March 2010

Is Jared Mitchell Beckham Redux?


Last year the folks around Camelback Ranch were all abuzz about Gordon Beckham, the White Sox’ 2008 No. 1 draft pick out of the University of Georgia. After winning two different player votes for Rookie of the Year, GBeck is now becoming a household name around the American League.

This spring, a lot of the buzz is being directed toward another Sox No. 1 draft pick out of the SEC–Jared Mitchell, the club’s top selection in 2009 from LSU.

Both a football and baseball star in college, Mitchell (pictured here at the plate against the Dodgers last Saturday) began his pro baseball career last summer in impressive fashion. At high-A Kannapolis he hit .296 with a .417 on base percentage and a .435 slugging mark.

Mitchell, who is a non-roster invitee in the major league camp, has already turned heads in Arizona. In his first three games he has gone 4 for 9 (.444) with two doubles, a triple, a .500 on base percentage and an astronomic .889 slugging percentage.

Yesterday, in the 5-4 loss to Mariners, Mitchell was electrifying as he hit an opposite field triple to left. Some observers were trying to figure out the last White Sox player who was such a blur around the bases.

While Beckham was called up last June after his outstanding spring, Mitchell is surely destined to spend a bit more time in the minor leagues to gain the necessary experience to make the big league roster. But it’s hard not to imagine that Beckham and Mitchell will soon be spearheading the Sox fortunes.

Note of the day: After Carlos Quentin‘s two-homer outburst on Saturday, it was nice to see both Alex Rios and Paul Konerko go deep against Seattle yesterday–especially Rios after his subpar ’09.

Sox-Cubs Rained Out

It’s a pretty unusual occurrence, but rain did indeed wash away the Sox-Cubs rematch this afternoon in Glendale. 

Jake Peavy, who was set to make his first spring start, will have to settle for working two or three simulated innings to keep him on schedule.
Sox host the much-improved Mariners at Camelback Ranch tomorrow. 

Bing, Bang, Boom–23 Runs, 32 Hits, 0 Errors and the First Two Sox Victories of the Spring

It was a Saturday of epic proportion. Well, maybe not epic, but boy it was fun.

The beautiful Spring-like day in the New York area, didn’t prevent me from spending the day in front of the tube. It all started out with my alma mater, Indiana, halting an 11-game losing streak by upending Northwestern. 
That was followed by Sox vs. Cubs in Mesa and Sox vs. Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in a split-squad doubleheader. Thanks to the Big Ten Network, WGN and the MLB Network, I was able to watch all of the action–albeit the nightcap was on tape delay and I knew the score going in. Gone are the days of having to go to spring training to find out what’s going on.
Sox 15, Cubs 3

The Sox got off to a 6-0 start in the first two innings on the strength of two Carlos Quentin blasts (a two-run homer and a three-run four-bagger) and it just got better and better. The Pale Hose pounded out three more homers (Brandon Short, Cole Armstrong and Jayson Nix) and pounded out a total of 18 hits (Nix had three and Quentin, Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay, Christian Marrero, Cole Armstrong and Brett Lillibridge collected two apiece).
On the pitching side, Dan Hudson gave up the Dodgers’ only tallies in three innings of work while Carlos Torres, Greg Aquino and Charlie Leesman each hurled two innings of shutout ball. I was impressed with Aquino, who struck out three. He’s had major league experience with four other clubs.
And the Sox committed NO errors and stole four more bases–Jones (2), Tyler Flowers and Jordan Danks.
                        Quentin led off the hit parade yesterday against the Cubs

Sox 8, Dodgers 4

The Sox were homerless against LA, but full of punch, connecting for 14 hits. The standouts were “can’t miss” Jared Mitchell, who had a pair of RBI doubles, and former Marlin Alejandro De Aza, who added two infield singles and scored a run. Former Dodger Juan Pierre beat out an infield grounder for a single that drove in a run and stole a base. 
Eight Sox pitchers took the mound, including Freddy Garcia and Bobby Jenks, but I was most impressed with Tony Pena, who was on again, off again for us in 2009.
And NO Sox errors and a pair of stolen bases–Pierre and Alexei Ramirez.
If the rain holds off in Glendale today I’ll be in the same place as yesterday, watching Jake Peavy make his spring debut for the 2-1-1 South Siders.
                                              Peavy hopes to stifle Cubs

It’s Only Spring Training

If it were a game played in the middle of a pennant race, it might have prompted a tirade from Ozzie. But yesterday’s 8-3 loss to the Dodgers in the spring home opener was simply a blip on the way to Opening Day in Chicago.

