White Sox tie Astros to close out preseason

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White Sox tie Astros to close out preseason

HOUSTON (AP) Philip Humber and J.A. Happ each had a strong start and a shaky finish Wednesday. Both starting pitchers are looking forward to the regular season, too.J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer and Brian Bogusevic added a solo shot for the Houston Astros, who played the Chicago White Sox to a 5-5 tie on Wednesday in the final exhibition game for both teams.Humber pitched four scoreless innings before Jose Altuve's run-scoring double and Martinez's drive put Houston up 3-2 in the fifth. Humber allowed three runs and five hits with five strikeouts in five innings."Especially early on, I felt like I had my good stuff going and everything was working," he said. "Toward the end, I felt like I was getting a little jumpy and I started rushing my delivery. But overall, I was very pleased with how this spring went."Happ gave up two runs and four hits while walking two in five innings for Houston.Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza hit back-to-back doubles to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead in the fifth."Things were moving and breaking and responding well, and that was a good feeling," Happ said. "It's a good sign, and it feels good to throw strikes and feel good with the pitches."Chicago's Jared Mitchell hit a tying solo homer off Kyle Weiland in the seventh inning. Weiland, who earned a spot in Houston's rotation this spring, allowed a spring-high seven hits with three runs in two innings.Both teams are off Thursday before opening the season Friday. Houston hosts the Colorado Rockies and the White Sox face the Rangers in Arlington.Alexei Ramirez had an RBI triple and Kosuke Fukudome singled in run to help the White Sox take a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning.Houston catcher Jason Castro, who returned this spring after missing the entire 2011 season with a knee injury, had two hits. He is happy with his offensive work this spring, but was more excited about the progress he's made behind the plate."We have a few new guys and I've been working on building those relationships with them," he said of the new pitchers. "That was a big thing for me this spring was getting to know them and getting to know their strengths. I think we've learned each other quickly this spring and it'll only get better as the season gets going."Bogusevic's homer came in the sixth, and Chris Johnson doubled and scored on a wild pitch later in the inning.Houston center fielder Jordan Schafer started for the second straight day after missing more than two weeks with a sprained left hand. Schafer, Houston's leadoff hitter who hit .379 this spring, was replaced by a pinch hitter in the eighth and looks to be on track to start on Friday.NOTES: The Astros finalized their 25-man roster when RHP Henry Sosa cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City and they purchased the contract of OF Travis Buck. ... The Astros are still hopeful that SS Jed Lowrie will be able to start on Friday. He has been out since March 28 with a strained right thumb, but manager Brad Mills said he has been feeling much better the last couple of days.

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."