Results tagged ‘ U.S. Cellular Field ’

Beckham feels like a .400 hitter

According to Gordon Beckham’s adjusted baseball math, the talented White Sox second baseman enters this three-game series in Texas carrying a .400 average. The official Major League Baseball statistics list Beckham as hitting .222 through 153 at-bats, so what change in scoring accounts for this huge differential?

Actually, it’s a change of feel at the plate turning Beckham into a .400 hitter.

“I told Walk (hitting coach Greg Walker) on Friday this is, in my opinion, the first game of the season because of the way I felt going into that game,” Beckham told after Sunday’s 8-3 Interleague victory over the Dodgers. “I felt better. I felt like, ‘Let’s just start over here.’

“Since then, I’ve been hitting the ball well. Hopefully, that will continue. That main thing is I’ve been hitting balls hard and when you start doing that, you are going to get some balls to fall.”

Beckham has battled through his second high-profile slump in two seasons, after bursting on to the scene in 2009 and capturing two American League Rookie of the Year awards, which were both voted on by his peers. After hitting .199 as late as June 23 last year, Beckham rebounded to hit .310 the rest of the way and finish at .252. That number certainly would have been higher if not for a 6-for-32 Sept. finish after taking a Frank Herrmann pitch off of his right hand on Aug. 30.

In 2011, Beckham produced a trio of three-hit games and four multi-hit efforts over his first seven played. That hot start cooled considerably, with his average dipping as low as .194 at the end of April and rising to .230 or above just twice since April 20.

An off-day against Cleveland on May 19 helped him get away from a 4-for-30 slump over the past 10 games and go into this past weekend’s Dodgers series with that aforementioned new feel.

“It’s amazing what a feel will do for me. It’s just a totally different feel,” Beckham said. “It’s a relaxed feel, and when I’m relaxed, my hands work and I’m able to back up some balls and make good decisions. That’s what I’ve been doing my last three games.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been through this before. And I really feel like I’m out of it. I really feel like I’m out of that slump however long I had and my swing right now is good. It’s relaxed. It’s good. And I’m getting out of a slump a month and maybe a month and a half earlier than I did last year.

“So, you can look at that. I ended up doing what I did last year, and I can do better. I know that,” Beckham said. “It’s a matter of time before I start doing what I’m capable of doing. This weekend was just the start of it hopefully.”

His one hit on Friday was a two-run home run against Ted Lilly, and he added two hits and a walk in Saturday’s victory. The weekend concluded with a 1-for-3 showing on Sunday and three runs scored.

As Beckham indicated, there’s still plenty of ground to be gained. For example, the right-handed hitting Beckham is batting just .114 (4-for-35) against southpaws, and he’s batting .205 at U.S. Cellular Field. Beckham certainly is ready for the challenge, and to Beckham’s credit, while he has admirably dealt with a second slide on offense in two years, his defense at second has remained without fault.

“You have to play good defense,” said Beckham, who played his 61st straight errorless game on Sunday, dating back to Aug. 27, 2010. “That’s part of the reason I’m still here probably, playing defense and helping the team win, scoring some runs. Eventually the other stuff is going to come. I feel really good about where I’m at.”

Williams called Hendry about Guillen/Zambrano dinner

Hopefully, these are the final words on the most publicized meal involving sports figures in Chicago since LeBron James was spotted at Ed Debevics. I kid, of course–that place was the one spot where James wasn’t reportedly found.

“I hope it was good. I hope it was good.”

That comment came from White Sox general manager Ken Williams at today’s Double Duty Classic at U.S. Cellular Field, when asked for his opinion about Friday’s dinner involving much maligned Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and their respective families. The dinner came the same night after Zambrano’s dugout meltdown during the White Sox 6-0 victory at U.S. Cellular Field, resulting in the Cubs suspending their hurler.

Williams added how he spoke to Cubs general manager Jim Hendry about the dinner but simply to clarify Guillen’s role as friend in the matter.

