Results tagged ‘ Dodgers ’

Game 2: White Sox fit to be tied

There are no shootouts in Major League Baseball to break a tie, and often times in Spring Training, there are no extra innings to do the same. So, the second of back-to-back games between the Dodgers and White Sox at Camelback Ranch Sunday ended in a 2-2 deadlock. Here’s a look.

HOME RUN: Let’s go with the man who actually hit the home run, Adam Dunn. The slugger said coming into Spring Training that he was going to be more aggressive early in the count, in an attempt to cut down strikeouts and raise his average, and there was Dunn driving out a 1-0 pitch from Peter Moylan to left for a two-run homer in the fourth inning Sunday.

“You know, it’s nice to get those,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Dunn’s blast. “If it lingers on too much, not having good at-bats, you are starting off battling from the negative. It’s nice for everybody to kind of get on the board and have a good at-bat. It feels nice to end your day that way too.”

Dunn’s job won’t change from driving in runs, and he won’t suddenly become a .280 hitter and watch his home run total drop to 15. But he’s taking the time at Spring Training to work on subtle improvements.

“There’s one little mechanical thing I wanted to work on, and I didn’t know how long it was going to take me this spring. I knew we had an extended spring,” Dunn said. “But actually I’m able to carry it over from the cage to the game so far. That’s a positive.”

TRIPLE: On his 35th birthday, Dewayne Wise tripled to right with two outs in the third off of Hyun-Jin Ryu.

DOUBLE: Little things continue to mean a lot to the White Sox under the Robin Ventura regime. In the third, Hanley Ramirez delivered a run-scoring single off of Erik Johnson to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead but Dunn cut off the throw home by center fielder Blake Tekotte and threw back to first, behind Ramirez, where second baseman Gordon Beckham was covering to tag out Ramirez, end the inning and cut short any continued rally.

In the second, backup catcher Hector Gimenez fired a perfect strike to Beckham to catch Andre Eithier stealing by quite a margin.

SINGLE: Alex Rios tripled before Dunn’s opposite field homer, giving Rios three extra-base hits in two games.

STOLEN BASE: When I asked Tyler Flowers for pitchers who had looked good during side bullpen sessions, he mentioned both Daniel Moskos and David Purcey. The two southpaws threw one hitless inning apiece.

CALLED THIRD: It was a solid debut for Johnson, who took advantage of an opportunity the White Sox are giving to their up-and-coming Minor League starters during this first week of Cactus League action. Johnson struck out two and gave up one run on four hits over three innings.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to go out there and pound the strike zone and attack hitters and keep the ball down, let my defense play behind me.”

The native of Los Altos, Calif. also seemed to get a charge out of facing the Dodgers.

“Growing up in the Bay Area and watching the Giants growing up, I saw the Dodgers a lot,” Johnson said. “It felt good to go out at these guys and attack them. It was just another great opportunity today.”

JUST A BIT OUTSIDE: After a leadoff single by Steven Tolleson in the ninth, he was caught stealing with Trayce Thompson at the plate and pulling back on a bunt.

Game 1: White Sox 9, Dodgers 0

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The White Sox could not have had a better opening to Cactus League competition with Saturday’s 9-0 whitewash of the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch.

Fourteen hits for the White Sox, three hits allowed, contributions across the board.

“That’s why you have intrasquad games,” said a smiling White Sox manager Robin Ventura, referring to the team’s rough instrasquad action on Thursday. “Get that out.”

Here’s what will be a regular look at the standouts and missteps for each White Sox contest in Arizona.

HOME RUN: Dylan Axelrod would be classified as the White Sox seventh starter, but he certainly set the tone for other starters Saturday. He simply threw strikes over three scoreless innings and breezed through the first two quick enough that he got a third.

“He’s one of those guys who wont dazzle you with the radar gun but he’s a smart pitcher,” said Ventura of Axelrod. “He comes out and just finds that way to keep people off balance.”

TRIPLE: The Tyler Flowers’ era officially began with a bang, as he launched the White Sox first Spring Training home run on a drive Gordon Beckham said was one of the hardest baseballs he had seen hit.

