Results tagged ‘ Spring Training ’

Game 2: Danks gone a little wild

Robin Ventura stayed winless through two Cactus League games following the Angels’ 6-2 victory Tuesday at Diablo Stadium. Here’s a quick look at the breakdown:

WHAT WENT RIGHT: After striking out twice on Monday, Gordon Beckham ripped two solid singles to left in Tuesday’s setback. It goes to show that Cactus League results aren’t nearly as important as the process to get there.

“After yesterday, you come back and you work on things and get him a little more aggressive,” said Ventura of Beckham. “He looked great.”

Matt Thornton threw a scoreless inning in relief, striking out one and giving up Albert Pujols’ double. Ventura praised Thornton’s work and then sarcastically took a jab at the pitch selection to one of the game’s top players.

“He realized Albert can hit a fastball down the middle,” a smiling Ventura said of Thornton. “So we got that out of the way.”

Keep an eye on Nate Jones, the fifth-round selection from the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. The right-hander who fanned 67 in 63 1/3 innings for Double-A Birmingham last season struck out three over two innings on Tuesday. Jared Mitchell also served a ninth-inning single to left.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Call it a good day of work for John Danks, who threw almost 50 pitches in two innings. The fact that almost half of those pitches were out of the strike zone made it a bit of an erratic work day for the southpaw.

“I’m just trying to throw the ball and make the ball do what I want it to do,” Danks said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t very sharp today.”

The team finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position for those keeping track of such statistics two games into spring, and Brian Omogrosso was touched up for three runs on four hits in one inning of relief.

WHAT’S NEXT: Jake Peavy goes full throttle 19 months after surgery to reattach his lat muscle when taking the mound against the Brewers on Wednesday. Peavy is scheduled to start the second game of the season in Texas.

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Trayce Thompson and Gordon Beckham both picked up stolen bases in Tuesday’s loss, as the White Sox were much more aggressive on the basepaths. The White Sox don’t have a highly-touted Minor League system, but they do have young athletes who seem to be learning the game.

MOMENT TO FORGET: It’s a toss-up between two: John Danks snapping his glove in frustration on a throw back from Tyler Flowers after walking Bobby Wilson in the first, showing even Spring Training can draw anger, or Beckham’s name spelled as Beckman on the Diablo Stadium scoreboard during his two trips to the plate.

Peavy throws two scoreless

Jake Peavy’s comeback took a major step forward Friday.

The right-hander, who last pitched in a game on July 6, 2010 against the Angels in U.S. Cellular Field, threw two scoreless innings against those same Angels at Diablo Stadium in his return from a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his right posterior shoulder. Peavy fanned two and walked one during the 2011 Cactus League debut, as White Sox starters extended their hitless innings streak to 10.

Peavy opened with a swinging strikeout of Maicer Izturis, before falling behind at 3-0 on Bobby Abreu. He battled back to a full count, but Abreu drew a walk. Two pitches later, Torii Hunter hit into a 4-6-3 double play, a pitch on which Peavy topped out velocity-wise at 92 mph, from Brent Lillibridge to Alexei Ramirez to Dallas McPherson, ending the frame.

In the first, Peavy threw 12 pitches and six for strikes.

Vernon Wells struck out to start the second, with Peavy reaching back for something extra on a high fastball off of a 1-2 pitch. Howie Kendrick hit the ball hard but flew out to Alejandro De Aza in center. Erick Aybar came closest to getting a hit, lining a 3-2 pitch to left that was tracked down by Juan Pierre.

That effort meant 26 pitches in total, 16 for strikes. If everything checks out for Peavy Saturday following this important outing, then he’ll go with a side bullpen and get ready to face the Giants Wednesday in Scottsdale.

“Relieved, pleased, it’s a big step to get out there in a game,” Peavy said. “You know, I did what I expected to do and hoped what I would be able to do, turn it up a level and get some big league hitters out. And feel normal in doing that. We accomplished that today. I hope we’ve put a lot of questions and issues to rest.”

Cactus League business as usual for Buehrle

Mark Buehrle’s wish is that he feels just as good during his franchise-record ninth Opening Day start on April 1 in Cleveland as he did during his first Cactus League start Tuesday against the Brewers.

