White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said he can think of many pitchers who didn't get it right in their first trial in the major leagues, and he believes right-hander Erik Johnson is one of those who can turn it around for another shot.
Johnson is 10 starts into his return to Triple-A Charlotte after the Sox sent him down April 26. It originally seemed as if it might be a short trip to the minors, but he has had his share of problems there, going 1-4 with a 6.54 ERA and allowing five home runs with 31 walks and 36 strikeouts over 532/3 innings.
"It seems like he has lost the zone a little bit, and it seems like he has lost some confidence because of that," Cooper said. "That's why he's back down there to regain both of those things."
Cooper said the Sox still have confidence in him.
"Sometimes you have to take your lumps," Cooper said. "Sometimes you have to take some hits before you evolve into a guy we envision him becoming, which is a starter at the major league level."
Many moves: The Sox went on a spree to acquire veteran minor league talent last week — picking up outfielders Matt Tuiasosopo and Michael Taylor and right-handed pitchers Shawn Hill and Henry Rodriguez via trades and a signing.
The moves gave Triple-A Charlotte an influx of new players.
Taylor was the only product of a true trade, joining the Sox from the A’s in exchange for minor league right-hander Jake Sanchez. He is a career .288 hitter in the minor leagues and has hit .135 in 26 major league games.
Hitting coach Todd Steverson had experience in the past with Taylor, and Sox assistant general manager Buddy Bell said Taylor has enough potential that with some mechanical changes at the plate he could at some point be major league help.
“We’re hoping that potential will develop at some point,” Bell said. “He has things he has to fix, but he has quite a bit of potential and was a good prospect in the past.”
Tuiasosopo, a Blue Jays prospect acquired for cash, has played in 152 major league games since 2008. He jumped to a good start in his first five games with Charlotte, going 6-for-15 with a double, a home run and two RBIs.
Bell said he has liked Tuiasosopo for a while and said he provides outfield insurance for the organization.
Hill, whom the Sox picked up from the Blue Jays for cash, already was pitching his second game for Charlotte on Thursday after he allowed two earned runs in five innings in his first start. He has pitched in 45 major league games with a 4.69 ERA.
Rodriguez signed a minor-league contract with the Sox. Bell said he has a big arm but is in need of some work on mechanical issues.
Big game: Sox infield prospect Micah Johnson had one of his best games yet for Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday, going 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. It was his first Triple-A home run.