Results tagged ‘ White Sox ’
I can now add to my resume being the topic of Paul Konerko’s final question in what figures to be his last interview for quite some time. It’s a good example of Konerko’s sharp, dry wit that I regularly encountered during my 13 years covering him.
This little piece of humor released at the end of his 10-minute postgame press conference Sunday actually took root when I was standing in the clubhouse with White Sox media relations guru Bob Beghtol three or four years ago or somewhere around there and Bob asked Konerko, ‘Where does Merk rank among beat writers?’ Konerko thinks for a second and responds, ‘Second.’
I’m pretty happy with that answer because as anyone who has interviewed Konerko knows, he’s a great quote but you have to come prepared.
Bob then hits Konerko with the follow up question: ‘Who ranks first?’ Konerko pauses, smiles and says, ‘Everyone else is tied.’
I should have seen that coming, but Konerko was a step ahead–story of his career.
Good luck to a true professional, a highly accomplished player, the face of the White Sox franchise and a man who really knows his movies.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Here are some weekend comments primarily from Hall of Famer Frank Thomas but also about the Big Hurt.
“Thanks for pushing me and always preaching to me ‘You can be someone special if you really work at it.’ I took that to heart, pops. Look at us today. We are a long way from Columbus, Georgia.”
A quote from his speech Sunday about his late father that seemed to resonate with many
“Your nickname for me really changed my life forever.”
Talking about Ken ‘Hawk’ Harrelson and the arrival of the Big Hurt
“I was Cool Hand Luke sitting there watching everyone’s speeches. As soon as I stood up, my knees started knocking.”
Nerves and emotions overwhelming him when it was time to speak
“He got me in his book.”
Hall-of-Famer Goose Gossage on Thomas, who had one hit and one homer in eight career at-bats against him
“Today is a bright stage amongst heroes. I wanted to get that out to the kids. Don’t take the shortcuts. Don’t do what other people say is cool or because it’s going to make you better. Believe in yourself, hard work and determination, stay true to yourself, is something I wanted to get out there.”
Sending a clear message in his speech
“My phone has been blowing up non-stop since the speech.”
Joking about the response to the 138 players he mentioned
“I’m in the Hall of Fame, man. It gets no better than that. These guys are my heroes. Looking on that stage, some of the greatest players, the Mt. Rushmore of baseball. It’s hard to take in. Emotions, they are what they are. I’m a young man, just 46 years old. To take this step at such a young age, I’m overjoyed.”
Thomas’ weekend exclamation point
“I’ve been working out hard the last two days but that’s not working either.”
Trying to relieve the stress leading up to Sunday
“I think 2006 is what defined my career, after being released in Chicago. Most people thought I was done. I knew I had a lot left.”
His comeback season in Oakland
“Thank you to the city of Chicago. You guys made the Big Hurt who he was in the greatest sports town in America. I know I’m biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed every moment playing for you all and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
A moment of thanks for Chicago
“You taught me to only want to be the best. You would always say to me, ‘Anyone can be good Frank, but the special ones want to be great.’”
His special connection to Walt Hriniak
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Here is the highly unofficial list of players mentioned by Frank Thomas during the final minutes of his moving Hall of Fame speech that lasted 17:45 today. We, as in myself and two or three other beat writers, must have listened to this part of the speech 15 times, and then it became an interesting deductive process to figure out the players. We eventually nailed it down. See if you can figure out the tougher references.
“One Dog, Rock, Grebeck, R.V., Ozzie, Joey, Pudge, Karko, Psycho Lyons, Bo, Ellis, Black Jack, the Deacon, Sugar Ray, Alex, Wilson, Bere, Roberto, Thiggy, James Baldwin, Billy Bob, Buehrle, Hot Rod – thanks for the program Hot Rod.