“It’s an unusual situation, and I wanted to make sure they understand we were respecting Chicago Cubs business,” Williams said. “You’ve heard me say, ‘Stay out of White Sox business,’ and I didn’t want that perception over there.

“They viewed it as a positive, with one friend dining with another and making sure a certain message, Ozzie can get a certain message to Carlos maybe few others can get through. If it turns out to be a positive, then good for everyone.

“Is it a dicey situation? Yeah, it is. It is,” Williams said. “But all of the men you are talking about, myself, (Cubs manager) Lou (Piniella) or Ozzie, we are all friends, we’ve been there. We know there’s no maliciousness in our dealings at all. I don’t think they thought much of it other than maybe wanting (Zambrano) to step up a bit in other ways.”

The call also was placed by Williams in support of his manager because he wanted to make sure it was known Guillen’s involvement should not be construed as any sort of meddling, as Williams felt might have been wrongly portrayed in Saturday media reports.

“I wanted to make sure that Jim and Lou didn’t misinterpret Ozzie’s action as anything other than from the heart and at a friendship level,” Williams said. “That’s all.”

Peavy exits early

The next time a fifth starter will be needed by the White Sox comes Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. This makeup game from a postponement on June 16 looked to be a prime late-season battle between two heated crosstown rivals who were set up for an exciting Sept. postseason push.

And now? The heated rivals still will be present but those postseason pushes have hit a couple of respective bumps in the road. The White Sox sit five games out in the American League Central, and the Cubs have a better chance in the NL Wild Card then the NL Central.

Regardless of the ramifications of the afternoon contest, and by the way, the early forecast for Thursday is 75 and mostly sunny, this date also was being pointed to by White Sox fans because it looked as a possibility for Jake Peavy to make his debut. But judging by Saturday’s results in Peavy’s fourth Minor League rehab start, that trip to the mound is no certainty.

Peavy had a target of 100 pitches and possibly six innings in another start with Triple-A Charlotte at Norfolk, a Minor League start primarily brought about because of tightness he felt after taking a line drive off of his pitching elbow during a scoreless effort this past Monday. The right-hander worked only 3 1/3 innings against Norfolk, giving up two runs on four hits, striking out four and throwing just 68 pitches, and according to the Chicago Tribune, Peavy left the game due to a recurrence of the tightness in his right elbow brought about by the Wes Timmons’ line drive.

So, where does this leave Peavy? Well, there was some doubt as to whether he would start in a National League ballpark from the outset. The partially torn tendon in his right ankle, which has sidelined him for close to three months, came about through Peavy running the bases and is more likely to be bothered by baserunning than anything pitching-releated. For that reason, White Sox general manager Ken Williams ruled out Peavy from that Cubs game a few weeks ago.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said during this road trip that if he needs Peavy Thursday and if Peavy is ready, then it shouldn’t matter if it’s at Wrigley. Guillen joked that he would tell the umpires the White Sox have an automatic out every time Peavy was due to hit, without even letting him get in the batter’s box.

One thing is for certain: Peavy wants to get back out to pitch– at Wrigley, at U.S. Cellular Field or on the West Coast. During an interview at Fenway Park, Peavy characterized this whole extended rehab process as a tougher period for him than all of the offseason trade rumors he had to deal with swirling around

“No, this is tougher–simply because I want to play,” Peavy said. “Being hurt is never fun and trying to get back into this and speeding it up has been frustrating at times. I think I’m starting to see the other side and looking forward to the day I can get out and help.”

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.

Poorly timed absence

Let’s make this point clear right from the start:

Thursday’s piece of history made by Mark Buehrle had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with me, just in case you were wondering. Now, allow me to explain how little my involvement actually was on this day.

This final game of the four-game set against Tampa Bay was a rare day off for me, believe it or not, although I was coming off three unscheduled days off this past weekend brought about by a new personal record 103.4 degree fever just a few days prior. Sure, Buehrle’s perfect game gets bundles of publicity and my fever, 17 degrees higher than Buehrle’s average velocity for his pitches Thursday, gets no play at all.

