6/14/2014 8:10 P.M. ET
Struggling Johnson remains in White Sox plans
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Erik Johnson was considered an important right-handed component of the White Sox rotation going into Spring Training, albeit a young one with just five September 2013 starts of Major League experience behind him. But the good raw stuff Johnson exhibited in those starts, not to mention his impressive climb through the Minors, make it even harder to understand why one of the organization's top prospects has struggled so much this season.
Johnson has told the White Sox and reporters covering Triple-A Charlotte that he feels fine despite sustaining a small, but noticeable velocity drop since Spring Training. He posted a 6.46 ERA over five starts for the White Sox, with 15 walks and 27 hits allowed over 23 2/3 innings. Johnson has a 6.70 ERA in nine starts since being optioned to Charlotte from the big leagues on April 26, with 29 walks and 54 hits over 47 innings.
General manager Rick Hahn has pointed out on numerous occasions that Johnson still figures prominently in the team's future plans, adding that franchise stalwarts such as Joe Crede and Aaron Rowand experienced their own early struggles and return to the Minors, before returning on the path to success. Right now, the struggles might be as much about confidence as they are related to the physical side for Johnson.
"Everybody goes through that at some point," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "How long it happens and how you deal with it, everybody's different. He went through the system pretty quick. Sometimes you get up here and ... . Every time you go out there, it becomes tough."
Ventura hasn't watched Johnson pitch for the Knights, but the manager does get reports on his continued trouble.
"You have people that are watching and you get reports on him, but when you just see the numbers, it does make you scratch your head, because you know he has talent," Ventura said. "We've seen it. We've seen it up here, so to get that combination back where he has the confidence, the location, the ability to do it, that's when you get that call back up.
"With guys stepping in and doing what Hector [Noesi has] done, it's tough to crack. You don't just bring him up just to bring him up."
White Sox acquire outfielder Taylor from A's
CHICAGO -- The White Sox acquired outfielder Michael Taylor from Oakland, as announced Saturday by the team, in exchange for Minor League right-handed hurler Jake Sanchez. Taylor will report to Triple-A Charlotte.
Taylor, 28, is a right-handed outfielder who has 74 at-bats and 26 games of big league experience with the A's, batting .135 with one homer and one RBI. Taylor has a .289 average, 102 homers and 104 stolen bases over 3,053 Minor League at-bats as part of the Phillies and A's systems after being selected by Philadelphia in the fifth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.
This trade marks the fourth Minor League move made in the last week by the White Sox, following the additions of right-handed pitchers Shawn Hill and Henry Rodriguez, as well as outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo.
Shutdown reliever Webb aims to limit walks
CHICAGO -- Daniel Webb's rookie season has been a success, despite Kansas City getting to him for three runs on five hits in the ninth inning of Saturday's 9-1 loss.
The 24-year-old reliever, dubbed the White Sox closer of the future, had a scoreless streak of 10 innings come to an end Thursday against the Tigers and has a 3.00 ERA over his last 12 innings, up from 0.82 over 11 as a result his outing against the Royals. Webb features a 3.00 ERA overall and a .233 opponents' batting average, accomplishing these feats pitching in every role from late innings to long relief.
Webb's primary flaw has been too many free passes. Webb leads all pure Major League relievers in walks with 22, one more than the Marlins' A.J. Ramos. But Webb is encouraged by the fact that the wildness does not come from any sort of mechanics issue.
"It has a lot to do with my secondary pitches," Webb said. "I haven't been throwing them for strikes and guys are taking them for balls. I'm getting deep in counts. For a while, it seemed like everybody I faced, it was a full count. That's kind of hurt me a little bit.
"That's just a fact with secondary pitches, where I need to start them to get them to stay in the strike zone, and it's not anything mechanical so that's good. I feel good and sound mechanically."
Webb walked 16.2 percent of batters faced entering Saturday, with the Major League average checking in at 8.0, per frangraphs.com. He also has stranded 85.2 percent of baserunners allowed, again per fangraphs.
"Being my first long period of time in the big leagues, it has been great," Webb said. "Just like every pitcher, no matter how long you have been up here, you are going to have your games you wish you didn't have. I've got some good games, some high points in the season and some lows. It has been a good season."
Abreu feels at home hitting at U.S. Cellular Field
CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu has enjoyed everything about Chicago during his first year with the White Sox, from his teammates to the fans to the local restaurants.
Hitting at U.S. Cellular Field ranks near the top of that list for the rookie sensation.
Abreu entered Saturday's contest against the Royals batting .316 over 98 at-bats at home, compared to .219 over 114 at-bats on the road. And the weather really hasn't consistently warmed up for Abreu to truly see the ball carry, as he has eight homers at home and 11 on the road.
"It's a place that I think any player would want to be to hit," said Abreu, through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "I really enjoy hitting here and I'm very glad that it ended up being this place that I ended up in. Everything has worked out pretty good and we are happy to be here."
Showing his true humble, appreciative nature once again, Abreu added that having the comforts of home doesn't necessarily make a difference with his game, because the hotels the team stays at on the road are very nice. Abreu simply has found a home at U.S. Cellular.
"One of the things is that whatever you hit the ball here, it can go out," Abreu said. "You have a chance to go out anywhere in here. Not only to left, but to right and center. Hitting in this field is comfortable. It's appealing.
"You can see the ball well. That's one of the things I really like."
Third to first
• Over Chris Sale's last six starts, opponents are 16-for-131 (.122) against the southpaw, with left-handers going 2-for-20. Both of those hits came from Josh Hamilton in the same game. Sale has struck out 485 batters through his first 68 career starts, which according to the Elias Sports Bureau is the most in White Sox history and third most among active pitchers behind Yu Darvish (552) and Tim Lincecum (502).
• Reliever Scott Downs needs five appearances to reach 600 for his career.
• Adam Dunn has reached base safely in 47 of 57 games this season, with nine multihit efforts and 10 multi-walk performances.