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White Sox can't find rhythm with heavy hearts

Giolito allows 9 runs in 2-plus innings; Thompson goes deep
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- This simply hasn't been the White Sox week. Following a snowout in Minneapolis, a sweep in Oakland and now Saturday's 10-1 loss to the Astros, the White Sox have lost six consecutive games while being outscored 54-15.

The White Sox also tied their franchise record with four straight contests of allowing 10 or more runs, with the other two instances occurring in May 1999 and August 2007.

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CHICAGO -- This simply hasn't been the White Sox week. Following a snowout in Minneapolis, a sweep in Oakland and now Saturday's 10-1 loss to the Astros, the White Sox have lost six consecutive games while being outscored 54-15.

The White Sox also tied their franchise record with four straight contests of allowing 10 or more runs, with the other two instances occurring in May 1999 and August 2007.

View Full Game Coverage

"Right now, honestly, we're just in a little bit of a rut," manager Rick Renteria said. "It's just like I told the guys when I was coming in, this thing will turn. It'll turn, the thing is we have to continue to work, continue to stay positive, continue to prepare every single day, continue to give a good effort."

Video: HOU@CWS: Renteria talks loss to Astros, Moncada

Poor starting pitching again doomed the White Sox on Saturday, as Lucas Giolito struggled to find the strike zone in two-plus innings. Giolito finished with a career-high seven walks, including three to begin the second inning, which Josh Reddick took advantage of by hitting a grand slam to put Houston up 8-0 at the time.

On the season, Giolito has given up 21 runs (20 earned) and walked 19 batters in 20 innings.

"About as bad as it could get," Giolito said. "I didn't have a feel for much of anything. Seven walks, unacceptable. Put the bullpen in that situation, unacceptable. Luckily they did a really good job later after I came out of the game early. But it's one of those ones that you throw away and move onto tomorrow."

Video: HOU@CWS: Reddick clubs a grand slam to right

Giolito added that he didn't feel as though he was trying to be too careful against the Astros' powerful lineup, but that he was just "all over the place."

Offensively, the White Sox were stuck in the mud again against another former Cy Young Award winner in Dallas Keuchel. Chicago managed only four hits off the lefty, though Trayce Thompson hit his first home run of the year in the fifth -- a solo shot to right field.

Additionally, Danny Farquhar was on everyone's mind after the White Sox announced the reliever suffered a brain hemorrhage due to a ruptured aneurysm during Friday night's game. The White Sox hung Farquhar's jersey in both the dugout and bullpen, and several players inscribed his initials on their hats.

Video: HOU@CWS: Farquhar's jersey hanging in dugout

"I didn't see any of [the players] putting their head down, I thought they were actually trying to play for him a little bit today," Renteria said. "I know the results weren't what we wanted, but I think they were trying to go out there and put on a good face and do the best that they could."

Per the latest team update Saturday afternoon, Farquhar remains stable but in critical condition at Rush University Medical Center.

Tweet from @whitesox: For Danny. pic.twitter.com/hi1PGX30i8

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Things are getting tight: After Yoan Moncada grounded out to third base in the bottom of the second, Renteria pulled Moncada from the game after he appeared to slow down running up the line. Word was originally that Moncada was pulled in a manager's decision, but Renteria said after the game that Moncada's left hamstring tightened up. Leury Garcia replaced Moncada at second base. More >>

Video: HOU@CWS: Renteria pulls Moncada after injury

SOUND SMART
At 4-13, the White Sox are off to their worst start since 1968. Their 1-7 home record is their worst start since 1971.

UP NEXT
Reynaldo Lopez (0-2, 1.42 ERA) takes the hill in Sunday's series finale against the Astros at 1:10 p.m. CT. Lopez has been stellar through three starts, allowing just four runs (three earned) on eight hits in 19 innings. He has walked 11 hitters though. Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 5.57) goes for the Astros, who have won five games in a row.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago White Sox, Lucas Giolito, Trayce Thompson

Farquhar stable after ruptured brain aneurysm

Messages of support pour in for White Sox reliever in critical condition
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The focus of the White Sox clubhouse Saturday centered on reliever Danny Farquhar and really nothing more, with tests revealing he suffered a brain hemorrhage during the sixth inning of Friday night's loss to the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Farquhar collapsed in the White Sox dugout after facing four batters, and the additional overnight testing at Rush University Medical Center revealed that a ruptured aneurysm caused the brain bleed, according to the White Sox. Farquhar is currently stable but in critical condition in the neurosurgical ICU unit and continues to receive treatment and close monitoring by Dr. Demetrius Lopes and the neurosurgical team.

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CHICAGO -- The focus of the White Sox clubhouse Saturday centered on reliever Danny Farquhar and really nothing more, with tests revealing he suffered a brain hemorrhage during the sixth inning of Friday night's loss to the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Farquhar collapsed in the White Sox dugout after facing four batters, and the additional overnight testing at Rush University Medical Center revealed that a ruptured aneurysm caused the brain bleed, according to the White Sox. Farquhar is currently stable but in critical condition in the neurosurgical ICU unit and continues to receive treatment and close monitoring by Dr. Demetrius Lopes and the neurosurgical team.

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There was no discussion among the White Sox about not playing Saturday night against the Astros because of what had happened to their friend, and the team hung his jersey in the bullpen. There was plenty of conversation about thoughts and prayers for the 31-year-old Farquhar, his wife, Lexi, and their three children, Madison, Landon and Liam.

"It crushes us in this clubhouse, and nothing really matters baseball-wise when something like that happens," White Sox starter James Shields said. "When you see one of your brothers go down like that, it's not very fun to watch. He's such a resilient human being and we're praying for him. We hope everything goes well."

