Since my ceremonial first pitch debut on Monday is still top of mind and the White Sox had their only off-day of the spring yesterday, I thought I would fill this space with my 10 all-time Sox memories. While I listed my favorite first (how could I not?) it was too difficult to rank the entire list.
GLENDALE, AZ–After witnessing a tie on Sunday against the Reds and a blowout loss against the Royals last night, it was fun to be part of yesterday’s 6-1 Sox win over the Rockies at Camelback Ranch.
Patty’s matinee, and Alex Rios, one of yesterday’s hitting stars.
GOODYEAR, AZ–My wife Bonnie and I landed in Phoenix yesterday, checked into the hotel and rushed over to catch the first pitch of Sox-Reds in beautiful “no clouds in the sky” weather.
It was “Bad News Saturday” for the Good Guys. First, one White Sox split squad dropped a 7-2 decision to the Brewers at Camelback Ranch. Then, the other South Siders blew a two-run eighth inning lead and lost to the Cubs, 8-7, in Las Vegas.
I recently saw the above picture of one-time White Sox pinch-hitter extraordinaire Jerry Hairston (now a Sox minor league hitting instructor) in a Chicago Tribune photo gallery. It reminded me of something that should get much more attention than it does.
You see, the Hairstons–Sam, John, Jerry, Scott and Jerry Jr.–are one of a trio of three-generation major league families along with the much more publicized Bells (Gus, Buddy, David and Mike) and Boones (Ray, Bob, Bret and Aaron). The Hairstons, however, are the biggest family with five players.
Here’s the Hairston rundown:
* Sam: Started in the Negro Leagues. He was the first American black White Sox player when he was a backup catcher and pinch-hitter during the 1951 season and spent more than a half-century as a player, scout and coach. The father of Jerry and John and grandfather to Jerry Jr. and Scott, he passed away in 1997 at the age of 77.
* John: Played a handful of games for the 1969 Cubs as a catcher, outfielder and pinch-hitter.
* Jerry Sr.: Enjoyed 14 seasons in the big leagues in the 70s and 80s as an outfielder, first baseman and pinch-hitter, all with the White Sox except for part of the 1977 season when he was with Pittsburgh. He also stands as the Sox all-time leader in pinch hits with 87.
* Jerry Jr.: Now in his 13th big league season, Jerry has played with the Orioles, Cubs, Rangers, Reds and last year won a World Series ring with the Yankees. He has played a variety of positions and will do so this year with the Padres.
* Scott: An outfielder-second baseman who reached the majors in 2004 with the Diamondbacks. He went from the D-backs to the Padres to the A’s and will be rejoining the Padres in 2010 where he will be teammates with his brother.
Jerry Jr., Jerry Sr. and Scott (above), John’s uniform number with the
Cubs–because no photo of him was readily available–and patriarch Sam
When the White Sox picked up outfielder Alejandro De Aza off of waivers from the Florida Marlins last October, it was pretty much greeted with a ho hum attitude. I had heard of De Aza, but knew very little and wondered how he would fit in with the 2010 Sox.
So who is Alejandro De Aza?
A native of the Dominican Republic, he will be 26 in April. He bats and throws lefthanded, is six feet tall, 175 pounds with great speed and the ability to play outstanding defense. He was originally signed by the Dodgers, but picked up by the Marlins in the 2004 Rule 5 draft. He actually earned the starting centerfield job for Florida in 2007 and started the season on fire. In nine games he went 20-33 (.606), but went on the disabled list with a hairline fracture of an ankle. He didn’t appear in the big leagues in 2008 and in ’09 he batted .250 with a .385 on base percentage for the Marlins in 22 games.
So far this spring De Aza has made the Sox brass look good. He’s played in six games, going 5 for 11 (.455) with two RBI and a .538 on base mark. Yesterday, in the South Siders’ 9-5 win over the A’s, De Aza went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored while playing both left and center.
The Sox outfield picture is a crowded one with Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay plus Jordan Danks and even Jared Mitchell (who was just sent to the minor league camp) in the wings. As a result, it is very unlikely De Aza will make the major league club out of spring training. But if he continues doing what he’s doing, I can certainly see him fitting in nicely with Ozzie‘s “new look” White Sox some time this season.
I have made no secret in the past that I hate Twins closer Joe Nathan–in a baseball sense of course. I have dreaded seeing him every time he’s taken the mound against the White Sox and have cringed watching his victorious fist pump, pictured above. As Ozzie commented to the Sun-Times, “…Nathan is so good against us…I don’t remember in the six or seven years with this ballclub that we had a good day against him, except once.”
As much as I hate Nathan (remember, baseball-wise), I would never wish for him to endure serious injury. Although it’s a fact that the torn ligament in his pitching elbow, which looks like it will necessitate season-ending Tommy John surgery, is certainly a blow to the Twins–and a big benefit to our chances in the AL Central.
While it’s a major setback for Minnesota, we know the franchise well enough not to get too giddy about this. It’s a terrific organization and they do have options, primarily former Sox Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch plus Pat Neshek, who is coming back from elbow surgery. So we shouldn’t be foolish and write them off.
Whatever happens it’ll be good not to have Nathan to worry about, I just wish it weren’t under these circumstances.