|White Sox seek first win of season over Tigers|
DETROIT -- It wasn't supposed to be this way -- and maybe it won't be.
The early season reckoning was the Chicago White Sox, who play three games in Detroit beginning Friday night, were trending upward thanks to a farm system loaded with young nearly major league-ready talent thanks to the trading away of veteran players.
The Detroit Tigers own the first pick in next month's free agent draft in part because they stripped their team of some stars to replenish a barren farm system. But that talent largely was not major league ready and Detroit was seen as a serious threat to get the first pick in the 2019 draft as well.
So far things have not trended that way. Detroit has performed better than expected with new manager Ron Gardenhire guiding the way.
The Tigers, who just snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-1 win at Minnesota Wednesday, are 21-28 heading into the weekend series while the White Sox are at 15-32 after dropping a 9-3 decision Thursday game to the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
Detroit and Chicago have met three times previously this season, with Detroit sweeping three games from the White Sox in Chicago in April.
The White Sox will open with right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (1-3, 2.98 ERA), who has pitched far better than his record suggests. One of his losses came to Detroit, a game in which he allowed just one unearned run over seven innings. Career-wise, Lopez is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts against the Tigers.
The Tigers counter with right-hander Mike Fiers (4-3, 4.57 ERA), who defeated the White Sox earlier this year with six innings of three-hit shutout ball. Lifetime, Fiers is 2-0 with a 0.70 ERA in four starts against Chicago.
Chicago comes in minus catcher Wellington Castillo, sitting out 80 games after testing positive for a PED. Alfredo Gonzalez was brought up from Triple-A to back up Omar Navaez, who returns to the role of regular he held much of last season.
"(Castillo) said it was a priority for him to apologize to his teammates, which he did earlier this morning," White Sox GM Rick Hahn said. "He certainly has stood up and accepted responsibility for his actions. It doesn't change the fact that it's disappointing."
"Obviously it's a little bit of a blow for us, a young man who knows he made a mistake, and I think he'll learn from it," manager Rick Renteria said. "It doesn't change how I feel about him. This kid, I've had him before, and this too shall pass, as they say, and we'll move on."
Chicago also brings in the just-called-up Charlie Tilson, who two years ago debuted with the White Sox at Comerica Park -- and tore his left hamstring chasing a fly ball on Aug. 2, 2016. Tilson, replacing Leury Garcia (left knee sprain), came back from that only to be bothered by right foot and ankle problems.
"My biggest strong suit was not losing hope," said Tilson, who started in left field Thursday. "I always envisioned this opportunity, the opportunity I've been working so hard for. The confidence is there, and I couldn't wait to get to this clubhouse. I'm extremely excited and pumped to get out there and help the team any way I can."
The White Sox also claimed catcher Dustin Garneau off waivers from Oakland, shoring up the catching position, and optioned him to Triple-A. The team also transferred right-handed pitcher Miguel Gonzelaz to the 60-day disabled list, keeping the 40-man roster at 40.
Detroit hopes to begin getting some of its injured players back over the next few days.
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario (left wrist tendinitis) is on what is expected to be a brief rehab assignment and could return Saturday or Sunday. First baseman Miguel Cabrera (strained right hamstring) should follow shortly.
Right-handers Alex Wilson (left foot) and Jordan Zimmermann (right shoulder) are due back in early June following rehab assignments.
The return of the position players will push Niko Goodrum and John Hicks back to the bench. Goodrum shares the team lead with five home runs while Hicks has hit .300 with some punch filling in for Cabrera.
"It's going to go back to the way it was," Gardenhire said of Hicks. "He's the backup catcher and we will try to get him as many at-bats as we can. Miggy is going to be the first baseman here, we all know that. Hicksy has been playing well, he's been great.
"But we know who our first baseman is here. And (James) McCann is our catcher. Hicksy made this team as the backup catcher. So we'll have to try to get him as many at-bats as we can."
Detroit also has received a lift from veteran journeyman relief pitcher Louis Coleman, a sidearmer.
"This wasn't unexpected," Gardenhire said of Coleman. "He's an experienced guy.
"He changes an angle; you saw the other side (the Twins) had those guys, too. Sometimes it's nice to bring in a guy who has a little bit of an angle to him. That's what he's giving us.
"He's stepping up at big moments. We thought others would fit that role, but maybe he can be the guy to bridge the gap."