Results tagged ‘ Alex Rios ’

Game 1: White Sox 9, Dodgers 0

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.

White Sox need Dunn for division run

You know those bad dreams we all have from time to time, the one where someone evil is chasing or the one where college graduation never occurred because of sleeping through a class or two? Well, we all eventually wake up from those nightmares, breathe a sigh of relief or laugh at the absurdity and move on with our lives.

Now, try living those unwanted moments every day for almost four months, and you’ll have a greater understanding of Adam Dunn’s first season with the White Sox.

To Dunn’s credit, he has handled this most trying of situations with great class and dignity. No outbursts or hiding from the media. No sullen avoidances of his supportive teammates.

Dunn has been the same great clubhouse force everyone predicted when he agreed to a four-year, $56-million deal with the White Sox this past offseason. But nobody could have seen this disaster at the plate on the horizon.

Here’s the problem. This prolonged slump continues to cost the White Sox in games they simply can’t afford to lose. Take Monday’s 3-2 setback to the Yankees, as an example.

CC Sabathia struck out Dunn three times, raising his season’s strikeout total to 137. Dunn also slipped to 3-for-77 on the season against southpaws and just 21-for-159 in a home ballpark where it was thought he would flourish.

And with the game on the line in the sixth and the eighth, Dunn struck out both times and Sabathia knew he could get him. In the eighth, with none on, two outs and the Yankees clinging to a one-run lead, third baseman Eric Chavez came up to Sabathia and told him not to give in to Carlos Quentin because Dunn was on-deck, according to the Yankees ace.

“I mean, you know it’s there, and he’s just having a tough year,” said a respectful Sabathia of Dunn. “You don’t want to make mistakes, you don’t want to give in, you don’t want to get lazy and make a pitch that you’ll regret.

“He’s had a tough year. I know he hadn’t hit lefties really good this year, so like I said, I was just trying to make pitches and I ended up getting him in some tough spots.”

Quentin dropped a bloop single to center with two outs, but Dunn struck out on three pitches. As White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski pointed out, Sabathia aced Dunn with a 97 mph fastball, a 98 mph fastball and then an 84 mph slider. Even hitters going at their best have a tough time hitting one of the game’s top starters—especially through that sort of sequence.

With Paul Konerko out of action in this series opener due to a sore left knee/calf after being hit by an Andrew Miller fastball Sunday, Dunn had to face Sabathia. And with Alex Rios hitting fifth, struggling just as much as Dunn, there was no way in Ozzie Guillen’s estimation to drop Dunn from fourth in the order.

“What I have behind him is not better,” said Guillen in his pregame media chat. “Who, A.J.? When you look at A.J., he’s not hit good when we move him up, so we just leave him there where he is. (Gordon) Beckham struggles, (Brent) Morel is OK, but Morel is not a fifth hitter.

“Those guys are right where they are. They have to make it right. I think we set the lineup pretty well. Those guys gotta perform. They gotta do it for them.

“A lot of people say, ‘Well why you guys play this?’ Well, I want somebody else to send me the lineup,” Guillen said. “Send me the lineup, please, anybody, if I’m making the wrong lineup. No, I make the right lineup, we’re just not hitting. I’m going to play (Alejandro) De Aza against Sabathia and against (Jon) Lester? I think our lineup is good, it’s just not hitting.”

Support is there in full-force from Dunn’s teammates, as expressed by Gordon Beckham and Pierzynski following Monday’s loss. Pierzynski reiterated that they all hope Tuesday is the day Dunn takes off and hits 20 homers to carry this team over the final two months.

“I love Adam Dunn, on and off the field,” Pierzynski said. “Everyone’s been there. If you’ve ever played this game, you’ve struggled. This is not an easy game to play. It’s not something that you can go out there and say this or that and it works. It’s not football where you can get yelled and screamed it and it makes you play better.

“There’s only so much you can do. You’ve got to put the work in. He’s done that. He’s put the time in and he’s trying to make adjustments.”

Until those adjustments pay off in consistent offense, the boos will continue to cascade down upon Dunn’s broad shoulders at U.S. Cellular Field. Opposing pitchers will continue to target Dunn in potential game-changing situations, and the baseball nightmare will continue to be reality for the affable slugger.

“You just have to make sure that you’re going to make pitches, especially if you know that you’re going to not pitch around the guy, but not pitch in to him,” Sabathia said. “You better make sure that you make pitches to the guy you want to get out.”

“It’s not easy when people don’t seem like they are behind you, and I know it’s tough on him,” Beckham said. “Obviously he wants to do well, we want him to do well. I definitely wouldn’t be taking it like he’s been able to. He’s been upbeat the whole time but it still hasn’t come for him. There’s still time and I believe there’s still time. If he can just get going for us in any capacity, we have a good chance to win.”

Thomas on Dunn, Rios, Konerko and future

While Frank Thomas was rightfully basking in the glory of his statue being unveiled on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field, the Big Hurt took the time to touch on a few other White Sox-related matters. Here’s a look at those topics.