Tweet from @whitesox: ������ pic.twitter.com/JPC9IrNMqU

"He's alive, he's got a chance and that's what I'm hanging on to," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "And prayers are more necessary than talk."

Additional updates will be provided by the White Sox on Farquhar's health over the coming days as appropriate. But the club also asks that the privacy of the Farquhar family be respected at this time. Social media messages of hope from around baseball quickly came in for Farquhar, including from Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and his former teams from Tampa Bay and Seattle.

Tweet from @ARizzo44: Prayers for @whitesox Danny Farquhar. Another reminder how precious life is. Stay strong and keep fighting. My thoughts are with his family.

Houston shortstop Carlos Correa and manager AJ Hinch also talked about the tragedy hitting Farquhar during the course of Friday's game.

"It really is sad. I saw something going on when I was at shortstop in the dugout, but I didn't know what it was," Correa said. "I came here to watch my video and they told me that something happened to him. I asked the clubbies here what happened to him, and they didn't know at the time. Now that I know about the aneurysm and stuff, it's really sad. I'm wishing him the best, praying for him. Hopefully he gets better soon."

Tweet from @whitesox: Statement on Danny Farquhar. White Sox fans, please keep Danny and his family in your positive thoughts and prayers. pic.twitter.com/4DdwnXbVXd

"I texted back and forth with [White Sox manager Rick Renteria], and it was a scary incident last night," Hinch said. "We could see across the way something was going on, and I think some of our guys saw him vomit, and then as the group went around him, it just became a scary scene. Then word trickles back, and then this morning getting that update is very scary. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and him, the White Sox, the team."

Video: Shields, Santiago pray for teammate Farquhar

Right-handed reliever Gregory Infante replaced Farquhar on the active roster, with Farquhar being placed on the 10-day disabled list. Renteria met with the White Sox early on Saturday, and the team will try to move on while always carrying thoughts of hope for Farquhar, who received immediate treatment from the White Sox medical staff and EMTs on Friday.

"We've got a good group of guys here and we're going to stick together," Shields said. "He's definitely stable from what we hear, but he's got a long way to go and he's fighting. One thing we know in this clubhouse is that Farqy, he's a fighter."

"Pray for him, pray for his family, pray for his kids," White Sox reliever Hector Santiago said. "We're in here worrying about him, but you can only do so much from our side of it, so just pray for the family and him and hope for the best."

"You don't lose sight of the reality of the circumstance and the situation he's in," said Renteria, who makes his offseason home in Temecula, Calif., as does Farquhar. "But these men know they can go out there and show him that they are thinking about him by the way they go about doing their business today."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Danny Farquhar

Moncada pulled early with tight hamstring

White Sox second baseman says he wants to play next game
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- The original word from the White Sox on Yoan Moncada's early exit from Saturday's 10-1 loss to the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field was a manager's decision made by Rick Renteria and not injury related.

That explanation changed somewhat following the team's sixth straight loss, with Moncada leaving the game after his second-inning groundout to third base due to a tight left hamstring, per Renteria's postgame media session.

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CHICAGO -- The original word from the White Sox on Yoan Moncada's early exit from Saturday's 10-1 loss to the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field was a manager's decision made by Rick Renteria and not injury related.

That explanation changed somewhat following the team's sixth straight loss, with Moncada leaving the game after his second-inning groundout to third base due to a tight left hamstring, per Renteria's postgame media session.

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"He actually had a little bit of a sore hammy, so we took him out after the play at first," Renteria said. "He explained to me that he had a tight hammy, so I dealt with it in that way."

Video: HOU@CWS: Renteria talks loss to Astros, Moncada

"I felt the hamstring was a little tight, and then I told Ricky. That was why he made the decision to take me out of the game," Moncada said through interpreter Billy Russo. "Because it was the first time, I told Ricky just to be cautious about that. I felt a little tightness in the hamstring and that was why he decided to take me out of the game."

The White Sox second baseman grounded out to third baseman Alex Bregman for the second out, but appeared to slow down momentarily as he moved down the line. Bregman's throw was up the line, but first baseman Yuli Gurriel was able to apply the tag to Moncada's shoulder. Renteria stresses hustling at all times, and when Leury Garcia replaced Moncada in the third, it appeared that momentary lapse cost Moncada.

Moncada acknowledged Renteria asked him about the slowdown after the play, which is when Moncada mentioned the hamstring tightness. Renteria added that it was a manager's decision to remove Moncada, but when asked if he was upset with Moncada, Renteria simply stated, "No."

As for Moncada playing with the injury Sunday, Renteria gave a wait-and-see answer. Moncada seemed ready to go.

"No, I don't think it's something serious," Moncada said. "I want to be in the lineup tomorrow."

Saturday marked Moncada's first game this season out of the leadoff spot, batting sixth, albeit just one time. Moncada didn't seem to have a lineup spot preference, as long as he's in there.

"Being a leadoff hitter or in the sixth spot, I have to do my job, and that's my focus," Moncada said. "It doesn't matter in what order of the lineup I'm playing. I have to do my job to help this team win games."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Yoan Moncada

Shields, White Sox struggle vs. Astros in opener

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Following James Shields' relief outing in the 14th inning Wednesday at Oakland, concerns arose about whether or not he'd be able to make his scheduled start Friday against the Astros. But, as manager Rick Renteria said before the game, there was never any doubt in Shields' mind.

Shields pitched well through the first three innings, scattering just two hits and striking out two, but things unraveled in the fourth as the Astros took the series opener, 10-0.

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CHICAGO -- Following James Shields' relief outing in the 14th inning Wednesday at Oakland, concerns arose about whether or not he'd be able to make his scheduled start Friday against the Astros. But, as manager Rick Renteria said before the game, there was never any doubt in Shields' mind.