“D. Bo., Magglio, Carlos, Rowand, Jermaine Dye. He’s here today along with Aaron Rowand. Ivan, Phil, Paulie, Crede, Uribe, Charles Johnson, Sandy, T. Phillips, Harold, Melido, Howry, Foulke, Mike Jackson, Flash, Kenny, Sandy, A.J., Robbie, McElroy, Merullo, Spanky, Julio, Willie Chill, Singleton, Mouton, Davey, El Duque, Fordyce, Leifer, G. Bell, C. Everett, Danny Pasqua, D.J., McCaskill, Paul, Huff, Valentin, Abbott, Devereaux, Kammy Kam (mentioned him twice by accident), John Kruk, Sirotka, Magrane, Freeman, Krueter, Norton, Tartabull, D. Lew, Scott Eyre, Navarro, Bradford, Castillo, Mark Johnson, Garland, Lowe, Eldred, Graffanino, Marte, Bartolo, Cotts, Glover, Loaiza, Contreras, Freddy, Politte.
“I know it’s long. Sorry.
“Jenks, Lee, B.A., Podsednik, Blanton, Kiko, Duke, Gaudin, Harden, Haren, Kotsay, The late Joe Kennedy. He left us too soon and was a special friend of mine. Saarloos, Huston, Zito, Kendall, Melhuse, Swisher, Chavy, Crosby, Ellis, D.J., Scutaro, Milton, Kielty, J. Payton, Doc Halladay, Accardo, A.J., Downsie, Frasor, Rios, Casey, League, McGowan, Marcum, B.J., Towers, A. Hill, Vernon, Johnny Mac, Orlando, Reed, Raja and Big Red.
You are Aaron Rowand, a 21-year-old first-round draft pick in 1998, having hit .342 with five homers and 32 RBIs with Hickory after joining the White Sox, appearing at your first big league Spring Training in 1999.
Being that it was the first Spring Training he attended of any kind, Rowand arrived in camp about four or five days early. He walked into the White Sox clubhouse, and as Rowand remembered, there was nobody there “but one large individual sitting in the corner” better known as Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas.
“I was nervous because I had been watching Frank since his rookie year,” said Rowand, who was in Cooperstown this past weekend to celebrate Thomas’ induction. “Going through college, I admired everything that he did and the kind of player he was.
“Obviously he’s Big Hurt. He’s 300 pounds, 6-foot-15 inch individual. He had his head in his locker. I didn’t say anything to him. I sat in my locker, put my stuff in my locker and started unpacking my stuff.”
Rowand was facing the locker, it’s 4 of 5 o’clock in the afternoon. All of a sudden, “I get a big paw on the back of my shoulder. I looked over and up at him.”
“He said, ‘Hey, you had one heck of a year last year. I’m really looking forward to being your teammate. You are going to be up here with us’ and this, that and the other,” said Rowand of his first encounter with Thomas. “Being a 21 year old kid, in a Major League clubhouse, with arguably one of the best players in the game, to have him come up and say something to you, it meant the world to me.
“From that moment on, even through that camp and the other camps that I went through, he was always, always there for a word of encouragement: whether it was how I was supposed to do things, the way the big leaguers do things or where to be so that I’m not on the wrong field, stuff like that.
“It meant the world to me at the time and he’s been one of my closest friends honestly ever since,” Rowand said. “He was a mentor to me from Day 1. Before I ever knew him, he came and introduced himself to me. And obviously the rest speaks for itself, the kind of individual he is and player he was.”
Rowand volunteered this story to illustrate Thomas, the Hall of Fame person.
“To have the honor to be able to play with him for five years, it’s one of the highlights of my career,” Rowand said. “And you are kind of at a loss for words about the kind of person … .
“He’s a big man but his presence is even bigger. It rubs off on people. Like I said, it’s a real honor to be able to be his teammate.”
I had the chance to talk with White Sox director of player development Nick Capra, who made a stopover in Chicago today. Here are his takes on a few prospects.
Courtney Hawkins struggled through his first season in the Carolina League last year, hitting just .178 with 160 strikeouts over 383 at-bats, albeit with 19 homers, 16 doubles and 62 RBIs.
The White Sox top pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft clearly has adjusted during his second season with Class A Winston-Salem. The left fielder is hitting .268 with seven homers and 30 RBIs.
