Results tagged ‘ Alexei Ramirez ’

Game 10: Danks for the comeback

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The story of Monday’s 6-2 victory for the White Sox over the Giants was John Danks’ return to game action after Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery, John Danks’ successful return to game action and then John Danks feeling good about his successful return. But there was more to the action at Camelback Ranch then John Danks. Here’s a look.

HOME RUN: It’s only one start. Just like it was only one bullpen session and then just one live batting practice. But Danks continues to leave the White Sox hopeful that he will make a significant and important contribution to the 2013 season.

Danks threw two-plus innings Monday, using 35 pitches, of which 27 were strikes. He hung a changeup to Joaquin Arias in the first inning but it was also the third changeup he threw in that particular at-bat. Danks was upbeat and smiling postgame, pretty much the same attitude he’s featured since SoxFest. The true test will be how Danks feels Tuesday after this effort, but if it’s “all good,” as Danks said Monday, then the Diamondbacks on Saturday become his next target.

“We had that start point and now… . It was fun actually, we were talking about a couple of game situations there,” said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper of Danks. “He hung a changeup to the one guy and that was it. Could not have went any better.”

TRIPLE: Jeff Keppinger made his second start at third base, after the White Sox limited him early to the designated hitter role when he dealt with a sore shoulder. Keppinger showed no rust in the field and even less at the plate, with two singles off of Ryan Vogelsong and a third off of Matt Cain. Keppinger is 7-for-15 during Cactus League action.

DOUBLE: Dewayne Wise’s three-run homer capped a four-run fourth and held up as the game-winning hit. What’s more important is the left-handed hitting presence Wise brings to this lineup, not to mention solid defense in all three outfield positions.

SINGLE: Blake Tekotte tripled among his two hits and scored a run. Alexei Ramirez doubled home Tekotte. Angel Sanchez singled and scored a run, and Josh Phegley knocked out his third Cactus League double.

STOLEN BASE: The definition of utility player has been Brent Morel during Spring Training. He has played third base, shortstop and got in at first base during Monday’s victory.

CALLED THIRD: From the fifth through the seventh innings, Donnie Veal (three) and Simon Castro (five) combined to strike out eight of nine hitters.

JUST A BIT OUTSIDE: Hard to find fault in this one. White Sox hitters even finished 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

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.

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.

Thursday tidbits

Stop me if you’ve heard this tale before.

Bartolo Colon is out of action, on the disabled list with soreness in his right elbow, this time. And Ozzie Guillen is not really sure where the burly right-hander currently is rehabbing.

“No, he’s not here,” said Guillen with a laugh. “That’s hard to find out. That’s the hardest question you ask me, where is Colon?”

Guillen doesn’t see Colon pitching for the White Sox “in the next 20 days” because he has to go on rehab assignments again. Don’t look for Colon to work for the White Sox again this year, unless Jose Contreras continues to struggle, not with Jake Peavy and Freddy Garcia coming back from injuries, and Minor Leaguer Carlos Torres probably providing the same level of efficiency as the veteran.

–Shortstop Alexei Ramirez will return to the lineup on Friday against Cleveland and southpaw starter Jeremy Sowers. Ramirez conceivably could end up hitting ninth against right-handed pitchers, with Guillen not wanting to put the left-handed hitting Chris Getz and Scott Podsednik back-to-back in the lineup.

Gordon Beckham stays in the second spot until further notice.

“Every time we change the lineup, I try to get the guy hot,” Guillen said. “The day I did it with Ramirez was just because he was swinging the bat better, and plus batting second he’s going to see better pitches. That’s why I did it there. Right now, I’m going to give the most at bats to my best hitter.”

–Asked before the game, Guillen found it hard to name a season-long MVP for his team.

“Wow. They’re not playing that good. They’re not playing that bad,” Guillen said. “I think this month, Beckham. I think PK (Paul Konerko) and JD (Jermaine Dye) are playing unbelievable.

“They’re playing well. And the pitching staff, even with Mark Buehrle doing what he did, I think Matt Thornton. Matt has been our savior. There’s no doubt about it. Matt is having a tremendous year.”