Buehrle threw two quick innings, retiring four hitters on ground ball outs and striking out Brandon Boggs among the six Brewers faced during Milwaukee’s 3-1 victory at Camelback Ranch. The smiling veteran southpaw felt there was another one or two innings in him, but then again, Buehrle makes that same statement after his first start every spring. It really doesn’t take him more than two starts to get ready.

“You should have just got me before the game,” said Buehrle, joking about his quotes not really changing from year to year at this time. “You’re down here getting your work in to get prepared for the season.

“Obviously it’s a little too long for myself. It could be shorter. But it is what it is and you come down here and get your work in, build your arm strength and fill up innings.”

And count Buehrle in mid-season form regarding the fun he has with the media after a low-key start such as this one. Buehrle quipped how he wanted to petition Major League Baseball to have his one strikeout Tuesday added to last year’s regular-season total to give him an even 100 for 2010.

He also comically poked fun at the team’s lack of offense in Game 2 on the Cactus League ledger, with the White Sox locked in a scoreless tie when he departed, costing him an all-important chance at victory on the first day of March.

“We had our big boys going, and all we needed was one run,” said Buehrle, pausing with a wry smile for laughter from the gathered media to subside. “A little bit of run support, guys. Let’s go.”

All things Konerko

Paul Konerko arrived at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday morning, when the full White Sox squad was scheduled to report. And as the elder statesman of the team, a player with good insight into all things baseball, the veteran of 12 years with the White Sox held court with the media for close to 14 minutes. Here’s a look at some of Konerko’s Spring Training commentary.

* On Alex Rios’ statement Monday labeling the White Sox as the team to beat in the American League Central:

“To me, you guys know me, the team to beat is the Twins.

Whoever wins the title from the year before is the champion until they get knocked off. What I think about what’s being said or what anybody thinks is irrelevant. We’ll get an answer 6 months from now. That’s how it is. It’s pretty black and white.

I don’t know how that came up with Alex. Maybe he didn’t mean it like that or maybe he was trying to be confident. But that’s fine. I am too. But it’s pretty simple. You go out and play the games every day and at the end of September there will be a champion in this division. There’s no need to talk about it up until then.

But the Twins deserve the respect. They earned it last year and had a great year. Until someone knocks them off, they are the team.”

* On having played 15 years with the White Sox at the end of this current three-year deal:

“I try not to think about things like that. I’m trying to think about what’s in front of me. You start having thoughts about that kind of stuff and it can kind of slow you down a little bit as far as being hungry. I just can’t do that. There will be a time when I’m done playing when I can sit there and tell everyone about how long I played in one place and how great it was and this and that.

But I feel any time I do that now, I’m taking away from what I’m personally going to do and it’s kind of selfish to my teammates to talk about my own things even if it’s good. It is nice. I’m proud of it.

As much as the World Series, being in the same place for a long time is probably second on the list. It takes a relationship with the team and decisions have to be made on both sides and everyone has to want that to happen in today’s business because it’s so easy to go in the other direction so many times and for them to do the same. I’m proud in that sense. But there will be a time when I’m done playing to talk about the good old days.”

* On what it feels like to be back:

“It feels like I never left, because I didn’t. It was a lot of unknowns and uncertainty with myself and the team a year ago. Now that I’m here it feels like just another normal year and there have been a lot of them in a row here. It feels like home, but yeah, it got a little dicey in the offseason.”

* On the potential of the potent White Sox lineup:

“You break down lineups and you look for some speed, some power, balance. It’s all right there. The bottom of the lineup, whoever we put down there is pretty formidable. We look like we’re probably, in the middle of the lineup, kind of one guy deeper than a lot of teams.

Maybe whoever is going to hit sixth for us would probably hit fifth for a lot of teams. It’s all there but as you know it’s on paper and doesn’t mean anything until you go out and do it. I know that’s clich but it’s true.

You have to go out and it all has to click together. We felt good about our lineup leaving here last year and we didn’t get it going so there is always work and an unknown about how things are going to transpire.

