Chicago White Sox's Paul Konerko watches his solo home run during the second inning of an inter league baseball game against the San Diego Padres in Chicago, Sunday, June 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Updated: June 1, 2014 8:22PM
Throughout this season it hasn’t seemed like the Sox have been on a different page, but reading an entirely different book altogether.The White Sox haven’t been able to put it all together.
Injuries have followed quality play. Great pitching has been met with terrible hitting. And when the bats have been hot, Sox arms have been cold.
Winning hasn’t come easy for a Sox team that has been out of sync but climbed back to .500 with a 4-1 victory over the Padres on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field. But the game was a strong indicator that the Sox’ helter-skelter season could come together.
In his third start since coming off the disabled list, Chris Sale pitched his first complete game of the season, allowing two hits and striking out nine. On Monday, first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the rookie and player of the month awards for April, is set to come off the disabled list for the game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
“I don’t want to put it all on Jose that as soon as he’s back he has to do that,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Competitively, the way [Abreu and Sale] show up and the way they go about it, the promising part is they do compete.”
While Ventura won’t task Abreu with ridding the Sox of their recent hitting struggles, it’s hard to ignore the success they’ve had when Abreu and Sale have been healthy.
When the Sox’ two most important players have been in the lineup, the team has looked like one that could contend for a wild card.
Monday might not be the ideal time for Abreu to return. The Sox are scheduled to face reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. But after Abreu played in simulated games Saturday and Sunday, general manager Rick Hahn and Ventura feel comfortable activating him without a rehab assignment.
Aside from being tasked with continuing to swing a hot bat, Abreu will contend with the hype surrounding his matchup with Dodgers right fielder and fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig.
“No pressure at all,” Abreu said through a translator. “Unfortunately, the last couple of days our offense has been down, but that’s part of baseball. You have ups and downs. You’re going to go through those, whether I’m here or not. They can do it. It’s a team. I don’t feel pressure that I have to come in and do anything different.
“It’s a normal day. We’re going to take it like a normal day in the past. It’s good to play against friends. [Puig is] a friend of mine.”
For Sale, the highs and lows of a season are less foreign. But he also wouldn’t dismiss what an outing like his Sunday can do for morale. Sale retired the first 12 batters he faced, and the only baserunners he allowed came in the fifth inning.
“We just never capitulate,” Sale said. “We’re always fighting, we’re always getting after it by any means necessary. We’re never backing down. We had a couple of rough games there but just came out today and played well.”
NOTE: To make room on the roster for Jose Abreu, the Sox optioned infielder Marcus Semien to Class AAA Charlotte after the game Sunday.
◆ Director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann expects the Sox to take a pitcher with the third pick in the amateur draft Thursday.