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Basabe’s two-way play paces 5-3 White Sox win over Seattle

Right fielder’s arm giveth after Adolfo’s unfortunate UCL injury taketh away

Chicago White Sox Photo Day
Smooth Operator: Basabe ponders putting all five tools on display in his first spring training game.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

In yesterday’s spring training opener at Camelback Ranch vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers, not much went right for the White Sox.

Gilded prospects Jake Burger and Eloy Jimenez whiffed, with Burger adding an extra order of GIDP. Yoan Moncada Little Leagued a rundown and earned his first E4 of the spring. Seemingly not a single pitcher on the Pale Hose could find the plate, and when they did, the Dodgers attended to any strike with sharp singles and longballs.

In Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners in Peoria, the White Sox enjoyed quite a reversal of fortune.

Luis Alex Basabe led the way, punching a hole in those clouds settling over the Sox after news of Micker Adolfo’s fussy UCL hit the waves Friday. The 21-year-old third wheel from the Chris Sale trade flashed a full tool belt in his first spring action.

With Seattle up 3-2 with none out in the bottom of the sixth, Basabe gunned down ex-Sox Gordon Beckham as he made an ill-advised attempt to sneak a double in the sixth. Basabe took an aggressive angle on Beckham’s slash down the right-field line and swiftly smothered the slap shot trying to skip past him. Beckham, playing for his major league life with this gift of early spring training reps with the M’s, figured Basabe’s bobble would set him up for an extra base.

Bacon Thought Wrong: Gunned out by an easy 10 feet.
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Two innings later, with the game knotted at 3, Basabe’s bat spoke even louder than his arm. After the game was tied with two out on a first-pitch wild one to Basabe, scoring Jake Elmore, the right fielder fell behind 1-2 in the count. On the next pitch, Basabe drove an inner-half toss deep the opposite way to left-center, for a double that drove in Jacob May and provided the eventual winning margin.

Oppo Power: Down in the count and protecting the plate, Basabe’s opposite-field blast, providing the eventual game-winning run, was a minor masterpiece.
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But Saturday’s win was more than mere L.A. Basabe.

Hector Santiago started and threw two. The renewed screwballer was amped to be back in black, opening his return to the Sox by putting Dee Gordon and Andrew Romine on first and third to open the game without benefit of a ball hit more than 10 feet (swinging leadoff bunt from Gordon, bunt for hit for Romine, with a Santiago E-1 on the throw pushing Gordon to third). One K later, Santiago ploinked Mike Ford to pack the sacks with bad guys.

Post-outing, Santiago talked up his preparedness for his spring debut—including a 90-pitch live BP session right before camp opened—and it showed this afternoon, as he deftly painted the plate and squirreled out of any and all trouble.

Never was that more evident than when Santiago next got M’s first baseman Matt Hague to turn a breaking pitch into a worm burner and ground into a double play to end the first. Santiago even flashed some swag, making his way to the dugout before the putout at first was secured.

Dane Dunning relieved Santiago and saw eight batters over an inning and two-thirds. The ascendant star staggered his way through five outs, drilling a batter and surrendering a run, a hit and a walk. All in all, first outing under his belt, hand a passing grade to the Dane.

Jeanmar Gomez acquitted himself perfectly in one inning on the mound, taking the early lead for longshot closer by striking out the side in the seventh to earn the win. Chris Volstad took the lead for super-ultra-impossible longshot closer with two innings of one-hit, one-K ball to cap off the game with a save.

Basabe’s breakout debut overshadowed that of an even more highly-touted Sox outfielder named Luis, Luis Robert. Robert grounded sharply to short and yet nearly beat out the throw in his first at-bat in the seventh, then whiffed on three pitches in the ninth, failing to put the ball in the air to give Jake Burger—he of the leadoff triple Burgers—a chance to score.

Tyler Saladino got the start at second base and went 2-for-3, and Nicky “Nicholas” Delmonico, Welington Castillo and Jose Rondon knocked in the other White Sox runs.

The White Sox return to Camelback Ranch to take on the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, with Jordan Guerrero starting and making his spring debut. It is likely that a White Sox phenom/outfielder named Luis will play in the contest.