Results tagged ‘ A.J. Pierzynski ’

Game 5: Sale’s high standard

Round 1 goes to the Cubs, who claimed a 5-1 victory over the White Sox before 10,327 at Camelback Ranch on Friday. There will be seven more chances for the White Sox to get even, but here’s a look at the highs and lows of this first battle.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: If Chris Sale gets this charged up over his first Cactus League start, one can only imagine the energy he’ll bring to the rotation during the 2012 regular season. The raw stuff is there for Sale, probably the best raw stuff on the White Sox staff.

Like any other pitcher, he’s working on location and building up arm strength as the regular season fast approaches. The endurance is especially important for Sale, who is moving from late-inning relief to the starting five.

And his anger over the two-out, nobody-on walk issued to Junior Lake in the second, which was followed by Edgar Gonzalez’s two-run home run, is reminiscent of the same high personal standard for no free passes held by new staff ace John Danks. Sale felt as if he’s figuring out his pregame routine as a starter, but wasn’t making excuses even in his Spring Training debut.

“It was what it was. You’re still working out kinks, but there’s no excuse at all,” Sale said. “You still got to pitch. But you’re still finding some things out and figuring some things out along the way. But at the end of the day, you still got to be better than that.”

Alejandro De Aza laid down a perfect bunt single in the first, while A.J. Pierzynski, back hitting in the two-hole, moved De Aza to third with a single to left in the first and sacrificed over two runners in the third. Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain, both strongly in the closer’s mix, each pitched a scoreless frame.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Nate Jones, who pitched two scoreless innings during his Cactus League debut, gave up a Marlon Byrd homer in the sixth and a Steve Clevenger home run in the seventh. The White Sox also failed to score with the bases loaded and out in the third against Travis Wood and Randy Wells.

WHAT’S NEXT: It’s a rare doubleheader for the White Sox on Saturday, with both games taking place at Camelback Ranch. Dylan Axelrod gets the start in Game 1 against the Rangers, which will be an exclusive whitesox.com webcast starting at 2:05 p.m. CT, and Philip Humber starts the nightcap against the Dodgers at 8:05 p.m. CT. Brent Lillibridge will be leading off and playing second base against the Rangers in the early game.

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Adrian Cardenas’ ninth-inning pop out to shortstop Ray Olmedo, as it completed two scoreless innings of relief for Nestor Molina. It was a tough first outing for Molina on Monday, allowing five runs on seven hits over 1 1/3 innings, but the right-hander gave up one hit and struck out two on Friday.

“You can hear him talk and doing things, taking charge, which is nice,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Molina. “To have that first outing and come back, with that impressive performance, it catches your eye.”

MOMENT TO FORGET: Sale’s 0-2 pitch to Gonzalez in the second. It got too much of the plate.

Beckham helps White Sox become more interesting

Anyone watching Wednesday’s postgame interviews with A.J. Pierzynski and Jake Peavy might have been slightly distracted by a cardboard cutout standing behind them but in camera shot.

That cutout featured the likeness of Jonathan Goldsmith, who is more commonly known as “The Most Interesting Guy in the World.”

“Man,” said Adam Dunn, quickly correcting my mistake while sitting in the White Sox clubhouse. “The Most Interesting Man.”

So, how does one of the most brilliant commercial runs in the history of advertising, representing Dos Equis, factor into the White Sox push for the postseason? It has recently become the symbol of the White Sox Player of the Game in victories, as awarded by Gordon Beckham.

The one catch is that the chosen nightly winner must work the word “interesting” into his first answer to the media following the game.

“Hopefully, he’s going to be there after games, after wins, just bringing the people up in this clubhouse. That’s the goal,” a smiling Beckham said. “It’s going to probably rotate around the player of the game, depending on who does well.

“We are going to put him, the Most Interesting Man is going to put himself in the biggest spotlight, I guess is what’s going to happen. The problem is we might not have to move him from (Paul Konerko’s) locker for the next couple of weeks because of how well he has been playing.”

Beckham received “The Most Interesting Man in the World” as a gift from a family member. Beckham brought it into the clubhouse a while ago, but then the Most Interesting Man temporarily was lost with no signs of where he disappeared.

“He finally came back,” Beckham said. “And he’s back here for a bunch of wins, I think.”

About the only way to enhance the power of the cardboard cutout would be to have Goldsmith visit the White Sox in person. Dunn called the idea “awesome,” but Beckham preached patience with the White Sox version.

“This has to pick up some speed first,” Beckham said.

