CHICAGO -- The best piece of news for the White Sox on Thursday night took place approximately 918 miles from Chicago in Mobile, Ala.
Birmingham, the White Sox Double-A affiliate, claimed an 8-2 victory over Mobile in Game 2 of the best-of-five Southern League Championship series. The Barons sit one win away from the title with Game 3 scheduled for Friday night at the home of the Barons.
Winning championships never gets old at any level of competition, as the excited Thursday night tweets coming from numerous Birmingham players would illustrate. But the ultimate goal for top Minor League talent is to reach the Majors, so team success and individual development need to form a symbiotic relationship.
"Absolutely, it's all about the development and getting these kids ready for the next level or big leagues," said Birmingham manager Julio Vinas, a rising managerial prospect in his own right. "We've had a couple of our kids gets [to the White Sox], which is great. All the other players see that, which brings excitement."
"In the Minors, winning obviously means you are doing something right; they go together," White Sox reliever Jake Petricka said. "You can do well [individually], but if you keep losing, you are always going to feel bad. The winning definitely helps."
Petricka joins a group including Marcus Semien, Daniel Webb, Miguel Gonzalez and Erik Johnson who have spent time with Birmingham this year but currently play for the White Sox. They are happy for their former teammates and sensed this team would be good because many from this same group found success with Class A Winston-Salem in 2012.
Playing in the Majors tops playing in the Minors, but winning along the way makes the journey that much better and helps in the development process.
"It's never fun if you are not winning," Semien said. "Luckily for the past two years, in High A and Double-A, I was on some teams that were winning games and clinching playoffs and stuff like that. We had a good group there."
"One thing you notice playing with Marcus and Erik is they take the approach to help the team win, and then everything else takes care of itself," said Birmingham outfielder Trayce Thompson, who homered and drove in three Thursday. "Everyone wants to make it to the big leagues, but it's always about the team win."
Axelrod trying to maintain starter's endurance
CHICAGO -- Dylan Axelrod reported no abnormal soreness after throwing 90 pitches over five scoreless innings of relief during Thursday's 14-3 loss to the Indians. That total is certainly not overly extended for a hurler who began the season as a starter, but Axelrod has also pitched just four times since Aug. 11.
"I was OK; if I wasn't, I would have said something," said Axelrod, who joked that he was getting "a spa day" for at least Friday's contest. "That last inning, I was feeling a little fatigued."
Of that 29-pitch ninth inning, Axelrod said he "managed to get through it, but it was definitely taxing physically. It's something you have to do, be a professional, and that's my job. Just get through it, and I look forward to the next time out."
After making 18 starts as part of the rotation, Axelrod has tried to compensate for his lack of recent work in the bullpen. He will take one day off out of three, and then throw lightly on the next day and follow with a side session. It has helped him keep his feel on the mound, especially with his breaking stuff.
Axelrod's long-term hope is to be a starter. He also knows that struggles near the end of his run this year have so far cost him that opportunity.
"Yeah. I mean that's my goal," Axelrod said. "I feel most comfortable with that role. It's not going to be handed to me. I'm going to have to keep trying to earn it. I had my opportunity, and I kind of let it slip away there. I'm going to have to go to Spring Training and do what I've always done. Nothing has changed really. I just need to battle and work my tail off."
"A guy like him is [better suited as a starter], because he goes every five days and has a better feel for his pitches," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "But sometimes you don't always get to do that."
Plans announced for Hispanic Heritage Month
CHICAGO -- Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and the White Sox will be taking part in that celebration Sept. 27 at U.S. Cellular Field.
This game against the Royals will feature Latin music and dancing, special activities for the kids and an on-field parade. Tickets are specially priced for all members of the Hispanic community and their family and friends, with T-shirts being given to the first 800 fans at Gate 1 prior to the parade. Parade passes are limited to the first 1,800 tickets purchased.
The White Sox also are scheduled to announce their Roberto Clemente Award nominee on that night.
Third to first
• Ventura would not go as far as calling Thursday's 14-3 loss to the Indians an embarrassment to the organization.
"It's an ugly game; I think every team has one of those games during the year where nothing goes right," Ventura said. "Explaining it after the game, it's not fun to sit through and watch anything. That's how I look at it.
"Any time you lose that way, it irks you. Again, with it being putting guys in different positions, things are going to happen. Once it was already out of hand, you're trying to limit guys' playing time, moving guys around."
• Per STATS LLC, Charlie Leesman's seven earned runs allowed Thursday in the fifth are the most runs given up by a White Sox pitcher without recording an out.