There are no shootouts in Major League Baseball to break a tie, and often times in Spring Training, there are no extra innings to do the same. So, the second of back-to-back games between the Dodgers and White Sox at Camelback Ranch Sunday ended in a 2-2 deadlock. Here’s a look.
HOME RUN: Let’s go with the man who actually hit the home run, Adam Dunn. The slugger said coming into Spring Training that he was going to be more aggressive early in the count, in an attempt to cut down strikeouts and raise his average, and there was Dunn driving out a 1-0 pitch from Peter Moylan to left for a two-run homer in the fourth inning Sunday.
“You know, it’s nice to get those,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Dunn’s blast. “If it lingers on too much, not having good at-bats, you are starting off battling from the negative. It’s nice for everybody to kind of get on the board and have a good at-bat. It feels nice to end your day that way too.”
Dunn’s job won’t change from driving in runs, and he won’t suddenly become a .280 hitter and watch his home run total drop to 15. But he’s taking the time at Spring Training to work on subtle improvements.
“There’s one little mechanical thing I wanted to work on, and I didn’t know how long it was going to take me this spring. I knew we had an extended spring,” Dunn said. “But actually I’m able to carry it over from the cage to the game so far. That’s a positive.”
TRIPLE: On his 35th birthday, Dewayne Wise tripled to right with two outs in the third off of Hyun-Jin Ryu.
DOUBLE: Little things continue to mean a lot to the White Sox under the Robin Ventura regime. In the third, Hanley Ramirez delivered a run-scoring single off of Erik Johnson to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead but Dunn cut off the throw home by center fielder Blake Tekotte and threw back to first, behind Ramirez, where second baseman Gordon Beckham was covering to tag out Ramirez, end the inning and cut short any continued rally.
In the second, backup catcher Hector Gimenez fired a perfect strike to Beckham to catch Andre Eithier stealing by quite a margin.
SINGLE: Alex Rios tripled before Dunn’s opposite field homer, giving Rios three extra-base hits in two games.
STOLEN BASE: When I asked Tyler Flowers for pitchers who had looked good during side bullpen sessions, he mentioned both Daniel Moskos and David Purcey. The two southpaws threw one hitless inning apiece.
CALLED THIRD: It was a solid debut for Johnson, who took advantage of an opportunity the White Sox are giving to their up-and-coming Minor League starters during this first week of Cactus League action. Johnson struck out two and gave up one run on four hits over three innings.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to go out there and pound the strike zone and attack hitters and keep the ball down, let my defense play behind me.”
The native of Los Altos, Calif. also seemed to get a charge out of facing the Dodgers.
“Growing up in the Bay Area and watching the Giants growing up, I saw the Dodgers a lot,” Johnson said. “It felt good to go out at these guys and attack them. It was just another great opportunity today.”
JUST A BIT OUTSIDE: After a leadoff single by Steven Tolleson in the ninth, he was caught stealing with Trayce Thompson at the plate and pulling back on a bunt.
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The White Sox could not have had a better opening to Cactus League competition with Saturday’s 9-0 whitewash of the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.
Fourteen hits for the White Sox, three hits allowed, contributions across the board.
“That’s why you have intrasquad games,” said a smiling White Sox manager Robin Ventura, referring to the team’s rough instrasquad action on Thursday. “Get that out.”
Here’s what will be a regular look at the standouts and missteps for each White Sox contest in Arizona.
HOME RUN: Dylan Axelrod would be classified as the White Sox seventh starter, but he certainly set the tone for other starters Saturday. He simply threw strikes over three scoreless innings and breezed through the first two quick enough that he got a third.
“He’s one of those guys who wont dazzle you with the radar gun but he’s a smart pitcher,” said Ventura of Axelrod. “He comes out and just finds that way to keep people off balance.”
TRIPLE: The Tyler Flowers’ era officially began with a bang, as he launched the White Sox first Spring Training home run on a drive Gordon Beckham said was one of the hardest baseballs he had seen hit.
Flowers laughed at the hoopla over one prodigious clout to left, stressing there’s more work to be done.
Kudos to Flowers for bringing up the great effort turned in by Axelrod, pointing up again how Flowers’ role is handling the pitchers first and offense second.
DOUBLE: Brent Morel has returned to action, looking a little more like the Morel from 2011 as opposed to the player held down by back issues all of last season.
Morel played third, batted second and knocked out a single in his second at-bat. The key for Morel, who felt his back was back on track as far back as an interview he did with MLB.com in late November, is how he responds the day after game action.
