March 2011

All In? Not So Much

GLENDALE, AZ–With nearly 12,000 in attendance and more watching on TV back in Chicago, it seemed like a great opportunity yesterday for the White Sox to display their “All In” brand of baseball against our friends from the North Side.
Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way.
First, the South Siders were far from being all in on this day. Mark Buehrle got the starting nod, but there were only three regular position players in the starting lineup–Paul Konerko as the DH, Adam Dunn at first and Gordon Beckham at second–and it showed. Cubs pitching held the Sox scoreless until the Good Guys put three on the board in the ninth, highlighted by a two-run homer by Lastings Milledge (pictured above). It wasn’t enough, though, and the Pale Hose wound up on the short end of the 4-3 final score.
The Ups:

Not much to brag about here…The Milledge homer…Stefan Gartrell‘s RBI double and the fact he collected one-third of the six Sox hits…Jeff Marquez pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts, Will Ohman and Jesse Crain pitched a perfect inning each and Matt Thornton was credited with a scoreless inning, giving up a lone hit.
The Downs:

Aside from the eight innings of non-existent offense and a Beckham error that led to an unearned run, the big downer was Buehrle’s outing. He gave up three runs (two earned, including a homer to Carlos Pena), six hits and two walks in his three innings of work…Ozzie said after the game that it was the first time he had seen Mr. Perfect upset after a spring training performance.
Sox host the Rangers this afternoon at Camelback Ranch.

Two Victories and Sunshine Highlight My First Day in Paradise

60031105.jpgPARADISE — The name in the dateline isn’t a real place. It’s simply my state of mind when I’m in spring training.
Yesterday was Day 1 on my annual pilgrimage to check out the fortunes of the Pale Hose. And it couldn’t have gone better, with the exception of an unfortunate injury which I’ll explain shortly.
My plane landed in Phoenix around 1030 a.m. local time, about an hour and a half before the Sox and the Rangers were about to get it going in the latter’s winter home of Surprise. I jumped into my rental car, checked into the motel and got to the game just moments before C.J. Wilson threw the first pitch to Lastings Milledge. And did I mention the weather was gorgeous?
The Sox jumped out to a three-run lead and fell behind 6-4 before rallying for three runs in the ninth and walking away with a 7-6 victory.
The Ups:
Mark Teahen has been embarrasing in the field so far this spring, but he’s on fire at the plate in his bid to win the third base job…He was 3 for 5 against the Rangers, including a two-run homer. He’s now batting .529…Minor leaguers Michael Restovich, the late-inning DH who once played for the Twins, and Drew Garcia delivered the key ninth inning hits to pave the way to the victory…Philip Humber started on the mound for the South Siders and pitched three scoreless innings, giving up a pair of hits and striking out two…Gregory Infante relieved Humber and pitched two perfect frames while Kyle Cofield was perfect in his one inning of work…Nate Jones got the win, despite giving up a run, two hits and two walks.
The Downs:
Without question, the biggest downer was the right thumb fracture suffered by Dayan Viciedo after he was hit by a David Bush pitch in the eighth inning. It’s especially frustrating since Viciedo came into camp in great shape and making a case, both offensively and in right field, that he should make the club. He’ll be out of action three to four weeks. Oh, by the way, yesterday was his 22nd brithday…Brandon Hynick got lit up after coming in at the start of the sixth trying to protect the three-run lead. He gave up five runs, four hits and two walks.
Riding high from the come-from-behind win, my next stop was dinner with Sox communications guru Scott Reifert and then it was on to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the brand new spring training home of the Diamondbacks and Rockies located on an Indian reservation in Scottsdale, for a game under the lights with the D-backs. As I mentioned to Scott, it’s Camelback Ranch on steroids–just a spectacular venue.
The Sox completed the Thursday sweep with a 5-3 win.
The Ups:
Gordon Beckham got things off right with a two-run homer in the first inning (pictured above) and went 3 for 4 on the night…Alexei Ramirez was 2 for 4 with an RBI and former Angel can’t-miss prospect Dallas McPherson went 2 for 3 with a run batted in…Gavin Floyd  gave up only a homer to Russell Branyan in 4 2/3 innings and Sergio Santos and Brian Bruney each pitched a scoreless/hitless inning with Bruney recording the save…I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that another “up” was seeing Scottsdale residents and Sox fans Jill and Lee Weiss in the house. I’m sure their good karma made a difference.
The Downs:
While Teahen is tearing it up at the plate, Brent Morel isn’t. After his 0 for 4 last night he’s now hitting .143. I still feel confident he’ll be the starter at third because of the wide gap defensively between the two…Carlos Quentin also took the collar in four at bats and is at .136 on the spring.
Sox host the Cubs today at Camelback Ranch