Flowers laughed at the hoopla over one prodigious clout to left, stressing there’s more work to be done.

Kudos to Flowers for bringing up the great effort turned in by Axelrod, pointing up again how Flowers’ role is handling the pitchers first and offense second.

DOUBLE: Brent Morel has returned to action, looking a little more like the Morel from 2011 as opposed to the player held down by back issues all of last season.

Morel played third, batted second and knocked out a single in his second at-bat. The key for Morel, who felt his back was back on track as far back as an interview he did with MLB.com in late November, is how he responds the day after game action.

SINGLE: Alex Rios picked up where he left off as the team’s top offensive player in 2012 with two doubles. Gordon Beckham hit the ball hard twice, including a RBI double in the second off of Clayton Kershaw. Dayan Viciedo delivered a two-run single in the third with the hit coming on a two-strike pitch.

STOLEN BASE: The name Seth Loman doesn’t often get mentioned among the White Sox top prospects, as he didn’t crack MLB.com’s Top 20 list. But the left-handed hitting first baseman has some definite power, with 115 career Minor League homers. Loman launched one to right for a two-run homer in the ninth to cap off the scoring.

CALLED THIRD: Zach Stewart picked up where Axelrod left off Saturday, throwing two perfect innings of relief. Both men figure to start the 2013 season as part of the Triple-A Charlotte rotation.

JUST A BIT OUTSIDE: It’s hard to find fault in a total team effort like Saturday. Brian Omogrosso emerged unscathed in the eighth and threw the ball well, but he did issue three straight two-out walks to earn the only small blemish on an otherwise near-perfect day.

Castro leaves the game

White Sox backup catcher Ramon Castro was hit by a Russ Ortiz pitch in the top of the fourth inning and exited Wednesdays game with the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. The Ortiz pitch grazed the top of Castros helmet. He was replaced by Donny Lucy.

Thome, Contreras = Pure Class

With the late-arriving news of Jim Thome’s trade to the Dodgers on Monday night, I was reminded of a moment involving the White Sox designated hitter from about two years ago. It’s a story I’ve told over and over again because it really defines the nature of one of the game’s most prodigious sluggers. And his ability on the field was surpassed by the great individual he was off the field.

It was a random three-game series at U.S. Cellular against some team I don’t remember. What I do remember is standing near the back of the clubhouse, where the media often gathers just to the left of where Thome’s locker was located, and having him walking by and stopping to say hi and chat with a handful of media members before going off for batting practice.

Two days later, on the morning before a day game, I was standing in the same spot, when Thome one again walked back toward his locker. He stopped, put his hand on my shoulder as sort of a pat on the back and said:

“It’s good to see you.”

Thome was just that sort of guy. He was such a good person, so upbeat and good-natured, that you often wondered if he really was that good of a person, that upbeat and that good-natured. Once you met Thome for about two minutes, the answer was a resounding ‘Yes.’

I had a chance to get to know Thome a little bit beyond baseball. I went to a Target in Chicago last offseason, when Jim, and his wife Andrea, every bit as nice and altruistic as her husband, were buying winter coats for kids through their charitable involvement with Children Home + Aid of Illinois, a program they got into in conjunction with Paul and Jennifer Konerko. I remember talking with Thome about the Hot Stove rumors, and he was as interested in the offseason maneuvers as if he was covering a team.

There also were a couple of opportunities for me to attend the Joyce Thome Benefit dinner in honor of Jim’s late mother, benefitting Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. It was amazing to watch Thome treat everyone in attendance, and I mean everyone, like family members. It’s understandable why he is the favorite son of Peoria.

Actually, the move by the White Sox to send Thome to Los Angeles really is doing a favor for one of the game’s true good guys. The only spot left open on his Hall of Fame resume is winning a World Series title, and as a pinch-hitter or possibly spot starter at first base, he should be a valuable asset to the Dodgers. He also has been reunited with one-time Cleveland teammate Manny Ramirez, and there would be nothing more fitting than a championship and 600 home runs to close out Thome’s career.

