CHICAGO -- With a record at .500 and losers of four straight, the White Sox don't statistically look like a first-place team.
But that's what they were entering Friday's game against against the Red Sox, tied atop the American League Central with the Tigers and Indians.
First baseman Paul Konerko said now that things aren't going well, the team has continued to do a good job of staying focused and coming to the field every day to work.
"Guys are buying into that and really taking it to heart," Konerko said before Friday's 10-3 loss. "That doesn't mean you have nights like last night [another 10-3 loss], where we got blown out. It wasn't a good night, but everybody leaves knowing they put in an honest day's work and you feel good about that and come back today ready to fight again."
Although, along with Konerko, the White Sox have everyday veterans like A.J. Pierzynski, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, there also are youngsters like infielders Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel and 23-year-old left fielder Dayan Viciedo. Center fielder Alejandro De Aza, though 28, also entered this season having played no more than 54 games in any previous season.
Konerko said it's important for younger players to realize that how they prepare for the games on a daily basis -- win or lose -- is almost as important as the games themselves.
"You have good games and bad games and there's so much going on out there that you feel like you're kind of at the mercy of it," Konerko said. "Having that foundation of getting ready to play -- if you do that and you have talent, which guys do, the numbers will bear out the results and the stuff you want will be there in the end."Losses by both the White Sox and Tigers (10-10) on Friday left the Indians in sole possession of first place with a 10-8 mark.
Axelrod to fill club's long-relief role
CHICAGO -- The White Sox recalled right-hander Dylan Axelrod from Triple-A Charlotte on Friday to replace righty Jesse Crain, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Axelrod will serve as the team's long reliever. Right-handers Nate Jones and Zach Stewart will move up in the bullpen to fill Crane's late-inning role.
This is Axelord's second stint with the White Sox, after appearing in four games for Chicago last September. The 26-year-old went 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in those outings (three starts) and Ventura said he's comfortable handing the ball to Axelrod.
"He's been up here, so it's not like we're bringing somebody up that can't pitch here," Ventura said before Friday's 10-3 loss to the Red Sox. "We have confidence in Axe and we'll make due until Jesse's ready."
Axelrod was impressive in four Triple-A starts, going 2-1 with a 1.08 ERA in 25 innings. He said a big part of his success has come from incorporating his changeup more often.
"It's been really effective for me. It's added another dimension, makes my fastball a little bit better," Axelrod said. "My first start, I threw about four changeups and they got a call that said work on it, so I've been trying to throw about 15 a game after that and it's been paying off."Axelrod debuted in the seventh inning Friday and worked the final 2 1/3 innings. He allowed one run on three hits, including a homer, walked one and struck out two.
The White Sox are 3-6 at home this season and have lost 13 of their last 19 games at U.S. Cellular Field dating back to last season, something which manager Robin Ventura can't explain.
"I've been on teams that were like that," Ventura said prior to Friday's defeat. "Just made the personality of the team. I don't think anybody has an exact science about it, but hopefully we change that."
White Sox relievers entered Friday's game with a 1.99 ERA in their last eight games. Nate Jones and Dylan Axelrod combined to give up three runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings on Friday.