And just think of the marketing gems if this good luck charm’s arrival coincides with White Sox success. Remember, this campaign already has produced the following gems:

“He has been known to cure Narcolepsy, just by walking into a room.”

“His organ donation card also lists his beard.”

“His blood smells like cologne.”

“He lives vicariously through himself.”

“Sharks have a week dedicated to him.”

“Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact number.”

So, let’s say the White Sox go on a roll behind this new addition and win it all. How about this addition:

“He helped the White Sox win a World Series without throwing or hitting a pitch or even attending a game.”

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.

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.

Week in Quotes

At the end of each week during Spring Training and hopefully beyond, I’ll try to give you a little flavor from the past seven days of White Sox action with some of the more telling or even humorous quotes. Here’s a look from the first week of action in Arizona, in no particular order.

1. “People talk about trade deadlines and offseasons and timing on things. We are always looking to take that next step to get us that much better. That goes for today and the trading deadline season. All that means is other clubs are more apt to want to do things and if something arises where we have a need, regardless of where that need is, we are going to try to fill it.”
–White Sox general manager Ken Williams on the team’s aggressive philosophy in pursuit of top talent.

2. “We do things right, then we are out of here quick. If we play around and we do the wrong thing, throw to the wrong bases, and don’t take ground balls seriously or run the bases seriously, we are going to be out there for a long time. The best we work, we out of here.

“I’m not going to babysit them. It’s not an instructional league. You are in the big leagues for a reason. I’m not supposed to teach you here. We are supposed to remind you about what goes on with baseball.”
–Manager Ozzie Guillen, explaining White Sox players will dictate how long they are on the field for practice each day.

3. “Make sure you take that young guy under your wing and show him the ropes.”
–Guillen to Freddy Garcia, whose Spring Training locker is situated next to 22-year-veteran Omar Vizquel.

4. “This is a different type of team. We are not the slugging White Sox that hit 250 home runs and go base to base. But that’s a good thing.”
–White Sox veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski on the change in philosophy on offense for 2010.

5. “I’m always asked that question and I just want to get as many at-bats as I can get. That’s what I’m looking for. Ozzie is the king of making that lineup and wherever he puts me, I’ll be happy.”
–Carlos Quentin on the ideal spot for him to hit in the lineup.

6. “It’s extremely strange. I talked to both a good bit this winter. They are dear friends for life, and I have a great deal of respect for them and their fabulous careers. But more than that, I have a lot of respect for them as people. I know the fans appreciate all they did for us. It was an honor to coach them, and when I retire and look back, those two are right up at the top of my list to be around.”
–Hitting coach Greg Walker on not having Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye in camp.

7. “I don’t want to bring up names, but you take Jermaine. I remember Jermaine telling me at the end of the year, ‘If I don’t like what I see during the offseason or I don’t get what I want, and that doesn’t mean money, it means just the situation and everything I want, I have no problem, I’m happy to not go play. I’ll maybe go during the season if someone asks me, but I’m content with that.’ I would say that would probably be my mindset, where I’m not going to force something if it’s not there because I have other things, I have a perspective of what’s important and what isn’t.”
–Team captain Paul Konerko, on possibly not playing after his contract runs out following this season if he doesn’t find the right fit.

8. “The bottom line is when you get [weather] like this, you have to be like the Marines – adapt and overcome.”
–Pitching coach Don Cooper, on making workout adjustments during a rare Arizona rainy period.

9. “Getting [drunk] every night. Let’s put it plain and simple. When I took a long, hard look at myself and saw where I was headed, at that point, I was headed in the wrong direction.”
–Closer Bobby Jenks, who came into camp in phenomenal condition, on why he stopped drinking during the offseason.

10. “Joey and everyone were praising him and saying how great he looks. He said, ‘I’m on a mission. I’m the best center fielder you have here.’ And Joey said, ‘Well, you should be there are only pitchers and catchers in camp.’ Line of the day.”
–Williams, at the start of camp, recounting a conversation between Andruw Jones and bench coach Joey Cora.

11. “If that thing offends anyone, beat it because I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t need Twitter to let people know what I feel about this ballclub. I don’t need Twitter to let people know what I feel about this organization or Major League Baseball, period.”
–Guillen on the one-day Twitter-gate, after the entertaining manager started his own account, which is now up to 29,203 followers in less than one week.

12. “I’m really not a Facebook or Twitter guy. I’m a prime rib and baked potato guy. I hate to say that but it’s true. Maybe somebody should teach me.”
–Cubs manager Lou Piniella, when asked about the Guillen Twitter controversy.