On Hawkins solid ’14 start at Winston-Salem
“It’s just the experience of being around the league again and Courtney starting to learn himself a little bit more. He’s more patient. He’s not swinging the bat before the ball is out of the pitcher’s hand. He’s recognizing pitches. He’s just having a lot more quality at-bats.”
On Hawkins never doubting himself after last year’s struggles
“The kid has never failed before and I think he still has the mindset that he hasn’t failed but he’s been humbled a little bit by the fact that his numbers in certain areas weren’t very good last year. But I think he’s dedicating himself to make things better. To listen more, to learn more. He’s more mature than he was last year at this time.
“He’s still a work in progress. I’ll tell you what the kid has improved, he’s in left field now. He’s made some really nice plays in left field. He looks like an above average defender in the outfield. He’s doing many more things better this year.”
Tyler Danish, who doesn’t turn 20 until Sept. 12, has a 3-0 record with a 0.64 ERA over six starts for Class A Kannapolis. The right-hander has fanned 22 over 32 innings pitched and has limited the opposition to a .205 average. He was the White Sox second round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and worked last year for Bristol and Kannapolis.
On Danish’s impressive 2014 start at Kannapolis
“What you see out of Tyler is what you get. He’s still learning. He’s still getting better. He’s got a lot of movement in the zone. He’s going to be a guy that we will have to challenge a little bit more. When that time comes, I’m sure he’ll be ready for it.”
On Danish getting promoted to a higher level this year
“That’s a possibility, yeah.”
On Danish’s composure
“You don’t see too many young kids like that even coming out of high school. I hate to use the analogy of (Mark) Buehrle, Buehrle had such a great mentality but this kid is pretty close to the same mentality. He doesn’t let things faze him. There are not a lot of highs and lows. He’s always that even keel player. I wish we had a bunch of them like that.”
Erik Johnson has made two starts for Triple-A Charlotte since being optioned to the Minors following a rough five-start stretch with the White Sox.
On Johnson trying to regain his form with Charlotte
“I saw his start yesterday and he looks good. Again, it’s just about pounding the strike zone with your pitches. Pound the strike zone with strikes with all your pitches. He’s getting a chance to go down and work on it now. Continue to get him better.”
On trying to figure out Johnson’s velocity drop
“We continue to talk about it. I don’t know if anyone ever really has that answer. We can speculate on what’s going on. Mechanically he doesn’t look much different than he has in the past. I don’t know if he’s feeling for pitches at times. I don’t know. I don’t have that answer.’
“He looked better yesterday. Velocity isn’t where it was last year. Hopefully it comes.
More to come from Capra over the next few days on whitesox.com
Paul Konerko and Jeff Samardzija have been tied together as part of the Crosstown Cup White Sox/Cubs rivalry since Samardzija hit the White Sox captain in the left side of the face with a pitch in the third inning of a May 18, 2012 contest at Wrigley Field.
With that unfortunate moment now well in their past, it seemed only fitting that Samardzija would present Konerko with a retirement gift from the Cubs prior to Tuesday’s contest in Konerko’s last game at Wrigley.
“It was kind of fitting that he gave it to me and he’s doing great right now,” said Konerko of Samardzija. “Good for him.”
“I was asked to do it and jumped on the opportunity right away,” Samardzija said. “When the whole thing went down when I hit him, the first thing I said was it’s the worst guy it could happen to because I respect him more than anyone in this game.”
Konerko was presented with the No. 14 from the Wrigley Field scoreboard, representing his jersey number. He is certainly not on any sort of retirement tour and isn’t looking for gifts at each final stop. But Konerko definitely appreciated the pregame gesture.
“That was cool. Classy move by them. I mean I certainly didn’t expect it and it’s really cool that they gave me it,” Konerko said. “That’ll definitely go up in the house somewhere. You grow up watching games on TV at Wrigley Field and you know the history.
“The fact that you can go out and play your career and at the end of it you’re at a place like that where if you do something at the place, it’s pretty neat. It’s definitely not lost on me how cool that is. I definitely took it in, and that was nice.”
A healthy dose of respect also exists between the presenter and recipient Tuesday.