ON ADAM DUNN’S STRUGGLES

“I’ve talked to Adam a lot. He’s a good guy, very, very good guy. He’s going through a tremendous slump. It’s part of the game. It won’t be his last slump if he continues to play this game a long time. But he’s never seen anything like it. No one else has. He’s going to come out of it, sooner or later. If it’s not this year, next year he’ll come out of it.”

ADVICE TO DUNN

“Adam is a different type of hitter than me. Adam is a long ball guy; he’s a monster home run guy. With me, I was happy to get a single, so when I was going through those slumps I didn’t mid punching the ball to right field or wherever else just to get a hit.

“I think he’s got to start doing a little bit of that. I told him the other day, ‘It’s OK to punch in a single every now and then. If they want to shift on you, punch the ball through the shortstop. There’s nothing wrong with it.’

“He’s having a lot of fun and he was happy to hear that the other day. I said, ‘You know what? Go up there and think about hitting three doubles and a home run will happen.’ He’s a good guy, he’s handled it well. He’s going to have a good future here.”

ON STRUGGLES OF FORMER BLUE JAYS’ TEAMMATE ALEX RIOS

“I spent a year and a half with Alex and I know what the guy is capable of doing. Right now, he’s fighting himself.

“For me, I would change that stance. We talked about it the other day. There’s nothing wrong with going in the cage and messing around with it.

“We saw one of the most successful players to ever play this game, Cal Ripken, he had a new stance every week. I told Alex, the bottom line is hitting the baseball. Go in the cage and figure something out. Get comfortable, because he’s not comfortable right now.”

ON PAUL KONERKO’S EXCELLENCE

“It’s great. Paulie has had a great last three years here. Some guys find it in their late 20s. Paulie is finding it in his mid-30s. Bottom line is he’s getting it done. He’s having fun and he’s comfortable. More power to him. If he keeps this up, he’s going to be out there on that concourse, too.”

ON THOMAS’ FUTURE IN BASEBALL

“Who knows? I’m not saying what I want to do or would like to do. Right now I’m just happy to be a part of this organization. It’s always great to come down and go into the locker room and see the guys.

“It just brings back so many memories. I can see the look in the guys’ eyes. I can see the guys who are doing well. I can look at the guys and tell who’s struggling. That’s just a part of my life. I like to come in and say hello and help guys out because we had older guys who came in and helped us out throughout my years.”

Beckham not going anywhere

During a weekend at home in early August of last season, I remember one of my esteemed colleagues asking Ozzie Guillen about rumors of the White Sox reportedly putting in a waiver claim for Toronto outfielder Alex Rios.

“Who?” Guillen responded, knowing full well who Rios was, but seeming to be somewhat surprised by this bit of personnel news involving his team.

Two days later, Rios joined the White Sox in Seattle.

There’s no question Guillen runs the White Sox. He makes the day-to-day decisions about the lineup and serves as the true face of the franchise. But by Guillen’s admission, because of his candor and honesty with the media, sometimes he finds out about moves orchestrated by general manager Ken Williams right before they happen.

Guillen might say there’s no move to be made or the team doesn’t have interest in a certain player, and to his knowledge it’s an absolutely true statement at the moment, and in 48 hours, that individual is part of a five-player deal sending him to Chicago.

I’m sharing this little vignette because Guillen was questioned after Tuesday’s B game with the Dodgers about the possibility of Gordon Beckham being moved for a high-end performer, in this instance, San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez. And Guillen’s response?

“We plan to have Gordon for a long time,” Guillen said. “I don’t see why people still talking about it.”

In this case, Guillen knows exactly what’s going on. Gordon Beckham is going nowhere but to second base for the 2010 season and probably many, many years to come.

From the time Beckham was drafted in 2008, he was compared by the White Sox to having Michael Young-like potential. That potential translates into 200 hits, 40 doubles, 20 home runs, 100 runs scored, 80 to 90 RBIs and a .300 average, offensively, on a yearly basis, and solid defense in the field. And remember, Young is one of Guillen’s favorite players not wearing a White Sox uniform.

Trading Beckham as part of an Adrian Gonzalez trade, as a purely hypothetical example, makes little sense for the White Sox. You are basically getting rid of one franchise player for another who might only be in Chicago for two years. I’m not demeaning Jayson Nix or Brent Lillibridge, both capable players and would-be hypothetical replacements at second, but Beckham is a special force.

Williams has shocked people before and he might again. Let’s say, in that hypothetical mode, Williams decides to go after a big left-handed bat through the trade market, i.e., Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, etc. I’m more interested as to what the White Sox decide to do with Daniel Hudson, who clearly is the talented young pitching every team covets, or a rising catching prospect such as Tyler Flowers, with veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the last year of his contract.

Until further notice, though, let’s stop talking about Beckham going anywhere. He is one of the few near-untouchables on the White Sox roster.

“When we get something done, we let people know what’s going on about the real thing,” Guillen said. “Right now, the expectation about this guy and that guy, I like the team we have. We have a general manager who keeps things quiet, thank God. And when he makes deals, it’s for a reason.

“Every trade the White Sox want to make, people think they’re going to make with the White Sox is Gordon, (Gavin) Floyd and (John) Danks. Those names are going to come up. And we have to deal with that every time they talk about White Sox trying to make a deal. We got to stay on our toes.”

