Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Lillibridge creates new statistical category

In this day and age where all sorts of statistical rankings and ratings have replaced the tried and true “eye test,” I would like to suggest a new category.

It’s called WASLC, for short. In long form, the title would be Wins After Spectacular Lillibridge Catches. Unless the talented utility player gets traded, this category pretty much is White Sox specific.

Let me explain how it works.

On Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, before a crowd of more than 40,000, Brent Lillibridge made two spectacular catches to save the White Sox 3-2 victory, after entering in the eighth as a pinch-runner. Lillibridge put forth these efforts as the second and third outs of the ninth inning, stranding the tying run on second and the winning run on first.

So, you mark this date on the calendar, which would be April 26, and then see how many wins the White Sox rip off after Lillibridge made these catches. Sometimes all a talented team needs is one spark of momentum or one win they shouldn’t have had or almost didn’t record to turn things around and move in the opposite direction.

Lillibridge seemed to understand this point when talking to the large group of media stationed around his locker late Tuesday night.

“We needed a break like that,” said Lillibridge, who pounded his fist on the grass after making a diving catch on Robinson Cano’s line drive to right to end the game. “That’s why I was so excited. That’s the biggest thing. I’m glad I could contribute, but in the end we won.

“Making plays like that, how can you not be excited? More importantly, we got Gavin a win because of what I did and more importantly what we did to manufacture a couple of runs and Paulie’s home run was huge. We have to win these games and hopefully it gets a little easier.”

Of course, Lillibridge was speaking of Gavin Floyd’s tremendous pitching performance over eight-plus innings and Paul Konerko’s game-winning, one-out blast in the eighth off of Yankees set-up man Rafael Soriano. Lillibridge is about the team first, and his individual showing second.

Now, I know what some skeptics are thinking. The White Sox SSFROSITN, better known as Somehow Scoring Four Runs Off Soria In The Ninth, has not been at a high level after April 6, and nothing says momentum swing like putting together that kind of rally with two outs and nobody on base against one of the game’s best closers in Kansas City’s Joakim Soria.

Trust me, though. Their WASLC will be a more accurate depiction of the direction in which this previously disappointing 2011 season is moving.

Peavy throws two scoreless

Jake Peavy’s comeback took a major step forward Friday.

The right-hander, who last pitched in a game on July 6, 2010 against the Angels in U.S. Cellular Field, threw two scoreless innings against those same Angels at Diablo Stadium in his return from a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his right posterior shoulder. Peavy fanned two and walked one during the 2011 Cactus League debut, as White Sox starters extended their hitless innings streak to 10.

Peavy opened with a swinging strikeout of Maicer Izturis, before falling behind at 3-0 on Bobby Abreu. He battled back to a full count, but Abreu drew a walk. Two pitches later, Torii Hunter hit into a 4-6-3 double play, a pitch on which Peavy topped out velocity-wise at 92 mph, from Brent Lillibridge to Alexei Ramirez to Dallas McPherson, ending the frame.

In the first, Peavy threw 12 pitches and six for strikes.

Vernon Wells struck out to start the second, with Peavy reaching back for something extra on a high fastball off of a 1-2 pitch. Howie Kendrick hit the ball hard but flew out to Alejandro De Aza in center. Erick Aybar came closest to getting a hit, lining a 3-2 pitch to left that was tracked down by Juan Pierre.

That effort meant 26 pitches in total, 16 for strikes. If everything checks out for Peavy Saturday following this important outing, then he’ll go with a side bullpen and get ready to face the Giants Wednesday in Scottsdale.

“Relieved, pleased, it’s a big step to get out there in a game,” Peavy said. “You know, I did what I expected to do and hoped what I would be able to do, turn it up a level and get some big league hitters out. And feel normal in doing that. We accomplished that today. I hope we’ve put a lot of questions and issues to rest.”

Bonus notes from Wednesday

Here’s a few quick items from Wednesday’s 7-6 Reds victory over the White Sox, since A.J. Pierzynski’s speedy driving took center stage on the news front.

Kyle Cofield was touched up for five runs in one inning of work during the fifth, but none of them were earned. Gordon Beckham dropped an inning-ending force at second on a throw from Brent Morel, and Cofield took a while to get that third out. But manager Ozzie Guillen thought Cofield, who was acquired from the Braves in a trade for Scott Linebrink, threw well.