My Annual Rite of Spring

0301CamelbackRanch.jpgStarting tomorrow, Art of the Pale Hose will be written a stone’s throw from Camelback Ranch as I’ll be making my annual trip to White Sox spring training camp. It’s hard for me to believe, but I’ve headed to my version of paradise for the better part of 40 years–from Sarasota to Tucson to Glendale.
I’ll be checking out both Sox split squad games tomorrow:  vs. Texas at Surprise and vs. the Diamondbacks at Arizona’s new spring training facility: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. Then, from Friday through Monday I’ll be in the house when the Sox will face the Cubs, Rangers, Dodgers and Padres, respectively–all at Camelback Ranch.
The Sox dropped a 4-2 decision to the World Champion Giants today with the runs coming on homers by Adam Dunn (his first of the spring) and Stefan Gartrell. The best news of all is that Jake Peavy was superb, pitching 3 2/3 innings of perfect baseball before giving up a home run to Aubrey Huff and a  base on balls to Butch Posey. After the Posey walk, Tony Pena came on in relief. After the game Ozzie said the recovering Peavy has been pitching the best of all the Sox starters. A good sign to be sure.

Young Turks Pace Sox to Victory Over Rockies

705_crop_340x234.jpgTwo springs ago, my White Sox posse and I marveled at the number of legitimate future stars there were on the Sox horizon. Among them were Gordon Beckham, Tyler Flowers (pictured above), Jordan Danks and Dayan Viciedo.
At least three of these “can’t miss” candidates took a step back in 2010. Beckham got off to a horrible start after a fine rookie season and ended the season injured. Flowers disappointed and there were whispers that he was no longer held in the high esteem as he was when he was acquired from the Braves in the Javy Vazquez deal. Little brother Jordan, who before last season was looked upon as a possible midseason call-up, gave no signs of being ready during the season at Birmingham. Viciedo didn’t necessarily take a step back, but he spent most of the season in the minors and transitioned from third to first. Despite his high strikeout ratio and inability to draw walks, his “electric bat” was impressive in his short stint in Chicago.
If yesterday was any indication, it’s a new day as the quartet led the Pale Hose to a 9-8 victory over the Rockies at Camelback Ranch.
–Beckham went 3 for 4 with an RBI
–Flowers went 2 for 2 with a homer and a pair of RBIs
–Danks went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBIs
–Viciedo went 3 for 4 with an RBI
More Ups:

Mark Teahen went 2 for 2 with a walk and an RBI, but the big news here is that he didn’t commit an error at third after recording four throwing errors in his last two games…Alejandro De Aza went 2 for 5…After pounding out 31 hits in the two games yesterday, the Sox came back with 17 today…Reliever Anthony Carter pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings.
The Downs:

With eight runs on the Rockies scoreboard, it’s no surprise that the pitchers were today’s culprits…John Danks gave up two runs, including a homer, five hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings of work…Matt Thornton surrendered two runs, two hits, a walk and blew a save in the seventh, although he got credit for the win…Freddy Dolsi gave up two runs and four hits in the eighth and Miguel Socolovich gave up a homer in the ninth before getting credit for the save.
The Sox travel to Scottsdale tomorrow to face the World Champion Giants.

Sox Bats Come Alive in Win, Tie

         Ramirez and Rios mirrored each other’s feats in games 126 miles apart

The White Sox offense finally came to life today, pounding out 28 runs and 31 hits in a split squad doubleheader separated by 126 miles. The Sox won a 12-1 drubbing of the Diamondbacks in Tucson and, after enjoying as much as a five-run lead over the Indians in Glendale, the South Siders settled for an ugly 16-16 tie when the game was called after nine innings.

