May 2009

Trade particulars

Despite posting a 2.81 ERA over 10 starts for Triple-A Charlotte, Wes Whisler wasn’t exactly sitting around and waiting for his contract to be purchased prior to Saturday’s game against the Royals.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but you never know,” said Whisler, after arriving at Kauffman Stadium to begin the first Major League stint of his career. “I’m just going to go out there and control what I can control. I’m happy to be here and help out anyway possible.”
Whisler’s promotion was one of the offshoots from Friday night’s trade, with backup catcher Ramon Castro being sent from the Mets, with cash considerations, to the White Sox in exchange for right-handed reliever Lance Broadway. Castro, who was scheduled to arrive at game time, will wear No. 44, while Whisler will wear No. 46 on Saturday and No. 47 from that point moving forward.

Castro’s arrival could cut into playing time for starter A.J. Pierzynski, but White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said the team’s improvement in reserve they believe to have found in Castro certainly will not force a platoon situation.

“It’s not going to be my platoon catcher, but obviously it seems like this summer will be hot and humid, and we got to keep A.J. in the best shape we can get,” Guillen said. “We’re going to upgrade there. Nothing against Corky. Corky was great for us. No doubt he catches a good game, and he did his job on the field and off the field. We improved ourselves a little bit with Castro.”

This move once again shows how general manager Ken Williams is putting his team in the best possible position to compete in an overall American League race without a clear frontrunner. Whether Whisler remains with the White Sox past June 8, when Jose Contreras figures to be called up from Charlotte to start in one of the split doubleheader games against Detroit, remains to be seen.

Broadway actually heard the news first on Friday from Whisler, his roommate in Charlotte, when the lefty told Broadway he had been called up for the first time in his career. Broadway found out about the trade shortly thereafter, leaving their Charlotte apartment vacant.

“It’s sitting there, but that’s a good thing,” said Whisler of the Charlotte apartment. “I just never knew. I’m ecstatic about things, but shocked too at the same time.”

Castro to the White Sox; Broadway gone

The White Sox acquired catcher Ramon Castro and cash from the New York Mets for right-handed reliever Lance Broadway in a trade announced after Friday’s victory. Castro is hitting .252 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 26 games, but more importantly, Castro has thrown out 27.7 percent of attempted basestealers in his career.

Prior to Saturday’s game, Corky Miller will be designated for assignment by the White Sox and left-handed reliever Wes Whisler will be called up from Triple-A Charlotte.

Beckham on the move

Gordon Beckham officially was promoted to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday and will be in the Knights’ starting lineup on Thursday night in Columbus.

Let the predictions begin as to when the Minor League phenom arrives with the White Sox.

The team’s top pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft hit .299 in 38 games for Double-A Birmingham, with four home runs, 17 doubles and 22 RBIs. White Sox manager Ozzie  Guillen said that Beckham could have been ready for Triple-A competition out of Spring Training, but he applauded the choice of Minor League Director Buddy Bell to start Beckham with the Barons.

Guillen also liked the move of prepared talent through the White Sox system.

“I always believe when we think someone is good, move him up,” Guillen said. “A lot of organizations keep guys in the same place to be great just to trade him.”

Before people assume that the jump from Charlotte to the White Sox is a mere formality, remember that Guillen is in favor of Beckham spending a full season in the Minors. Guillen also cautioned that the move from Triple-A to the Majors will be the biggest challenge Beckham has to face.

At this point, the White Sox seem to be satisfied with Josh Fields at third base, Chris Getz at second base and Jayson Nix getting time at both positions.

Quentin leaves the game

Carlos Quentin pulled up lame while running out a double in the first inning of Monday’s contest with the Angels at Angel Stadium.

Quentin’s double to center scored a run, but as he turned the corner around first base, he began to limp and favor his left foot. When Quentin reached second base, he bent over in pain and acting manager Joey Cora and athletic trainer Herm Schneider came out to check on him. Quentin originally was helped from the field but walked to the dugout under his own power, replaced at second by Brian Anderson.

With Anderson’s entrance and Quentin’s injury, Scott Podsednik moved from center to left and Anderson took over in center. Quentin missed five games from May 16-20 with a sore left heel, diagnosed as planter fasciitis.