Brent Morel and Beckham both picked up stolen bases in the defeat. Guillen plans to run and run often with every starter who has the speed to take the extra base.

Guillen realizes his hitters are a little behind at the plate during this 0-3 Cactus League start.

“But it’s early,” Guillen said. “We’ll be fine.”

Finally, after Guillen’s postgame media session Wednesday, he humorously informed the Cincinnati AP writer how ‘The Missile’ nickname belongs to White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez and not Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Guillen coined that nickname during Ramirez’s first year in 2008.

Cactus League business as usual for Buehrle

Mark Buehrle’s wish is that he feels just as good during his franchise-record ninth Opening Day start on April 1 in Cleveland as he did during his first Cactus League start Tuesday against the Brewers.

Buehrle threw two quick innings, retiring four hitters on ground ball outs and striking out Brandon Boggs among the six Brewers faced during Milwaukee’s 3-1 victory at Camelback Ranch. The smiling veteran southpaw felt there was another one or two innings in him, but then again, Buehrle makes that same statement after his first start every spring. It really doesn’t take him more than two starts to get ready.

“You should have just got me before the game,” said Buehrle, joking about his quotes not really changing from year to year at this time. “You’re down here getting your work in to get prepared for the season.

“Obviously it’s a little too long for myself. It could be shorter. But it is what it is and you come down here and get your work in, build your arm strength and fill up innings.”

And count Buehrle in mid-season form regarding the fun he has with the media after a low-key start such as this one. Buehrle quipped how he wanted to petition Major League Baseball to have his one strikeout Tuesday added to last year’s regular-season total to give him an even 100 for 2010.

He also comically poked fun at the team’s lack of offense in Game 2 on the Cactus League ledger, with the White Sox locked in a scoreless tie when he departed, costing him an all-important chance at victory on the first day of March.

“We had our big boys going, and all we needed was one run,” said Buehrle, pausing with a wry smile for laughter from the gathered media to subside. “A little bit of run support, guys. Let’s go.”

All things Konerko

Paul Konerko arrived at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday morning, when the full White Sox squad was scheduled to report. And as the elder statesman of the team, a player with good insight into all things baseball, the veteran of 12 years with the White Sox held court with the media for close to 14 minutes. Here’s a look at some of Konerko’s Spring Training commentary.

* On Alex Rios’ statement Monday labeling the White Sox as the team to beat in the American League Central:

“To me, you guys know me, the team to beat is the Twins.

Whoever wins the title from the year before is the champion until they get knocked off. What I think about what’s being said or what anybody thinks is irrelevant. We’ll get an answer 6 months from now. That’s how it is. It’s pretty black and white.

I don’t know how that came up with Alex. Maybe he didn’t mean it like that or maybe he was trying to be confident. But that’s fine. I am too. But it’s pretty simple. You go out and play the games every day and at the end of September there will be a champion in this division. There’s no need to talk about it up until then.

But the Twins deserve the respect. They earned it last year and had a great year. Until someone knocks them off, they are the team.”

* On having played 15 years with the White Sox at the end of this current three-year deal:

“I try not to think about things like that. I’m trying to think about what’s in front of me. You start having thoughts about that kind of stuff and it can kind of slow you down a little bit as far as being hungry. I just can’t do that. There will be a time when I’m done playing when I can sit there and tell everyone about how long I played in one place and how great it was and this and that.

But I feel any time I do that now, I’m taking away from what I’m personally going to do and it’s kind of selfish to my teammates to talk about my own things even if it’s good. It is nice. I’m proud of it.

As much as the World Series, being in the same place for a long time is probably second on the list. It takes a relationship with the team and decisions have to be made on both sides and everyone has to want that to happen in today’s business because it’s so easy to go in the other direction so many times and for them to do the same. I’m proud in that sense. But there will be a time when I’m done playing to talk about the good old days.”

* On what it feels like to be back:

“It feels like I never left, because I didn’t. It was a lot of unknowns and uncertainty with myself and the team a year ago. Now that I’m here it feels like just another normal year and there have been a lot of them in a row here. It feels like home, but yeah, it got a little dicey in the offseason.”