Tucson Ups:
Alexei Ramirez homered in his first two at bats and added an RBI single…Ramon Castro also went deep…Brent Lillbridge doubled in three runs in a seven-run seventh…Jordan Danks collected two hits and scored twice…Edwin Jackson surrendered a lone run in 
3 1/3 innings while Chris Sale and Josh Kinney each pitched two scoreless frames…Sergio Santos pitched an unblemished  2/3 of an inning and Charlie Leesman hurled a scoreless ninth.
Tucson Downs:
Alexei committed an error, but he’s excused.
Glendale Ups:
While Ramirez clouted homers in his first two at bats against the D-backs, Alex Rios did the same at Camelback Ranch and drove in five runs…Mark Teahen went 2 for 2 with three RBIs and walked twice…Stefan Gartrell, seemingly a AAAA player, homered and singled in what was the go-ahead run in the eighth, snapping a 14-14 tie…Brandon Hynick was the only one of the six Sox pitchers NOT to give up a run. He struck out the side in the fifth in his only inning of work…Jared Mitchell, coming back from his unfortunate leg injury which caused him to miss all of the 2010 season, singled in the 16th Sox run…Dayan Viciedo went 3 for 5 with an RBI and Omar Vizquel had a pair of hits with a run batted in.
Glendale Downs:
Lucas Harrell started the game by giving up six runs, eight hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings and Gregory Infante surrendered four runs, five hits and a walk in the eighth as the Sox squandered a 14-10 lead…If this wasn’t bad enough, the Sox committed five errors. Leading the way was the human error himself, Teahen, with two throwing miscues. Granted, he was superb on offense today, but he simply can’t play the position. That’s four throwing errors in his last two games. Mr. Morel, you’ve got the job.
The Sox host the Rockies today at Camelback Ranch.

What’s the Over-Under on Ozzie Erupting?

guillen-ozzie080505.jpgYou can’t blame Mark Teahen for today’s 8-3 loss to the up and coming Royals–he didn’t play. But he and his teammates are about to experience their manager’s wrath if the subpar play and losing continues. Ozzie made that clear after yesterday’s defeat at the hands of the Indians.
The Ups:

Frankly, it’s hard to find a whole lot of positives for the 1-6 White Sox…Adam DunnTyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge and Juan Pierre each contributed two singles with Dunn getting credit for an RBI…Alexei Ramirez doubled…Lastings Milledge walked twice…Will Ohman, Jeff Gray and Shane Lindsey pitched a scoreless inning apiece…The South Siders didn’t commit an error.
The Downs:

Where do I start? The offense continued to struggle and the Royals, who pounded out 17 hits, kept adding on against Sox pitching after jumping out to a 3-0 first inning lead. Mark Buehrle was hit hard, giving up five runs and nine hits in his three innings of work…Tony Pena surrendered two runs and six hits in his two innings.
The Sox have a pair of split squad contests tomorrow. They are playing the Diamondbacks 
at the spring facility the two clubs used to share in Tucson to help create a fund for the granddaughter of former big league player, manager and executive Dallas Green who was killed in the recent tragedy there. The other game will be in Glendale vs. the Indians.

Note to Sox: Keep Teahen Away From Third

The White Sox lost again today–8-3 to the Tribe–dropping to 1-5 in the Cactus League. Not much to glow about and the most frustrating part was Mark Teahen‘s two throwing errors at third base, which helped the Indians jump out to a 5-0 lead. Let’s face it, he can’t be trusted at the hot corner. Brent Morel, the job is yours.

The Ups:

Omar Vizquel was the only Pale Hoser to collect two hits and Paul Konerko doubled for the only Chicago extra base hit…Vizquel, Lastings Milledge and Gordon Beckham each had an RBI…Matt Thornton, Brian Bruney and Anthony Carter each pitched a scoreless inning.
The Downs:
Teahen, who also was thrown out at home trying to score from second base in the fifth inning…The Sox continued their failure so far this spring to sustain rallies and hit in clutch situations…Gavin Floyd, who suffered the loss, gave up four runs (three earned), a pair of hits and walked three in his two-plus innings of work. It broke the streak by Sox starters, who had gone five games and 10 innings without surrendering a base hit…Reliever Freddy Dolsi, who gave up the game-winning homer in Wednesday’s loss to the Reds, gave up three runs on three hits and a walk in the seventh and eighth innings to effectively take the South Siders out of the game.
Sox host the Royals tomorrow at Camelback Ranch, hoping to get back on the winning track.