In order to finish this trade, Thome had to waive his no-trade clause. He probably understood that the White Sox weren’t going to win a title in 2009 and that he probably wasn’t part of their plans for 2010 and beyond. With Tyler Flowers coming up Tuesday, don’t be surprised if the rookie catcher of the future gets his fair share of chances to serve as designated hitter over the final 30 games.

As for pitcher Jose Contreras, he was every bit as solid of a person as Thome. The quick comeback he made from a ruptured left Achilles suffered last August was nothing short of miraculous, and while he struggled mightily of late, people shouldn’t forget what he meant to the organization. There is no World Series title without Contreras.

If the White Sox don’t pick up the pace considerably in the next month, more good guys and one-time key contributors will be playing at new addresses next season.

Support your local team

Remember the White Sox pursuit of Jake Peavy back in late May? Remember how the White Sox were willing to take on the remaining three years and $48 million of his salary, if Peavy agreed to waive his no-trade clause?

Well, that same scenario involving any high-priced acquisition might not play out again in the next few weeks leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, according to general manager Ken Williams.

“Well, if I’m being completely honest, money is more of an issue now,” said Williams, during a 10-minute conversation with the Chicago media prior to Tuesday’s 10-6 victory over the Indians. “We expected a little more support than we have gotten.

“It’s a reflection upon the economy what’s kind of happened in regard to attendance. And I don’t’ know if we’ve played consistent enough or been exciting enough for people to get behind us yet. So, we are still hopeful, but yeah, that obvious, not to mention some of the other peripheral things, that obviously is going to have an impact on what we can and cannot do.

“We have been a little aggressive in our projections initially,” Williams said. “We might have to take a lot closer look at it because the Dodger series certainly was one that was an eye opener for us.”

When the White Sox played host to the Dodgers, Major League Baseball’s best team by record, from June 23-25, the White Sox drew 22,251 fans on the Tuesday night of that series, 20,142 on Wednesday and 20,051 on Thursday afternoon.

Weather was not an issue on any of those days, and the crowds weren’t hampered by school still being in session. So, what was the issue leading to the relatively low turnout?

Brooks Boyer, the White Sox vice president and chief marketing officer, quickly pointed to the problem.

“We overpriced it. That was the major thing,” Boyer told MLB.com. “We set the prices in October. We looked at the series and said that it’s a quality-quality opponent in town and one that is not in town all that often. They also have a drawing superstar.

“But we set those in October. The economy has worsened since then, when we priced it. You get to this series, and where are people going to spend money? They are going to spend it (the following) weekend, for the Crosstown series (with the Cubs). We simply overpriced the tickets. We made a mistake in October of last year.”

In fairness to the White Sox, they had no idea that Manny Ramirez, one of the true drawing superstars in the game, would be absent from the starting lineup. But Boyer specifically was referring to the Dodgers tickets being classified as Premier, the same status given to the ensuing Cubs series, of which all three games were sellouts

There are four ticket classifications for the South Siders’ home games, ranging from Value Mondays to Regular to Prime to Premier. A $10 difference exists between Premier and Prime tickets, and a $14 difference exits between Premier and Regular.

For the Dodgers and Cubs series, the cheapest premium seat was $63. The cheapest seat available overall, in upper reserved, checked in at $33. That cost dips to $19 in that same area for Regular.

“Granted, the Dodgers are a first-place team, with the best record in baseball, and they were very competitive games,” Boyer said. “We just missed on the pricing.”

Boyer said the 2009 attendance has been an interesting phenomenon, in that they were pacing where they were last year and even a little bit up through April. But the rainy and cold weather that extended into June clearly has hampered ticket sales.

“During the homestand we had (ending June 11), in the last game we started, it was in the 40s,” Boyer said. “Then, we come back here and it was oppressively hot.

“So, we haven’t had much luck there. The team is playing better, and as we play better, if we stay in the race, we’ll be fine.”

As for an early fiscal outlook to 2010, Boyer points to the past Dodgers series as an example of the situation being too far off to make an accurate read.

“We are not out of the economic issues,” Boyer said. “There’s not anybody taking deep breathes and saying this is going to be better or isn’t it amazing how much better it’s getting. The scenario we are in, it doesn’t look like it’s getting much better.