Shields pitched well through the first three innings, scattering just two hits and striking out two, but things unraveled in the fourth as the Astros took the series opener, 10-0.

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"I was cruising there. I gave up a bunch of seeing-eye hits," Shields said of the fourth. "They didn't really hit me that hard, to be honest with you. They had one hard-hit ball and that was [Derek] Fisher at the end of the game."

Video: HOU@CWS: Sox turn strike 'em out, throw 'em out DP

Four Astros reached base to start that inning, and it only got worse when George Springer hit a Little League home run -- doubling home two before scoring on a Tim Anderson relay-throw error. Shields fought through 5 1/3 innings on 111 pitches, his highest pitch count since July 26, 2016, in order to give the bullpen some rest.

"That's what I'm here to do; pick my boys up," Shields said. "They needed me to go that last inning in Oakland and I'm ready to go today. I felt fine today."

The White Sox offense, which erupted for 11 runs two days ago in Oakland, fell silent against Verlander and the Astros' bullpen. Verlander held Chicago hitless into the fifth inning, with Anderson's one-out single spoiling the no-no. Jose Abreu recorded the only other hit, a two-out single in the sixth.

Video: HOU@CWS: Anderson singles for White Sox's first hit

"We weren't able to really get anything going with [Verlander], and up until the fourth inning or whatever it was, we had a pretty good ballgame going," Renteria said. "He used his fastball very effectively, he didn't get off of it very much, used his breaking ball when he needed to. He just did a very nice job, you tip your cap to him."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Verlander jaws with Anderson: In the fifth inning, after Anderson's single, Verlander took exception to Anderson trying to steal second base on a 3-0 count to Omar Narvaez. Even though Anderson was going to be safe anyway, as the pitch to Narvaez was a ball, Verlander said he didn't appreciate Anderson celebrating a "bad baseball decision."

"I walk [Narvaez] and he steals [on] 3-0 and kind of celebrates that at second base again," Verlander said. "I don't even know what he's celebrating. He didn't get credit for a stolen base. Maybe he thought he did. I don't know."

Verlander went on to say that he was "jubilant" and "very thankful he gave me an out" when he picked Anderson off after he tried to steal third later that inning, and Verlander told him so on the field. Anderson retreated safely to second, but Narvaez was tagged out trying to advance. Anderson shrugged off Verlander's comments following the game.

Video: HOU@CWS: Verlander, Altuve team up for strange out

"I don't care what other people think, that [doesn't] bother me," Anderson said. "I don't know [what Verlander said]. I [couldn't] care less."

HE SAID IT
"We're trying to kind of process everything that happened. We're going to talk to some of the trainers and see what's going on. We just hope he's doing OK and is [back] with us tomorrow."
-- reliever Aaron Bummer, on Danny Farquhar being hospitalized after fainting in the dugout during the sixth inning

Video: HOU@CWS: Farquhar faints in dugout, taken to hospital

UP NEXT
Lucas Giolito has not pitched since April 12 during a loss to the Twins at Target Field. But the right-hander gets the call Saturday with a first pitch of 6:10 p.m. CT against the Astros at Guaranteed Rate Field. Giolito is limiting right-handed hitters to a .171 average. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will get the nod for Houston.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago White Sox

Rodon drops in, still hopeful for late-May return

Lefty visits team for shoulder checkup, to begin extended spring starts Monday
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodon joined the White Sox Friday prior to the start of this six-game homestand for a follow-up doctor's appointment on his surgically repaired left shoulder.

Rodon will throw a side session Saturday for pitching coach Don Cooper at Guaranteed Rate Field and then will return to Arizona to begin making starts in extended Spring Training on Monday. That rehab trail will lead the left-hander throughout the White Sox system before returning to the White Sox some time after May 28.

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CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodon joined the White Sox Friday prior to the start of this six-game homestand for a follow-up doctor's appointment on his surgically repaired left shoulder.

Rodon will throw a side session Saturday for pitching coach Don Cooper at Guaranteed Rate Field and then will return to Arizona to begin making starts in extended Spring Training on Monday. That rehab trail will lead the left-hander throughout the White Sox system before returning to the White Sox some time after May 28.

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"Hopefully by the end of this 60-day deal maybe," Rodon said. "You never know what could happen, setbacks and whatnot.

"Those things can lengthen out the process, but if everything goes well, hopefully by the end of [May]. I can't really put a date on it."

The No. 3 pick overall in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft had arthroscopic surgery in September which was to sideline him for six to eight months. The 25-year-old was limited to 12 starts last season after not debuting until June 28 due to biceps bursitis and finishing Sept. 2.

But there seems to be a different level of confidence surrounding Rodon's recovery this time around, primarily because his shoulder feels good.

"I kind of know more of a plan now compared to last year. I kind of was clueless," Rodon said. "You never think surgery is a good thing, but in this case it's not bad at all, considering plan-wise and time-wise, we're a little more set in stone. I'm in a good place, especially getting to come up here, hang out with the guys and watch a game or two."

"He's thrilled to be here, thrilled to be out of Glendale [Ariz.] for a few days," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "I'm looking forward for him continuing to build over the next couple weeks."

Fulmer provides Friday's relief
After throwing just 46 pitches during a rough start against Oakland on Wednesday, Carson Fulmer pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief for the White Sox Friday during a 10-0 loss to the Astros. Fulmer threw 28 pitches for a White Sox squad that will play 11 games in 10 days starting Friday.

"Again, we were put in the situation where we needed to put him in there to help us out with the way we had used the bullpen," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Carson's outing was much better. The breaking ball, the last breaking ball he threw had much better angle and bite, and he was able to get us an inning and a third and save some of the other guys that we'd used the previous day-and-a-half ago or so."