Peavy’s Start Overshadows Weak Sox Offense

Jake Peavy gave White Sox fans a big boost today as he delivered a sterling performance in his first appearance since he walked off the mound in agony last July 6 against these same Angels. The righthander pitched two scoreless innings, striking out a pair while walking one. In all, he made 26 pitches, 16 for strikes.

Peavy’s performance gave the five Sox starters the distinction of hurling five straight 
games–10 innings–without giving up a hit. Jake was preceded by Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson and John Danks, each of whom hurled two innings in their first spring starts.
The Ups:
Sadly, Peavy, the “streak” and one scoreless inning apiece by Chris Sale, Sergio Santos and Charlie Leesman were pretty much the only positives for the Sox as they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Halos to go 1-4 on the spring. After getting shut out through eight frames, the South Siders finally scored as Brent Lillibridge singled in Jim Gallagher, who led off the ninth with a triple.
The Downs:

The Pale Hose offense collected only seven hits and left the bases loaded in both the fifth (with one out) and the sixth (with nobody out)…Not that he was the only inept Chicago hitter, but Adam Dunn went 0 for 4. He’s now hitting .091…After driving in the first (and only) Sox run in the ninth, Lillibridge killed a potential rally by getting picked off of first base with none out. Not a good thing if you’re on the roster bubble.
The Sox face the Indians tomorrow in Goodyear.

Ah, Victory


187112_white_sox_orioles_baseball.jpgAfter three straight losses to start the exhibition season–two by one run–the White Sox finally got into the victory column today with a convincing 6-1 home win over the Mariners. The triumph was highlighted by a four-run Pale Hose eighth inning, the first Sox homer of the spring and excellent pitching.

The Ups:

Alex Rios (above) gave the Sox the lead in the fourth inning with a two-run blast, the club’s first four-bagger…Tyler Flowers doubled in a pair of runs in the eighth with Eduardo Escobar (a sac fly) and Lastings Milledge (single) adding RBIs as well. Paul Konerko led off the inning with a triple (not a typo)…Adam Dunn (single) got his first hit of 2011 and Dayan Viciedo collected two base hits…John Danks, making his first spring start, Tony Pena (who was credited with the win) and Jeffrey Marquez each pitched two scoreless innings. Will Ohman and Gregory Infante each hurled a scoreless frame. Jeff Gray, who relieved Ohman in the sixth, walked three in his inning of work, but escaped as only one run scored.
The Downs:

It’s nit-picking, but both Beckham and Tyler Saladino were caught stealing by former Sox catcher Miguel Olivo…And, as mentioned above, Gray, who should be given credit for weathering the storm, barely escaped what could have been a disastrous inning. 
Sox travel to Tempe tomorrow to face the Halos. All eyes will be on the recovering Jake Peavy, who will be making his first appearance of 2011.

Another Game, Another Sox Loss

Edwin+Jackson+Chicago+White+Sox+v+Baltimore+vPOIToSsF2Il-1.jpgThe White Sox lost their third spring training game in as many chances today with a 7-6 
loss to the Reds. The Sox gave it a noble effort after they were down 5-0–on five unearned 
runs–in the fifth inning, but couldn’t close the deal.
The Ups:

Edwin Jackson (above) was today’s starter and pitched two scoreless, hitless innings…Minor league first baseman Jim Gallagher doubled in a pair of runs and A.J. Pierzynski added two RBIs…Brent Morel had a couple hits, including a double…Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin each had a hit and an RBI…Anthony Carter, Brian Bruney and Nate Jones all pitched scoreless innings…The Pale Hose also benefitted from seven walks yielded by Cincy hurlers–four coming in the three-run seventh inning.
The Downs:

The major downer came in the fifth inning when Gordon Beckham missed catching the ball on a potential inning-ending force at second–his second error of the spring. From there, the floodgates opened and the five unearned runs came across the plate against Chisox reliever Kyle Cofield, who surrended five hits in the processl…Reliever Freddy Dolsi coughed up the game-winning homer to Reds’ catcher Devin Mesoraco in the home half of the eighth.
Sox host the Mariners tomorrow at Camelback Ranch.