Last year the talk was that there was no big left-handed bat, there was no real DH. There was talk. This year there isn’t anything you can point a finger at and say we’re really deficient in that area so I guess that feels good.”

* On his White Sox tenure being over when the White Sox signed Adam Dunn:

“I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know what that meant because I knew that at that moment I hadn’t talked to the White Sox at all and I thought that this is a business and you have relationships with people and you don’t know how it’s going to end.

You would figure that maybe they would talk to me before, at least to talk about what I’m looking for and if it’s possible to work out a deal. But sometimes when your card is pulled you find out the hard way.

So I didn’t know which one it was. I think that day or the next day they let us know they still wanted to work something out. I felt good about that. It didn’t mean something was going to get done but I felt like there was hope still to come back so that was good.”

More to come from Konerko in today’s Spring Training coverage at whitesox.com.

Be careful where you park

It’s four days into White Sox Spring Training, and Sergio Santos already has vowed revenge on Matt Thornton.

Not revenge, mind you, in a Tony Soprano or Michael Corleone sort of way. This is more about one-upsmanship through practical jokes between two friends and teammates.

Thornton took an early 1-0 lead in this Spring Training category between hard-throwing relievers courtesy of a Saturday morning maneuver. It seems as if Santos arrived slightly earlier than Thornton for workouts at Camelback Ranch and parked his white BMW along a fence close to the facility where veterans often park. Santos would be considered a veteran, beginning his second big league season, but with numerous other parking spots open, Thornton took it upon himself to find Santos’ car a new location.

“I moved his car as far out as I could,” said Thornton with a wry smile.

“After my workout and breakfast, I looked outside and my car was missing,” Santos continued, in comic disbelief. “Only one guy made a comment to me and that was Thornton.”

A little while later, Thornton was doing an interview when Santos approached the southpaw and simply asked “Where is it?” with a laugh. Thornton admitted no knowledge of the missing car. MLB.com is happy to report Santos eventually found his car at the farthest regions of the players’ parking lot.

Now, the wait begins for Santos’ counterstrike.

“He’s lucky there’s no way to get it in front of the doors to the clubhouse or I would have blocked the doors to the clubhouse with it,” said Thornton, clearly having fun with the execution of his joke.

“Of course, because I showed up early and some spots were open, I parked on the side anyway because it’s easier and quicker,” Santos said. “But there will be payback. I have to figure something good for him, but I guarantee there will be payback.”

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.

Armstrong stands behind Team Canada

When the United States and Canada first met up in the preliminary round of Olympic competition, White Sox catcher and proud Vancouver native Cole Armstrong had about 12 friends and teammates over to his Spring Training home in Arizona to take in what was sure to be a Canadian victory.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans… .

“I figured I would get on them a little bit, and it backfired,” said Armstrong with a laugh, with the USA claiming a 5-3 victory in the first matchup. “I’ll be feeling better if they pull it out, have a little something more to talk about.”

Canada and the U.S. face off again on Sunday, only with the gold medal on the line in what could be the most watched game in hockey history. Armstrong admits to having a few friendly wagers on the line throughout the White Sox clubhouse, while picking out a few of the top U.S. hockey supporters.

“(Paul) Konerko is into it and (Mark) Kotsay and Carlos Torres,” Armstrong said. “Actually, I don’t know if Torres likes the U.S. team because they beat Canada and he can get on me.

“I’m getting excited. I’m a little more hesitant and a little less confident after the first game than I was going into that one. Like I said, hopefully they can pull it out.”

Armstrong tried hockey as a young player but stopped upon realizing “I wasn’t very good.” He also doesn’t seem too upset about trading in the Olympic experience for Spring Training in Glendale.

“That city is going to be going crazy,” said Armstrong of Vancouver. “I’m glad I’m not anywhere near it. It’s nuts right now.”

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.”

More on Beckham

Could there be actually any more to write about Gordon Beckham? I think his rise to the Major Leagues has been fairly well chronicled over the past two days. And as the old Carpenters’ song goes, Beckham has only just begun.