Fulmer is scheduled to start Tuesday against Seattle, and Friday would have been his side day anyway. Renteria was hopeful they could keep Fulmer on track, but added there are a lot of moving parts as they move forward.

Hahn's pregame assessment pointed directly to the 24-year-old not leaving the rotation any time soon.

"As we sit here right now, I think Carson is best served by getting the ball every fifth day and trying to learn at the big league level how to get through the struggles he's encountering," Hahn said. "That doesn't mean he's going to necessarily get the ball every fifth day in perpetuity. He's going to have to show he's making progress and this is best for his long term development.

"If we get to the point where we feel we are no longer improving, or he's no longer doing more good than harm for himself, then we might have to make an adjustment. Right now the plan is for him to continue to start and hopefully build in the right direction."

Minor injury updates
Alec Hansen, the team's No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, was limited to one Spring Training appearance due to right forearm soreness. He continues the gradual process back to the mound at extended Spring Training on a throwing program clearly behind Rodon's.

Video: Top Prospects: Alex Hansen, RHP, White Sox

"This is a forearm muscle issue similar to something that he apparently went through previously in high school," Hahn said. "At least you have a player who is comfortable knowing where he is at, knowing that he's been able to bounce back from this before.

"Physically or medically there is no concern about this. It's just a matter of getting the thing completely calmed down and then building up for the lost time we've had."

Outfielder Luis Robert, the team's No. 3 prospect, will be in Chicago next week for a follow-up doctor's appointment on his sprained left thumb ligament. He will then return to Arizona to slowly start ramping up baseball activity.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Carlos Rodon

Thompson's career circles back to South Side

White Sox reacquire former second-rounder from A's for cash, trade Saladino to Brewers
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Trayce Thompson never wanted to leave the White Sox, the team selecting him in the second round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft but also the team trading him to the Dodgers in '15 as part of a three-way deal that sent Todd Frazier to Chicago.

"Getting traded from here, I was devastated," Thompson said. "These guys took a chance on me when I was a teenager, and they stuck with me when I was not good in the Minor Leagues. They always believed in me, so I always hope for the best for this organization."

CHICAGO -- Trayce Thompson never wanted to leave the White Sox, the team selecting him in the second round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft but also the team trading him to the Dodgers in '15 as part of a three-way deal that sent Todd Frazier to Chicago.

"Getting traded from here, I was devastated," Thompson said. "These guys took a chance on me when I was a teenager, and they stuck with me when I was not good in the Minor Leagues. They always believed in me, so I always hope for the best for this organization."

As of Thursday night, Thompson once again will be providing his best for the organization. The right-handed hitting Thompson, who produced 16 extra-base hits and a .295 average over 135 plate appearances during his 2015 White Sox debut, returned home to the South Side of Chicago when the White Sox acquired Thompson from the A's for cash considerations. Thompson, the brother of the NBA's Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson, has bounced around a little this season.

Video: OAK@LAD: Klay Thompson reacts to Trayce's HR robbery

He started Spring Training with the Dodgers but was designated for assignment, then was claimed off waivers by the Yankees and then by the A's. The 27-year-old played in three games for Oakland, going 1-for-7 at the plate, before being designated for assignment on Tuesday while the White Sox were in Oakland.

In his Major League career, Thompson has hit .232/.307/.440 with 19 home runs and 50 RBIs in 154 games. He should have a chance to compete for playing time with Adam Engel, a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder presently hitting .179 with a .488 OPS.

"Yeah, it's gonna evolve here over the coming weeks," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn of Thompson's role. "He's gonna provide an option at all three outfield positions, and certainly at the bare minimum he'll provide some defensive assistance late in ballgames."

Thompson takes the place of infielder Tyler Saladino on the active roster, with Saladino being traded to the Brewers for cash considerations Thursday. Saladino, 28, had spent his four-year career with the White Sox and played in six games this season, including three starts. He was 2-for-8 with a double, and in his career, Saladino has hit .231/.281/.330 with 12 home runs and 68 RBIs in 246 games.

Video: TB@CWS: Saladino picks up his first hit of the season

"I had the fans in mind every day and worked my hardest to make them proud one way or another," Saladino told MLB.com of his time in Chicago.

Saladino hit .282 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 2016, but battled back problems he feared at times were career-ending in '17. He came back healthy and earned an '18 Opening Day roster spot with the White Sox.

The White Sox still have a three-person bench made up of catcher Omar Narvaez, Thompson and Leury Garcia, who figures to be the team's primary utility infielder. This pair of moves leaves the White Sox 40-man roster at 40, with Thompson back in the spot he never wanted to depart.

"Yesterday was a good [call]," Hahn said. "We get to welcome a guy back who a lot of people not only like and respect as a person, but know what he's potentially capable of doing as a player. It was a much easier call yesterday than it was a few Decembers back."

"I was terrible last year," Thompson said. "I have to prove that I'm the same guy I was before that and I think I'm ready to. I had a full offseason to work out and get ready, so I'm ready to go."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Chicago White Sox, Tyler Saladino, Trayce Thompson

AL Central: Checking in on the new guys

MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- New faces abound in the American League Central in 2018, some young and some old. And we're not talking about Frosty the Snowman, who has made an appearance in every AL Central park from Detroit to Kansas City here in April.

Let's go around the horn in the AL Central and check out the new guys.

KANSAS CITY -- New faces abound in the American League Central in 2018, some young and some old. And we're not talking about Frosty the Snowman, who has made an appearance in every AL Central park from Detroit to Kansas City here in April.

Let's go around the horn in the AL Central and check out the new guys.