“You talk about losing two guys in the game like [Derek] Jeter and Konerko, it’s tough. It’s bad for the game,” Samardzija said. “We love to see those guys and how long they played and we’d love to see them keep playing. Outstanding man, and hopefully he has a strong year to end it and enjoys it too and enjoys the run he had and soaks it all in.”
“He’s a good guy. He’s doing great,” said Konerko of Samardzija. “I’m a fan of his as far as the way he pitches and he’s aggressive out there and he swings the bat well on top of it. I don’t know him well; I’ve met him a few times off the field but you know his teammates really like him and he’s respected over there. The guys that are with him every day, they’re not going to be wrong on that stuff.”
Chris Sale would like nothing more than to forget about his four starts made against the Indians during the 2013 season.
But it was difficult for this Cy Young-caliber hurler to even find an offseason escape from the 0-4 head-to-head record, 8.61 ERA and the six home runs and 34 hits allowed over 23 innings. When Sale took to the golf course during the past 3½ months at Worthington Country Club in Bonita Springs, Fla., where he is a member, the Indians’ drubbing followed him to the fairways and the green.
“It’s a funny story. The head pro, Don Tracy, he is a Cleveland fan,” Sale explained. “He was a fan before there were any fans.
“So going to play golf this offseason was bittersweet. I knew I was going to have a great time and play on a great course. But I also knew I was going to hear about it.”
When asked if he studied game film to figure out how to handle the Indians in ’14, the southpaw laughed and quickly replied that he burned all of that tape.
“That wasn’t fun,” said Sale, who is 2-4 with a 4.71 ERA lifetime against the Indians. “There was nothing pretty about me pitching vs. Cleveland. I tried to forget it but I still have that taste in my mouth and I’ll do what I can to not let it happen again.”
The White Sox would like to follow Sale’s lead. Cleveland became one of just five teams to claim 17 wins in a season against an opponent since the division era began in 1969. The White Sox dropped their last 14 this season to the Indians and finished at 2-17.
Here are a few more interesting takes from Chris Sale, as part of this Blog extra, to go with the southpaw’s comments on his 2014 preparation, his view on being considered an ace and the team’s new attitude already posted on whitesox.com.
COMFORT LEVEL WITH FLOWERS, PHEGLEY RETURNING AT CATCHER
“I thoroughly enjoyed having those guys as my batterymates. Tyler knows me better than I do, I believe. And with the amount of time I spent throwing to Phegley, we got to know each other better and better.”
WHITE SOX STATISTICS FROM 2013
“I don’t think you can set in stone or nail down what anyone did on the field last year. We don’t want to forget: remember the good and the bad. But I don’t think what anyone did on the field in 2013 should be held against them going into 2014. It’s a new year and new frame of mind. It’s a new set of rules, so let’s write our own book.”
ON BEING CONSIDERED THE FACE OF THE FRANCHISE
“I certainly appreciate the people who say that about me. But as long as Paul Konerko is in a White Sox uniform, there’s not a question that he is the face of the White Sox.”
ROSTER CHANGES MADE BY RICK HAHN
“I think it has been awesome. You never want to see your buddies go, both veteran guys and pitchers. But any time you have exciting players coming in, and you are restructuring the way the clubhouse and on-field demeanor will be, it only pumps you up. We have that with our core group of guys and the addition of great prospects and big time heavy hitters.”
“I’m excited to see him hit … but not in live BP (where he could face Sale).”
LESSON LEARNED IN 2013
“Just competing. Being as far back as we were, giving it all you got and leaving it all on the field, in those scenarios, it’s sometimes easy to take a step back.
“When you get into August and September and you are out of contention, you are playing for pride and for yourself but also for the guy next to you. It’s the true meaning of grinding it out. You see the true colors of who people are.”
Since the end of Spring Training, Paul Konerko steadfastly has avoided talking about his future. His preference is and always has been to focus on baseball and address the personal stuff at the end of the season or in the postseason.
But on Friday afternoon, the consummate White Sox leader spoke for 23 minutes about his future with just two games left in this forgettable season. Aside from wanting to stay with the White Sox, being willing to play a part-time role only with the White Sox and most likely retiring after 2014, Konerko wasn’t able to provide any definitive assessment for the immediate future.
