Results tagged ‘ A.J. Pierzynski ’

Crosstown Showdown: U.S. Cellular Wrap

John Danks already has earned the utmost respect from his teammates over three big-league seasons, and throwing seven scoreless innings as he did during Sunday’s 6-0 victory over the Cubs only increases that respect.

But Danks also stepped up and showed he had his teammates’ backs by hitting Ryan Freel to open the seventh. Carlos Zambrano already had hit Scott Podsednik and Dewayne Wise earlier in the game, with Wise’s situation causing words to briefly be exchanged between the two in the bottom of the sixth.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen would not go as far as to categorize Danks’ effort as a purpose pitch.

“It’s part of the game,” Guillen said. “I cannot say he hit him on purpose because that’s accusing people.”

When Danks hit Freel in the left forearm, Freel blew on the spot as if to indicate a lack of velocity or pain on impact as he ran to first. But Danks had the last laugh on this particular day.

“To be totally honest with you, I didn’t even see him,” Danks said. “He went to first base and fortunately, we were able to strand him. Whatever he did, that’s something you would have to ask him. It didn’t bother me a bit; I didn’t even see it.”

–This just in: According to a well-placed family source, Danks and Scott Linebrink combined for an all Round Rock, Texas shutout on Sunday. Linebrink, who fanned four in two perfect innings, graduated from Round Rock McNeil High School, and Danks from Round Rock High School. There’s some interesting trivia to amuse your friends.

–Danks made sure to spread the credit to catcher A.J. Pierzynski for Sunday’s victory.

“I didn’t shake A.J. once. A.J. did a great job, he always does,” Danks said. “I know that for the most part, I just have to follow his lead and try to hit his glove with whatever pitch he tells me to throw.”

Pierzynski pointed to Danks’ changeup as his outpitch against the Cubs.

“He kept getting swings and misses and weak ground balls with the changeups,” Pierzynski said.

–As Pierzynski was talking about Chris Getz’s steal of home in the clubhouse, Gary Matthews Jr. swiped home during the Angels’ game on one of the televisions on at the time.

–Guillen showed strong pregame support for the White Sox visiting clubhouse staff amidst Cubs’ allegations that there was a leak surrounding what was said during Friday’s Lou Piniella-Milton Bradley spat. Guillen also shared his thoughts on Mark DeRosa moving from Cleveland to St. Louis.

“It’s funny. Mark DeRosa was my backup (in Atlanta). Now he’s the most wanted guy in baseball,” Guillen said with a laugh. “I was the backup at shortstop and Mark was my backup. I think this guy can help a lot of people.

“He can play every position very well, he’s a great man in the clubhouse. You can play him second, third, you can hit him leadoff. He can do so many great things in baseball. I think Tony picked the right guy. I think he’s going to help him.”

–Finally, here’s Jermaine Dye’s take on the 2009 competition with the Cubs, which has one more makeup game at Wrigley Field on Sept. 3 or 10.

“This series is always great, especially for the city of Chicago and the fans and for us and the clubhouse,” Dye said. “It’s a great atmosphere.

“What a series for everyone. The city of Chicago – three great games and a lot of excitement going on. That’s what you like to see when two teams in the city are playing each other.”

–Actually, one final note. Here’s a closing aside from Wise on Zambrano hitting him after Getz swiped home.

“My thing is just go out and try to get the guy out,” Wise said. “Don’t get mad and throw at someone and hit them. Play baseball and try to get the guy out.”

Crosstown Showdown, U.S. Cellular version: Day 2

Here are a few additional tidbits from another in the long line of battles between the Cubs and White Sox, covering 13 years. When Interleague Play was invented, I have to believe this is the sort of crowd-pleasing rivalry Major League Baseball had in mind.

–In a day filled with White Sox miscues, one of the strangest ones came on a Mark Buehrle balk in the fifth inning. Alfonso Soriano opened with a bloop single to right and Ryan Theriot drew a walk. Both runners moved up a base when Buehrle went to throw over to first base but Paul Konerko was not near the base. So, Buehrle didn’t go through with the throw, which isn’t allowed while he’s still on the rubber.

The veteran southpaw took full responsibility for this particular mistake.

“I screwed up. It was totally my fault. Not Konerko, (bench coach) Joey (Cora) or (catcher) A.J. (Pierzynski),” Buehrle said. “I was thinking it was a timing play when A.J. gave me the sign. Then, instead of stepping off, I threw it.”

Buehrle believes the balk actually helped the White Sox stay out of a big inning. Milton Bradley’s ensuing line out might not have ended up with shortstop Alexei Ramirez if the middle infield was playing double-play depth with runners on first and second.

As for Buehrle’s effort on the mound, allowing three earned runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, he said that he felt great.

“Obviously, I lost something in that last inning,” said Buehrle, who has a 5.40 ERA in his last three starts at home. “But overall, I felt pretty good.”

–Both manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Ken Williams have talked about the Cubs-White Sox series being the biggest one either team is going to play if they don’t make the playoffs. The two teams aren’t exactly juggernauts at this point, but the Cubs sit just 3 games out in the National League Central and the White Sox now are just 5 back in the AL Central.