Indians
Who's the new guy?
First baseman Yonder Alonso

Video: CLE@MIN: Alonso homers to right field, call confirmed

How's it going so far? Through 16 games, Alonso has a .196/.274/.375 slash line to go with three home runs and nine RBIs. Like most of the Indians' lineup, Alonso's slow start was impacted by an extremely cold stretch of games in Cleveland.

What's on deck? Alonso's .195 batting average on balls in play is the ninth-lowest mark in the AL. That, combined with other peripheral statistics, indicate a positive regression is coming.

Number to know: 8. Alonso is one of 16 players in MLB with at least eight barrels, per Statcast™..

Royals
Who's the new guy?
Rookie left-hander Tim Hill

Video: CWS@KC: Hill fans Sanchez to record first strikeout

How's it going so far? Incredibly well. Hill perhaps was a long shot to make the 25-man roster entering Spring Training, but his funky sidearm delivery caught the coaching staff's eyes immediately. Hill's fastball sits around 91-92 mph, and extensive work on his slider ("It's still improving," manager Ned Yost said.) this spring is paying off, as AL hitters are still somewhat baffled by his repertoire.

What's on deck? More high-leverage situations. As the rest of the Royals' bullpen wobbles, Hill and closer Kelvin Herrera have been Yost's most reliable go-to guys. Yost and his staff had been hoping to bring Hill along slowly, but now Kansas City may have no choice but to use Hill from the eighth inning on.

Number to know: 0. That's the number of hits Hill has given up in his first seven appearances.

Tigers
Who's the new guy?
Leonys Martin

Video: DET@CLE: Martin cranks solo HR over right-field wall

How's it going so far? Martin has filled the leadoff and center-field roles surprisingly well, covering more range in the gaps at Comerica Park than probably anybody since Austin Jackson's rookie year. Offensively, Martin scored nine runs in his first 14 games, including the go-ahead tally Tuesday after reaching base on a bunt single.

What's on deck? Martin is in line to get close to everyday playing time in center now that JaCoby Jones is getting the bulk of the starts in left. With Dixon Machado having cooled off from his start, Martin is safe in the leadoff spot for the near future.

Number to know 5. Those are the Outs Above Average Martin earned in about a half-season of playing time last year between the Mariners and Cubs. He's on track to top that in Detroit.

Twins
Who's the new guy?
Designated hitter/first baseman Logan Morrison

Video: MIN@PIT: Morrison scores Sano on an RBI double

How's it going so far? Morrison has struggled offensively so far since signing a one-year deal in Spring Training. He was brought in to be a power bat from the left side after a breakout year with the Rays last year, when he clubbed 38 home runs. Morrison has yet to break out of his slump this season, and he has produced only one extra-base hit (a double) in 44 at-bats this season.

What's on deck? The Twins believe Morrison will get it going offensively based on his track record, so he'll continue to be the everyday designated hitter and backup to Joe Mauer at first base. Morrison has also had to adjust to playing in cold weather early this season, so the hope is his bat will heat up with the weather.

Number to know: 3. The number of hits for Morrison in his first 12 games with Minnesota.

White Sox
Who's the new guy?
Right-hander Bruce Rondon

Video: DET@CWS: Rondon strikes out Cabrera swinging in 8th

How's it going so far? The hard-throwing right-hander came up from Triple-A Charlotte to replace an ineffective Juan Minaya in Chicago's bullpen and has been unhittable in a small sample size. Rondon's 100 mph velocity and a sharp slider to go with it gives the White Sox a potential closer, or at least another late-inning option.

What's on deck? Look for Rondon to continue getting late-inning, high-leverage opportunities, although the White Sox have Nate Jones and Joakim Soria in place in the closer's role. At 27, Rondon could be a newfound part of the rebuild, or he could end up being a great trade chip if he continues pitching well.

Number to know: 5. Rondon struck out the first five batters he faced this season, including his old friend and Detroit teammate Miguel Cabrera, who gave Rondon a knowing wink after a slider got him

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Yonder Alonso, Tim Hill, Leonys Martin, Logan Morrison, Bruce Rondon

Thursday's top prospect performers

Brewers duo impresses on both sides of the ball
MLB.com

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

The Brewers' top two prospects showed a bit of why they are so highly-touted on Thursday night.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

The Brewers' top two prospects showed a bit of why they are so highly-touted on Thursday night.

Milwaukee's No. 1 prospect Keston Hiura (No. 56 overall) hit his first homer of the season in a 2-for-5 showing with Class A Advanced Carolina while Corbin Burnes (Brewers' No. 2, No. 69 overall) spun a scoreless start and picked up the win for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Hiura, who hit .371 in 42 games after he was picked in the first round a season ago, got off to a slow start this season, but he appears to be finding his rhythm. The 21-year-old has hits in four of his past five games, raising his average from .143 to .220 over that timeframe.

Hiura's first homer of 2018

Burnes was impressive from start to finish as he struck out the side in the first inning, setting the tone for things to come. The right-hander notched at least one strikeout in five of his first six innings, ultimately finishing with nine.

Burnes faced one batter in the seventh, got a flyout, then was lifted after yielding three hits over 6 1/3 innings.

Burnes rings up ninth strikeout

Other top prospect performances from Thursday's action:

• No. 3 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1) is hitting .362/.411/.596 after going 2-for-4 with Double-A New Hampshire. Guerrero has hits in 10 of 12 games this season and has notched multiple hits in five of his past six games. While Guerrero was contributing on the offensive end, Jordan Romano (No. 27) kept Binghamton in check with seven innings of one-run ball.

• No. 23 overall prospect Austin Hays (Orioles' No. 1) was responsible for half of Double-A Bowie's offense in a 6-1 win over Richmond. Hays finished just 1-for-4, but he drove in three runs via a sacrifice fly in the first and a two-run homer in the ninth. Cedric Mullins (Orioles' No. 7) collected a season-high three hits, going 3-for-5, and Keegan Akin (Orioles' No. 9) picked up his first win of the year as he struck out seven over six innings of one-run ball.

