White Sox enduring first real rough patch of season

White Sox enduring first real rough patch of season

CHICAGO -- There are a number of tests currently challenging the 2016 White Sox, and with the Royals' 2-1 victory Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field dropping the South Siders to 2-8 over their last 10, the early grades aren't exactly putting them on the honor roll.

"I told you guys before it's going to happen," said White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier of his team eventually hitting a major rut. "I said it could happen next week or a month or two months from now. Unfortunately it happened next week. You just have to keep moving on, keep fighting."

What are these tests being taken by the American League Central leaders? The White Sox are facing their first real run against division contenders, with seven against the Royals starting this past Friday and a four-game home set with the Indians beginning Monday. They are 0-2 against the Royals and 1-4 on this 10-game homestand.

As Frazier pointed out, the team also is dealing with its first real bout of failure in an otherwise solid start to the season. And then there's Jose Abreu, the center of the White Sox offense and one of the game's best hitters the past two years.

Abreu finished 1-for-4 Saturday and is now featuring a slash line of .243/.318/.396, with six homers, six doubles and 27 RBIs. Not exactly cause for an overhaul, but not yet up to his lofty standards. In 50 at-bats with runners in scoring position, Abreu has 13 hits, but only one for extra bases.

Facing Joakim Soria with the bases loaded and nobody out in a 2-0 game in the seventh, Abreu grounded into a double play started by shortstop Alcides Escobar. Frazier grounded out to third baseman Mike Moustakas to end the uprising at the lone run.

"You gotta ride through it. You gotta find a way to get through it," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura, speaking of Abreu but addressing the team struggles in general. "The tough part of baseball is they don't just give you a week off where there aren't going to be any games. So I don't know if he gets a day off or not, but we'll be there for him.

"This is probably his toughest stretch. And he has everything that will get him through it, and we'll get through it. That's just part of playing the game. You gotta be able to grind and go through all of it."

Ventura spoke to the players as he walked through the clubhouse after Saturday's loss, per Frazier, which was more about words of encouragement and not a meeting. Frazier added that he needs to start studying a little more facing these new pitchers in order to ace future exams for him and the team.

"When opportunities do come, we've got to capitalize. Once we start doing that, we'll be fine," Frazier said. "I had opportunities to hit a couple of pitches and didn't hit them. Sometimes when things aren't clicking, the guy makes a nice play at shortstop or you ground the ball out."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.