07/19/12 11:56 PM ET
Rios better offensively than in 2011, and happier
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
That's not comfortable, as in low impact. Not with 13 homers, 52 RBIs and a .403 average over his last 20 games. It's more along the lines of feeling at ease with everything from his approach at the plate to moving back to right field.
But on the counter side of that argument, Rios doesn't believe his .227 average, 13 homers and 44 RBIs in 2011 and overall offensive struggles had anything to do with playing a center field slot where he was less familiar.
"You are talking about taking the defense to offense? You know what, I don't think it did," Rios said. "My problems last year offensively were my mechanics.
"If I had a good offensive year, I don't think people would have noticed the couple of things that happened in center or vice versa. I really separate defense from my offense. I like my defense, being able to run around and make good plays, but I like my offense, too. It's fun having to go out there and compete against a good pitcher."
There's no question that a return to right has helped Rios' overall mind-set.
"Like I said before, it's the position that I grew up in as a player," Rios said. "I played right field in the Minor leagues. I played right field when I came up to the big leagues for years and it's just feels like home.
"It's a little easier than center. You don't have to focus on both sides, you know? You just get that corner and work with it. It makes it so much easier. I'm playing a position I've played for a long time and I feel very familiar with it. It feels natural."
Youkilis rests for Boston finale with tight hamstring
BOSTON -- Kevin Youkilis missed Thursday's finale of his dramatic four-game return to Fenway Park because of tightness in his left hamstring.
The White Sox third baseman said the tightness crept up this past weekend in Kansas City, but he fully expects to be ready for this weekend's Detroit series. In fact, Youkilis said he was available to pinch-hit against the Red Sox.
"It's just one of those things where we talked about and try to get it back to as full strength as possible," Youkilis said.
"Every once in a while it flares up on him," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "Just tight enough where give him tonight off and let it calm down and have him ready for the weekend."
Boston pitchers certainly won't miss Youkilis, who hit what amounted to the game-winning three-run homer off of Jon Lester on Tuesday and was 5-for-12 over the first three games as a visitor to the only baseball home he knew until June 24. Youkilis is hitting .353 with four homers, 15 RBIs, 13 runs scored and 11 walks over 13 games in July and is ready to take that hot streak back into the American League Central against the red-hot Tigers after this emotional Boston stop.
"A lot of craziness, but it has been good," Youkilis said. "The big thing is today is the last day and it's over and now we can move on and go about, myself, personally, getting away from the old team I was on and focus on going forward.
"I think it's kind of a learning experience to see teams you're facing in your division and the opponents you have to beat, so it's a different realm. But it will be a good thing to finally change courses. Now it's the Central and facing Detroit and Cleveland and the other teams. Mainly those two at the top you have to beat every time we play them."
Crain targeting weekend return to White Sox
BOSTON -- A second simulated game thrown by Jesse Crain on Thursday afternoon produced sufficient enough results to have the right-hander close to being activated this weekend in Detroit.
Crain was told by pitching coach Don Cooper that he will be back from the disabled list with the team either on Saturday or Sunday after throwing two 15-pitch sessions to test his right shoulder strain. Crain compared the effort to a two-inning outing and felt strong, along with having good command of his pitches.
His two simulated games thrown this week were deemed by Crain and the team as good as a Minor League rehab assignment. Adding a confident Crain, who also has battled through right and left oblique strains since Spring Training, should greatly help a White Sox bullpen currently featuring veteran Matt Thornton, newly called up southpaw Donnie Veal with one year of service time and five rookies.
And Crain feels confident that he is ready to help. Manager Robin Ventura wants to see the Friday and Saturday health response from the right-hander with a 2.38 ERA and .190 opponents average against in 23 games.
"It could be Saturday or Sunday," said Ventura. "Probably Sunday though."
"The way I know that I'm ready is when I physically feel nothing when I throw and the next day I feel fine," Crain said. "Last time I went and threw in games, and this time I did simulated games. To me it's the same difference. I'm facing hitters and going all out at them. As long as when I'm going all out I feel fine and healthy, that's when I know I'll be ready for the game."
Veal recalled to fortify White Sox bullpen
BOSTON -- With one year of big league service time, left-handed pitcher Donnie Veal instantly becomes one of the old men of the White Sox bullpen. Veal checks in just behind nine-year-veteran Matt Thornton in a relief crew that features five rookie relievers after being recalled from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Thursday's series finale. Veal, 27, had a 2.08 ERA in 29 games for the Knights.
"I just know things have to work in your favor," said Veal, who became the ninth pitcher called up by the White Sox since the start of the season. "It has to be the right situation. Just keep working and eventually, hopefully, the time will happen."
Rookie Dylan Axelrod doesn't really count toward the bullpen or the starting rotation right now. He's in limbo until Gavin Floyd throws on Friday and then the team sees how he responds Saturday. If Floyd and his right elbow tendinitis aren't ready to start Monday night at home against the Twins, when he's eligible to come off the disabled list, then Axelrod gets the call.
In the interim, Axelrod could be used in relief.
"Axe is kind of floating in between right now but it's nice to have him in there," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I don't think we would stay away from him if we needed him. If there's an obvious situation for him to come in, he's coming in."
Third to first
The White Sox are 43-21 when hitting a home run in 2012, 23-5 when hitting multiple homers and 7-21 in games without a homer.
Fifty-five games played by the White Sox this season have been decided by three runs or less. They are 14-11 in one-run games, 8-12 in two-run games and 6-4 in three-run games.