Hays goes the other way

• No. 38 overall prospect Jack Flaherty (Cardinals' No. 2) spun the first complete game of his career (seven innings) and moved to 3-0 as he led Triple-A Memphis to a win over Omaha in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The 22-year-old right hander gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits and struck out six while throwing 67 of his 95 pitches for strikes.

Flaherty finishes complete game

• No. 97 overall prospect Austin Riley (Braves' No. 8) is swinging a scorching-hot bat for Double-A Mississippi. The 21-year-old, who went 3-for-3, is hitting .408 after his fourth straight multi-hit effort. Over those four games, Riley is 10-for-15 with six extra-base hits and five RBIs.

• No. 99 overall prospect Blake Rutherford (White Sox No. 7) continued his hot start and extended his hitting streak to six games, going 4-for-5 with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. Rutherford, who is batting .404 through 11 games, also set a career high with four RBIs. Micker Adolfo (No. 10) also contributed to the win, hitting his third homer of the year.

Rutherford's two-run single

Athletics No. 8 prospect Sean Murphy pushed his average to .409 with his fourth consecutive multi-hit performance for Double-A Midland. Murphy, who hit just .209 in 53 games with Midland last season, went 4-for-5 and is off to a particularly fast start at the plate. The 23-year-old has hits in nine of the 11 games he's played in and has also racked up nine RBIs.

Murphy knocks out four hits

• Braves No. 10 prospect Joey Wentz was once again dominant for Class A Advanced Florida. Wentz retired the first five batters he faced on his way toward hurling five scoreless innings. The 20-year-old hasn't given up a run in either of his past two starts (10 innings) and has allowed just one run all season. Wentz struck out six, including the final two batters he faced, and has now fanned 15 in 14 innings.

Cubs No. 3 prospect Oscar De La Cruz bounced back from a couple rough starts to spin a gem for Double-A Tennessee. The right-hander gave up 11 earned runs over six innings in his first two starts, but he showed no signs of struggle against Montgomery. De La Cruz dominated through six scoreless frames, surrendering just one hit and striking out six.

De La Cruz fans six

• Pirates prospects Calvin Mitchell (No. 16) and Travis MacGregor (No. 25) led Class A West Virginia to a 3-0 win over Asheville. Mitchell, who finished 2-for-4, provided all the offense with a three-run homer in the third while MacGregor did his part by pitching six scoreless innings. MacGregor, who struck out six and yielded three hits, has given up just one earned run over three starts this season.

Red Sox No. 11 prospect Josh Ockimey picked the perfect time -- waiting until the bases were loaded -- to hit his first homer of the season. The 22-year-old went 3-for-4 for Double-A Portland and put the game out of reach with a grand slam in the seventh.

Royals No. 25 prospect Chase Vallot snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a first-inning grand slam for Class A Advanced Wilmington. Vallot picked up a fifth RBI via a bases-loaded walk in the fourth, but is still having a tough time at the plate as he finished 1-for-5.

Angels No. 29 prospect Joe Gatto gave up five runs in three innings in his last start with Class A Advanced Inland Empire, but he bounced back in a big way against Lancaster. The 22-year-old right-hander fired 53 of his 79 pitches for strikes as he struck out nine and yielded three hits over six scoreless frames. Gatto struck out the side in the first and notched at least one strikeout in five of his six innings.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Pitching prospects shining for White Sox

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Pitching continues to impress up and down the farm for the White Sox.

Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning have already gotten off to hot starts, and promotions may be in their near futures.

CHICAGO -- Pitching continues to impress up and down the farm for the White Sox.

Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning have already gotten off to hot starts, and promotions may be in their near futures.

However, some of the middle-tier pitchers have also performed well, illustrating the vast depth of the team's Minor League system.

In addition, young outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe is off to a scorching start at Class A Advanced Winston-Salem.

Here is a rundown of some strong early performances:

Ian Clarkin, LHP, Double-A Birmingham

Clarkin was acquired in the midseason trade with the Yankees last season that sent Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Bronx. Entering 2018 as Chicago's No. 16 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, Clarkin has been lights out thus far in Birmingham.

Through two starts (12 1/3 innings) with the Barons, Clarkin has given up one run on nine hits while walking two and striking out eight. That includes a seven-inning complete game against the Montgomery Biscuits last Sunday.

Clarkin, 23, still needs to prove he can stay healthy -- he hasn't thrown more than 98 innings in a professional season -- and this is his first stint in Double-A.

Luis Alexander Basabe, OF, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem

Basabe signed with the Red Sox out of Venezuela in 2012, and arrived as part of the Chris Sale blockbuster that also netted Yoan Moncada and Kopech. After spending all of 2017 at Winston-Salem, he has started off this season scorching hot.

Through the first couple weeks of the season, Basabe leads the Dash in OPS at 1.030, which also trails only Royals prospect Khalil Lee's 1.090 mark in the Carolina League. His full slash line is .340/.426/.604, adding two home runs and 11 RBIs. Basabe, 21, is also sixth in the league in batting average, behind two of his teammates -- Blake Rutherford and Micker Adolfo.

John Parke, LHP, Single-A Kannapolis

Parke, 23, was drafted by the White Sox in the 21st round of last year's draft out of South Carolina, and threw 68 1/3 innings for the rookie league AZL White Sox, earning a promotion to Kannapolis this season.

Thus far, Parke has not made the White Sox regret that decision. Parke has thrown 17 innings over three starts, giving up three earned runs and striking out 17. Most impressive might be that he's walked only two, though he has hit three batters.

