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updated: 4/6/2014 9:43 PM

Sox offense looks exciting, but bullpen and defense must improve

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  • White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez throws out Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler during the seventh inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, April 6, 2014. The White Sox won 5-1.

      White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez throws out Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler during the seventh inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, April 6, 2014. The White Sox won 5-1.
    Associated Press

  • Marcus Semien attempts to field a ball hit by Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain during the fifth inning Sunday. Cain was safe at first.

      Marcus Semien attempts to field a ball hit by Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain during the fifth inning Sunday. Cain was safe at first.
    Associated Press

  • Chris Sale continues to impress.

      Chris Sale continues to impress.
    Associated Press

 
 

We do it every year.

We acknowledge that an extensive baseball season is upon us. We tell ourselves not to take too much away from just a handful of games. We remind ourselves there's a long way to go.

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Yet we can't help it.

After a single week of play, we try to extrapolate a 162-game campaign because sometimes uncertainty is a little too difficult to handle.

The truth is, there's still a lot about the 2014 White Sox that we don't know because of the arrival of new, young, unproven talent and it will be weeks or months before we have a clearer idea of this team's identity.

Here's what we do know:

• There's real offensive potential here. The Sox have been giving their pitching some actual breathing room. For a team that was last in the American League in runs scored last season, it's refreshing to watch them put up more than 5 runs per game and see them find multiple ways to do it.

Home runs, hits, and extra-base hits have all been part of the formula and, needless to say, those were all missing just a year ago. It doesn't mean a whole lot just yet, but it's encouraging.

However, after failing to draw many walks last year, or in spring training this year, I'd like to see them improve in that regard. In order to sustain a full season of a strong offense, good plate discipline will have to be part of the process.

• Chris Sale is still very good. There's almost nothing more to be said about the guy except that you should make a point to watch him when he pitches. Missing bats, making hitters look uncomfortable, pitching deep into games … yeah, there really isn't anything else the team can ask him to do.

And this is nothing new.

• The bullpen has some maintenance to perform. Admittedly, the bullpen was not something of great concern in my mind due to the abundance of talent and veteran presence. Unfortunately, the pen has proven costly in most of their losses and nearly cost them in a win against the Twins.

The injury to Nate Jones creates a significant loss as he was the Sox' best reliever in '13, and one of the best in baseball, despite an unsteady start. It's not yet known when he'll return, but they'll treat him with caution.

As for the guys that remain, cutting down on the walks issued is a must, and they've been quite poor at that so far. It's been the biggest contributor to their early-season hardships.

• Still too many errors. Last year, nobody in the AL was worse at it and the start to this season has been equally rough. As I pointed out multiple times in '13, the defense cost them what I believe to be 10-15 games, and that's a conservative estimate. A team that plays as many 1-run games as they did can't afford to give extra outs. And while this offense looks to be better, they shouldn't be expected to carry that burden.

• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com. Subscriber Total Access members can email him questions each week via our online link.

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