“Now, for us to start predicting things about 2010, it’s way too early. But we have to be really smart about it.”

The White Sox basically are run to not necessarily make a profit in their drive to get to the postseason. But they also don’t want to lose any money in the process.

With Tuesday’s attendance announced at 23,758, these less-than-full houses just might hamper Williams in going after a top prize.

“We are going to go down the same roads we always have,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, we take a look at opportunity A vs. B and C and you figure out, ‘Here’s where we can go with this, but do we have the resources to make it work? Where are we situated in the standings and where’s the excitement level? Can we swing it.’

“I’ve maintained forever, most times all (White Sox chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf) wants to do is break even. Give yourself the best chance to win and break even, and in many cases, he has been willing to absorb a loss in an effort to win a championship. I don’t know if that would be any different, but my job is to present opportunities to the group and we will see where we come out in terms of actually making the decision one way or the other.”

Going Deep

The six home runs hit by the White Sox against the Dodgers on Wednesday night were the most hit by the team since they knocked out six on June 8, 2004 against Philadelphia. As a full service blog, here’s how the home runs broke down during that particular 14-11 victory, in which the legendary Amaury Telemaco suffered the loss.

–Paul Konerko and Juan Uribe each hit two.
–Frank Thomas hit one off of Telemaco
–Carlos Lee went deep off of Ryan Madson

Also of note that night, Mark Buehrle earned the victory and Mike Jackson gave up five runs in one inning of relief.

On Wednesday, the home runs belong to Josh Fields, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Jayson Nix, Alexei Ramirez and Josh Fields again.

This and that

–DeWayne Wise tripled and homered in four at-bats, while Chris Stewart and Sergio Santos both went deep during the Dodgers’ 6-4 victory over the White Sox in Monday’s ‘B’ Game. The White Sox did not bat in the bottom of the ninth because Los Angeles ran out of pitchers. Franklyn German hurled two scorless innings, while Lance Broadway gave up one unearned run and fanned three in two innings.

–Jeff Marquez is scheduled to throw during Tuesday’s day off, probably working against Minor League hitters on one of the White Sox back fields at Camelback Ranch.

–Aaron Poreda worked four innings in relief on Monday, giving up one run and striking out three. This effort follows a strong three-inning stint last Wednesday in Las Vegas against the Cubs.

The big left-hander remains in play for that final spot out of the White Sox bullpen.

“(White sox pitching coach Don Cooper) is going to continue to work with him,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Poreda, the team’s top pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. “Hopefully, we get the best out of him and see what happens at the end of Spring Training.”

–Brent Lillibridge returned from a bout with the flu and played shortstop in the game against Cleveland, with Chris Getz playing second. Jayson Nix remains out of action with a sore right quad.

Getz’s three-run, inside-the-park home run hit in the second showed me he’s get a second gear speed-wise that I didn’t really get a chance to see last year. Getz shows good patience at the plate, and although Guillen does not want to add more pressure to what he already has, could Getz be a leadoff hitter? I think he could.

–Is this something–the White Sox are 0-5 against American League teams and 6-2 against the National League during 2009 Cactus League action.

–My original pick was Teya to win Rock of Love: Charm School Bus or whatever it’s called. I think Mindy is closing fast.

 

 

 

Grand Opening

Camelback Ranch plays host to its first official contest Sunday afternoon, appropriately between the Dodgers and White Sox, with the first pitch scheduled for 2:05 p.m. CT.

Jordin Sparks, a Glendale native and American Idol winner, will sing the National Anthem, punctuatd by a fly-over by four F-16s from neighboring Luke Air Force Base. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and managers Joe Torre and Ozzie Guillen will participate in ceremonial first pitches.

Count Guillen as one of the many who is most excited to break in the new ballpark.

The only thing I can say is I was first at three different fields,” Guillen said. “I was the first at new Comiskey Park, the first at Sarasota and now this one. It either means you are getting old or you have been around the same organization a long time.

I think it’s going to be great. With the Dodgers, 50 years since the last World Series (in 1959, between the two teams). I feel proud to be part of that. I’m always pleased when baseball gets better and better.