Jimmy Lambert, RHP, Class A Advanced Winston-Salem

A fifth-round pick in 2016, Lambert earned a midseason promotion from Kannapolis to Winston-Salem last season and struggled in his first go-around. Lambert, 23, pitched to a 5.45 ERA in 14 Carolina League starts in 2017, walking 29 against 59 strikeouts.

While it's a small sample size, things are different thus far in 2018. Lambert has turned in two excellent starts, giving up just three hits and four walks in 10 1/3 innings. That's good for a .094 batting average against, and a 2.61 ERA. The home run ball, which gave Lambert trouble in Winston-Salem last season, has yet to bother him this year.

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.

Chicago White Sox

Despite offense's heavy lifting, White Sox fall

Special to MLB.com

OAKLAND -- On Tuesday, with his offense firmly mired in a slump, White Sox manager Rick Renteria likened his mindset to that of a prize fighter -- just trying to win each inning, one "round" at a time. Little did he know then how apt that analogy would prove for Wednesday's grueling, back-and-forth marathon that lasted five hours and 48 minutes.

The long-awaited breakout for the Chicago lineup finally came, but the White Sox and A's traded hits for nine innings -- whenever each team took a lead, the other club had an answer. And because nine innings of free baseball in Oakland on Tuesday apparently wasn't enough, it took 14 innings before James Shields yielded a walk-off single to Matt Olson as the Sox lost, 12-11, bringing an end to a winless road trip.

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OAKLAND -- On Tuesday, with his offense firmly mired in a slump, White Sox manager Rick Renteria likened his mindset to that of a prize fighter -- just trying to win each inning, one "round" at a time. Little did he know then how apt that analogy would prove for Wednesday's grueling, back-and-forth marathon that lasted five hours and 48 minutes.

The long-awaited breakout for the Chicago lineup finally came, but the White Sox and A's traded hits for nine innings -- whenever each team took a lead, the other club had an answer. And because nine innings of free baseball in Oakland on Tuesday apparently wasn't enough, it took 14 innings before James Shields yielded a walk-off single to Matt Olson as the Sox lost, 12-11, bringing an end to a winless road trip.

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"I don't want them to be down about this game today," Renteria said. "I want them to actually have a lot more positives to take away from it and build on it and see that they can be focused and relaxed at the same time and give themselves opportunities. It kind of steamrolls, hopefully we're now out of a little rut, if you might call it that, and we're moving forward."

Video: CWS@OAK: Olson drives a walk-off single in the 14th

A resurgent Yoan Moncada starred in the loss for the White Sox, hitting the first grand slam of his career in the second inning and reaching base three times for the second consecutive game. He also added two sparkling defensive plays in the field, featuring a running, over-the-shoulder catch in the 10th and a diving play in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded that preserved the tie and sent the game into extra innings.

Moncada's 1st career grand slam highlights big effort 

Video: CWS@OAK: Moncada belts a grand slam to right

The A's seemed as if they had cast the knockout blow with a two-out, go-ahead three-run homer by Jed Lowrie in the bottom of the eighth, giving them an 11-10 lead. But with Chicago on the ropes in the top of the ninth, Welington Castillo's two-out double was followed by a game-tying single from Tim Anderson, and the teams battled on.

"When we tied the game, we were very excited," Moncada said through an interpreter. "It was a very good moment for us. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, when we had the opportunity to shut them down with the bases loaded, that was huge for us. It was a big burst of energy for us. We tried to keep that moving forward, and I think we did that in a good way until the 14th."

Renteria had been adamant that the hits would eventually start falling for his struggling offense, and those words quickly rang true on Wednesday, as early RBI singles from Nicky Delmonico and Adam Engel were followed by Moncada's slam to spot the White Sox a 6-1 lead after two innings.

That was already Chicago's largest offensive output since April 5, and the Sox kept adding on, finishing the game with 11 runs on 17 hits, surpassing their scoring output from their last five games combined. Jose Abreu and Delmonico each had three hits, a season-high for Delmonico.

Video: CWS@OAK: Abreu doubles to left-center to score a pair

But after the Sox scored five in the second, the A's answered with three in the bottom of the frame. Chicago put up a three-spot in the fourth, but Oakland came through with four more of its own.

"That's the sign of a true fight," Renteria said. "You're battling. You're not giving up. It's a relentless effort to continue to try to win every inning. Again, we took it down to the wire, and we didn't come out ahead this time, but I think you see the guys waking up a bit."

With an off-day to regroup and a much-needed return to Chicago in store, Renteria feels encouraged about his team's immediate future.

"It's a long season, and I hope that today marks the beginning of a little bit of a turn," Renteria said. "Not that this will not happen again, but as long as we keep moving forward in terms of our approaches, how confident we might be, giving ourselves a chance, we'll be OK." 

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After the Sox tied the game with Anderson's two-out heroics in the top of the frame, the A's loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth on three walks by reliever Nate Jones. With two outs, Chad Pinder hit a sharp grounder towards the gap between first and second, but Moncada ranged to his left, snared the ball on a dive, and made the throw to first to preserve the tie and send the game to extra innings.

"When I saw the ground ball coming to my field, I said, 'OK, I have to stop it,'" Moncada said. "So I ran as hard as I could, and I was able to cut the ball off and make the play. The difference between that moment and the home run was that the home run was just focusing on hitting the ball hard. It wasn't a do-or-die situation like it was in the ninth inning."

Video: CWS@OAK: Moncada makes a diving stop, extends game

In each of the first two games of the series, Moncada reached base to lead off the game and stole second. Both times, he was left stranded at third as Chicago's situational hitting woes continued. On Wednesday, he repeated the feat again, singling up the middle and stealing second, and moved to third on a flyout by Abreu.