SINGLE: Alex Rios picked up where he left off as the team’s top offensive player in 2012 with two doubles. Gordon Beckham hit the ball hard twice, including a RBI double in the second off of Clayton Kershaw. Dayan Viciedo delivered a two-run single in the third with the hit coming on a two-strike pitch.
STOLEN BASE: The name Seth Loman doesn’t often get mentioned among the White Sox top prospects, as he didn’t crack MLB.com’s Top 20 list. But the left-handed hitting first baseman has some definite power, with 115 career Minor League homers. Loman launched one to right for a two-run homer in the ninth to cap off the scoring.
CALLED THIRD: Zach Stewart picked up where Axelrod left off Saturday, throwing two perfect innings of relief. Both men figure to start the 2013 season as part of the Triple-A Charlotte rotation.
JUST A BIT OUTSIDE: It’s hard to find fault in a total team effort like Saturday. Brian Omogrosso emerged unscathed in the eighth and threw the ball well, but he did issue three straight two-out walks to earn the only small blemish on an otherwise near-perfect day.
As the clock struck 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Ken Williams watched Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline pass and moved on to other pressing matters.
“It has come and gone and at this point I’m going home to get some sleep,” the White Sox general manager said.
Williams listened to all range of proposals Tuesday, although the team’s target figured to be utility infielder, reserve outfielder and possibly another pitcher. But nothing materialized, so the first-place White Sox will try to hang on to their American League Central lead with the upgrades of Kevin Youkils, Brett Myers and Francisco Liriano already in place before the deadline.
“There were some interesting discussions but nothing that I would describe close enough to start exchanging medicals,” Williams said. “I feel like just as we ask the players to grind it out and give it everything they have, we have a responsibility to do the same. We want to show them we are in this fight with them and believe in them.
“Whether or not we have positioned ourselves to close this thing out or not, we’ve given all we have and exhausted all options in the quest to be as good as we can be. Hopefully that’s enough and hopefully the players see that.”
While Ozzie Guillen was holding court in his return to Chicago at Wrigley Field Tuesday night, Adam Dunn was getting ready to help the White Sox to another victory some 983 miles away at Fenway Park in Boston.
Guillen and Dunn have not spoken directly since Guillen’s White Sox managerial tenure came to an end after the 2011 season, although they have exchanged friendly messages through Austin Kearns, a good friend of the White Sox designated hitter and a current player for the Marlins manager. The two apparently don’t have to talk directly, though, for Guillen to express his profound respect for the affable veteran.
That effusive praise came through loud and clear during Guillen’s comments to the large group of assembled media in Chicago. Guillen spoke of the positive way which Dunn handled his forgettable debut with the White Sox in ’11 and added how happy he was for Dunn to find success in 2012.
Dunn, who is as laid back as a summer Sunday afternoon and seems to be truly enjoying this return to his previous norm as he promised during Spring Training, appreciated Guillen’s kind words.
“Absolutely it means something,” Dunn told MLB.com after singling, walking and stealing a base in the White Sox 7-5 victory over the Red Sox. “I talked to (Guillen) about it all the time. He did everything he could to help me out.
“Everything he did was to help me. He gave me every opportunity in the world. You know, I feel bad. I feel bad for that whole staff that was here. I know they took a whole bunch of (garbage) each and every day about it. You know, it means a lot: (Guillen) has been in baseball a long time.”
This high-profile free agent signing came in to the White Sox on a four-year, $56-million deal, as almost the centerpiece of the team’s “all-in” campaign. So with that scenario in mind, Dunn still puts the previous team’s problems upon his broad shoulders—including, in part, the strained relationship between Guillen and general manager Ken Williams.
“I’ll take it all,” Dunn said. “I feel like I’m responsible for all that more than anybody else. You know, it (stinks) how it went down but everybody now seems to be doing good.”
That 2011 campaign is a distant memory for Dunn, where he has been trying to keep it since the start of the 2012 season. With the Major League lead in homers at 28 and 65 RBIs to go with those homers, not to mention the 2012 season fast approaching the end of July, Dunn has every right to believe such an expectation would be followed.
Comments from Guillen’s Tuesday press conference put a positive spin on that rough year for Dunn. In fact, Dunn was put in the same category as Jim Thome and Paul Konerko by Guillen, which is the highest compliment in player comparison coming from Guillen.