So, I was not at U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday, and in fact, thought I had made a good move to set myself up for an easier weekend. With the split doubleheader at Comerica Park starting at 1 p.m. ET, I decided to skip the possibility of a 6 a.m. flight out of Chicago on Friday and just arrive in Detroit on Thursday. Little did I know … .

Earlier in the day, I was talking to my boss about a few story ideas and baseball, in general, when he told me before the game that Buehrle was the latest addition to his fantasy team. I was put on humorous warning that I would be held responsible if Buehrle didn’t pitch well, so the perfect game alleviated that problem for me, which is nice.

Before I left my place in a cab for Midway Airport, I checked the score and saw the White Sox had a big lead and Buehrle was perfect through five. I didn’t think much of it, not with Tampa Bay’s offense, aside from another well-pitched game from the hurler who is going to win the AL Cy Young award in 2009.

By the time I was about two exits away from Midway, Buehrle had gone through seven with a perfecto. Sadly, it was too late to turn around and go back to the ballpark due to wonderful Chicago mid-day traffic and the fact that Buehrle can work six innings in about 18 minutes.

My cab driver was listening to a show on WLS Radio and didn’t want to turn to the game, so I was following on my cell phone. In the ninth, the Gamecast had a glitch and told me that Gabe Kapler doubled to start the frame, but it also had “In Play (out)” underneath. I knew Buehrle worked fast but not that fast. Apparently, Dewayne Wise’s catch momentarily fooled whoever was inputting the coding.

By the time I was in the security line, Buehrle had completed the perfect game. The cheer in the airport when Jason Bartlett grounded out would make an unassuming traveler believe airfare was free.

Instead, it was Buehrle joining a select list of six pitchers who had two no-hitters and one being a perfect game, with the other five being Hall-of-Famers–well, Randy Johnson will be a Hall-of-Famer. Buehrle made history, without me there, and I’m guessing I wasn’t missed.

You know the old saying about “No cheering in the pressbox?” On Thursday, I was smiling in the security line at Midway. Good fortune such as this couldn’t happen to a classier pro.

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.

Game time

Thursday’s series finale between the White Sox and Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field is targeted for a 4 p.m. start time.

The rain has stopped, while Roger Bossard and his crew are taking care of the field

Here come the Hawks

There will be a few special visitors prior to White Sox batting practice at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday, as five members of the Chicago Blackhawks will take their own special hitting session from 3-3:30 p.m. CT. Those players scheduled to be in attendance are Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Troy Brouwer and Adam Burish.

The word from the White Sox is that these key members from their just finished exciting hockey season will be swinging with bats and not sticks.

A little more about Joe Crede

So, I have this blue sweater that I’m kind of partial to, but others–not so much.

I must have worn it a couple of times in the first week or 10 days of the 2008 season because at one point Joe Crede came up to me and said I needed to wear it more often because he hit better when I had it on. I think it was more a comical dig from Crede at my wardrobe, as opposed to a true superstition.

During the next time I wore it, Crede went hitless and told me I should burn the sweater.

Everyone seems to be sharing their favorite Crede stories, as he made a triumphant return to U.S. Cellular Field on Friday. All I can say is Crede was one of the best players to cover over the years just because he always gave straightforward answers and seemed to have a good sense of humor about himself. He enjoyed the game, but then again, that quality seems to ring true for pretty much anyone who has played for the White Sox under Ozzie Guillen’s regime.

There really hasn’t been a bad person to cover in that clubhouse, but with all the pain Crede fought through and work he put in to get back, he stands out a bit more. It was good to see him playing again after missing so much time the last two years.

By the way, I dug out that blue sweather on Friday in his honor, drawing a laugh from Crede when I saw him in the tunnel in between clubhouses in the afternoon. After he hit the home run, he’s probably glad I didn’t burn it.

Actually, he probably doesn’t care, but I’m keeping it in rotation nonetheless.

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.”