March 2009

Monday meanderings

Although Jerry Owens is the only individual talking about being placed on waivers Monday, other members of the White Sox organization have talked about where Owens went wrong in his pursuit of the leadoff spot and center field job this spring. Here was Ozzie Guillen’s take after the game.

I was a little disappointed. We have been waiting for him for three years and we give him the job for three years,” Guillen said. “Last year he got hurt.

“It’s unfortunate and a shame this kid didn’t get it done. He has all the tools in the world. Hopefully he stay with us. If not, I wish him the best of luck. He’s a great kid and he played hard for us. Everything didn’t work out the way we thought it was going to work out.”

Let me second Guillen’s comments on Owens being a great kid–always classy and willing to talk, even if things weren’t going his way. From talking with Guillen and general manager Ken Williams, it sounds like a lack of energy contributed to costing him the job at the top.

“Well, everybody has different ways to do things,” Guillen said. “If you are going to act like him, you have to be Harold Baines. The leadoff guy has to give some life and stuff. We talked to him about it a lot of times, but that’s the way he is. That’s his personality. We have to respect that.”

–As far as the present leadoff job goes, Dewayne Wise will fill the role at the season’s outset. But don’t count out Brian Anderson.

“It depends on the matchup and depends on how he swing the bat,” said Guillen of Wise and Anderson. “I think Brian is going to see more at-bats against lefties but we will see how it works out, how good he swing the bat.

“(Wise) swing the bat right now good against everybody and we expect him to continue to do it. But it’s a long season and if some problem happens, Brian will be there to help him.”

–Williams gave plenty of props to young hurlers such as Jack Egbert and Lance Broadway, who turned the final cuts into tough decisions for the White Sox.

Egbert will work out of the bullpen for Triple-A Charlotte, according to Williams. Broadway was in the last round of discusions, as late as Monday morning, as to who the White Sox were going to take with them to Chicago. 

–Remember my NCAA Tournament prediction of Michigan St.-Michigan in the final? I hope I’m completely wrong. I like North Carolina over UConn, at this point.

 

Final Roster moves

The White Sox offcially got their roster down to 27 by making six cuts on Monday morning. The team optioned pitchers Lance Broadway, Jack Egbert and Jeff Marquez to Triple-A Charlotte, reassigned INF/OF Josh Kroeger and left-handed reliever Randy Williams to Minor League camp and placed infielder Jayson Nix on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quadriceps.

Although the move was not announced, Jerry Owens told a pair of reporters on Monday that he was placed on waivers. The move means that Dewayne Wise and Brian Anderson will be patroling center field for the White Sox. Corky Miller also is expected to be named the White Sox backup catcher, with Donny Lucy returning to Charlotte.

More to come soon.

The gang is all here

For those wondering about those wide-ranging rumors regarding the White Sox possibly acquiring Melky Cabrera, Gary Matthews, Jr. or even Juan Pierre as the team’s leadoff man/center fielder, manager Ozzie Guillen seemed to squelch that talk following Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Arizona at Camelback Ranch.

No, we're not going [outside]," said Guillen, when asked if talk came up centering on names not in camp during the staff's daily meetings. "I don't want that to happen, I don't like that to happen. If we have to go outside the organization right now, gosh, I'm not going to say we're in trouble, but as a ballclub we have enough guys here to resolve that problem.''

So, it looks as if the final two roster spots for position players, assuming Brian Anderson is on the roster, will come from the group of Dewayne Wise, Brent Lillibridge and Jerry Owens. At this point, the White Sox will not take on any more payroll, which rules out a number of potential outside options, unless the offering franchise picks up a bulk of the contract.

 

Pitching update

Bartolo Colon couldn’t have been much more efficient than he was in the first inning of Wednesday’s Cactus League game against the A’s. The burly right-hander retired Rajai Davis, Orlando Cabrera and Mark Ellis on three pop ups on six pitches, four of which were strikes.