13. “I’m ticked. We need to get the word out.”
–A smiling Mark Teahen on Guillen’s total of followers on Twitter surpassing the total for the followers of his popular dog, ESPY Teahen.

14. “I stopped pitching freshman year in high school. I closed then and used to throw hard.”
–Sergio Santos, who is making the successful switch from infielder to reliever with a fastball in the range of 98 mph.

15. “You mean Babe? Yeah. He’s a natural. Freaks like that just don’t happen. Don’t go looking for another Buehrle.”
–Scott Linebrink, when asked if Mark Buehrle, who hit his first career home run last year, would be the best candidate to follow Santos and go from pitcher to position player.

16. “I was happy to see him smiling and at peace with his decision and his family was around. I thought it was great. It was a great turn out from the Chicago media and it played well when it went out that night.”
–Williams on Frank Thomas’ retirement ceremony at U.S. Cellular Field.

17. “It was big for us. There were a lot of losing years. I got a chance to go to it, since it was in Miami, and I live there. They are still partying back there. That’s why it snowed in Louisiana.”
–Juan Pierre, on his beloved New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl.

18. “Good for the city? Try the whole state. It’s been a big party down there since it happened.”
–White Sox 2009 first-round pick Jared Mitchell, who played baseball and football at LSU, talking about the effect of the Saints’ Super Bowl win on New Orleans.

19. “They gave me an opportunity, and I didn’t put up numbers. So, this is where I find myself.”
–Cole Armstrong, once the White Sox catcher of the future, with a refreshing look at now being in camp as a non-roster invite.

20. “I still feel like I’m a productive player and feel like I can contribute, but teams want me as a backup player, and that’s something I’m not ready to do. I feel undervalued, basically. I don’t think I have to go out there and prove anything to anyone. My numbers the last five or six years show I can help someone.”
–Dye, speaking to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, concerning his shock to still be without a Major League job.

(Personal Bonus): “No, Merkin. I’m the animal whisperer and got that animal to lie down in front of me.”
–Pierzynski, showing off of a special calendar featuring the big game hunted on an African safari he took with Aaron Rowand and their wives. The response was to my question as to whether the mammoth animal in front of him really was dead.

More from Ken Williams

Even with three stories soon to be up on whitesox.com, focused on Kenny Williams’ Winter Meetings thoughts, there are still a few more nuggets of information from the White Sox general manager to be shared. So, here they are.

CLOSING TIME
Bobby Jenks is not being actively shopped, according to Williams, who has not had one present offseason trade talk concerning the burly right-hander to date. This assessment doesn’t mean Williams won’t listen to offers for Jenks at the Winter Meetings. In fact, Williams expects Jenks to be a topic of conversation at Indianapolis.

“He’s one of the game’s better closers and people need closers,” Williams said. “But so do we.”

A more in-depth look at the Jenks’ dynamic and the White Sox bullpen will be on the site today.

RUMOR MILL CHURNING
Williams claimed to not have even heard the recent rumor concerning a three-way trade involving the White Sox, Padres and Angels, a rumor termed as preliminary discussions for sending Adrian Gonzalez to the White Sox, Paul Konerko to the Angels and a plethora of prospects to the Padres. The Angels were never involved in such a deal, but check out the following by-play with Williams as representative of possible Gonzalez interest. Well, it just might show interest, as of course, nothing was said directly.

I asked Williams if he had talked to Jake Peavy during this offseason, trying to get a gauge on Peavy’s fire and preparedness for his first full season in Chicago. Williams told me that the two had spoken, with Williams needing to ask Peavy about a player from another team to whom he had interest.

“He’s already pumped up,” said Williams of Peavy.

When I asked Williams if that player he asked Peavy about was Gonzalez, he responded with a quick “No comment.”

Now, Williams could have just been throwing out a standard response when a media member asks him about a specific player. He might have been asking Peavy about catcher Henry Blanco, who played in San Diego last year and has drawn the White Sox interest. Williams has been known to seek out his veterans to get a feel for how a particular trade target would fit on the roster and the clubhouse, much more so than his talent.

Most White Sox fans surveyed would list Gonzalez as a perfect fit, and remember Williams never shies away from inquiring about top talent. He even asked about Johan Santana before the Twins traded him to the Mets.

“If you’re good, I’ve asked about you,” said Williams with a laugh.

WAIT AND SEE
Don’t expect talks to begin any time soon in extending catcher A.J. Pierzynski or first baseman Paul Konerko, whose multi-year deals expire after 2010.