Wise to begin rehab assignment

Dewayne Wise will begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Monday in Columbus, as the center fielder continues to recover from a separated right shoulder suffered while making a spectacular diving catch in a victory over Detroit on April 13. Wise does not expect to play on Monday and said that he will serve as designated hitter before getting into an outfield role by Wednesday.

Wise expects to be gone from the White Sox during their weeklong road trip to Anaheim and Kansas City. The Knights also visit Toledo at the end of this upcoming week.

Ken Williams, unplugged

The White Sox general manager talked for 17 minutes prior to Friday’s game, with the focus falling primarily on the Jake Peavy situation. But here’s a few other tidbits that didn’t find their way into the main story on the trade that never was or the story to come centered on Williams’ optimism for the team to shake off the doldrums from the slow start.

On Bartolo Colon:

“Well, Bartolo, you know, you can’t get away with fastballs all the time. He’s going to have to mix in some more breaking balls. He’s got some of the best movement on his fastball in the game, but unless you’re mixing it up, then you’re not going to have any success.

And he knows that. To a great degree, that reality has to kind of set in that he doesn’t have 96, 97 mph anymore where he can go out and throw 90 percent fastballs and get an out. He’s just got to mix it up more, and that’s just the bottom line. If he doesn’t mix it up, he’s going to get it handed to him.”

On the inconsistent 2009 mound work from young starters such as Gavin Floyd and John Danks:

“Here’s what I’ll tell you. There are a number of clubs that are trying to get ahold of our guys in the rotation, particularly our young guys in the rotation, and get me to move them now thinking that we might have soured on them because they’ve had a little bit of a tough stretch. It’s not happening. We’ve got faith in John Danks and Gavin Floyd. I’m not too worried about how they’re going to rebound this year.”

On young players such as Aaron Poreda and Clatyon Richard hearing their names in the Peavy trade rumor:

“I have a standing policy that no one in that locker room has to guess what’s on my mind, on any of the coaches’ mind. All they have to do is ask the question, and we’ll give them a straight answer. To this point, I have not been asked by anyone to expound. But I’ve given them all that right. The difficult part is when you are, when things come out, and it may not necessarily be as accurate as you’d like it to be, but you don’t want to expound on it because you don’t want to give any legs to it.”

On sending a message to the White Sox fan base that the team needs to improve:

“I’m very careful about saying, ‘We’re going to improve on this, we’re going to make the moves necessary,’ because you can have as many great ideas as you want. You can have as much aggressiveness or desire as you want. But if the players aren’t available or if the matchups don’t fit with other clubs, there’s some things that are just out of your control. The guys with the gloves and the bats and the balls have the control around here. The rest of us, we’re just along for the ride.”

On finding the money to pay for Peavy, if he agreed to the trade:

“We were going to figure that out along the way. That’s not too much of a stretch.”

On making more of a personal pitch to Peavy to join the White Sox:

“Well, I made the offer. I had a flight scheduled to go out a couple of days before you guys even knew about it, or at least a day and a half before you guys even knew about it. So I was certainly willing to do so.

But it was very quickly articulated to me that this was not about his respect for the White Sox, the city, Ozzie as a manager, what we’re about, our aggressiveness in trying to field a competitive team every year. This wasn’t about any of that.

When you get a guy that has a no-trade clause in his contract, do you know what that means? It means he’s earned it. And when you earn that right, just like any of us would like, when you earn those certain rights, you’d like to be able to dictate and plot your own course. There’s nothing wrong, I don’t begrudge him or anyone else.

Years ago, I forget who it was, [Carlos Delgado]. Yeah, who expressed some of the same things, as well. It is what it is. You move forward. You find another way.”

On Plan B after Peavy:

“Usually I have a Plan B. At this stage, this pretty much was a Plan A kind of thing. I didn’t have anything really backing this one up right now. We’ll work on it.”

Contreras on the right track

Jose Contreras picked up his first victory of the 2009 season last night.