“You can see baseball moving forward when you build a new facility like this one for Spring Training,” Guillen said. “Hopefully, I’ll be around long enough to enjoy this complex a little while. And hopefully, I no manage long enough to move somewhere else. It’s going to be a special day for the White Sox organization and we have to enjoy it as much as we can.

Mark Buehrle gets the start for the White Sox, before he heads home to Missouri for the birth of his second child and first daughter.

 

 

Information overload

Even with three stories either already posted or soon to be posted on the White Sox site from today’s action, there was still a great deal of information that didn’t make the cut. Remember, the White Sox played a B Game against the Dodgers, while I was representing here in Tucson.

So, here’s a few more bits and pieces to go over, just hours before the first Cubs-White Sox clash of 2009. By the way, I predict 120 wins for both teams with the way Spring Training has started.

–I said this in my early Friday blog post, but Gordon Beckham is a baseball player. I don’t care if it’s Cactus League games, American Legion or the seventh game of the World Series. You just know upon seeing someone with that special ability. His play at shortstop to end the sixth inning on Tony Clark’s grounder, well.. I’ll let Paul Konerko describe it.

“That’s a big league play. If he makes that play, he can play in the big leagues for 15 years,” Konerko said. “Everyone on the bench thought it was a hit, and he comes in and makes it like it was nothing.”

Here’s my first prediction of 2009, aside from the 240-combined wins for the Cubs and White Sox and Michigan hoops winning the NCAA title. Beckham will play in the Majors before September callups. I just have a feeling.

–The early spring endurance award goes to Brian Anderson, who played all nine innings the last two games. He had two hits and scored two runs against Arizona and his defense is as good as ever in the outfield. Jerry Owens played all the way through on Wednesday in Tempe and then again on Friday. He laid down another nice bunt to start Friday’s game but was thrown out at first.

There’s little chance of an outfield featuring Owens, Anderson and DeWayne Wise playing out from left to right, as it did on Friday. But they certainly would track down a great deal of baseballs defensively. If nothing else, Ozzie Guillen got a chance to see all of the center field contenders in action, side-by-side, with Wise adding two hits and two runs scored.

–The back-up catcher battle could be an interesting one. Corky Miller had three hits Thursday at Hi Corbett Field and Chris Stewart had two hits, including a home run, on Friday. These two also are considered the best catch-and-throw candidates.

–Ben Broussard’s home run to open the 7th landed in the parking lot well beyond the right field fence. The blast was estimated at 483 feet by myself and ESPN’s Bruce Levine.

–Back in Glendale, Scott Linebrink and Bobby Jenks each fanned two in one scoreless inning of relief apiece, or so I was informed by Pat O’Connell. A healthy Linebrink also incorporated three split-finger fastballs into his Friday workload.

“That’s something I definitely want to do this year,” Linebrink told reporters. “I think I fell more into the fastball/changeup last year, whereas this year if I can be really consistent with that third pitch, it opens up a new dimension.

“I’ve always thrown it, but consistency’s always been an issue with that pitch. So we’re going to work on it, too. It’s tough in Arizona because it’s so dry that it’s hard to get a feel for that pitch, but we’ll keep throwing it and keep making it a part of the repertoire.”

–The White Sox apparently loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning against Jason Schmidt and the Dodgers, but the Dodgers asked to stop the frame because of pitch count. Too bad that move doesn’t work during the regular season.

–Aaron Poreda’s 2009 Cactus League debut came in front of an interesting array of spectators.

I recognized that (White Sox general manager) Kenny (Williams) was watching and a lot of the coaches were there," Poreda told reporters. "There's fans, Joe Torre is over there on the Dodger side.

"And actually, the starting pitcher for them was Jason Schmidt, who I grew up watching the Giants as a big fan of his. I have his jersey and autograph. I was thinking, 'It's weird we were competing against each other.' But it was a great experience.''

--So, that about covers it. It's time to say good bye to Tucson and make the 2 1/2 hour drive back. Talk to you from Mesa, and as always, Go Blue!

 

 

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