Results tagged ‘ Joey Cora ’

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.

Beckham back to work

It was back to work as usual on Sunday for Gordon Beckham, who was inactive during the weekend trip to Tucson due to soreness in an abdominal muscle on the left side.

In fact, there was no rest for the slightly injured, as Beckham joked how he took 100 groundballs from bench coach Joey Cora before starting in Sunday’s split-squad game against Texas in Surprise.

“I told, him, ‘Thanks a lot for easing me back in,'” said Beckham with a laugh. “But it feels good. It’s a little tender, but I don’t really feel anything. I’m just glad it’s not an oblique.”

Beckham said he strained a muscle right above his left hip, pointing toward the area. Manager Ozzie Guillen, with the team in Surprise, didn’t expect to use Beckham for nine innings.

“I’ll see how he feels and go by ears to see exactly how he is,” Guillen said. “I talked to him this morning to make sure he’s not playing just to be a hero. He seems like he’s fine, but we’ll see how he is during the game.”

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.

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.”

 

Quentin leaves the game

Carlos Quentin pulled up lame while running out a double in the first inning of Monday’s contest with the Angels at Angel Stadium.

Quentin’s double to center scored a run, but as he turned the corner around first base, he began to limp and favor his left foot. When Quentin reached second base, he bent over in pain and acting manager Joey Cora and athletic trainer Herm Schneider came out to check on him. Quentin originally was helped from the field but walked to the dugout under his own power, replaced at second by Brian Anderson.

With Anderson’s entrance and Quentin’s injury, Scott Podsednik moved from center to left and Anderson took over in center. Quentin missed five games from May 16-20 with a sore left heel, diagnosed as planter fasciitis.

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.

Citizen Contreras

It has been a big couple of days for Jose Contreras, and his worry-free bullpen session on Thursday probably ranked second to Wednesday’s events back in Tampa. Contreras became a United States citizen.

“I feel very grateful the country gave me the opportunity to be a baseball player and everything that I dreamed about,” said Contreras through translator and bench coach Joey Cora. “I felt honored to have the blue passport.”

Alexei Ramirez also has returned home to Florida for a few days to put his citizenship process in motion. It might take up to two years before it becomes official.

Beckham, meet Baines

Welcome to the big leagues, Gordon Beckham.

The White Sox top pick from the 2008 First-Year Player draft was the subject of his first team prank on Monday, following a Sunday batting practice session when he reportedly asked A.J. Pierzynski “Who is Harold Baines?”

Joey Cora, the White Sox bench coach, was the evil mastermind of this put on, live from Glendale, beginning with what he called a game of “Who am I?” after making the morning announcements before team stretch.

“Maybe a couple of you guys know exactly who this person is. He’s a special person,” Cora said. “This person is ranked 18th in games playd, all-time, in Major League Baseball.

“No. 26, ALL-TIME, in Major League Baseball, in at-bats,” said Cora, emphasizing all-time for effect. “No. 28, ALL-TIME in Major League baseball, with 1,628 RBIs.

“Total bases, 33rd ALL-TIME in Major League Baseball. Forty-first in hits, ALL-TIME, with 2,886 hits. Fiftieth, ALL-TIME, in extra-base hits, with 921.

“It’s unbelievable,” Cora added. “This guy should be in the Hall of Fame.”

At that point, general manager Ken Williams chimed in.

“He was clutch, too, wasn’t he?” Williams said.

And, then Cora produced the exclamation point for the joke.

“By the way, a lot of you guys who have played at Cellular Field, whoever hasn’t played there, there’s a statue in right field of this guy,” Cora said.

Cora held up a black and white copy of a photo of Baines standing next to his statue and asked, “I wonder who it is? Let’s take a crack at it.”

Somewhere around half-way through the set up, Beckham saw the joke coming his way and didn’t flinch when answering, “Harold Baines.”

Baines and Beckham shook hands, and Baines signed the picture for the phenom. But the prank was not complete without Jermaine Dye encouraging Beckham to explain how this situation originally began.

“I knew who Harold Baines was,” Beckham said.

“Maybe you didn’t,” Pierzynski and Brian Anderson responded.

“A.J. asked why I was No. 80, and I said, ‘I don’t know. What number do you think they should have given me?'” Beckham said. “A.J. goes, ‘I thought they were going to un-retire Harold’s number for you. And I said, ‘Who’s Harold?'”

Clearly, Beckham won’t ask that question again.

“Now, I know,” Beckham said with a smile.

Beckham might want to share that information with a fan at Camelback Ranch, who greeted Baines on his way to the practice fields Monday by announcing, “Good morning, Jermaine.”

 

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