So, Buehrle certainly isn’t ready to pronounce these five games, with one postponement to be made up in September, as the highlight of the season.

“Well, I don’t want to sit there and think that now,” Buehrle said. “There are still two or three months left in the season. I’m not thinking that right now. I just want to go out there and try to win games to get to the playoffs.”

–The scariest moment for Gordon Beckham on Saturday was not hitting in the ninth inning against Cubs reliever Jose Ascanio, with the game on the line. It was seeing Jim Thome and A.J. Pierzynski coming at him at full speed, as the celebration began after his game-winning hit.

“When you see Thome is at full sprint, you know something is up,” said Beckham with a laugh. “It was a lot of fun.”

“Good, good. Just so he remembers that,” Thome said. “No, we were having a little fun with him. It was good.”

–Best guesses for the White Sox All-Star candidates would be Buehrle, reliever Matt Thornton or right fielder Jermaine Dye. But it’s hard to overlook Scott Podsednik, who has been as important to this team staying afloat as anyone on the roster.

–The White Sox are 10-6 in Interleague Play, with two games remaining. Bobby Jenks earned his first career Interleague win on Saturday.

And the beat goes on?

As Wayne Messmer belted out the National Anthem prior to the start of Thursday’s battle between the Cubs and White Sox, a few rows of seats were noticeably empty behind the White Sox dugout at Wrigley Field. Those areas pretty much filled in by the time the White Sox were done hitting in the top of the first, but this particular scenario represents just one small reason from the first two days of this series to give pause for thought as to whether the all-Chicago competition is as electric as it once was.

“Yeah. I thought it was down a little bit,” said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, when asked after Wednesday’s victory whether the capacity crowd seemed a bit more subdued. “I think maybe the fact that we play them six times a year, once here and one there, and we played them like 10 times in Spring Training this year.

“It’s still fun to come here and still a great atmosphere, still fun games to be in. It just seemed like there wasn’t as much energy as there has been in the past for this series.”

The White Sox and Cubs actually played five times during Spring Training, including a two-game excursion to Cashman Field in Las Vegas. Other ideas presented by White Sox players for the series being toned down ranged from Tuesday’s rainout offering a bit of a buzz-kill to these games serving as just the second mid-week series in the 13-year history of the competition.

“D (Derrek) Lee and and I were talking at first, and we were saying how once you’ve been in it for a few years, it’s not downplayed but a little more mellow because you’ve already been through it,” White Sox center fielder Brian Anderson said of the rivalry. “I’m sure if you ask Gordon (Beckham), especially getting like eight ground balls in a row yesterday, he’s probably all into it.”

Regardless of a possible slight drop in the fever pitch, the White Sox players agree it’s still the best show in town and potentially the best rivalry in Interleague Play.

“There’s a better atmosphere here then any regular mid-week game, for sure,” White Sox pitcher John Danks said.

“Only a few people in this town root for both teams,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “If you’re a Cub fan, you’re a Cub fan. That’s the way it is. Like I say, a few people do that, they don’t care and root for both teams. But as long as we’re given an opportunity to play this game, it’s going to be a rivalry.”

Little move, big impact

Does anyone remember Geoff Blum?

Well, anyone and everyone who follows the White Sox will never forget his game-winning home run in the 14th inning of Game 3 of the 2005 World Series?

Or how about Bobby Jenks? Well, of course, White Sox supporters know all about one of the game’s best closers. But what these two players have in common is that they were both considered minor moves at the time Ken Williams and his staff brought them into the organization, and they eventually paid huge dividends.

So, when talk of Jake Peavy and Roy Oswalt and any other frontline player comes up in association with the White Sox, remember some times it’s the lesser-known moves that have the greatest impact in pushing the South Siders to the postseason.

Take a gander at Williams’ thought process behind the Ramon Castro weekend deal to further illustrate this point.

“Let’s take the catching situation. The thought behind that was here’s an upgrade across the board. Corky was doing a nice job catching the pitchers and fit in well,” Williams said. “However, if that offensive difference became such that we got into antoher situation where we weren’t swinging the bats well, is Ozzie then hesitant to give AJ those days games after night games or certain lefties where he can get his legs back underneath him?

“You have an offensive catching hole from the backup and then AJ might decline because of fatigue. When you decline because of fatigue, it’s not just offensively but it’s sharpness defensively and taking care of the pitching staff.”

Castro not only becomes an upgrade over Miller with the bat, but also gives Ozzie Guillen greater flexibility with A.J. Pierzynski. So, little moves could mean a lot.

“Sometimes, it’s about the marginal deal, where you get five percent better,” Williams said.

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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.”

Ramirez out, Nix in

Ozzie Guillen made a change to Wednesday’s lineup against Detroit, and while heavy rain will at least delay the on-field change, it looks as if Jayson Nix will assume the team’s starting shortstop role. Guillen made a point of stressing that Alexei Ramirez was not in his doghouse, but he also pointed how he was displeased with Ramirez’s at-bats in Tuesday’s 8-7 loss to the Royals.

