Sox Drawer: White Sox got into Leyland's head

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Sox Drawer: White Sox got into Leyland's head

NASHVILLE, Tenn-- What was the difference between the White Sox losing the AL Central Division in 2012 and the Tigers winning it?
Jim Leyland knows.
I truly believe, and I dont know how this happened, the fact that we did pretty good against Kansas City and they did not was probably the decisive margin in the division, to be honest with you, said the Tigers manager on Wednesday. Its just freaky.
Yes, it was.
White Sox fans have the mental battle wounds to prove it.
Facing a team that wound up losing 90 games, the White Sox went 6-12 against the pesky Royals -- and even the victories werent easy. Five of those wins were decided by two runs or less.
Meanwhile, the Tigers pounded the Royals all season, going 13-5.
Considering the Tigers won the division over the White Sox by three games, you dont need to be amathematicianto know that Kansas City, by itself, decided who went to the playoffs and who did not.
The White Sox dont find this humorous, but apparently someone at Major League Baseball does. The White Sox open and close the 2013 season against their annoying friends from Kansas City.
Leylands Tigers were expected to run away with the division, but in the middle of the summer when the White Sox had as much as a 3.5 game lead, the Tigers, with a 133 million payroll were worried about their chances, legitimately concerned that they might not have what it took to snag the division away from the White Sox.
You read that correctly.
I can remember Gene Lamont saying during the season, Well catch them, but I dont know if well beat them, Leyland admitted. We caught them one time, then they took off on us again, and we finally caught them and passed them for good, but it was a heck of a race. They were a tough team.
When Leyland became a manager for the first time with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986, his team lost 98 games and finished in last place, 44 games out of first. So for him to watch Robin Ventura, who had never coached or managed a single professional game in his life, and almost win the division, Leyland was a little perturbed.
I thought he did an unbelievable job for a first-year manager, Leyland said. He kind of made it look easy to be honest with you. I didnt like that too much.
Losing 12 times to the Royals and 12 more to Leylands Tigers, Ventura didnt like too much either.
He and the White Sox are hoping to change that in 2013.

White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

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White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Mike Wright

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White Sox' win streak ends at 6 as John Danks struggles again

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White Sox' win streak ends at 6 as John Danks struggles again

BALTIMORE -- John Danks’ margin for error just isn’t very wide.

He and the White Sox discovered that yet again on Thursday night when the Baltimore Orioles made the veteran pay for several third-inning mistakes. With several potential options to choose from, whether or not the White Sox will give him another start to find a rhythm becomes the big question.

Danks surrendered a pair of long home runs and allowed six earned runs and the White Sox fell to the Orioles, 10-2, at Oriole Park at Camden Yard in front of 14,568. The loss snapped a six-game White Sox winning streak and is the team’s first defeat since Danks’ last start on April 21. A “miserable” April for Danks ended with his fourth loss in four starts and a 7.25 ERA.

“There’s 24 guys in there that are setting the world on fire,” Danks said. “That’s probably the most disappointing part of it. Shoot man, we were hot. Still are. These guys are going to be bounce back and we’ll be fine. But damn, got in the way of something special tonight.”

For Thursday night at least, manager Robin Ventura didn’t discuss if the team plans to make a change at the back end of its rotation. But the White Sox have shown they may entertain the idea.

A team off to its hottest start since 2006 jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run homer by Todd Frazier. But Danks yielded a run in the first inning and had to be bailed out by a great relay throw home to prevent a tie. Danks later walked Caleb Joseph to start the third inning and Manny Machado’s one-out double to right tied it at 2. Chris Davis launched a two-run homer to right-center field and Mark Trumbo followed with a solo shot to put the Orioles ahead 5-2.

Danks put up zeroes in the fourth and fifth innings, but exited after he surrendered a leadoff double to J.J. Hardy in the sixth. That run eventually scored during five-run Orioles rally against Jake Petricka.

Danks allowed nine hits and walked two while throwing strikes on 56 of 96 pitches.

“He’s just living in the middle of the plate and this is not the team to do it with,” Ventura said. “Right now we’re trying to make him better and we’re going to continue to work at that and continue to make him better so he can help us.”

It was only earlier this week when the White Sox went to the minor leagues for help when they promoted recently signed starter Miguel Gonzalez to give him an opportunity. While Gonzalez showed rust in Monday’s start, he also settled in against a tough Toronto Blue Jays lineup, which allowed the White Sox to rally for a big win.

Ventura said he was impressed with how Gonzalez handled himself against the Blue Jays in his first big league start of the season. However, Ventura didn’t make any commitments about the right-hander’s future and Gonzalez was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday.

But the decision to push Danks out of the series in Toronto, a team against whom he has poor numbers, raises questions about how long the White Sox might keep him in the rotation.

Ventura noted on Monday that the White Sox have several options from which to choose if they need help in the rotation.

Jacob Turner has a 2.49 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings at Charlotte. Erik Johnson, also at Charlotte, has a 3.24 ERA in three starts. And there’s Gonzalez, who went 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA from 2012-14 with the Orioles before he fell off last season.

“I don’t know if we’ve necessarily had that for a while,” Ventura said.

The White Sox have Monday off before they start a six-game homestand on Tuesday. That means they could skip Danks’ next turn in the rotation without moving around any of their other starters, a group Danks acknowledged is “dealing.” They also could stash him in the bullpen.

Danks felt confident he was dealing this spring in Arizona. He showed better fastball command than he had in some time, which had the White Sox front office feeling cautiously optimistic. But Danks didn’t have any fastball command on Thursday and he paid for it. For now, Danks said all he could do is work to improve and ignore the big picture.

“I’m in no position to pitch from behind, deep, long at-bats,” Danks said. “I’ve got enough to worry about here than anything else. I’ll be ready to go. I’ll work hard. I’m not going to pout or anything. Never have or never will. I guess it’s part of it. It’s not easy, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s work hard and get ready to take the ball.”

Back with White Sox, Carlos Sanchez handled demotion well

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Back with White Sox, Carlos Sanchez handled demotion well

BALTIMORE -- He may have been disappointed when he was sent to Charlotte last month, but Carlos Sanchez hasn’t let it affect his play.

Sanchez’s play at Triple-A has been so good that he’s back with the White Sox, at least temporarily.

The White Sox promoted the middle infielder on Thursday after they placed closer David Robertson on the bereavement list. Sanchez, who appeared in 120 games for the White Sox last season, is hitting .309/.356/.469 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 89 plate appearances at Charlotte.

“It’s never a good feeling for a guy trying to make the team,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He played well enough in spring training, but you make decisions based on what you need on the roster and it’s a tough one. But he’s always handled that well. Any time he’s gone down there he has gotten his work in.”

Sanchez said he tries to avoid looking at the big picture, which helps him remain focused on a daily basis. After they acquired Brett Lawrie and Todd Frazier in the offseason, the White Sox no longer had an everyday role for Sanchez, who spent most of last season at the starting second baseman. Because he’s only 23, the White Sox told Sanchez they wanted him to play every day and continue to improve. He has taken the message to heart.

“They don’t want to keep me here just to be on the bench,” Sanchez said. “They need me to play every day to keep developing my game, and I took it.

“I feel really good. My game is really good right now, so I’m just going to try to help the team. Whatever they need, I’m going to be there for my team.”