He came up with great analysis on the matter, as he has been doing for the past 15 years. Here’s many more of his quotes that didn’t make it into the story at MLB.com.
ON NOT AUTOMATICALLY ASSUMING HE’LL HAVE AN OPTION TO COME BACK
“I’m going to answer questions here but I just want to say it’s all under the premise that there’s a choice and an option that they want me back, that it’s all on the basis and set to the backdrop that there’s a choice here.
“I don’t know that. I haven’t talked to the White Sox formally, we haven’t spoken about anything. Under normal circumstances I hate to answer questions and speculate on things I don’t even know are questions yet.
“But I want everyone to know that I’m not sitting here knowing … everything could be made up for me. I don’t know what my choices are. I don’t know what my options are. I know none of that, so speculating on it seems kind of weird to me, but I understand the timing of these things, so I’m going to answer questions set to that there is that choice.
“A lot of players you guys deal with have that sense of entitlement that they’re always going to have that. That’s not the way I go.”
ON HANDLING ANOTHER YEAR PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY
“You never totally know. I can’t say yes. I feel like there are some things that you go through during a season that are kind of isolated things that you feel like, ‘OK, well that will never bother me again.’ There are other things that you just know, ‘Hey, that’s never going away. That’s going to hang around. Can I get through with it?’ But it’s one of those I’ll have to (consider) over the next month or so.
“Again it’s not just the playing of the games. It’s the travel. It’s the Spring Training. It’s the offseason. It’s all that stuff. You have to be able to absorb all of that work. I go back and forth on that kind of stuff because I’ve done this for almost 20 years professionally.
“You always can do a little more than you think, but it is a commitment, and at least for me, you want to be able to go out there. It’s one thing if you’re a utility infielder that’s kind of lost the ability to swing the bat (from) when you were a starting player, but you’re still defensively good or this or that, you can kind of get through easier. It’s not as big of a deal. Someone like me, I need to go out there and swing the bat every day, and to have to be able to do that, you have to think about those things.”
ON WHETHER PHYSICAL OR MENTAL PART PLAYS MORE INTO THE DECISION
“Physical is a bigger chunk of it. Mentally I think you can always rebound. This isn’t the first season I’ve had that’s been rough. There have been other ones. Part of that, the older you get, you can kind of let it go quicker and know that I could turn.
“I remember when I was younger, 10 years ago, I had a rough one, and really just thought it was the end of my career. I didn’t know how I was going to respond to that. I think you get better at that. You do get beat up more every year mentally, but I think ultimately, you get a little better at it. But physically, that’s the thing you have to know. It’s not just the season.
“If you could snap your fingers and know it was next Opening Day, and just knew you had the season, that’s tough. The seasons are tough, but when you talk about the offseason and Spring Training, those are big things, big things that you have to want to do. The season doesn’t start on April 1. It doesn’t start on Feb. 15. For me, it starts on Nov. 10, Nov. 15, somewhere right around then. So you have to know you’re willing to go from right then all the way until now. That’s a long year. So physically you have to know if you’re up for it.
ON PREFERRING TO FINISH AS A WHITE SOX PLAYER
“I don’t think there’s any doubt of that. I don’t know the options that are going to be made available to me, but I think that’s always been my goal. Certainly when I signed back here after ’05, I felt like that was it, and then after 2010, that just kind of locked it in. That’s definitely what I envision.
ON THE DECISION WEIGHING ON HIM THIS YEAR
“There are so many layers to the season that are bad, unfortunately. This is really the only season when you think about it, for me anyway, every season I’ve played before this, and when I say every season I mean since I was like seven, that I knew I would play the next year. I feel like if I do play, the one thing I can give you of any substance today probably would be that if I do play next year, that will probably be it.
“So that’s really what it boils down to. I would know the answer to that. This is the only one that would wind up being that I didn’t know the answer the whole way, and I don’t know if I handled that well, don’t know if I liked it. It’s not just the game. It’s not just the playing. When your whole entire year, everywhere you go, whether it’s to this city or that, there are so many relationships with people.
