Youkilis, offense come alive as Sox throttle Twins

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Youkilis, offense come alive as Sox throttle Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- A.J. Pierzynski might just have a future as a motivational speaker.

About an hour before Wednesday afternoons series finale, a 12-5 White Sox drubbing of the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, the veteran catcher playfully jabbed new infielder Kevin Youkilis and asked when he would make a significant contribution to the club.

Youkilis, who was acquired in a trade Sunday, followed suit with his first RBI as a member of the White Sox in the third inning. He later added another RBI as he and Adam Dunn and Alex Rios paced a season-best 21-hit attack with three hits apiece.

Dunn had four RBIs as he snapped a 0-for-24 streak with a monstrous three-run homer to left for the White Sox, who won their second straight series. Rios also homered -- his 10th -- to help starting pitcher Chris Sale (9-2) earn his first win since June 9 against Houston.

"I just told him to show everyone why we got him," said Pierzynski, who tripled and had an RBI. "That was a great game. It was nice. It was good for him. Im happy for him to get that off the schneid."

Already with a 1-0 lead, Youkilis put the White Sox ahead by two in the third when he doubled high off the wall in right-center to score Eduardo Escobar.

Manager Robin Ventura admittedly enjoyed the double. But he was more taken with Youkilis next at-bat in the fifth inning, when the first baseman continued a two-out rally by fouling off three straight Nick Blackburn pitches before singling to center.

Three pitches later, Dunn rocketed a 410-foot drive off the facing of the second deck in left field for a three-run homer -- his first in 10 games.

"Thats what youre used to seeing from Youk" Ventura said. "He grinds on a pitcher, wears him out, fouls off a lot of good pitches and finally gets a hit."

Youkilis also singled in a run in the sixth inning and is 5-for-12 since he was acquired from the Boston Red Sox. Three days in, Youkilis said a sense of normalcy has returned after a tumultuous first 2 1 2 months of the season.

"Im enjoying myself," Youkilis said. "Theres no drama. Theres no (bull). Its playing and having fun. Thats my attitude going forward."

After he spent much of a 3-for-38 spell pulling the ball, Dunn determined he needed an up-the-middle approach. He also felt as if he were on the verge of a breakout game.

An inning after his homer, Dunn singled in another run to give the White Sox a 9-1 lead. He also later added an infield single and finished 3-for-5.

"I didnt care if I got jammed," Dunn said. "I just wanted to make sure the bat path was going the right way and I wasnt pulling off the ball. Today it worked. We havent been swinging the bats well the last two weeks and hopefully today gets everybodys confidence back up and we start rolling again."

Rios continued his roll after Dunns homer in the fifth with a solo blast of his own. He also had an RBI single in the eighth inning and doubled and scored the White Sox first run. Rios is hitting .341 (44-for-129) with nine homers and 25 RBIs in his last 32 games.

Escobar, Jordan Danks and Orlando Hudson all had two hits for the White Sox. Every position player had at least one hit.

The White Sox 21 hits were their most since Aug. 16, 2011 and most on the road since Aug. 30, 2010 at Cleveland.

In their previous 13 games, the White Sox were hitting .216 and had averaged three runs a game.

The offense gave Sale plenty of breathing room, though he didnt need much.

Sale did allow the first homer by a White Sox pitcher in 71 1 3 innings -- a solo homer by Brian Dozier in the fifth -- but was otherwise sharp. The rookie didnt allow a run until he had a six-run lead and limited Minnesota to two runs and six hits in seven innings. He didnt walk anyone and struck out five.

"It was impressive," Sale said of the offense. "Any time you get that kind of run support, it kind of calms you down a little bit. You go out and just execute. It was their day today."

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A torrid two months at the plate helped Jose Abreu end what he found to be an extremely trying 2016 season with numbers close to his career norms.

But even though he finished with an .820 OPS and 100 RBIs for a third straight season, Abreu admits that 2016 was a season unlike any other he'd faced.

While he didn't disclose any theories for the cause of his lengthy struggles, the White Sox first baseman said Sunday he's pleased to have finished on a positive note and thinks that rebounding from those difficulties will only make him stronger. Abreu — who hit .293/.353/.468 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in 695 plate appearances — is also a fan of new White Sox manager Rick Renteria and is equally impressed with the prospects the club acquired this winter.

