Alex Rios unhappy with last night’s benching

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White Sox manager Robin Ventura benched outfielder Alex Rios after failing to run out a ground ball double play in yesterday’s 6-4 loss to the Braves. Prior to this afternoon’s game, when he went 3-for-5 with five RBI including a grand slam, he had been scuffling, posting a .367 OPS since his 6-for-6 game against the Tigers on July 9.

Rios told the media he would have preferred Ventura pull him aside privately to discuss the matter, rather than make a public example out of him. From MLB.com’s Scott Merkin:

“If he wants to make a statement for the team, it probably worked,” Rios added. “I don’t know what his intentions were. But that’s what I wanted to see.”

Ventura didn’t respond harshly to Rios’ critique. In a matter-of-fact but direct tone, Ventura said the moment was handled and you go from there. He also understood Rios’ request for the one-on-one admonishment, but made the basic point that physical errors are acceptable, but the same can’t be said for lack of hustle.

“Again, you’re handling it for 25 guys,” Ventura said. “I get where he’s coming from, but from where I’m coming, he probably understands how I have to do it.

No matter the case, Rios may have a new manager before the beginning of August. His sudden disappearance last night prompted many to speculate that the Pirates and White Sox had agreed to a trade, and several other teams — including the Red Sox — have been linked to him recently as well. Rios, 32, is earning $12.5 million this year, will earn another $12.5 million in 2014, and has a $13.5 million club option with a $1 million buyout for 2015.

Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna wins AFL MVP, helps clinch AFL Championship Game

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The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.

At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.

Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.

Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.