“Am I going to see this person again? Am I going to be back here? All of those little things that you guys can probably imagine, but there’s even more of them. (I was) in between on all of those, and I didn’t like that. Looking back on it, that was probably, I don’t want to say a mistake, but I don’t know if I was sure enough in Spring Training or before to say one way or the other, and maybe I should have figured things out more to say, ‘Listen, I plan on definitely playing beyond this year,’ or ‘This is it.’ It probably would have been a better year personally for me either way.
“But again that still doesn’t get around the fact that what’s happened with the rest of it. Some of this stuff, there’s a lot in your control, but there’s a lot out of your control. And this has just been a real rough year for everybody. I don’t know any guy on our team right now that hasn’t been eaten up by this team and what’s gone on here for three weeks or a month at one point during the season. It’s been a struggle. It’s been rough, and that can happen to anybody at any age.
ON ROUGH SEASON PLAYING INTO HIS DECISION
“It’s maybe the hugest thing. You only get to go through these kinds of things once, a career once, so you try to rely on advice from other people. You try to talk to the people who have been through it. The majority of them are always, ‘If you can play, play. Do it the way you want to do it. Go back to the drawing board. Go get ‘em.’ And I get all of that.
“The other side of it is, this is how careers are supposed to end. Not everybody gets to do it exactly how they want to do it. It’s supposed to kind of be not the best because that’s what closes you out. When you say, ‘OK, I’ve had enough of that, and they’ve had enough of me.’ So I can see it both directions. I can tell you more of me is the first one. And the advice I get is more the first scenario, but that doesn’t mean it’s right either. Going back to what I said, when that choice is put in front of me, if it is, that’s probably when I’ll have to think harder about it. We’re kind of talking now like it is.”
ON COMING BACK AS A PART-TIME PLAYER
“The only thing I can say on that would be the only place I could do that would be here because my family likes it here, my kids love it here, it’s a great place to be in the summer. I’ve been here. If I do come back in any capacity, even if I come back as, again, I don’t know the choices and all that, I think it’s going to be looked on, more importantly by myself, is that, I’m always holding myself to the standard that I’ve set, as far as the production I’ve had and what I’ve done.
“Other people are going to hold me to that, and I get that, but it’s probably not fair to myself to do that as much, and I’m going to have to come to grips that if I do play, I’ve got to kind of relax on that a little bit and know if I come back here, production can be done in a lot of different ways. It’s not always just driving in runs and hitting home runs.
“I’ve got to be better, if I’m going to come back, at working with the young guys and be better to them and be not so much consumed like I was 10 years ago. I’ve just been so, my head’s down and I just do what I do and I’m probably going to have to make adjustments on that kind of stuff to enjoy if I do come back. I think I could do it but I would definitely have to change some of my ways of the way I do things.”
ON PART-TIME VETERAN LEADERS BEING VALUABLE
“If I could allow it anywhere, it would be. Like what you said about going out the right way, if I did come back it’s not about that means I come back and I want to drive in 100 runs and I want to make an All-Star team. It’s not like that. It’s more just the vibe of how you want to feel when you go. And if that meant the plan from the beginning of the year was this, and Plan A, and you succeeded in that plan, that means that’s going out right.
“The guys you mentioned (Mark Kotsay, Jason Giambi), the role has to exist. I don’t know the roster, the way that’s going to shape up. That’s on Rick (Hahn) and all that. I’m very conscious of, I feel like I’ve always, since I’ve been a little kid, earned my way on to the playing field. No one did a favor for me. I always feel like I earned my way on. I’m not quite sure I can say that right now for next year. So that’s a problem with me, that’s a concern with me. The argument can be made that, well, OK, everything you’ve done up until now, regardless of this year, you have earned that.
“I don’t know the answer to that, but it definitely crosses my mind because I don’t want to put anybody in a tough spot that for other reasons that’s why I’m back here. If I’m back here, I want it to actually make sense. Assuming that I come to that conclusion that I want to play, that has to make sense for the other side because the White Sox have always been honest with me and treated me well. I’m not looking to power play somebody into a job. That’s just not who I am.”
