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Friday, December 09, 2022

Chicago White Sox looking for early playoffs more

CHICAGO ( Associated Press) – The Chicago White Sox ran away with AL Central and reached the playoffs for the second consecutive year, a first for the franchise.

They are more looking for some early exits.

“You see the talent, you see the group of guys in here and on paper we have a pretty good team. Whether it comes down to victories, we will find out in April, ”said star-closer Liam Hendriks. “But as a group, I feel we have the mentality that will allow it to move forward.”

With Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa back for a second term and stars like Tim Anderson and José Abreu and Lucas Giolito and Lance Lynn leading the rotation, the White Sox won 93-69 last season. They finished 13 games ahead of Cleveland by winning their first division championship since 2008. But in the playoffs, they bowed early again.

Chicago lost in four games in the division series against Houston after being knocked out by Oakland in the game map series in 2020. After a quiet off-season, the White Sox return with largely the same roster while other teams have made some big moves.

“We understand that everyone is making their team better and that nothing is being given,” Anderson said. “Let’s see what happens.”

The White Sox open the season April 8 at Detroit.

NEW APPEARANCE

One notable change is in the rotation.

Carlos Rodón, who is often injured, signed with San Francisco after his first All-Star pick, paving the way for Michael Kopech to move from the bullpen to a starting role. Kopech missed the 2019 season after a Tommy John operation and withdrew in 2020.

The White Sox also added Joe Kelly and Kendall Graveman to an already strong bullpen anchored by Hendriks. And versatile two-time All-Star player Josh Harrison is the primary second baseman, enabling Leury Garcia to stay in a utility role.

SMOKES TO WATCH

The White Sox are reaping the rewards after developing a long line of stars through their minor league system over the past few years, including Anderson and Giolito.

They also have Cuban outfielders Yoelqui Cespedes and Oscar Colas in their system. But newcomers are not thinking about playing big roles, at least for now, in a team with a lot of young stars in the majors.

KIMBREL’S FUTURE

Savior Craig Kimbrel could be a candidate to be traded after struggling in an essay role after being acquired before the Crosstown Cubs deadline.

Kimbrel had a 5.09 ERA and one save in four chances with the White Sox, a big drop for someone who rediscovered the form that made him one of the game’s best closers. He converted 23 of 25 saves and had a 0.49 ERA with the Cubs while making his eighth All-Star squad.

BONS BACK

Dallas Keuchel is eager to bounce back from a tough season. The two-time All-Star and former Cy Young Award winner jumped his ERA to 5.28 from 1.99 in the pandemic shortened 2020 season, his first in Chicago. He was 9-9 in 32 appearances and 30 starts after scoring 6-2 in 11 games the previous year.

ON THE BANK

After hitting a few bumps early last year, one question is whether it will be a smoother ride for La Russa in the second season of his second term at the club.

The Hall of Famer was unaware of a rule that would have allowed him to use José Abreu as the automatic runner on the second base rather than approach Liam Hendriks in the 10th innings of a defeat against Cincinnati.

He also criticized newcomer Yermin Mercedes for winning him on a 3-0 sheet despite a sign in the ninth innings of a skewed win over Minnesota. Mercedes hit the spot after a scorching start and was sent to the minors.

But La Russa also overtook John McGraw for second among drivers in wins. And when the season was over, Anderson insisted he wanted him to return.

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More Associated Press MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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