Of the few bright spots, J.J. Putz appeared healthy as he struck out a pair in one inning of work. Outfield prospect Stefan Gartrell doubled in a run for the South Siders’ only extra base hit of the day in his lone plate appearance. First baseman Josh Kroeger singled in a run and last year’s No.1 draft choice Jared Mitchell also singled and drove in a run.
Mark Buehrle gave up a run, three hits and a walk in two innings, but we know there’s nothing to worry about there. He’s just getting ready.
Split squad action today. Daniel Hudson will start against the Cubs in Mesa and Freddy Garcia will be the first to take the mound vs. the Dodgers in Glendale.
                               Daniel Hudson begins his bid for a roster spot 

Kissing Your Sister

You know the old adage, playing to a tie is like kissing your sister. That’s exactly what happened yesterday in Tempe as the Sox kicked off their spring training schedule with a 4-4 tie with the Angels.

The Sox had a 4-2 lead heading into the eighth, but prospect Brian Omogrosso couldn’t find the plate and the tying runs scored. The South Siders had a chance in the top of the ninth with Alejandro De Aza on third and two outs, but C.J. Retherford struck out.

While it certainly wasn’t as satisfying as getting the win, we’ll take the tie on the road. And here are a few positives to ponder.

* A.J. Pierzynski‘s two-run homer in the fifth to give the Sox a 4-2 lead.
* Starter John Danks‘ two shutouts innings.
* If yesterday was any indication, the Sox will indeed run in 2010. They stole four
   bases in the opener–Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay, De Aza.
* Converted infielder Sergio Santos was very impressive, striking out the side in
   the sixth.
* Dayan Viciedo, trying to make the switch to first, played well in the field and singled
   in a run.
* Newcomers Pierre and Mark Teahen each reached base on a hit and scored a run.
* Lefties Randy Williams and Erick Threets and righty Clevelan Santeliz each pitched
  a scoreless inning. Santeliz shut the door in the ninth to preserve the tie.

  Mark Buehrle makes his first spring start today against the Dodgers at Camelback
  Ranch. J.J. Putz and Scott Linebrink are also scheduled to see action.

mark1.png                       Mr. Perfect takes the hill today vs. the Dodgers in Glendale


Play Ball! Pale Hose Face Angels in Tempe as Their Cactus League Season Begins

The 2010 “new look” White Sox will officially be unveiled today as the South Siders travel to nearby Tempe to face the LA Angels of Anaheim in Game 1 of spring training.

Many of the regulars will be starting with a couple of top prospects rounding out the starting lineup. Juan Pierre will be in left, Andruw Jones in center (Alex Rios is nursing a sore shoulder) and Jordan Danks in right. Jordan will be backing up big brother John, who gets the start and is scheduled to pitch two innings.

Dayan Viciedo, a natural third baseman, gets the starting nod at first as the Sox want to see if he can make the switch to the other side of the infield. Gordon Beckham is set at second, Alexei Ramirez at short and Mark Teahen at third. A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate and Mark Kotsay the DH against Angel righty Joel Piniero.

I’m definitely ready.


There’s Nothing Like a “B” Game to Lift My Spirits

It’s been a long, cold, snowy winter in the New York area. Add being laid up with swollen right foot and you get the picture. But here are two things to make a guy look at the glass half-full.

I’m a blogger and a Facebook guy, but I don’t see the point of tweeting. That said, I’m grateful that my friend Scott Reifert, White Sox communications czar, tweets regularly with nugget after nugget of inside Sox info. For instance, he tweeted the Sox lineup for tomorrow’s “B” game against the Dodgers, which features a look at a number of exciting prospects :
Jared Mitchell, LF
Jordan Danks, CF
Tyler Flowers, C
Dayan Viciedo,1B
Josh Kroeger, DH
Jayson Nix, 2B
Brett Lillibridge, SS
Brent Morel, 3B
Alejandro DeAza, RF

If the thought of tomorrow’s first real competitive action of the spring doesn’t lift the old spirits, the news that WGN will televise both Sox-Cubs games on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. ET certainly will. I don’t know about you, but my weekend is now booked. And I’m less than two weeks ago from my trip to Glendale.