ON FAMILY BEING A MAJOR PART OF HIS DECISION
“That’s another thing about next year. I’m going to have to look at going back to what I said, I’ve kind of always done things the same way. If I do play, I have to change the way like when I travel, I have to have the family come more with me to lessen the time away. Sometimes it’s tough with the school situations but that’s something that maybe the year or two I’ve dropped the ball on. I could have been a little bit more ahead because as your kids get older, you are missing stuff. But it wasn’t the way I do things. I’m going to have to be a little different. I’m going to have make adjustments how the way I do things because I’m a little set in my ways.
“That will be something I’ll have to address if I do play again. I have to go less time without seeing my kids, wife, all that kind of stuff.”
ON TEAM’S MISERABLE YEAR
“You know it’s possible in a sense that you see other organizations that turned. The Red Sox last year lost 90-something games. So, I’m sure that wasn’t what they had in mind. You know there are a lot of good teams now. So if you don’t get off right and these guys don’t play right or this guy gets hurt, anything is in play. I’m happy that in my 15 years it’s really the only one that was like this.
“The ’07 year I just don’t count along these lines because there were so many injuries it wasn’t even the real team that was playing most of that year. This year wasn’t quite, I can’t say that. We had our team a lot of the time and we just were bad.
“But I’m pretty lucky. 15 years in one spot. We had teams, I’ve been to the playoffs three times, which isn’t a ton. But we’ve had, you are into September every year being in it at least, maybe into the last week. That’s what you are looking for. There’s no guarantees you are ever going to make it to the playoffs. It’s always been pretty competitive.
“Definitely shocked. It was pretty much the same group of guys as last year. So I don’t think anybody saw this coming. I know there are a lot of people who thought we overachieved last year, but I don’t think they would have even said it was going to go this bad this year.”
CHICAGO – The word or words White Sox closer Addison Reed uttered when Boston’s Will Middlebrooks made contact on a ninth-inning fastball Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field are not suitable for family viewers.
“I might have yelled a profanity,” said Reed, who could laugh about the 2-2 pitch after the White Sox held on for a 6-4 victory.
“He did hit it pretty well,” Reed continued. “I think it was the wind that kept it in. It was an out, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.”
Middlebrooks’ blast sounded like a homer upon contact. It looked like a homer as it took off for the center field fence. And with Mike Napoli on first base and severe thunderstorms on their way, it could have made for an extended evening into morning.
But Alejandro De Aza raced back near the wall in center and hauled in the drive for out No. 2. First baseman Paul Konerko made a diving stop and perfect toss to Reed on Stephen Drew’s hard-hit grounder to finish things off, but the late story of this one was the homers that weren’t.
During a seventh inning for Matt Thornton where the left-hander’s streak of 11 straight appearances without allowing an earned run came to an end, the Red Sox scored twice and once again appeared to have the shot to tie it when Jarrod Saltalamacchia connected with Middlebrooks on second. This time, it was left fielder Dayan Viciedo who drifted near the wall in left-center and made the inning-ending, wind-aided grab.
“You know, the way the wind was blowing, it’s not easy going to left or center when it cuts across like that,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I said it earlier, this ballpark the flags are almost the opposite. Those are hard places when it’s real windy like tonight.”
So, while the flags made it look as if the wind was howling out to left as the night went on, it actually was knocking down fly balls in that direction. That misdirection is why Reed never looks at the flags when he takes the mound.
“There’s balls that they hit that you think are pop ups and they fly over the wall,” Reed said. “Then Middlebrooks got all of it and they stay in the park. The wind must be circling around the stadium. I don’t know how it dictates like where it’s blowing. He hit it and he hit it well, but at the end of the day it stayed in the park.”
What started with a few terse curse words from Reed, ended in the 16th victory he had a hand in this season. And what was his reaction when the ball landed in De Aza’s glove?
“Just kind of a little smirk on my face and glad it stayed in,” Reed said. “A good feeling when I saw De Aza camp under it on the warning track.”