after serving a two-game suspension, though the controversial skipper couldn't spark much life into his struggling club.

With the offense reeling and the pitching staff inconsistent, Mark Buehrle hopes to snap out of his personal funk and help the White Sox avoid another sweep Monday night in the conclusion of a four-game set with the visiting Baltimore Orioles.

Guillen was back on the bench Sunday after a ban from Major League Baseball for posting messages about an umpire on his Twitter account when he was ejected from Wednesday's game against the New York Yankees. The White Sox (10-19) lost both games in his absence to Baltimore, and the team's struggles continued Sunday with a 6-4 defeat - Chicago's fifth straight.

A loss Monday would mark the fourth time the White Sox were swept in a series this season and the first time Baltimore completed a four-game sweep in Chicago since July 6-9, 1995.

The White Sox have scored four or less runs in 17 of their last 18 games, and only Brent Lillibridge - who homered Sunday - is batting above .300. Adam Dunn hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the eighth, but he's hitting .171 with 31 strikeouts.

The pitching staff has struggled as well, ranking last in the AL with 149 runs allowed.

Paul Konerko, who went 2 for 4 with an RBI, believes things will turn around soon.

"Just because you go out and play hard doesn't mean you're going to win or get the hit," he said. "But over the long haul, you've got to believe you will. I believe I will and I believe the team will."

Buehrle (1-3, 5.12 ERA) may hope Konerko is correct. He's lost his last three starts, allowing 13 runs and 24 hits in 17 2-3 innings. He gave up three runs over seven innings in Wednesday's 3-1 loss at New York.

The left-hander also has lost three consecutive starts against Baltimore and is 5-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 16 career appearances versus the Orioles (13-13), winners of five of six.

Buehrle looks to slow a Baltimore offense which has scored 22 runs through the first three games of the series, though the Orioles have had some success against him.

Vladimir Guerrero is 12 for 33 (.364) with four home runs versus Buehrle, while Brian Roberts (13 for 39) and Nick Markakis (10 for 23) also have hit the left-hander well.

Markakis was hitless in his last 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position before his three-run double Sunday in the Orioles' five-run fifth inning off White Sox starter Gavin Floyd extended Baltimore's lead to 5-0.

"(Floyd) went away from his fastball, he threw a lot of cutters, slider and curveballs, you can almost go up there and sit on an offspeed pitch," Markakis said. "The more pitches you can eliminate, the easier to hit."

Jeremy Guthrie (1-3, 2.53) looks for his first win since April 1, though he pitched well in his most recent start. Guthrie went six scoreless innings Wednesday against Boston before Baltimore won 5-4.

The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA in his last four starts against Chicago. He's held most of the current White Sox lineup at bay through his career, as Konerko is 5 for 24 (.208) while Alexei Ramirez, Omar Vizquel and Gordon Beckham are a combined 4 for 37 (.108) lifetime against Guthrie.

The Orioles have won six of the last eight meetings.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Having experienced a playoff-like atmosphere at the World Baseball Classic, David Robertson and Nate Jones already feel prepared for the regular season. 

The two relievers returned to White Sox camp on Friday morning bearing gold medals from a Team USA WBC title run that concluded on Wednesday night with an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Robertson, who recorded the final three outs of the clinching victory, said he's glad to be back and won't need much of a tune-up to be ready for the April 3 season opener.

"Back up to speed?" Robertson said. "More like slow down and get ready for the season. I'll probably play catch (Friday). I didn't throw (Thursday), I spent the day traveling. Probably play catch today, and be ready to throw (Saturday). If I needed to throw today, I could. I feel like I'm season ready right now."

"It feels good to be back. It's been a long trip doing this WBC, so it's good to be back and relax a little bit. Have a couple days before we start the season."

Both Jones and Robertson appeared four times each for Team USA with similar results. Each allowed a solo home run but nothing else. Jones said he brought his gold medal back to camp because he isn't yet ready to put it in his safety deposit box. His favorite moments of the tournament were brought on by raucous crowds.

"Once you get a crowd chanting USA that was a pretty cool moment," Jones said. "You're proud of representing your country, and once they did that, it all kind of set in, like, ‘Wow, this is happening.'

"It's just pure excitement, everybody going crazy."

Jones and Robertson said they're pleased to have returned to the relative tranquility of White Sox camp after they lived out of a suitcase for the previous 18 days. Both were set to meet with pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Rick Renteria to discuss their upcoming schedule. Jones said he expected to throw a side session on Friday in front of Cooper to have his mechanics reviewed. Robertson last pitched on Wednesday and didn't know when he'd throw again.

"They've been busy, obviously, with Robbie finishing up the last game," Renteria said. "We'll see how the schedule lines up in terms of their usage for the remaining 9-10 days."

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Robertson is pretty sure he won't need much work. Whereas the team's closer normally waits until the first week of March to appear in a game, Robertson has pitched in plenty this spring. Each of the last four has had a ton more intensity than any normal Cactus League work.

"It felt like playoff baseball really early in the year," Robertson said. "Just coming from Miami, trying to win a couple days in there was really hard. Fans were really loud. That place was a very intense environment, and it didn't feel like you were the home team at all.

"It felt like (a home game) when we were in San Diego We were the home team there, and when we got to L.A., same thing. Although, I will say that when we were playing the Japanese, it erupted a couple times when they had some big moments in their game. It was just a lot of fun to play in this whole event. It was definitely more than I expected."

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."