6/11/2013 1:54 A.M. ET
Konerko, Dunn making strides in middle of order
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- While Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn aren't quite hitting full stride, manager Robin Ventura sees moves in the right direction from his accomplished middle-of-the-order sluggers.
"It's getting better," Ventura said. "Again, when you score some runs and it happens the way it's happened the last couple of days, you start seeing the at-bats, just the way the at-bats are, as far as hitting the ball the other way and the sound and the contact. It just looks better."
Ventura knows that Konerko and Dunn take it personally when their ability to physically lead the team on the field is concerned. He also understands that this season has been filled with various struggles and hasn't changed their attitude from past, more successful first halves.
"They've always done that. They take a lot of pride in what they do, and if it's not going right they take it personal," Ventura said. "I don't think it's any different than it's been in the past.
"Results-wise, they're guys who take pride and responsibility, but it's not just them. They're not the only ones. It's getting better and hopefully it only improves."
Heavy fog hinders vision in Monday's opener
CHICAGO -- According to White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Axelrod, there was one benefit derived from the fog blanketing U.S. Cellular Field during Chicago's 10-6 victory on Monday night.
"I didn't see all those home runs go out," said a smiling Axelrod, who gave up two long balls to the Blue Jays' Jose Bautista and one to Colby Rasmus over four-plus innings. "So that was cool."
After Toronto starting pitcher R.A. Dickey walked Hector Gimenez to load the bases with two outs in the third, home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson called a conference among the umpires beyond the pitcher's mound. They then stopped the game officially at 8:17 p.m. CT, with the delay covering one hour and 10 minutes, although there was never talk of cancellation.
It was so difficult to see that Adam Dunn's homer with one out in the third wasn't really noticed until Rasmus turned around in center and watched the ball fly out. The White Sox media relations staff "guesstimated" the distance of Dunn's blast at 444 feet because nobody really saw where it landed.
White Sox right fielder Alex Rios said the fog got bad again over the last two innings after it cleared up following the delay.
"I couldn't see the ball," Rios said. "I couldn't even see it from the pitcher's hand, so it was tough."
"I've never seen anything like it," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It would clear up, and then all of the sudden you couldn't see an outfielder. They did the best they could as far as trying to make sure you could see and it was safe."
As a native of California, Ventura said Monday's fog was commonplace when he was growing up.
"Here I haven't seen it," Ventura said. "I played a lot of high school games like that. I got a lot of hits that way."
Crain's stellar season has him in All-Star mix
CHICAGO -- Jesse Crain only needs to look to his left in the White Sox clubhouse to quickly realize that setup men do in fact get selected for All-Star Game participation.
In 2010, Matt Thornton was picked from the White Sox after a first half in which he had 12 holds, five saves, a 2.70 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. The southpaw is one of several setup All-Stars in recent years, including David Robertson ('11), Mike Stanton ('01) and Carlos Marmol ('08).
Crain certainly has thought about joining that group in 2013, albeit a brief thought.
"For sure it would be a great honor," said Crain, working in his 10th big league season. "I know it's hard in the position I've been in -- middle relief, setup guy. It's hard to get in there. I've put a little thought into it but I don't want to think about it too much and get disappointed.
"I go in not expecting anything. It would probably be a once in a lifetime thing especially in the position that I'm in, but that's out of my control."
Entering Monday's series opener against the Blue Jays, Crain had made a career-high 25 consecutive scoreless appearances covering 24 innings pitched. It's the second-longest scoreless games streak in White Sox history behind 27 from J.J. Putz in 2010, and Crain's 0.63 ERA stands second among Major League relievers behind Colorado's Rex Brothers (0.31). His WAR checks in at 2.1, placing him tied for ninth among American League pitchers overall in that category.
The White Sox figure to get their All-Star representative or representatives from the pitching side, with starter Chris Sale and closer Addison Reed also deserving. But it could be hard for the players and/or AL manager Jim Leyland to overlook Crain, even though the White Sox haven't faced Leyland's Tigers this season.
"Sometimes with the players voting, sometimes you kind of just go through it and maybe not think of everybody that might be deserving of it," Crain said. "Sometimes it's filled out just quick and here you go. That could leave some people out. Hopefully it's something that people take some time and think about it and we'll see what happens. I can't deny it would be an honor to be there."
"He has come in for some tough situations, and it just seems like he's getting it done. If he doesn't, you'd be shocked," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, giving his All-Star support to Crain. "Whether you're a closer or not, I know you don't get the actual save next to your name, but if there's anybody in the league that deserves it, he's been a guy that deserves something. It's a save in our book."
Viciedo back in lineup amid funk
CHICAGO -- Dayan Viciedo has redefined the term "streak hitter."
In his last 12 games entering Monday, the White Sox left fielder has three hits in 42 at-bats. In his 20 previous games, Viciedo was hitting .368 (25-for-68). But manager Robin Ventura had Viciedo back in against lefty knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, hoping a more positive streak was getting ready to start.
"When he's trying to pull it he can find himself in these little ruts swinging and missing," said Ventura. "If he can kind of get back into that mode where he's up the middle, the other way and just uses his hands a little more, he'll be better. He's young and trying to do too much sometimes and falls into that rut for an extended period."
The White Sox tried to increase Viciedo's patience during the offseason and Spring Training by adding a small leg kick to his swing. That physical change, though, can't change the type of aggressive hitter Viciedo always has been.
"It becomes hard for him to understand that he should take five at-bats and no matter the result you're still going to try and force it over there [the opposite way or up the middle] to get yourself back on track," Ventura said. "That's what older guys or in the middle of their career can do that. You can have trust in doing that. If you're younger, it's a little bit more difficult to feel like you have the sure footing to do it."
• Konerko moved into second place on the White Sox all-time games played list with No. 2,116 on Monday, breaking a tie with Nellie Fox.
• The White Sox rank 13th in the AL with 58 home runs and are on pace to hit 154. That would be their lowest total in a full season since they hit 110 in 1992. The team produced 31 homers in April but have just 27 since, including 10 in their last 20 games entering Monday.
• Add Sam Macias to the list of White Sox Draft picks with connections to the team or Major League Baseball in general. The 35th-round selection is the grandson of legend Minnie Minoso. Outfielder Jacob May (third round) is the grandson of Lee May, son of Lee May Jr., and great nephew of Carlos May,. Catcher Jake Parent (36th) is the son of White Sox bench coach Mark Parent and first baseman Cody Yount (37th) is the nephew of Hall of Famer Robin Yount.