“Way too early,” Williams said. “I’ve got to look at so much focus on 2010. That’s something I can’t focus on.”

ALL ABOUT ANDRUW

The expediency with which Andruw Jones signed with the White Sox, not to mention the $500,000 as the agreed upon salary, with incentives that could add on another $1 million, proves Jones truly wants to play for the White Sox.

“He’s been a great player for a long time and has gotten derailed doing some things that really isn’t his game,” said Williams of Jones. “But he and Ozzie have a great rapport.

“Andruw knows he’s coming here in a backup role. It’s always a key, when talking about a player who has amassed the numbers and accomplishments he has amassed, to be accepting of his role.

“But he really, really wanted to be here,” Williams said. “He wanted to be a part of what we are trying to do. That combination, the player and the dollars, it makes sense for us.”

Williams also knows that he has a player who could be something special if he returns to past form. As for not pursuing Jones prior to the 2008 season, after fellow center field aces Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand and even Kosuke Fukudome wound up with different teams, Williams explained how the two-year, $36 million deal Jones eventually signed with the Dodgers didn’t even factor into the White Sox lack of interest.

“I didn’t make one phone call to Scott Boras,” said Williams of talking with Jones’ representative in the 2007 offseason. “And that’s not because we didn’t like the player. It simply was because we had our sights set on a different target.”

Guillen already has talked to his friend about coming to Glendale in the best possible physical condition.

“Ozzie has advised Andruw that it’s in his best interest to show up in shape,” Williams said. “But the good thing about Andruw is he knows who Ozzie is and what he is about and didn’t shy away from the challenge.”

NAME GAME
Remember the names Daniel Hudson, Lucas Harrell, Jhonny Nunez, Jon Link, Sergio Santos and Randy Williams. If the White Sox don’t add a veteran reliever, these young hurlers will fill out the final two spots in the White Sox bullpen.

Talk of tiebreakers

The first comment made to Ron Gardenhire during his opening interview session of the American League Division Series Wednesday at Yankee Stadium was an offer of congratulations for Minnesota’s great win over Detroit in Tuesday’s thrilling American League Central tiebreaker at the Metrodome.

At that point, the Minnesota manager sort of patted his heart and smiled, as if to humorously indicate the ticker barely survived Tuesday’s excitement. But it didn’t stop Gardenhire from talking about a game that will live on a long time in his memory.

“I was so proud of both teams last night for the way both teams never quit and kept getting after it,” Gardenhire said. “I told (Detroit manager) Jim Leyland after the game that was one of the best games I’ve ever been involved in.

“Just watching two teams butting heads and going after it and never giving up and all the ups and downs. It was just fantastic baseball.”

Gardenhire and the Twins are no stranger to this sort of win-or-go home type of contest. In a game that was every bit as exciting as last night’s memorable affair, Minnesota came up short to the White Sox in a 1-0 final that gave the South Siders the 2008 AL Central title. That contest featured great pitching by John Danks and Nick Blackburn, Jim Thome’s mammoth home run for the game’s only run and a pinpoint throw by center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr. and an even better catch and tag by A.Z. Pierzynski to nail Michael Cuddyer at the plate

There was one problem with that contest in Gardenhire’s mind. Well, two if you factor in the final. The home field was decided by a coin flip, which went the way of the White Sox, although Minnesota had the better 2008 head-to-head record.

“Last year, I didn’t really particularly like it because of a coin toss,” Gardenhire said. “I thought that really (stunk). This year, you went on head-to-head and we got the ballgame at home which kind of helped us out.

“I don’t recommend everybody playing 163 games every year. It would be a lot easier to go the different route and do what the Yankees did or some of the other guys. Just play 162 and then you’re in the playoffs. But, you know what, it’s character — I mean it’s kind of mind-boggling. It shows a lot of character.”

Minnesota shortstop Orlando Cabrera agreed. Cabrera has played on the winning team in each of the last two AL Central tiebreakers and gives the Twins’ victory a slight edge.

“By far, that was the most emotional and intense game I’ve ever seen or played in,” Cabrera said. “And I’ve played in and watched a lot of games since I was a kid in Colombia.

“It was unbelievable. I never expected the Detroit Tigers to play that kind of game, especially the way they have been playing for the last eight games. I was really impressed with them. We put on a good show.”

RAW is A.J.?

For those who missed WWE’s Monday Night Raw broadcast or weren’t there live at the AllState Arena, you missed a truly classic A.J. Pierzynski moment.