“If there’s one player I have more respect for in the game than Thome, Konerko, I think Dunner is,” said Guillen to the large group of assembled media. “What Dunner went through last year, and he took it like a man. He was the same guy in the clubhouse and dugout every day.
“He just had a bad year. It takes a very strong man mentally to go through what he went through last year. I’m very happy for him and his family for what he’s doing right now, and he knows that.
“I’m not saying this about Dunner because I’m here,” Guillen said. “He knows how I feel about him and I’m very glad he’s having the season he’s having.”
The White Sox took 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher Chris Beck from Georgia Southern with the No. 76 pick in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft.
Beck has three main pitches in a mid-90s fastball, a slider and a change up. Beck was invited to the Cape Cod All-Star Game after a great summer.
Beck’s 6-7 record doesn’t turn many heads, but he’s thrown 115 strikeouts to just 29 walks, with a 3.91 ERA. He posted a 3.23 ERA with 109 strikeouts his sophomore season.
The South Siders went with another college player in round three, selecting Arizona State second baseman Joey DeMichele, a versatile infielder who has also played third base, with the 108th pick.
DeMichele won the Pac-10 batting crown with a .368 batting average his sophomore year, smashing a team-leading nine home runs.
He once again leads the Sun Devils in batting average this season with a .336 hitting clip and six home runs. DeMichele’s speed is evident with seven triples and a team-high 12 stolen bases this year.
With the No. 141 pick, the White Sox selected their second pitcher in the first three picks on day two with junior college pitcher Brandon Brennan, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-handed hurler from Orange Coast College.
Brennan, who committed to play at the University of Houston before being drafted, was 11-1 with a 1.25 ERA and a .197 batting average against. His big frame is enticing and his fastball reaches the mid-90s.
Shortstop Nick Basto from powerhouse Archbishop McCarthy (Fla.) High School was selected with the 171st pick in the fifth round. Basto, who was heading to Florida International, helped lead the school to its third straight state baseball title this season.
Sixth-round pick Kyle Hansen, who went 5-5 with a 3.46 ERA this season, stands at 6-foot-8. The 201st selection from St. John’s is the older brother of former Red Sox first round pick Craig Hansen.
A local product was selected in Pinckneyville, Ill., native Brandon Hardin with the 321st pick in the 10th round. Hardin played at Delta State and lowered his ERA from 5.77 as a junior to 1.03 this season, after shifting from starter to closer.
The White Sox selected a high school outfielder Courtney Hawkins with the No. 13 pick Monday and followed in Comp Round A with Keon Barnum, a high school first baseman, with the No. 48 pick.
The White Sox set their 25-man roster on Saturday morning by optioning right-handed pitcher Dylan Axelrod to Triple-A Charlotte and reassigning RHP Brian Bruney, C Hector Gimenez, INF Rey Olmedo, LHP Leyson Septimo and LHP Eric Stults to Minor League camp.
With those moves, the White Sox have 12 pitches, two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders set to break camp. Eduardo Escobar was selected as the final position player, as expected, while Zach Stewart and Nate Jones round out the seven-man bullpen.
In that relief crew, the White Sox have four players with 70 days of big-league experience or less and three in Addison Reed, Jones and Hector Santiago, with 30 days or less. General manager Ken Williams said Saturday that he knew two weeks ago Jones and his fastball in the high 90s would make the team.
“He’s not out of nowhere for us,” said Williams of Jones. “When you throw 97-100 mph with a hard curve ball, and I think you guys finally saw the changeup a little bit last night, which we developed when he went down to start a couple years ago so that he could have something … .
“When you throw, last night I think he was 98-99 and the changeup was around the 86 mph range with some sink and fade to it, along with the curveball that makes everything better when you’re just sitting, I think he got into trouble a little bit in spring when you’re just sitting on two pitches. Guys can guess, ‘Ok, I got to be ready for the 98, so let me guess on this.’
“But when you put another thought in their mind, then you have something to work with,” Williams said. “We’ve been impressed with his aggressiveness. He was a little geeked up last night, trying to make that last impression and walked the first couple guys but settled down and really got in the swing of things.”
The White Sox bats continued their recent surge, pounding out 16 hits in a 16-4 victory over the Royals. Here’s a look at the action from this victory over their American League Central rivals at Camelback Ranch Thursday.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: This is beginning to sound like a broken record, but Adam Dunn has had a great run in Arizona. Not only is Dunn seeing the ball great and getting tremendous results at the plate, but he also looks good playing defensively at first base.
