Wild White Sox dealt painful loss; limp home

457452.jpg

Wild White Sox dealt painful loss; limp home

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Posted: 9:22 p.m. Updated: 10:50 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

NEW YORK In the midst of an offensive bounty unseen so far in this four-game series, New York Yankees fans suddenly became so bored with a 12-3 lead they struck up a Wave.

Perhaps they needed the exercise after spending huge chunks of a six-run fifth inninga half-frame that stretched on for an extraordinary 32 minutes and padded New Yorks lead to 8-0loading up at the concession stand.

C.C. Sabathia threw seven easy innings, surrendering three runs and striking out six, to earn his second win.

We should know that when you face C.C., you should bring your best stuff, because you will be in a battle, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He always pitches well against us. We couldn't do anything right.

In fact, with the win Sabathia has improved his winning percentage vs. the White Sox to .810 (17-4), the best mark ever for a White Sox opponent.

On the other hand, Edwin Jackson was wild, falling behind 2-0 despite carrying a no-hitter into the fifth. And from there, it only got worse.

Throw strikes, was White Sox manager Ozzie Guillens advice to Jackson. You won't get away with much if you can't hit the strike zone when you face a lineup like this. Those guys are professional hittersthey're not going to chase anything. You have to be around the plate to get them. For the last three nights, we were around the plate.

You start a game throwing strikes, and all of a sudden you cant find the zone, Jackson said. You definitely put yourself in a situation where youre not helping yourself by doing so. Youve got to come out and attack the zone, make them put the ball in play, and take your chances.

That sounds like a terrific game plan, but as Jackson acknowledged he was atrocious in its execution, needing 91 pitches to record 12 outs and walking five to help surge his ERA to his highest point as a White Sox, 5.86.

Its a matter of thinking and not letting your instincts take over, and pounding the strike zone and trying to pitch instead of just going out and throwing to the glove, Jackson said. Its definitely frustrating when you come out and feel good and all of a sudden you cant find the strike zone. Its one of those things where you really cant go out and think. You just have to let your natural instinct take over.

Tony Pena relieved Jackson and left with elbow irritation, but not before helping to extend the Yankees lead to eight. Pena and Alex Rios, who limped off the field (toe) after circling unsteadily under Robinson Canos deep fly to end the seventh, both will be examined back in Chicago and are considered day-to-day.

It was a horrible end of an 11-game road trip for the White Sox, who harbored illusions of sweeping the Gothamers just two days earlier. Chicago finishes the trip at 3-8.

Its frustrating, Jackson said. Its just one of those things where you cant get in panic mode. You just have to keep coming out and fighting. Everyone is working hard. Sometimes you just dont get it done and just have to come back, start a new homestand, and hopefully get things rolling on a positive note.

It was terrible, Guillen reflected on the road trip. We finished the way we startedvery bad. We didn't plan it that way. We thought we would play better. We knew it was going be a tough road trip because of the teams we faced, but we're not hitting. We struggled at the plate. Hopefully, we turn things around at home.

The Captain tried to keep it positive after the game. His soliloquy was convincing to the gathered media; whether it sets in with his teammates is another matter.

Overall, its a 3-8 road trip. At the end of the day, thats all that matters, Paul Konerko said. Its been bad up to this point as a whole for the season, but that doesnt mean tomorrow has to be. Its way too early to get discouraged or to say, OK, this is the team thats going to be the team for the season.

Weve had some good times already. Just going off last years teamwe sure as hell dont want to wait two months to get goingthings can turn on a dime in this game. We learned it can turn in a bad way quickly, but we have to realize it can turn the other way just as quick.

Starting strong

For the second straight night, the White Sox wasted a golden opportunity to wreak havoc early. On Wednesday, Chicago loaded the bases vs. Bartolo Colon with none out and failed to score.

Against Sabathia on Thursday, the White Sox led off the game on fireBrent Lillibridge hit a shot to short that was ruled and error, and after Alexei Ramirezs sharp single to left the Pale Hose had runners on the corners with Carlos Quentin at the plate. But Lillibridge was thrown out at home on Qs quiet tapper to third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Konerko popped out to Nick Swisher in right, and Adam Dunn flew out to Curtis Granderson in center.
Nick Swisher celebrates his seventh-inning home run, a two-run blast that put New York up 12-3. (AP)
It was the closest the White Sox came to scoring until the game was well out of hand.

With good pitchers you have to take advantage, Guillen said. When they're right, they have the stuff to shut you down. We let him off the hook, and then he was CC. We know we were going to face a tough pitcher out there. When you lose an advantage early, that is what you get.

We kind of had him on the ropes early, Konerko said. Hes turned into a great pitcher. He used to throw real hard and have some dominant stuff. He still throws hard enough but hes really very well-rounded. He has more of a repertoire now where he can do some things he didnt used to be able to do. You give a guy a lead like that, hes gone.

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

Lighter Avisail Garcia wants to show White Sox his best

Lighter Avisail Garcia wants to show White Sox his best

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Avisail Garcia said he worked all but two weeks this offseason in an effort to prove he can play the outfield. 

Whether it was winter ball in Venezuela or working out, the White Sox right fielder said he has lost nearly 15 pounds from the end of last season. He hopes to lose even more before the start of the season and thinks the lighter weight should help him in the field. Garcia — who was acquired in a three-team trade from Detroit in July 2013 — appears to have the inside track to be the team's starting right fielder. 

"I feel better like this," Garcia said. "I can run better like this. I can play better defense like this. I can hit better like this. I just have to keep working and lose a little bit more."

Garcia said he reported to camp at 254 pounds and wants to get down to 248. He's hopeful that lighter playing weight and more consistent playing time help him improve in the outfield, where he's been below average for his career. While defensive metrics show he was OK in limited play last season, Garcia had a miserable 2015 campaign in the field when he produced a minus-11 Defensive Runs Saved and minus-6.2 Ultimate Zone Rating. That came on the heels of a minus-8 DRS and minus-6.2 UZR showing in 2014.

Still, Garcia is hopeful he can make progress and prove to the rebuilding White Sox he's the man for the job.

"That's my regular position, and I know can do my job there, a really good job," Garcia said. "I'm just trying to prepare myself to get ready for the season and try to get in better shape, try to do my best to help my team win."

[RELATED: Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox]

The field isn't the only area the White Sox and Garcia are hoping for improvement. Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs in 453 plate appearances last season. For his career, Garcia has a OPS-plus of 93, which is seven points below league average. 

But based on his .355/.421/.538 slash line with runners in scoring position, the White Sox still think Garcia can become a very good hitter. They just need to help him translate the focus he puts into those 107 plate appearances into the majority of his trips to the plate.

"In those situations for us where he was a key person in terms of RBI situations, he didn't try to do too much," manager Rick Renteria said. "If he ended up hitting, getting an extra base hit in those situations, great. But if he didn't it wasn't anything he concerned himself with. I think we are just trying to make sure he focuses on honing in and simplifying what he wants to do in terms of approaches. Hopefully that can lead to him being more effective without runners on base."

Though there was some thought he wouldn't return this season, Garcia — who signed a one-year deal worth $3 million in December — tried not to think about it. He instead focused on his offseason program to have himself ready for what is likely his last chance to prove to the White Sox he belongs.

"I have a lot of responsibility coming," Garcia said. "I just want to be ready. I want to be my best. I want to have a good year for me, but for the team also. I have to get ready and play baseball."

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."