April 2009

End of an era

The White Sox announced during Wednesday’s game that they had requested waivers on relief pitcher Mike MacDougal for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. The right-hander had pitched his way back on to the team during Spring Training but was designated for assignment on April 21 after a rocky start to the season that included one appearance where he threw eight pitchers to two batters and all eight were balls.

MacDougal is in the third and final year of a $6.45 million deal, earning $2.65 million in 2009. MacDougal always has featured great raw stuff but was never able to harness it within the strike zone during parts of four years in Chicago.

Broadway nights

The latest middle relief addition for the White Sox became Lance Broadway, with the right-hander getting called up from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Saturday’s contest with Toronto. Broadway replaced Jack Egbert, who was optioned to Charlotte after allowing six runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings during Friday’s 14-0 shellacking, who in turn, had replaced Mike MacDougal.

But Egbert’s demotion does not mean he has dropped completely from the big-league picture.

“It’s not fair for the kid to come out for two outings and all of a sudden, he’s down in the Minor Leagues,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Egbert. “I think we need a guy fresh to be here. That’s the reason we did it. Egbert yesterday, he throw seven ground balls. We couldn’t catch it or it was in the right place for the Toronto hitters. It’s not something you can control.

“You can’t do nothing about it. Now I know what he can bring and what he can do. We worry about can he recover for two innings and other stuff, all the little things behind the scenes. I like what I see. He no was the greatest one, but I see a lot of ground balls and I like that.”

Broadway, 25, carries a 2-1 career record and 4.44 ERA in 11 previous games with the White Sox over the past two years–two of which were starts. Guillen joked about welcoming back Broadway once again, and hopes this is the last move the team has to make in this important but often overlooked part of their bullpen.

“We wish we don’t have to do that every week,” Guillen said. “It’s not easy for anyone. It’s a very uncomfortable situation for (general manager) Kenny (Williams) and myself and Coop. Every week we have different faces. We try to figure out what’s the one that’s going to stick here and stay here.”

“Anytime you have more experience, you gain more confidence and you understand the game better,” said Broadway, who is ready for any role the White Sox have planned. “For young players, that’s a big step.”



Getz scratched

Chris Getz was scratched from Saturday’s starting lineup prior to the game’s first pitch. A bruised middle finger on the second baseman’s right hand was given as the reason for his absence.

Brent Lillibridge replaced Getz in the field and in the leadoff spot. Lillibridge was scheduled to start in center and hit second against Toronto left-hander Brian Burres, with Brian Anderson in right and Jermaine Dye getting moved to designated hitter with Jim Thome receiving a one-game respite. The Getz scratch gave Jerry Owens a rare start in center, hitting ninth.

Words from Dewayne Wise

I had a chance to talk with Dewayne Wise for about 10 minutes in the White Sox clubhouse prior to Friday’s game. Wise re-joined the team after going through treatment back in Chicago on his separated right shoulder while the White Sox were on the remainder of their nine-game road trip. Needless to say, Wise is fighting boredom as much as the still present pain.

Wise does not expect to resume baseball activities until the end of May but still expects to be back in action some time in the middle of June, which would be about two months from the injury suffered on April 13 in Detroit. He was greeted by Gavin Floyd during our conversation, the same hurler who Wise basically saved a victory for at Comerica Park with his amazing catch in right-center in the fifth with two runners on base and one out.

To give you an idea of the pain still felt by Wise, who is working on strengthening the muscles around the injured area during his rehab, he was talking about ironing a shirt earlier this past week and how he pulled his arm back suddenly but slowly when his right hand basically got too close to the iron’s heat. Wise said the pain was excruciating.

This whole rehab process would have been even tougher for Wise, including a longer period away from the field, if he had suffered the same injury in his throwing shoulder. He maintains an extremely upbeat attitude and seems to be counting the days until he returns. There’s only so much baseball and other sporting events he can watch on television.

Ramirez’s hitting woes

Alexei Ramirez entered Saturday night’s game at Tropicana Field hitting .143, without a home run and with just three RBIs. This start with the bat is much like Ramirez’s rough opening during his rookie campaign of 2008, when he hit .138 in April but finished with a .290 average, 21 home runs and 77 RBIs.

The White Sox believe Ramirez will quickly bounce back, and it’s not so much about the weather getting warmer as it is about the shortstop losing that anxiousness that comes along with high expectations and low results.

“Early in the year, in that first series against Kansas City, they pitched him really tough and he got a little anxious,” said White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker of Ramirez. “I think it kind of affected him mentally.

“He tried to do things different on his own. They are corrected, but mentally, he has to get to the ball.”