Against the Royals Bruce Chen, Dunn hit a two-run homer in the first and then hit a grand slam during a six-run fifth. The fact that Chen is a lefty, a sort of pitcher Dunn rarely connected against in 2011, was just a bonus.
“I feel fine against lefties. I don’t feel any different than I do against righties,” Dunn said. “It’s just, I’m seeing them good and I’m getting a pitch, I’m putting a good swing on them.”
Dayan Viciedo hit three home runs in a Minor League game at Camelback Ranch, with the White Sox hoping those extra at-bats gets their left fielder into a more productive mode. Meanwhile, Jake Peavy threw six scoreless innings in that same Minor League contest against the Rangers’ Triple-A team, while Zach Stewart strengthened his case as a long relief candidate with just two runs allowed on six hits over five innings against the Royals.
WHAT WENT WRONG: With 29 runs scored in the past two victories, it’s hard to find a pitfall.
Addison Reed allowed two runs over 1 2/3 innings, but manager Robin Ventura admitted that his pitch count was extended a little beyond where they had him slotted for the day. Matt Thornton threw another scoreless inning, and Ventura added Thursday that he doesn’t expect to name a closer before the team leaves for exhibition games in Houston on April 3 and 4.
“They were fine. Again, it’s what you see,” said Ventura of his closer candidates. “Addison probably stayed a little longer than we would have liked, but he got stretched out. But I thought he threw great. In the end, he was a little hot and tired. Matt threw great. They were on time with everything and where they need to be in a few weeks.”
UP NEXT: The White Sox have split-squad action in Tucson, where Dylan Axelrod gets the start against the Dodgers in the afternoon affair where all proceeds from the contest will benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation. Gavin Floyd starts the night game against the Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch.
MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Josh Phegley tripled with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth to finish off the White Sox scoring on Thursday. While Phegley certainly won’t break camp with the team, he continues to move his name up the list for future catching consideration.
MOMENT TO FORGET: That honor belongs to Chen, the Royals starter who gave up more runs on Thursday against the White Sox than he did in five starts total against them last year. Of course, Thursday’s effort was Cactus League related and is more about the work but still a bit frustrating.
“I don’t know what to say,” Chen said. “I mean, it was a tough first inning and last inning. I tried to make some adjustments. I really think my pitches are coming real good out of my hand. I just have to keep working. I’m not going to give in. I’m not going to make too much out of this.”
The White Sox avoided their fifth straight loss by virtue of a 9-7, come-from-behind victory over the Angels Wednesday at Camelback Ranch. They scored two runs in each of the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to claim the win. Here’s a look at the action.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Adam Dunn continues to be the White Sox story on offense.
In four trips to the plate Wednesday, the designated hitter walked twice and launched a two-run homer off of Angels closer Jordan Walden. Dunn leads the team in RBIs and walks and is tied with Tyler Flowers for the long ball lead, after missing Tuesday’s action due to stiffness in his neck.
“Today he felt good enough to go out there and didn’t feel like he would get hurt,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Dunn. “He has had good at-bats all spring. He has looked great even in BP. It’s just, in Spring Training, you just keep it going every day and keep that feeling going.”
Eduardo Escobar, the utility infielder fighting for the final position player spot on the roster, knocked out two hits and delivered the game-winning, two-run single with two outs in the eighth.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Chris Sale continues to build up his endurance in his move from reliever to starter. But as he continues to give up runs, with five scoring in 4 1/3 innings on Wednesday, he continues to be tough on himself.
“Obviously you don’t want to kick yourself around the house about it, but at the same time I’m not going to let it roll off my shoulders,” Sale said. “I take this seriously. Whether it’s Spring Training, Game 7 or a wiffle ball game, I got to go out there and get the job done.”
The more troubling news for the White Sox came off the field, with Jesse Crain being scratched due to a slightly strained right oblique. Ventura played down the seriousness of the problem, but Crain is an integral part of the bullpen and the oblique can be tricky.
WHAT’S NEXT: Philip Humber starts in Thursday’s B game against the Mariners, and Hector Santiago also will pitch. Dylan Axelrod starts in Goodyear against the Indians, with Zack Stewart also pitching. The most interesting note from Thursday is Dan Johnson getting his first look at third base during the B game.
MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Matt Thornton continues to have an outstanding Spring Training run, throwing another scoreless inning on Wednesday and striking out one. The closer’s job, at this point, could come down to him and rookie Addison Reed, with Thornton having the clear edge.