Meanwhile, Mark Buehrle threw 40 tosses Wednesday at intervals of 60, 90 and 120 feet and reported absolutely no problems after the session. Buehrle starts Tuesday against Colorado and will be on track to start on Opening Day against the Royals–his seventh such start, tying Billy Pierce’s franchise mark. 

Roster Moves

The tandem of Gordon Beckham and Aaron Poreda figure to be frontline players on a White Sox division winner in the near future.

 

For that matter, Beckham, the team’s top pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, and Poreda, the White Sox No. 1 selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, could contribute to the 2009 cause before all is said and done. But they both will start the season in the Minor Leagues.

 

Beckham and Poreda were two of four players reassigned to Minor League camp on Wednesday morning, joining veteran first baseman Ben Broussard and infielder Eider Torres. Right-handed relievers Adam Russell and Ehren Wassermann were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, bringing the total to 33 players still in camp for the White Sox.

 

That total breaks down to 16 pitchers, three catchers, eight infielders and six outfielders. Catchers Corky Miller and Donny Lucy, left-handed reliever Randy Williams, right-handed reliever Mike MacDougal and outfielder Josh Kroeger remain in contention for a roster spot as non-roster invitees to Spring Training.

 

Stewart to the Yankees

Chris Stewart was sent to the New York Yankees on Sunday for future considerations. Stewart hit .200 for the White Sox over eight games this spring.

The trade leaves Corky Miller and Donny Lucy as the only remaining candidates in camp for the backup catcher’s job. Miller appears to have the present edge.

 

Birthday bash

It might have been a day late, but the White Sox had a nice birthday tribute to first-base coach Harold Baines before the team hit in the bottom of the first of Monday’s game against the Royals. The public address announcer at Camelback Ranch informed the crowd of Baines’ 50th birthday being Sunday, and the crowd followed with a nice ovation.

Gordon Beckham, the subject of a practical joke earlier this camp when he inadvertently asked “Who is Harold” while talking to A.J. Pierzynski about Baines, brought a cake for Baines on to the field. A group of fans then serenaed Baines with their rendition of “Happy Birthday” later in the game, to which Baines tipped his helmet.

Manager Ozzie Guillen, one of Baines’ closest friends, comically applauded Baines’ longevity after Monday’s game that seemed like it took 50 years to complete.

He’s a lucky man; he made it to 50,” said Guillen with a laugh. “I hope I make it to 50. If I keep living the life I lead, 49 will be good enough.” 

Thome update

Ozzie Guillen believes that Jim Thome will get a few at-bats Tuesday, after being out of action since he was scratched from last Wednesday’s starting lineup with tightness in his back. Thome would take the hacks back at Camelback Ranch, with the White Sox traveling to Tucson on Tuesday.

“But he feels better, and it’s a day-by-day thing,” said Guillen of Thome. “We got a lot of games left. I don’t worry about him. I want to make sure.”

Contreras, second inning

Adrian Beltre ripped a 2-2 pitch to center for the first hit off of Jose Contreras, leading off the second. Russell Branyan ran the count full on Contreras, before he blew a fastball past the left-handed slugger. Mike Morse struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch, and Prentice Redman grounded out to shortstop Alexei Ramirez to end the frame.

In total, Contreras threw 44 pitches in the two innings, 26 for strikes, including 15 foul balls. Contreras jumped ahead of every hitter faced but Ken Griffey, Jr. and even dropped down seven times upon delivery. He struck out four.

 

Contreras, first inning

After warming up with Tyler Flowers, Jose Contreras needed just three pitches to strike out Chris Woodward looking. Yuniesky Betancourt worked the count full before flying out deep to Jerry Owens in center.

Ken Griffey, Jr. was next to the plate and the game slowed down for a moment as he stepped out of the batter’s box twice laughing with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and bench coach Joey Cora getting on him from the dugout. After A.J. Pierzynski drew a mixture of laughs and groans from the crowd by putting up the sign for intentional walk, Griffey struck out looking on a full-count offering.

In total, Contreras threw 17 pitches and 10 for strikes.

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