* On the potential of the potent White Sox lineup:

“You break down lineups and you look for some speed, some power, balance. It’s all right there. The bottom of the lineup, whoever we put down there is pretty formidable. We look like we’re probably, in the middle of the lineup, kind of one guy deeper than a lot of teams.

Maybe whoever is going to hit sixth for us would probably hit fifth for a lot of teams. It’s all there but as you know it’s on paper and doesn’t mean anything until you go out and do it. I know that’s clich but it’s true.

You have to go out and it all has to click together. We felt good about our lineup leaving here last year and we didn’t get it going so there is always work and an unknown about how things are going to transpire.

Last year the talk was that there was no big left-handed bat, there was no real DH. There was talk. This year there isn’t anything you can point a finger at and say we’re really deficient in that area so I guess that feels good.”

* On his White Sox tenure being over when the White Sox signed Adam Dunn:

“I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know what that meant because I knew that at that moment I hadn’t talked to the White Sox at all and I thought that this is a business and you have relationships with people and you don’t know how it’s going to end.

You would figure that maybe they would talk to me before, at least to talk about what I’m looking for and if it’s possible to work out a deal. But sometimes when your card is pulled you find out the hard way.

So I didn’t know which one it was. I think that day or the next day they let us know they still wanted to work something out. I felt good about that. It didn’t mean something was going to get done but I felt like there was hope still to come back so that was good.”

More to come from Konerko in today’s Spring Training coverage at whitesox.com.

Be careful where you park

It’s four days into White Sox Spring Training, and Sergio Santos already has vowed revenge on Matt Thornton.

Not revenge, mind you, in a Tony Soprano or Michael Corleone sort of way. This is more about one-upsmanship through practical jokes between two friends and teammates.

Thornton took an early 1-0 lead in this Spring Training category between hard-throwing relievers courtesy of a Saturday morning maneuver. It seems as if Santos arrived slightly earlier than Thornton for workouts at Camelback Ranch and parked his white BMW along a fence close to the facility where veterans often park. Santos would be considered a veteran, beginning his second big league season, but with numerous other parking spots open, Thornton took it upon himself to find Santos’ car a new location.

“I moved his car as far out as I could,” said Thornton with a wry smile.

“After my workout and breakfast, I looked outside and my car was missing,” Santos continued, in comic disbelief. “Only one guy made a comment to me and that was Thornton.”

A little while later, Thornton was doing an interview when Santos approached the southpaw and simply asked “Where is it?” with a laugh. Thornton admitted no knowledge of the missing car. MLB.com is happy to report Santos eventually found his car at the farthest regions of the players’ parking lot.

Now, the wait begins for Santos’ counterstrike.

“He’s lucky there’s no way to get it in front of the doors to the clubhouse or I would have blocked the doors to the clubhouse with it,” said Thornton, clearly having fun with the execution of his joke.

“Of course, because I showed up early and some spots were open, I parked on the side anyway because it’s easier and quicker,” Santos said. “But there will be payback. I have to figure something good for him, but I guarantee there will be payback.”

Bruney, Lucy receive non-roster invites

Brian Bruney and the White Sox agreed to a Minor League contract and the right-handed reliever received a non-roster invitation to Spring Training as part of the deal.

Bruney, 28, posted a lofty 7.64 ERA over 19 games with the Nationals in 2010. He gave up 21 hits and walked 20 in 17 2/3 innings, but will have a chance to fill out the White Sox bullpen behind Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos, Tony Pena, possibly Chris Sale and a veteran arm who the White Sox eventually add. Bruney will be competing with younger pitchers such as Gregory Infante, Lucas Harrell and Anthony Carter.

From 2006-09 with the Yankees, Bruney posted a 12-3 record with a 3.25 ERA in 153 games. Bruney could turn into the low-risk, high-reward signing the White Sox seem to thrive upon, a hurler who pitching coach Don Cooper can work with to turn around. Bruney always has battled control issues with 173 walks issued in 239 innings.

Donny Lucy also re-signed via a Minor League deal with the White Sox and received a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

The catcher started the 2010 season with the White Sox when backup catcher Ramon Castro was sidelined with a bruised right heal. Lucy impressed the White Sox with his .333 average in seven games, but also did a solid job of handling the White Sox pitching staff. Lucy spent most of the campaign with Triple-A Charlotte, where he figures to play in 2011 if no other Major League team shows interest.

