A White Sox nightcap in Surprise opened up the opportunity to rock out a double header. Starting off in Goodyear to watch the Indians and Reds battle in our first and only non-Sox game this spring we departed immediately afterward to the Royals’ stomping ground to catch the good guys. I was a bit tired by the time I even walked through the gates and the results on the field made it seem pretty likely that the Sox were as well. Eric Stults got the start and immediately started serving up rocket shots to Royals hitters. Alex Gordon kicked it off with a single and later added a HR in his only other AB. Alex agreed to a shiny new 4 year $37.5M contract before the game. If the Sox weren’t toting around so many large unproductive contracts I’d make a comment about job security leading to relaxing at the plate.
Replacing Stults in the Brian Bruney, another candidate to break camp with the team, but he likewise didn’t do much to defend his case giving up laser beams wherever possible. Nathan Jones struggled with his control a bit upon entering the game but pulled it together and delivered a scoreless inning with 2 strikeouts. I was impressed with the arm, he registered high 90’s with most of his fastballs.
On the other side, Sean O’Sullivan baffled Sox hitters, a lineup consisting mostly of regulars, going 5 innings without giving up a single hit. Luckily the southsiders were able to get to Kelvin Herrera in the 6th to avoid the shutout. 2 unearned runs were all that could be mustered in the 7-2 loss.
Alex Rios was back in the lineup though it seemed to me that he was walking around fairly gingerly. He did manage to show a little range in the field and didn’t show any ill effects from his routes but at the plate he looked a great deal like the hitter we saw in 2011. Weak ground balls all over the place. The season clearly hasn’t started yet but if there is one player I’m not confident about its Alex.
Plus: The quiet hitting wasn’t as bad as it would seem when looking at a boxscore. Even with O’Sullivan in the game there were some very hard hit balls including nearly identical shots from AJ and Morel both laced to left field.
Minus: Adam Dunn struck out twice. We all know Adam is going to strike out a ton this year, provided he’s good enough to get a ton of at-bats, but so far this spring he’d done an excellent job of putting the ball in play or earning his way on via walk. One game is one game, though, so we move on.
Surprise Stadium, home to the Royals and the Rangers for Cactus League play is a strange park. The seats are piled close together making for cramped viewing and they are positioned in such a way that if one person leans forward the whole rest of the row behind them are forced to either do the same or miss the action. Just out of that basic lack of function I’d have to say that it’s not the greatest place to watch a ballgame.