MOMENT TO FORGET: Maybe it’s actually a moment to remember, but Sale and Anthony Carter were the first of many home run victims for Albert Pujols. The first drive launched by Pujols carried so far down the left field line that Sale even admitted to losing track of it after Pujols made contact.
Make it eight losses in 10 Cactus League games for the White Sox, who fell victim for the sixth time against National League teams. Here’s a look at what took place:
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Gavin Floyd looked regular-season ready with four strong innings thrown against the Padres. He fanned five, including Orlando Hudson, Chase Headley and Will Venable in the first, and didn’t issue a walk.
Addison Reed earned praise for his one inning from manager Robin Ventura, who said the closer’s decision won’t officially come down until the final week of Spring Training. Eric Stults and Brian Bruney, locked in a battle with Dylan Axelrod and Zack Stewart for the final two bullpen spots, threw scoreless innings and have been unscored upon in seven combined Cactus League innings.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Charlie Leesman continues to struggle this spring, facing only four batters in the fifth and not retiring any of them, before eventually being charged with four runs. Leesman features plus-stuff but hasn’t been able to harness it since his Arizona arrival.
UP NEXT: Chris Sale takes the mound for Cactus League start No. 2 on Wednesday at home against the Angels. Sale had a solid first start against the Cubs on Friday but was hard on himself for walking Junior Lake with two outs and nobody on base in the second and then giving up a 0-2 home run to Edgar Gonzalez.
MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Jordan Danks’ bloop single to left-center in the third. It wasn’t that Danks crushed the ball, although he did have a good at-bat, but it was more about Brent Lillibridge getting a great jump off of second and making a great read on the fly ball to score easily with nobody out. The White Sox will need to be aggressive on the basepaths, among many other intangibles, in order to be successful.
MOMENT TO FORGET: The Padres’ four-run fifth. Leesman’s struggles started the frame, but errors from Lillibridge and Jhan Marinez on a pickoff attempt contributed to the rally. The White Sox finally got out of trouble on a Marinez wild pitch that bounced back off the wall to catcher Hector Gimenez and allowed him to tag out Nick Hundley before he scored.
The White Sox turned a two-run deficit into a 3-2 victory via a ninth-inning rally against the Rangers, raising their record to 2-4 overall. Here’s a look at Saturday’s first-game action.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Dylan Axelrod, Zach Stewart and Eric Stults amped up the long relief competition with two strong innings apiece Saturday. Hector Santiago seems to have a leg up for one of the three remaining relief openings, meaning it might be tough for another southpaw such as Stults to break camp as the fourth left-hander. So, it could come down to Axelrod and Stewart for one relief opening.
“I focus on what I’m doing, but you don’t want to root against anyone,” Stewart said. “I want everyone else to do good, because the better everyone else is doing, the better it makes the team around you.”
Although the regulars were gone by the ninth inning, some White Sox Minor Leaguers helped put together a three-run rally for the victory. Trayce Thompson walked, Andy Wilkins doubled and Ken Williams, Jr. delivered the two-out, game-winning single via an infield hit with the bases loaded.
Eduardo Escobar, who remains in the mix for the final position player roster spot partially because of his versatility, had two hits after starting at third base. Brian Bruney earned the victory with a scoreless ninth, giving him two scoreless innings in Cactus League action.
WHAT WENT WRONG: The White Sox didn’t get a baserunner in four innings against Texas starter Colby Lewis, and on any level of competition, those results aren’t good.
“We tried to set up Lewis, just for Opening Day, make him comfortable,” said a smiling White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who gave all the credit to Lewis.
Paul Konerko also fouled a ball off of his left knee on a seventh-inning pitch from Scott Feldman, and White Sox fans collectively held their breath as he walked around in pain. But Konerko finished the at-bat and seemed to walk normally off the field to the clubhouse when he was replaced prior to the eighth inning.
WHAT’S NEXT: It’s bonus baseball at Camelback Ranch, with Philip Humber and the White Sox taking on Chad Billingsley and the Dodgers Saturday night. It’s the second time the White Sox have faced Billingsley this week.
MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Williams has not had a lot of luck where health is concerned or a great deal of overwhelming success over his four Minor League seasons with the White Sox. But he did get to experience a game-winning hit with his single to center and his hustle down the first-base line in the ninth.
MOMENT TO FORGET: Pretty much the first four innings. Lewis was outstanding and efficient, needing just 36 pitches, and the White Sox didn’t seem to have much of a chance.