MINNEAPOLIS -- Erik Johnson, who was being counted on for right-handed balance amid the White Sox left-handed dominant starting five at the season's outset, made his 11th start Sunday since being reassigned to Triple-A Charlotte and suffered the loss despite working seven innings against Toledo.
Johnson has slightly improved in his last two trips to the mound, lasting 13 2/3 innings and allowing eight runs on 13 hits with four walks. But even though the 24-year-old has issued 33 walks and given up 67 hits in 60 2/3 innings for the Knights and would not be a replacement candidate for the struggling Andre Rienzo, the White Sox certainly have not given up on one of their top prospects coming into the 2014 campaign.
"I'll point to Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. Those guys didn't succeed right off the bat," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "Not everybody grabs the brass ring the first time around the merry go round, and the rest is history. I remember when Jon Garland was here at 19 and everybody expected a lot more from him because he was a highly touted No. 1 guy.
"He wasn't able to give what everyone expected at 19. Sometimes you have to take lumps and hits to continue to evolve into the guy you are going to be, a solid Major Leaguer."
While Cooper hasn't seen Johnson since he left, he talked about the hurler losing confidence and losing the zone a little bit more as ongoing issues.
Rienzo's rotation spot still being decided
MINNEAPOLIS -- The decision as to whether Andre Rienzo stays a part of the White Sox starting rotation is one still being considered by manager Robin Ventura.
Rienzo has lost five straight starts -- including Saturday against the Twins -- and has yielded 35 hits and 11 walks over his last 22 1/3 innings. During that stretch, Rienzo has allowed three runs or more in a single inning on four occasions.
Aside from moving Scott Carroll from long relief back to the rotation, there don't seem to be many options for a potential Rienzo replacement.
"That would be the option is to flip-flop," Ventura said. "Right now, I don't know if you can necessarily just put Andre out in the bullpen. The way Scotty throws strikes, you like if you are going to bring a guy in out of the bullpen, he's going to be able to do what Scotty has done."
Carroll has a 1-3 record with a 6.15 ERA in five starts this season. He features a 1.83 ERA over 19 2/3 innings as a reliever, benefiting from adding the cutter to his repertoire.
"Adding the cutter has been a big pitch. It has helped a lot with lefties," Carroll said of the pitch he incorporated after his May 19 start in Kansas City. "We came back home and started playing catch with it and it has been feeling good and it has been a big pitch for me."
"Just because you try to teach a guy a cutter, it doesn't mean he's going to get it and be able to use it," Ventura said. "To his credit, he's able to mix it in and it's happened pretty quick for him."
Eric Surkamp, who is on the White Sox 40-man roster, could be another option. He has a 3.98 ERA over his last 10 starts for Triple-A Charlotte, with 67 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings. He would also give the White Sox four left-handed starters.
Infielder Semien sharpening outfield skills
MINNEAPOLIS -- Marcus Semien continues putting in outfield work since returning to Triple-A Charlotte on June 1 when Jose Abreu was activated from the disabled list, although he played just his fourth game in left Sunday during the Knights' 4-3 loss to Toledo on Sunday.
The White Sox had little doubt Semien could handle the additional responsibility, but they are trying to find a balance while Semien continues to work around the infield as well.
"He's going to really dictate how comfortable he is and how we see how comfortable he becomes," White Sox assistant general manager Buddy Bell said of Semien. "He's going to be fine. If you bring him up now, we could put him out there. I don't think you want to put him out there every day by any means, but I think he's capable of making all the plays. He's capable of keeping the ball in front of him.
"Whether that means he's got to play a little deeper than most -- but I think he's more than capable. Part of the problem is he's dealing with the fence, balls over his head and things like that that he never had to deal with before."
Bell has confidence in coach Daryl Boston being able to work with Semien on his outfield play at the big league level, with Doug Sisson providing expert instruction in the Minors. Semien is hitting .231 with three homers and nine RBIs for Charlotte, after hitting .218 with three homers and 18 RBIs over 43 games with the White Sox. He joins recently acquired Matt Tuiasosopo and Michael Taylor as right-handed outfield balance to Blake Tekotte, Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell.
Abreu's numbers show balanced power hitter
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jose Abreu has spread around his rookie home run wrath throughout baseball.
• Abreu had gone deep in eight different ballparks, with his nine homers at U.S. Cellular Field the most of any park.
• Nineteen different pitchers had given up home runs to Abreu, with Cleveland's Danny Salazar and Detroit's Justin Verlander the only hurlers to allow two to the slugger.
• Abreu had 12 homers on the road and nine at home. And according to baseball-reference.com, he has hit two homers in high-leverage situations, 10 in medium-leverage and nine in low-leverage, while hitting nine with two out, seven with one out and five with nobody out.
• Despite missing 14 games on the disabled list with left ankle tendinitis, Abreu was on pace for 45 homers and 119 RBIs.
Third to first
• Micker Adolfo, the No. 2 ranked International prospect last year according to MLB.com, made his White Sox debut for the Arizona Rookie League team Friday, finishing 0-for-4 with two strikes and one walk. Bell cautioned against expecting too much too early from the 17-year-old, whom the White Sox committed a franchise-record bonus for an international signee of $1.6 million.
"That's going to be a real test for him. He might not get a hit," said Bell of the White Sox current No. 13 prospect. "He's 16 or 17 years old and he's never really played in any games really to speak of. I mean, he'll get a hit, but we don't really project any big numbers or anything.
"Hopefully he'll surprise us. He just has so long to go in terms of just actually playing the game. All these kids that have signed in this particular case, they are all showcase guys: BP guys, arm guys, speed guys. So you have to be more patient than people really think we need to be."
• Ventura changed his lineup for Sunday's series finale, giving Moises Sierra a start in right field and giving Dayan Viciedo a break. Ventura also moved Conor Gillaspie to sixth and moved Jose Abreu, Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez to third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
"Kind of balance it out," Ventura said. "That's the way to balance it out."