Beckham’s strong Spring Training performance was important, not only to show Beckham was ready to play at the Major League level, but he also had a chance to bond with his future teammates. And even players such as Josh Fields and Chris Getz, who Beckham will be taking playing time from, especially Fields, have nothing but good things to say about Beckham.

“He’s a great guy,” said Fields of Beckham.. “I talked about it earlier, but it was inevitable he would be in the big leagues quick. He has been playing well. We’ll see what their plan is. I like him and will talk to him and help him out as much as I can. I don’t know if I’m necessarily the person to do that. But there’s no hard feelings or anything like that.”

“Gordon’s a great guy,” Getz said. “A very talented player. A bright future ahead of him.”

–Hitting coach Greg Walker doesn’t intend to reinvent the wheel in regard to Beckham’s approach at the plate. Walker plans to let Beckham go with what has been working for him at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte this season, while being there for any questions or adjustments Beckham needs to make.

“We are going to let him play,” Walker said. “We’ll go up and ask him what he was doing in Birmigngham and Charlotte to get ready for games. But short of standing on his head to swing, we will let him do exactly what he has been doing.

“Everyone likes his talent, mechanics and attitude. Now, we will see how he handles the big leagues.”

– Getz was available to pinch-hit or pinch-run on Thursday. He expects to be back in the lineup Friday against Cleveland’s Carl Pavano, coming back from a mildy sprained right ankle.

–Here’s Fields take on potentially getting some time at first base, in a search to continue getting him at-bats.

“Last year, when I was considered the utility guy off the bench, I was classified as third base and first base,” Fields said. “They had me working there, but I have no experience at first. It might be like my left field debacle in 2007.”

Tuesday thoughts

Many e-mailers and friends of mine, not to mention callers into Chicago sports radio, seem to be ready to drop Gavin Floyd from the rotation. That’s not going to happen any time soon, not with Floyd having agreed to the a four-year, $15.5 million deal during Spring Training, which exhibits the White Sox confidence and commitment to the right-hander. But there also isn’t a natural replacement for Floyd, even if he continues to face disastrous results on the mound.

One thing important for Floyd is that he doesn’t seem to be panicking during these tough times. Floyd always has possessed the talent to be a frontline starter, but it was a changed mindset since he joined the White Sox that helped him rise to a 17-game-winner in 2008. That season could be a one-hit wonder for Floyd, but as long he believes in himself and doesn’t lose that focus, I think he will bounce back. Maybe not to 17 wins but to re-establishing himself as a starter who gives the White Sox a regular chance to win.

–Brian Anderson could be back as soon as this weekend in Toronto. He will go on a brief Minor League rehab assignment first, according to manager Ozzie Guillen. But when I talked to Anderson on Sunday, he said that he felt amazing swinging the bat. Dewayne Wise might start taking batting practice this weekend in Toronto.

– The University of Michigan will be proudly represented in Ohio tonight with Clayton Richard on the mound, Chris Getz at second base and me in the pressbox (clearly the least important of the three in regard to the game’s outcome). White Sox fans are hoping Getz and Richard perform better than the Wolverines have in Columbus over the past five or six years.

Just as a side note, as I was walking through Cleveland’s airport yesterday, I noticed a couple of people shaking their heads as they walked by and a few giving me dirty looks. I don’t really know too many people here, so I didn’t think I had developed any true detractors. Then, I realized I was wearing my University of Michigan hooded sweatshirt in enemy territory. Jeers from Buckeyes’ fans mean little to me.

– How about those Blackhawks? I can’t remember the city being this excited about hockey since the days of the storied rivalry with the Edmonton Oilers featuring Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Mark Messier, etc., including the franchise’s Stanley Cup loss to the Penguins. I went to last Tuesday’s game, the last one they lost, and the United Center was beyond electric.

I’m curious how Chicago would celebrate an NHL title, with it having been so long since they even made the playoffs. But I think the Hawks beat the Red Wings in an historic Western Conference final and then win the Stanley Cup.

As one Facebrook friend pointed out to me, I did pick Richard Jenkins to win Best Actor at the Oscars. But I also picked North Carolina to win the NCAA hoops title.

More from the game tonight.

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