The veteran hurler probably did not expect win No. 1 to be coming in Scranton, while pitching for Triple-A Charlotte. But it’s a step in the right direction for the right-hander, who struck out five, walked five and gave up three hits over six scoreless innings.

Contreras is one of the true good guys in the game, and while our job is to be impartial and report the news, you have to root for someone such as Contreras who fought so hard to come back from his ruptured left Achilles suffered last August. His return also will be a much-needed boost for the White Sox rotation, moving forward with an eye on the American League Central title.

Judging by just 57 of his 108 pitches going for strikes, Contreras still has some work to do. But Contreras made the request to go to Charlotte to pitch regularly and figure out what has been wrong to start the season. Basically, he has to harness control of his split-finger.

As for Brian Anderson, on a brief injury rehab for a strained right oblique, he finished 2-for-4 with a triple during the Knights’ 2-0 victory. I expect Anderson back with the team in Toronto this weekend, and at the very latest, when the White Sox return to Chicago this Tuesday.

Quentin scratched

Carlos Quentin was scratched from Tuesday night’s lineup in Cleveland due to soreness in his left heel that has been bothering him for the past three days. Quentin was to receive a Cortisone shot, and manager Ozzie Guillen said Quentin also was not going to start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale at Progressive Field.

In other injury-related news, Brian Anderson is set to join Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday to begin his injury rehab assignment for a strained right oblique. Anderson, who said on Tuesday that he felt the best he has since the injury, could re-join the team this weekend in Toronto.

Jenks fined

Bobby Jenks was fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for comments he made concerning a purpose pitch he threw behind Texas Ian Kinsler on Saturday night. According to a White Sox media relations representative, the matter now has officially been resolved.

Tuesday thoughts

Many e-mailers and friends of mine, not to mention callers into Chicago sports radio, seem to be ready to drop Gavin Floyd from the rotation. That’s not going to happen any time soon, not with Floyd having agreed to the a four-year, $15.5 million deal during Spring Training, which exhibits the White Sox confidence and commitment to the right-hander. But there also isn’t a natural replacement for Floyd, even if he continues to face disastrous results on the mound.

One thing important for Floyd is that he doesn’t seem to be panicking during these tough times. Floyd always has possessed the talent to be a frontline starter, but it was a changed mindset since he joined the White Sox that helped him rise to a 17-game-winner in 2008. That season could be a one-hit wonder for Floyd, but as long he believes in himself and doesn’t lose that focus, I think he will bounce back. Maybe not to 17 wins but to re-establishing himself as a starter who gives the White Sox a regular chance to win.

–Brian Anderson could be back as soon as this weekend in Toronto. He will go on a brief Minor League rehab assignment first, according to manager Ozzie Guillen. But when I talked to Anderson on Sunday, he said that he felt amazing swinging the bat. Dewayne Wise might start taking batting practice this weekend in Toronto.

— The University of Michigan will be proudly represented in Ohio tonight with Clayton Richard on the mound, Chris Getz at second base and me in the pressbox (clearly the least important of the three in regard to the game’s outcome). White Sox fans are hoping Getz and Richard perform better than the Wolverines have in Columbus over the past five or six years.

Just as a side note, as I was walking through Cleveland’s airport yesterday, I noticed a couple of people shaking their heads as they walked by and a few giving me dirty looks. I don’t really know too many people here, so I didn’t think I had developed any true detractors. Then, I realized I was wearing my University of Michigan hooded sweatshirt in enemy territory. Jeers from Buckeyes’ fans mean little to me.

— How about those Blackhawks? I can’t remember the city being this excited about hockey since the days of the storied rivalry with the Edmonton Oilers featuring Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Mark Messier, etc., including the franchise’s Stanley Cup loss to the Penguins. I went to last Tuesday’s game, the last one they lost, and the United Center was beyond electric.

I’m curious how Chicago would celebrate an NHL title, with it having been so long since they even made the playoffs. But I think the Hawks beat the Red Wings in an historic Western Conference final and then win the Stanley Cup.

As one Facebrook friend pointed out to me, I did pick Richard Jenkins to win Best Actor at the Oscars. But I also picked North Carolina to win the NCAA hoops title.

More from the game tonight.