And in a sign of things to come, the White Sox were finally able to cash in, with Delmonico's two-out RBI single up the middle, bringing Moncada home for Chicago's first run-scoring hit with a man in scoring position since April 10.

"It was good for us as a team, because with the hit, we scored first," Moncada said. "We were able to get the chance to command the game, and as a team, that's what you want."

The Sox finished Wednesday 8-for-20 with runners in scoring position. In their previous eight games, they had been just 5-for-62 in such situations.

Video: CWS@OAK: Delmonico singles, drives in Moncada

SHIELDS MAKES FIRST RELIEF APPEARANCE SINCE 2010
Just about the only thing that didn't happen in Wednesday's game was a position player pitching.

With the White Sox out of relievers and Bruce Rondon's pitch count soaring to 47 in three innings of relief, both Shields and Lucas Giolito went to the clubhouse to retrieve their cleats. Ultimately, the Sox asked Shields to make the second relief appearance of his career, and the first since June 9, 2010 against the then-Florida Marlins.

"They asked me if I could pitch, and I was ready to rock and roll," Shields said. "I didn't get the job done today."

Video: CWS@OAK: Shields enters in relief, gets flyout

SOUND SMART
The final game time of five hours and 48 minutes was the longest for the Sox since a six-hour, 19-minute game on July 9, 2006 against the Red Sox that was decided in 19 innings. It was also the third-longest game in A's history.

The longest game the White Sox played in 2017 was four hours, 10 minutes. Wednesday's game almost surpassed that through just nine innings, with the clock sitting at the four hour, seven minute mark with the game tied 11-11 following the bottom of the ninth.

HE SAID IT
"I'm not as frustrated as you might think. I'm proud of how they continued to play the whole game," -- Renteria

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The A's trailed, 6-3, and had runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the second when Lowrie grounded to Anderson. The White Sox shortstop quickly relayed to second baseman Moncada, who fired to first baseman Matt Davidson for what appeared to be an inning-ending double play. After further review, however, Lowrie was called safe at first to extend the inning. Lowrie's hustle down the line plated another run for Oakland -- one that proved to be instrumental later on in sending the game to extra innings.

Video: CWS@OAK: Lowire reaches first after call overturned

UP NEXT
The Sox have an off-day Thursday (this one is scheduled, not weather-related) before opening a six-game homestand on Friday night against the defending world champion Astros. Shields was scheduled to take the mound for Chicago against Justin Verlander, but the team will use Thursday's off day to re-evaluate their pitching schedule. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. CT at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Do-Hyoung Park is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Chicago White Sox

Moncada's 1st career slam highlights big effort

Special to MLB.com

OAKLAND -- No need to worry -- it looks like Yoan Moncada is back.

After a weeks-long slump to begin the 2018 campaign, the tools that once made Moncada the No. 1 prospect in baseball were on full display on Wednesday. The 22-year-old hit his first career grand slam for his second homer in as many days, reached base three times for the second consecutive day and added two sparkling defensive plays in the White Sox 12-11 loss to the A's in 14 innings.

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OAKLAND -- No need to worry -- it looks like Yoan Moncada is back.

After a weeks-long slump to begin the 2018 campaign, the tools that once made Moncada the No. 1 prospect in baseball were on full display on Wednesday. The 22-year-old hit his first career grand slam for his second homer in as many days, reached base three times for the second consecutive day and added two sparkling defensive plays in the White Sox 12-11 loss to the A's in 14 innings.

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Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

Moncada's blast came on a 1-0 fastball off A's right-hander Andrew Triggs and traveled a Statcast-estimated 395 feet with an exit velocity of 109 mph. The slam punctuated a five-run second inning for the struggling White Sox offense, which had entered the game 5-for-62 (.081) with runners in scoring position in its last eight games. He had also hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning on Tuesday to account for Chicago's only runs.

"I just went into the at-bat with a goal in my mind just to hit the ball hard," Moncada said through an interpreter. "I wasn't expecting any pitch -- I just went into it with the idea to hit the ball hard."

For the third straight game, Moncada gave the Sox an early opportunity to break through when he singled to lead off the contest and stole second. He moved to third on a flyout to right, and Chicago was finally able to cash in, as Moncada scored on Nicky Delmonico's two-out single. It was Chicago's first run-scoring hit with a man in scoring position since April 10.

Video: CWS@OAK: Moncada makes a diving stop, extends game

Entering Tuesday, Moncada had been 1-for-11 with eight strikeouts in the three previous games and was slashing .192/.300/.308 on the season.

"It was good for us as a team, because with the hit, we scored first," Moncada said. "We were able to get the chance to command the game, and as a team, that's what you want."

Moncada also made his impact felt on defense, flashing the leather in a critical situation in the ninth that saved the game for the White Sox. With the game tied, 11-11, and the bases loaded for the A's, Chad Pinder hit a sharp ground ball toward the hole between first and second. Moncada ranged to his left, dove for the ball, and fired to first for the out, preserving the tie and sending the game to extra innings.

Video: CWSOAK: Moncada ranges into right, corrals fly ball

"When I saw the ground ball coming to my field, I said, 'OK, I have to stop it,'" Moncada said. "So I ran as hard as I could, and I was able to cut the ball off and make the play. The difference between that moment and the home run was that the home run was just focusing on hitting the ball hard. [The grand slam] wasn't a do-or-die situation like it was in the ninth inning."

One inning later, Moncada showed off his range when he covered a Statcast-estimated 89 feet to make an over-the-shoulder catch sprinting away from the infield on a popup hit into shallow right field by Jed Lowrie.

Do-Hyoung Park is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

Chicago White Sox, Yoan Moncada