The life of a third base coach

Jeff Cox understands that second-guessing comes with the territory as the White Sox third base coach.

“It’s the hot seat, but we are all human,” said Cox, sitting in the White Sox dugout, prior to Wednesday’s series finale with the Royals.

Cox became the temporary center of attention following Kansas City’s 5-4 victory on Tuesday night, primarily because of one specific instance coming in the fifth inning.

Kansas City had grabbed a one-run lead in the top of the fifth, but the White Sox had runners on first and third with nobody out courtesy of a Carlos Quentin walk and Alex Rios’ hit-and run single to right. Alexei Ramirez followed with a fly ball to Willie Bloomquist in medium deep right field, and Cox decided to send Quentin home in an attempt to score the tying run.

Bloomquist’s throw was a little up the third-base line but still right on target for catcher John Buck to put the tag on Quentin and end the rally. The White Sox had exactly two baserunners over the remainder of the game.

Strong cases could be presented for both sending Quentin or holding him. Quentin has battled plantar fasciitis in his left foot and a sore right knee throughout the season, plus the White Sox had Kansas City starter Gil Meche on the ropes all game. But then again, Bloomquist is far from a prototypical right fielder.

“In that situation right there, Bloomquist is an infielder playing the outfield,” said Cox, explaining his decision. “Most of the time in that instance, you error on the side of assertiveness. It turns out he made a perfect throw and I thought it was deep enough that Carlos could score on the play and he threw him out.

“This is not a foolproof position. If the throw is offline, he’s safe.”

Ozzie Guillen certainly understands Cox’s plight as a third-base coach, having previously held that position for the Expos and Marlins. Guillen knows that the only time a third-base coach draws any attention is when something goes wrong.

“It’s easier to manage than it is to coach,” Guillen said. “The only thing is, I have to make the decisions as a manger, I have to take the blame and I have to take the glory.

“When you coach third base, sometimes you’re going to make plays people disagree with or people will be happy with him. You will be second guessed a lot, but in the meanwhile, I want him to be consistent.

“He’s there for a reason,” Guillen said. “I think he’s doing a good job. Some people don’t like what they see. Yesterday, Bloomquist was playing the outfield. I’m going to take that chance. He’s not an outfielder. In the meanwhile, I let everybody do their job.”

Guillen added that the blame should fall on him if people are unhappy with Cox because he hired Cox. Meanwhile, Cox comes infinitely prepared to this job and has done far more good than harm to the team since he’s been here.

The criticism comes with the job. But so should a little perspective from the people who don’t have Cox’s responsibilities.

“It’s the nature of the position and I love the position. I’m very good,” Cox said. “There is a lot more to coaching third base then just sending runners and things of that nature. If it was easy, everybody would do it. Ozzie can relate and (White Sox bench coach) Joey (Cora) can relate.”

“In this game, he’s had more success than failure,” said Guillen of Cox. “As long as he doesn’t panic and stay the same way, I’m behind him. When he panics, then we have a problem. I’m behind him 100 percent and hopefully, those people out there that are disappointed about it, it’s not an easy job.”

Do the White Sox have interest in Alex Rios?

According to an ESPN.com report, citing Major League sources, the White Sox are most likely the team that will be awarded the waiver claim on Toronto outfielder Alex Rios.

Teams cannot comment on waiver claims, but the outfielder is a player who has been on the White Sox radar previously. The Blue Jays could work out a trade with the team that reportedly claimed Rios, they could pull him back from waivers and thus keep him for the rest of the season or they could let the team who put in the claim take him. According to the report, Toronto has until Tuesday to make the decision.

Hypothetically adding Rios would also mean the addition of another larger contractual obligation to go with recently acquired hurler Jake Peavy, although the White Sox could be having the contracts of Octavio Dotel, Jose Contreras, Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome coming off of the books for 2010. Remember, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said he had to be talked into making that Peavy move by general manager Ken Williams and assistant general manager Rick Hahn. Then again, Reinsdorf said part of his hesitation was committing $52 million guaranteed from 2010-12 to a pitcher.

Over the past three years, Rios, 28, has never hit below .291 in a full season. He has plenty of speed and a strong outfield arm, along with more than a little bit of pop in his bat. His statistics have tailed off a bit this season, hitting .261 with 12 home runs and 58 RBIS.

Rios has roughly $2 million left owed to him this year and is guaranteed $59.7 million from 2010 to 2014. Rios would make sense in Williams’ plan to go a bit younger in the present, while also staying highly competitive and aligning the White Sox to stay strong in the future.

The questions that arise from even this possibility are numerous: What would become of Dye, a popular figure among management and within the clubhouse, not to mention a highly productive offensive force? Where does Rios fit this year? And if a trade was discussed, would the White Sox have anything that interests the Blue Jays. They never really seemed to be in play in the pursuit of Roy Halladay, but then again Halladay figures to require a different return than Rios.

And of course, all of this movement, if the White Sox are indeed the team awarded the claim, could be to block the Tigers from going after Rios or to set up possible future trade discussions.

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