"Yes, those were different challenges, especially in my mind," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I never in my life experienced some of the kind of struggles like I did last year. But that put me in a better position as a player, as a person too. I'm in a better position now for this season because I learned from the experience."

In spite of his struggles, Abreu was still a league average player through the first four months of the season. But the 2014 All-Star hardly resembled the player who produced a 153 OPS-plus over his first two seasons. His timing was off and Abreu — hitting .269/.325/.413 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs through July 30 — wasn't driving the ball as he typically had in his first two seasons, when he smacked 66 homers.

Abreu was lost at the plate and nobody could figure out why.

But after the arrival of his son, Dariel, who visited him for the first time since he moved to the United States, Abreu took off. He hit .338/.402/.568 the rest of the season with 14 homers and 44 RBIs in 249 trips to the plate.

"Right after last season ended, I had my meeting at my house with my family, just to explain to them how the season was because they know about baseball," Abreu said. "But sometimes they can't register how the process is in a season as long as the major league season is. We talked about it. I explained to them all of the challenges, the problems I had during that season. Once we ended with that meeting, last season was in the past. We moved on and we were trying just to figure out things and how can I do better for this season."

Now in his fourth season in the majors, Abreu has a firm grasp on how the White Sox operate and likes some of the team's modifications. He likes how Renteria thoroughly communicates what he has in mind for the club. Abreu also enjoys being seen as one of the team's leaders and wouldn't mind being a mentor to prized prospect Yoan Moncada.

Now he hopes to carry over his strong finish to the start of the 2017 campaign.

"I'm working on it," Abreu said. "That's one of my goals. Everybody knows that at the beginning of last season, I wasn't performing good. It was kind of a surprise for me, too. But I'm in good shape right now and I believe I will be able to succeed."

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The leading candidate to be the team’s starting center fielder, Charlie Tilson has been temporarily shut down after suffering a stress reaction in his right foot.

The White Sox rookie said Sunday that he noticed the injury gradually building up before he decided to stop his workout on Friday and headed for the training room. An MRI performed Saturday on Tilson -- who is rehabbing from a torn left hamstring that ended his 2016 season early -- revealed the reaction, which isn’t severe as a stress fracture. Given Tilson previously had a stress fracture in his right foot, the White Sox said he'll be sidelined from impact work for 10 days, at which point he’d be re-evaluated.

“It started very minimal, and I tried to work through it a little bit, and by the time I addressed Herm, thankfully I caught it before it was anything that would keep me out for too long,” Tilson said. “It’s a minor thing, and it will give my other leg a chance to get stronger in the meantime, and hopefully we’ll turn this negative into a positive.”

Tilson wouldn’t be surprised if his injury is related to overcompensating for his left leg, which he has worked tirelessly to rehab since he suffered the injury on Aug. 2 and then had season-ending surgery. Manager Rick Renteria described it as an “irritation” in the area where Tilson suffered a stress fracture in 2013. In the interim, the White Sox will test some of their other options in camp, including veteran Peter Bourjos and minor leaguers Adam Engel and Jacob May, among others.

“But we don’t foresee it to be a long-term issue,” Renteria said. “By being able to shut him down now, it’ll be something he’ll be able to recover from. We’ll just readjust his timetable.”

Minor as Tilson and the White Sox say it is, the outfielder admitted he’s down about having to deal with it after the progress he’d made in his rehab.

The White Sox acquired the New Trier High School product from the St. Louis Cardinals last July in exchange for left-hander Zach Duke. Tilson was immediately called up as the White Sox intended to try him out in center field the rest of the season. But he suffered a season-ending injury in his major league debut while tracking down a fly ball and had surgery several days later.

Tilson made enough progress to be a full participant in a hitter’s camp at Camelback Ranch last month. Earlier this week, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Tilson was a top candidate to take over as the club’s starting center fielder if he was healthy.

“I guess you could say I’m disappointed,” Tilson said. “But it’s a very minor setback and it’s part of the process. I had a major repair, and these things come up and hopefully we can minimize them as much as we can and hopefully this is the last one. But I’m just going to deal with it and do whatever I can to move forward.”