Walker addressed the notion that the American League is pitching Ramirez different and has adjusted to him after last year’s great success. But Walker pointed out how those pitchers already had made adjustments at the end of the 2008 campaign, and Ramirez was still hitting the baseball consistently.

Basically, Ramirez needs to swing at strikes or pitches close to the zone.

“He’s a decent bad-ball hitter,” said Walker of Ramirez. “Nobody is a good terrible ball pitcher, and he’s swinging at some terrible pitches right now. He has to make adjustments and get the ball in the strike zone or at least close.”

“This is the big leagues. This isn’t Equador or Costa Rica you’re facing,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Right now, he’s trying to do too much. He’s trying to get out of his slump with one at-bat. You got to take one at-bat at a time. Take your best at-bat and give yourself a chance.”








The Mighty Blackhawks

When I attended the University of Michigan back in the early 20s–I kid, it was the mid 80s–I remember coming home after finals ended and hosting parties at my parents’ house in Flossmoor, Illinois to watch the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers in heated playoff competition. Aside from the Mike Keenan days, when the Blackhawks lost to the Penguins in the 1991-92 Stanley Cup Finals, this was the time I remember in my lifetime when the hockey organization stood at its peak interest-wise.

That is, until this year. I watched highlights of their first playoff game against the Flames on Thursday, and aside from the exciting way it ended in overtime, the crowd looked like it really was rocking at the United Center. I would be interested to hear from anyone who attended.

I also have a good feeling about the Bulls in the postseason, and with both the White Sox and Cubs looking competitive, it could be an interesting next month or so in the city. Stay tuned.

Game postponed

Tuesdays game between the White Sox and Tigers has been postponed. No makeup date was announced.

Podsednik returns

Scott Podsednik and the White Sox agreed on a Minor League contract on Tuesday afternoon. Podsednik, 33, played for the White Sox from 2005-07 and was a catalyst at the top of the White Sox order during the 2005 World Series championship season. In 2005, Podsednik hit .290 with 59 stolen bases.

Wise leaves the game

Dewayne Wise left Monday’s game at Comerica Park in the bottom of the fifth inning after the White Sox center fielder made a spectacular diving catch of a Ramon Santiago line drive in right-center. Wise’s grab made it possible for Gavin Floyd to stay in the game and remain in line for the victory over Detroit.

Santiago connected with runners on first and second and one out, and Wise literally out-ran the baseball to prevent extra bases. Wise immediately winced in pain after making the tumbling catch, apparently favoring his right shoulder where he landed. Wise flipped the ball to Jermaine Dye, who threw the ball into the infield, and then called for help from the dugout. After manager Ozzie Guillen and head athletic trainer Herm Schneider checked out Wise, he left the game and was replaced by Brian Anderson.

Wise finished 1-for-3 at the plate on Monday.

Live from Detroit

Having Sunday off and with a day game Monday at Comerica Park, I decided to fly into Detroit early.

I know Detroit gets a bad rap nationally. For those of you who remember the comedy classic Kentucky Fried Movie, there’s a great Detroit reference in there that makes me laugh out loud every time I see it. But the truth is that Detroit is a very underrated city.

Anyway, my flight was delayed an hour once we boarded the plane because according to the pilot, the fuel gauge was not working right and the person on duty did not know how to read the backup gauge so they had to go find another mechanic. I’ll spare the airline’s name because this is such an utterly ridiculous situation.

So, for those keeping track, it was an hour sitting on the plane and then 41 minutes in the air. I arrived at the Renaissance in downtown Detroit and was stunned by the overhaul this place has undergone. New bar/restaurant in the lobby, new workout equipment. If you make the trip to Detroit, this hotel is a good place to stay.

Not many people were staying on Easter Sunday, though. In fact, I was told they were at five percent occupancy for a 70-floor hotel. That’s right–five percent. Business picks up quite a bit over the next few days.

As for the White Sox, the biggest story for me from the first week was Bartolo Colon. I know it’s one start, but the veteran was better than I ever expected. Actually, the pitching in general was impressive. Octavio Dotel might lead the American League in strikeouts without making a start. Ok, not really, but the starting five in the rotation and the back four of Dotel, Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink and Bobby Jenks in the bullpen have been pretty much everything the White Sox wanted.

The one-two punch at the top of the order in Chris Getz and Josh Fields also seems to have great potential, and Dewayne Wise might just be a better fit at the bottom of the order. I realize White Sox fans wanted more than a 3-3 start at home, but the signs are there for a fairly bright future from just one week.

Before I sleep for a few hours, allow me to make one more point. I didn’t watch the Rock of Love finale because the hotel doesn’t have VH1, but I watched the final clips online. Lame is the word that comes to mind, although I picked Taya from the beginning. Hopefully, this is the last one, although there were some entertaining moments.