White Sox-Royals preview

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Edinson Volquez was the Kansas City Royals' Opening Day starter and defeated the New York Mets.

Volquez, however, has not pitched like a No. 1 starter recently. Volquez, who starts Tuesday against the visiting Chicago White Sox, has lost his past two starts at Texas and Tampa Bay, allowing 12 earned runs on 20 hits - including four home runs - and five walks, plus a hit batter, in 11 innings.

The first inning has been rather troublesome for Volquez, who has an 8.61 ERA in the frame while opponents are hitting .301 against him.

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Volquez ranks among the American League leaders in categories a pitcher would prefer not to see his name: 81 runs, 146 hits, 10 losses and 52 walks.

He is 6-3 with a 3.89 ERA at Kauffman Stadium, while he is 2-7 with a 6.51 ERA on the road.

Volquez will be facing the White Sox for the second time this season, taking a no-decision in Royals' 5-4 victory on May 29. He allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out five in six innings. Volquez is 2-3 with a 2.89 ERA in his career against the White Sox.

One of the pleasant surprises for the Royals this season has been the emergence of rookie third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert.

Cuthbert is among AL rookie leaders with a .296 batting average, 86 hits, 16 doubles, 25 extra-base hits, 129 total bases and 21 multi-hit games. Cuthbert started hot, tapered off and picked it up again, hitting .329 since the All-Star break.

"That's normal," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "When you get up here and you play a certain amount of time, the league does know you. The league adjusted to Cuthbert and he struggled before regaining his form.

"He started to understand what they were doing and then he adjusted back his game. That's normal. But, sometimes, guys, they don't adjust back. The good ones do. The good ones, boom, they make adjustments. It's a constant battle of them making adjustments, you making adjustments, them making adjustments, you making adjustments.

"The thing that's special about him as a young guy is that he's really, really coachable. And Dale (Sveum, hitting coach) has shown him how to do his homework. How to get in there, how to get on the video, how to watch and prepare. How to understand what pitchers are trying to do. He's able to make adjustments in his mechanics very, very quickly. So, he's taken his lessons well."

The Royals and White Sox enter this series with identical 53-58 records and tied for third in the AL Central.

The Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1 Sunday to take the series. They have won four games in August after winning only seven in a disastrous July.

The White Sox, who are coming off a 10-2 loss Sunday to Baltimore, have lost eight of 10 and 16 of 23.

Chicago will start ace left-hander Chris Sale in the series opener. Sale is 14-5 with 143 strikeouts, holding opponents to a .218 batting average, has a 2.16 ERA on the road, a 3.12 overall ERA and averages 2.0 walks per nine innings.

Sale, who is 0-3 in his past four starts, is 1-0 with a 4.85 ERA against the Royals this season and 8-9 with a 3.04 ERA in his career. Eric Hosmer has a .359 career average with two home runs in 39 career at-bats against Sale, while Lorenzo Cain owns a .349 average with three home runs and eight RBIs in 49 career at-bats.

Chicago's disabled list includes second baseman Brett Lawrie, catcher Alex Avila and outfielder Austin Jackson, who has been sidelined since June 10 with a torn left knee meniscus. Lawrie and Avila are out with hamstring strains.

"I don't know if he (Jackson) can play center any time soon, but he looks great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It was nice seeing him and I think guys like seeing that. But I don't think we're necessarily any closer to him coming back and playing."

After James Shields gave up four home runs and eight runs in 1 1/3 innings to the Orioles, top pitching prospect Carson Fulmer worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings Sunday. Ventura hinted Fulmer could make a start before the season ends.

"That's a possibility," Ventura said. "That's a guy you want to master the one inning first before you can sit there and think he can give you seven or eight. For him, I think it's a time to learn, to gain some experience while you're up here and the guys that you're facing and what you need to do to survive up here. I think that's just as important as being stretched out. He can get valuable experience an inning at a time."