–Here’s a couple quotes from Mark Buehrle, who seemingly did his one millionth post perfect game interview today on the Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN 1000 in Chicago.

On the recently concluded Mark Buehrle Appreciation Series:

“To me, it’s kinda weird because you don’t usually get appreciated until you retire,” Buehrle said. “They actually asked me to throw out the first pitch one game. I told them I’d still catch it but I don’t care to throw out a first pitch until I’m retired. It’s hectic and I’ve obviously been doing a lot of stuff. But it’s been well worth it.”

On the ramifications of the Peavy deal:

“Obviously, the (Padres) kept coming up and telling him he had to be moved,” Buehrle said. “But I think (John) Danks and Gavin (Floyd) and I have talked and if not this year then for next year we’re excited when he’s healthy and gets back having us four guys from the start of next season.

“Hopefully, he comes back healthy this year and we can get back in the playoffs and it’ll be a fun run. But we got some good things to look forward to the next couple of years.”

On how he would like his next perfect game celebrated:

“By not talking to the media,” Buehrle said. “Is that possible?”

Thursday tidbits; Clipping the Yankees

One thought went through Alexei Ramirez’s mind when he slid into second Wednesday night at the Metrodome, trying to break up a double play in the seventh inning of the loss.

“When it happened, I really thought it was a break or a fracture, but it isn’t,” said Ramirez, through interpreter and White Sox director of public relations Lou Hernandez following Thursday’s 3-2 victory over the Yankees. “I’m just glad that it wasn’t as serious as I originally thought it was. It’s just a minor injury, and hopefully I can get back as soon as possible.”

Ramirez has a swollen ligament in the sprained right ankle, but has been able to put pressure on the injured area while walking on it in the pool during extensive work on Thursday. Ramirez said a return to action Sunday is possible, but he’s not setting any date–just going by how he feels.

“I don’t want to say one thing or the other as far as returning,” Ramirez said. “Right now, I just want to pay attention to how my heel feels. The heel is basically the base of where I step and how I step, so I just want to keep working on this, doing some stuff with (White Sox athletic trainer) Herm (Schneider) and hopefully be back as soon as possible.”

–Judging by the tone of Ozzie Guillen’s voice and the look on his face at this particular moment of Thursday’s pregame interview session, the White Sox will not be making another significant move before Friday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. CT.

“Yesterday, I told the guys joking around in the dugout, I said, ‘Don’t worry guys, it’s not your fault. It’s my fault for telling Kenny Williams I can win with this ballclub,’” Guillen said. “If you look at the road trip, we were inches away from winning five, six games. The balls don’t bounce our way.

“Ball on the line, inches away, bad pitch, inches away, a line drive yesterday. That’s the way it is. We didn’t play bad; we just have a couple of guys in the middle of the lineup struggling like everybody knows. We’re lucky enough that part of the lineup is producing the way they are right now, we’re pitching well. We just didn’t score enough runs to win. But in a long season, that’s what you’re going to get.”

When asked if his team, sitting one game over .500, was better than a .500 group, Guillen provided another definitive response.

“Yes we are,” Guillen said. “In the beginning of the season was tough. I never thought we’d play .500 by the way we played at the start of the season, to be honest with you.

“But we’re better than that. We started to play better than a .500 team. But .500 isn’t going to win it. If we’re going to win, we have to be over .500 easier because if stay .500 we’re not going to make the playoffs.”

–You have to appreciate the immense talent of Gordon Beckham, who is my pick for American League Rookie of the Year. But you also have to appreciate his zest for the game and his enjoyment at the big league level.

On Wednesday, Beckham told me that he planned to get a jersey and have Derek Jeter sign it for him. Jeter was one of the middle infielders Beckham had and has great respect for as he moved to the Majors.
 
 

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.

Historic baseball and David Letterman

A little misinformation apparently has been floating around concerning the whereabouts of the baseball used to record the last out of Mark Buehrle’s perfect game on Thursday. And here’s the official confirmation, as provided by the White Sox themselves.