Pierzynski was sitting in the front row with teammates Jermaine Dye, Gordon Beckham and Chris Getz, when some segment began called ‘The Price is Raw’ hosted by the legendary Bob Barker. Wrestlers IRS and Santino Morrello already had been called down, as was some attractive looking blonde-haired woman named Jillian, who I’m guessing was associated with the WWE.

To be honest, I haven’t watched RAW in a while so I’m not familiar with all of the athletes. Someday, I’ll have to blog about my brief career as a wrestling play-by-play man, for a MUCH smaller wrestling organization, but that’s another tale for another time.

Barker needed another contestant to complete contestants’ row and who was called down but Pierzynski. The White Sox catcher and former wrestler/manager, and I think champion of some sort in TNA, the rival pro wrestling organization, completely sold the bit, reacting as if he just won the World Series yet again when his name was called and he got to meet Barker. Pierzynski even was wearing a Price is Right style name tag with A.J. on it.

Unfortunately, Pierzynski’s bid of $1,000 was not the winner but stood as good television nonetheless. Here’s an early prediction: Whenever Pierzynski decides to retire as a Major League Baseball catcher, he will be a star if he decides to go into the wrestling business. He could be the next Bobby Heenan as a manager or Jerry Lawler as an announcer.

Not sure if he wants the bumps and bruises as a wrestler, after enduing the bumps and bruises as a catcher.

Jenks back on track

Bobby Jenks does not want to rehash the pain he went through during the past week while dealing with kidney stones. And when you think about it, who can blame him?

“We are talking baseball,” said Jenks, politely but directly with a smile, when asked after Saturday’s 8-5 victory over the Indians, during which he recorded the final two outs, to describe what this last week was like for him.

But here’s the important piece of information to come out of Saturday’s solid performance by one of the game’s best closers, aside from the fact that he’s pitching at 80 or 90 percent healthy. This kidney stone issue began while the White Sox were on their seven game road trip to Detroit and Minneapolis and messed with his mechanics, which could account, in part, for his recent mound woes. That problem was resolved through the passing of one and a procedure to blast the other one away.

“Before when I was having pains, I was off mechanically,” Jenks said. “Now, I’m sound again and healthy. My alignment is right and everything is going toward the plate.

“It carried in here to when we got home. It started three or four outings when I noticed all the back pain. I just associated it with pitching. I didn’t know the difference at the time. Looking back, I can put one and one together. At the time, it was throwing me off a little bit.”

Having Jenks healthy and fresh becomes just another important piece the White Sox need down the stretch to overtake Detroit and hold off Minnesota.

–Here’s a little bit more from Williams on the waiver process and claiming players.

“You’d be hard pressed to find good players that teams put claims on that are just let go for no compensation,” Williams said. “I’m not confirming or denying any interest or any claims or anything, but if these things get out on a daily basis, boy, it’s going to be a heck of an August around here in terms of how many players you claim and how many you don’t claim. It will make your head spin if you follow each report.

“A lot of players get claimed every day. Why is this a big deal?”

Williams was asked about adding a pitcher, such as John Smoltz, who was designated for assignment by Boston this week. But he likes what already is in place for the starting rotation, not to mention Jake Peavy’s arrival at the end of August.

“John Smoltz is one of the best pitchers in baseball history,” Williams said. “He certainly deserves the respect to take a look at, but I’m very cognizant of the makeup we have now and the team chemistry we have now, aside from A.J. (Pierzynski), we’re pretty good.”

That team chemistry idea, with everyone pulling from the same rope, might leave the roster intact as it is now.

“The only thing we need? Quit making errors,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen with a laugh.

Dugout disagreement

All was not well in the White Sox dugout after a rough showing in the field during the second inning of Monday’s contest at the Metrodome.

Shortstop Alexei Ramirez had to be held back by Jermaine Dye from going after A.J. Pierzynski, after Pierzynski showed his verbal displeasure for Ramirez that was caught on tape by the Minnesota broadcast of the game. Pierzynski was shown saying something to Ramirez, even as Pierzynski was walking away, before Ramirez started moving toward Pierzynski. The White Sox had committed two errors leading to two unearned runs in the bottom of the second, but neither mistake had anything to do with Pierzynski or Ramirez.

Ozzie Guillen clearly was not happy with the entire situation, also caught on camera firing a towel down to the ground before kicking a bucket of gum on to the field just outside the dugout. The White Sox came back and took the lead after the dugout disagreement, with Paul Konerko’s two-run home run off of Glen Perkins giving the visitors a one-run advantage.

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