Ramirez struck out in the 11th with A.J. Pierzynski on first and two outs, but also struck out in the ninth inning with Pierzynski on third and one out. He finished 1-for-6 and is hitting .211. The average is not what bothers Guillen, though, as much as the approach. So, Ramirez will have an undetermined time to work on making adjustments with hitting coach Greg Walker, who Guillen said had been doing all he possibly could to fix last year’s rookie sensation.

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.” 

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.

Going once, Going twice

I have an admission to make: I’m an auction addict, silent or live.

Through the course of my job, I’ve had the chance to go to some very nice charity events over the years that feature even nicer auction items. Then, once I start bidding, the competitive side of me takes over. You are just writing a number on paper as the dollars bid, or simply raising your hand, so you don’t realize they actually collect until the credit card comes out of the wallet.

During Javier Vazquez’s fundraiser for Juvenille Diabetes last year, I started bidding against a couple of White Sox pitchers for a sweet Rat Pack framed piece of memorabilia. I dropped out on that item, but later bought the same piece at a downtown memorabilia store.

At Fields of Greens last year, I was the highest bid for four tickets to a Blackhawks game and a ride on the Zamboni machine. Still haven’t used that one.

But the best story is when I was about 23 or 24 and had little to no money. I took this beautiful girl I was trying to impress to a Make A Wish Foundation Fundraiser–great cause, by the way–at the old China Club in Chicago and started bidding on this trip to New York. This one older genteleman had been buying up pretty much all the silent auction items, so I figured that even if I went into four figures, he would out-bid me and I would look like a monetary player.

Well, he didn’t out-bid me on this one, and I spent $1,900 that I didn’t have on the trip to New York. That particular girl didn’t even go with me.

I share theses tales because the first round of items in the annual Chicago White Sox Charities online auctions are currently available to bid on, and will be until the auction closes on Saturday, March 15 at 11:59 p.m. CT. You can bid on items by visiting and clicking on the auction link on the website.

Here are the following six items available, straight from the press release:

A First Fireworks Bash:  Four premium lower box tickets, a parking pass, pre-game Patio party, scoreboard message, in-seat gift bag delivery from Southpaw and post-game fireworks viewing for the Saturday April 25 game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays. ($500 minimum).

Carlos Quentin Jersey:  a Quentin game-worn, autographed 1983 replica jersey and pants. ($400 minimum);

“Pudge” and the flag: a 1983 flag flown at U.S. Cellular Field and a Carlton Fisk autographed helmet. ( $350 minimum)

A.J.: an A.J. Pierzynski game-used, autographed bat. ($300 minimum);

Jim Thome and the “Blackout”: a Jim Thome framed, autographed photo from the blackout game. ($200 minimum).

Go-Go Sox: a baseball signed by 1959 White Sox team members Billy Pierce, Jim Landis, Bob Shaw and Jim Rivera. ($150 minimum).

The White Sox raised over $45,000 for Chicago White Sox Charities through online auctions during 2008 and more than $265,000 since the start of auctions in 2003.

It’s a great cause, with great items. I might even bid on a few. Actually, I’m going there now.

Camelback Ranch Leftovers

Paul Konerko addressed a wide array of topics after playing in Sunday’s stadium opener, including the soreness near his right thumb that plagued him throughout the 2008 season. The White Sox first baseman said he wouldn’t wait as long to get a pain-killing shot this year, because of how much better the thumb felt after getting one last year.

I won’t wait 25 games, play like that,” Konerko said. “I would get the shot in the spring. Also, that’s not a shot you want to get more than twice a year. But it felt really good last year after the shot, and that’s something I’m kicking myself about.

“You always think you can just get through, hot and cold [treatment] and all of that. It’s been there since I was young, so it’s not going away, but I’m at the point where I would get it done early, get on my way, and then get one later in the year if I would need it. Hopefully not.”

Konerko said the thumb injury is one that’s always there, but one he has to keep an eye on. So far, so good for him during Spring Training, including “getting absolutely blown up inside” during a Sunday at-bat and suffering no after-effects.

–Konerko on one major personal beneift of the White Sox moving to Glendale:

” Believe me when it comes to Spring Training and the fact that I'm living at home, you won't really hear me complain," said Konerko, who resides with his family in North Scottsdale.

--Gordon Beckham's ninth-inning home run led one reporter to ask if his swing reminded Ozzie Guillen of any more established player. Guillen came up with Cubs Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg. Not much to live up to there for the eighth pick overall in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

--Here are the players set to make the two-day trip to Las Vegas as of Sunday, with the White Sox leaving Wednesday morning.

They are Chris Getz, Jermaine Dye, DeWayne Wise, Josh Fields, Jerry Owens, Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Cole Armstrong, Wilson Betemit, Ben Broussard, Tyler Flowers, Michael Restovich, Josh Kroeger, Jayson Nix, Eider Torres and Sergio Santos.

John Danks starts Wednesday night. Jeff Marquez starts Thursday afternoon.