The ball is in the White Sox offices at U.S. Cellular Field and will be held for future display. Josh Fields caught the final out on a throw from shortstop Alexei Ramirez and had it briefly taken by a Major League Baseball authenticator. But the ball was never lost, and the White Sox actually had it back in their possession directly from said authenticator.

In other Buehrle-related news, Dewayne Wise’s glove also will be going to Baseball’s Hall of Fame along with Buehrle’s jersey. The appearance by Buehrle, Dewayne Wise and Fields to do the Top 10 list on the Late Show with David Letterman from Minneapolis on Monday has not yet been officially confirmed on Buehrle’s end.

But if Buehrle chose Letterman, I applaud his decision-making process. It’s the funniest show on television, in my opinion.

An important new White Sox addition?

In a seemingly unprecedented move, White Sox general manager Ken Williams inked a young but inexperienced hitter to a contract after an extended batting practice session prior to Thursday’s series finale with the Indians at U.S. Cellular Field.

Although this player seems full of promise, don’t look for him to reach the Majors any time soon. After all, Alexei Ramirez’s son, Alexei, Jr., is only five years old.

The younger Ramirez, working with an oversized plastic bat, took swing after swing early Thursday, with his dad pitching. When Ozzie Guillen was done with his pregame media session, he leaned over the dugout rail and watched Alexei, Jr. with amusement, with the little ballplayer yelling to Guillen almost every time he made contact.

Guillen occasionally would yell out, ‘Thome,’ and Alexei Jr., hitting left-handed, would raise his bat up to look like the prolific slugger. Williams eventually borrowed a piece of paper and a pen from one of the reporters and walked out to the batting cage to get Ramirez’s signature. Ramirez already had the Major League look working for him, sporting a full White Sox uniform with the No. 10 on the back.

No word on the length of the contract or the money offered as part of the spontaneous deal, but here’s an early scouting report–the kid can hit.

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.

Guillen sounds a warning to Ramirez

Alexei Ramirez finished 0-for3 with one walk and one flawless chance in the field at shortstop during Friday’s 5-4 loss suffered by the White Sox to the Cubs. The talented infielder actually was more the topic of conversation before Friday’s game, as manager Ozzie Guillen once again talked about his displeasure with Ramirez’s occasional perceived defensive laziness.

Even with that displeasure clearly out in the open, Guillen didn’t bench Ramirez or have any sort of talk with him following Thursday’s two-error effort in the White Sox 13-inning victory over the Dodgers.

“I’ve talked to him already. I don’t think there’s a reason to do it
[now]. I should, just to get it out of my system,” Guillen said. “But I’m going to let
him go because I might say the wrong thing to him and all of a sudden
we might create a monster.

“I hope he reads the paper. My coaching staff
will take care of that and we’ll see after that. It’s not because I
hate the kid, it’s not because I’m picking on him. You all saw the way
he went about his business after he made an out. I want him to be the
best shortstop he can be.”

Guillen explained that he doesn’t expect Ramirez to win batting titles or RBI titles, so aside from making the All-Star team, the Gold Glove stands as the only individual honor he could earn.

“Well, play like a Gold Glover,” Guillen said. “When I made a statement in
January that this kid should be one of the best shortstops in the game,
one of the best shortstops for the White Sox, I meant it. I meant it
because I’ve seen it. That’s why it’s my job, Joey Cora’s job, to get
this kid in the right place for the rest of his career.”

As for the potential benching, Guillen said he gives days off to players that deserve a day off.

“And I make it clear, I never criticize my players for an error, a bad pitch, give up a home run,” Guillen said. “But when you don’t give me your best effort, that’s not going to work with me, I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you do, how much money you make or if you’re a Hall of Famer. If you don’t give me your best effort, that thing is not going to work.

“One thing about it, I don’t care if he hates me or if he loves me, but this kid has an unbelievable future. This kid can be one of the best in the game. My job is to get him there.

“How I’m going to do it, we’ll see how, but I learned that from Bobby Cox,” Guillen said. “When Bobby Cox told Andruw Jones right in his face, ‘I [benched] you because you’re better than that and you’re going to be a superstar.’ I think this kid has the same tools to be [a star]. If he doesn’t play the game right, he’s going to have a tough time playing for me.”

 

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