Nothing imminent on Konerko

Craig Landis, the representative for free agent first baseman Paul Konerko, was not going to offer up much information in regard to the specifics of talks with the White Sox when approached Tuesday by a group of Chicago reporters. In fact, Landis didn’t want to talk at all about Konerko’s situation in the lobby of the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.

Negotiations remain ongoing between the team and the camp of the White Sox captain, but Landis indicated no signing was imminent today during his very short conversation. Konerko has played the last 12 seasons for the White Sox, and bringing him back is the No. 1 priority for the organization at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings, according to general manager Ken Williams.

Konerko, 34, is coming off one of his best seasons of a storied career, during which he set career-highs in on-base percentage (.393), slugging percentage (.584) and total bases (320). Konerko also hit .312 with 39 home runs, 30 doubles and 111 RBIs, while providing stellar defense at first base.

Adding Konerko, whose five-year, $60-million contract extension ended after the 2010 campaign, would give the White Sox a powerful one-two punch to merge with newly-signed Adam Dunn. Williams explained on Monday how he was willing to wait for Konerko’s decision, having made it clear Konerko was choice No. 1, but also didn’t want to wait too long to miss out on other potential first basemen if Konerko elected to play elsewhere.

White Sox never made offer to Martinez

Victor Martinez never received a contractual offer from the White Sox, as confirmed by a Major League source to MLB.com on Monday.

The White Sox had interest in the switch-hitting catcher/first baseman/designated hitter, who could have provided a needed run-production presence from the left side. But contrary to published reports, the White Sox did not make any sort of $48 million offer over three or four years. Martinez eventually agreed to a four-year deal with Detroit, worth $50 million.

Catching stands as a position of interest for the White Sox, although Yorvit Torrealba was taken off the open market Monday via a two-year, $6.25 million deal with the Rangers. His signing leaves A.J Pierzynski, Miguel Olivo, Jason Varitek, Rod Barajas and Gerald Laird as the top free agents of interest at this position.

Pierzynski was not offered salary arbitration, but the steady backbone of the organization behind the plate for the past six years still could return to the White Sox.

He recently told MLB.com how both sides agreed to go through the free agent process and stay in touch, without the White Sox making an official offer. The team also could decide to go young and give the catching reigns to Tyler Flowers, who has developed defensively but struggled with the bat in 2010 for Triple-A Charlotte.

Ramirez ready for prime time

Alexei Ramirez is on the verge of earning elite Major League Baseball status so richly deserved by the White Sox shortstop’s performance over the past year.

Tuesday afternoon brings the Rawlings American League Gold Gloves announcements at 2:30 p.m. CT. Ramirez certainly doesn’t have the career-long pedigree as the Yankees Derek Jeter, for example, but any of the AL managers or coaches who voted on this award had to recognize Ramirez was the top defender at his respective position. He would be the first White Sox shortstop to win a Gold Glove since present manager Ozzie Guillen in 1990.

Then, on Thursday, the Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Awards will be announced for both leagues. If Ramirez isn’t a favorite to win with his glove on Tuesday, most likely joining teammate Mark Buehrle with his second straight Gold Glove at pitcher, he certainly should be seen as the top-hitting AL shortstop.

And Ramirez also has a contractual decision to make. The White Sox shortstop can opt out of the $1.1 million he is set to earn in 2011, marking the final year of a four-year, $4.75 million deal, and become arbitration eligible. If Ramirez makes that move, as he is expected to do, the White Sox have the choice between exercising a $2.75 million club option or going through the arbitration process. The White Sox would be expected to exercise the option.

Ramirez has until Dec. 1 to opt out. The White Sox then have until Dec. 15 to make their decision.

Credit for Ramirez’s development goes to Guillen, who has practiced tough love during some momentary lapses for possibly the most talented player on the roster but also has shown him the ultimate support and respect. Bench coach Joey Cora also deserves praise for his tireless offseason and pregame work to help sharpen Ramirez’s defense at shortstop.

But the most credit for Ramirez’s growth goes to Ramirez himself. He has overcome consistently horrid starts, as shown by a .205 lifetime average in April, to post a career .283 mark, while finding a true home at shortstop. With a little better fortune at the season’s start, one of Baseball’s best five-tool contractual bargains could soon be talked about in Most Valuable Player consideration.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers