The White Sox's highlight Saturday occurred hours before their 4-2 loss to the Padres.
Manager Robin Ventura was in mid-sentence during his pregame dugout chat with the media when he saw slugger Jose Abreu get plunked by a pitch above his left elbow in the batting cage.
"Ohhh!" Ventura exclaimed as he glanced over at Abreu, who was going through a simulated game at U.S. Cellular Field.
Set to come off the 15-day disabled list Monday after resting and rehabbing an injured left ankle, Abreu was facing Sox minor league pitcher Brad Salgado. Abreu was able to continue after being attended to by trainer Herm Schneider. But it has been the Sox's offense that has been really hurting the last few games.
"It's sputtering right now," Ventura said after his team was limited to five hits.
The Padres' Tyson Ross went six innings while striking out five. Relievers Nick Vincent, Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street did not allow a hit the rest of the way.
Andre Rienzo (4-2) took the loss after lasting just 3 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on seven hits.
"All teams go through (offensive struggles) for a period, and the last couple of days that's been us," Ventura said. "We haven't been able to get the hit that gets you over the hump. Whenever that happens, it looks boring; it looks like they're not trying. But they're grinding it out. It's just not working right now."
As much as Ventura is looking forward to the return of Abreu and his 15 homers and 42 RBIs, he doesn't want his players to rely totally on the rookie first baseman's bat.
"I hope they're not waiting around for that. He is coming back, but you still have to play the game," he said. "They've been good so far of just staying focused in the moment and going through it. You get a couple of days where it just doesn't look good."
The Sox are hitting .215 with two home runs and 15 runs scored over their last six games.
"We're not worried about it," leadoff man Adam Eaton said. "We're going to salvage the day (Sunday) and we're excited to go out West and compete against the Dodgers and Angels."
The Padres took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on RBI double from Will Venable and Rene Rivera.
The Sox made it 2-1 in the bottom of the second after Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko led off with base hits to put runners on the corners. Alejandro De Aza bounced into a double play, allowing Ramirez to score.
The Padres led 3-1 in the third on an RBI single by Venable, but the Sox cut it to 3-2 in the fifth on a two-out double by Dayan Viciedo.
Venable, who was 4-for-4, led off the sixth with a double and later scored on Alexi Amarista's sacrifice fly.
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