Results tagged ‘ Alex Rios ’

A Night of “Firsts”

Last night in Arlington proved to be a winner for the White Sox as their nail-biting 4-3 triumph over the Rangers was built on a series of “firsts.”

For starters, it was the first Sox win of the year as they rebounded from a 3-2 defeat the day before in the season opener. It was also Robin Ventura‘s first victory as a manager, an accomplishment that earned him a beer shower from the troops. And it was rookie Hector Santiago‘s first major league save.

Aside from the “W” itself, the most satisfying “first” of all had to be Alex Rios‘s game-winning homer–over the centerfield fence.  It’s too early to make any legitimate assessements, but Rios showed that maybe there’s some potential for a turnaround from his disastrous 2011 as he slugged his personal No. 1 round-tripper.

We’ve said all along that Adam Dunn and Rios could be the keys to a Sox surprise this season. So far, so good.

Sox Will Have to Bring Their “A” Game as Tough Foes Dot April Schedule

Happy Opening Day!  And now the flurry of questions about our 2012 White Sox will begin to be answered.

The April schedule won’t be a cakewalk. First it’s three against the Rangers, beginning this afternoon, then three vs. the Tribe–all on the road–then home for three against the mighty Tigers and four vs. the Orioles. The month concludes with a six-game road trip to Seattle and and Oakland and a four-game homestand against the Red Sox.

I hate to get ahead of myself because facing the two-time defending American League champs the next three days is imposing enough. But the facts are the facts. The Sox, in need of getting off to a good start to excite the South Side fandom, have their work cut out for them.

Today, we’ll see Robin Ventura‘s managerial debut and a new lineup that will look like this:

DeAza, CF

Morel, 3B

Dunn, DH

Konerko, 1B

Pierzynski, C

Rios, RF

Ramirez,SS

Viciedo, LF

Beckham , 2B

Danks, P

One mystery is the identity of the closer. Ventura has been mum on the subject, but it seems Matt Thornton, Hector Santiago and Addison Reed are the likely suspects, in no particular order.

One game won’t make or break the season, but it sure would be nice to get out of the box with a “W” against the league champs. And it would be even sweeter if Dunn is a big part of it so he can exorcise those 2011 demons sooner than later.

Here we go…

It’s going to be a spring like no other in recent years. As opposed to the past few seasons when the conventional wisdom was that the White Sox were bonafide contenders, there is virtually no one on the outside that is predicting success for the Sox in 2012.

It all starts tomorrow as pitchers and catchers officially report with a group of position players who want to get a head start.

The good news is that there are surprise teams each year that fool the so-called experts. As I’ve stated in this space before, I have no idea how the Sox are going to fare, but they very well could have the makings of one of the teams that will fool the baseball world. If…

* Robin Ventura takes to this managing thing.

* Adam Dunn is the Adam Dunn of old.

* Gordon Beckham reverts to the success of his rookie season.

* Alex Rios plays like he did in 2010.

* Matt Thornton, Addison Reed or someone else becomes a competent closer

* Jake Peavy is close to his previous Cy Young form and he and his fellow starters–John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Phil Humber and newly-appointed rotation member Chris Sale–make up for the innings lost with Mark Buehrle‘s departure.

We’ll have to wait on these and other issues, but my gut tells me things aren’t going to be as dark as everyone is saying.

10 Days to Pitchers and Catchers

Scott Merkin whets our White Sox appetite today on whitesox.com with some facts, figures and projections to chew on:

* Pitchers and catchers report on February 23

* Full squad reports on February 28

* First Spring Training game, March 5, vs. the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch

* Opening Day, April 6, at Texas

Merkin’s Projected Batting Order:

Alejandro DeAza CF, Gordon Beckham 2B, Paul Konerko 1B, Adam Dunn DH, Alex Rios LF, A.J. Pierzynski C, Alexei Ramirez SS, Dayan Viciedo RF, Brent Morel 3B

Projected Rotation:

John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, Philip Humber

Projected Bullpen:

Matt Thornton Closer, Jesse Crain RH setup man, Will Ohman LH setup man (with all other spots up for grabs). Key bullpen prospect to watch is Addison Reed, who very well might be the closer (my two cents, not Merkin’s).

New Guys:

Nestor Molina RHP, Dan Johnson 1B, Ozzie Martinez IF and, of course, the skipper Robin Ventura

Key Losses:

Ozzie Guillen, Mark Buehrle, Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin, Juan Pierre, Omar Vizquel, Ramon Castro, Jason Frasor

Word from SoxFest…

As SoxFest is being celebrated this weekend at the Palmer House Hilton, bits of news are filtering out. Here are some of the things that caught my attention:

* Adam Dunn, who last year endured what was arguably the worst season ever for a major league position player, was in the house. A slimmed down Dunn (that’s not him above, but you get my point) said that all the Sox need is for last season’s two biggest disappointments–himself and Alex Rios–to rebound and that would prove to be, in essence, two major offseason moves. He also said he can’t wait for opening day and is putting the past behind him.

* Don Cooper, who Steve Stone called one of the Top 5 pitching coaches in the game, said he sees three openings in the bullpen with Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Will Ohman and rookie Addison Reed as the staples going into spring training.

* Jeff Manto, who has replaced Greg Walker as the Pale Hose hitting coach, said  (and I’m paraphrasing) he would be nuts not to look to new skipper Robin Ventura and coach Harold Baines for help in dealing with the hitters.

* Speaking of the new manager, Ventura kiddingly said that Cooper is now his BFF as he approaches his rookie year at the helm of the ballclub.

* Kenny Williams put his cards on the table: If the Sox hit, they’ll contend. See Dunn, Rios and Gordon Beckham for details.

* Williams also said we should expect righthanded hurler Nestor Molina, acquired in the trade for Sergio Santos, to be in the majors as early as mid-season this year.

* Joe Crede got the biggest applause when members of the 2005 World Champs were announced. Among the others were Pablo Ozuna and Cliff Politte.

* Ventura said he wants Beckham to have as much confidence at the plate that he does at second base.

SoxFest runs through tomorrow…

Will Prince’s Move to Tigers be as Good as Advertised?

The Tigers certainly seem in it to win it. Victor Martinez out for the season? No problem, let’s spend $214 million on Prince Fielder to replace him.

With yesterday’s signing, Detroit should unquestionably be the heavy favorites to win the A.L. Central. But we all know that the winners in the offseason aren’t always the winners when all is said and done.

The combination of Fielder and Miguel Cabrera hitting back to back in scary. And add Justin Verlander heading up a solid pitching staff, it’s pretty hard to think the Sox, Indians, Royals or Twins could outlast the rivals from Motown.

That said, stranger things have happened and it would be foolish to just give up and hand over the division title to Detroit. From a White Sox perspective, let’s just hope Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham rebound and our newly-formed pitching staff delivers. If they do, the South Siders certainly could be as big a pleasant surprise as we were a disappointing one a year ago.

When I heard the Fielder announcement, all I could think of was that the Sox once had Frank Thomas and Albert Belle hitting back to back–a duo even more formidable than the Fielder/Cabrera duo. And the record shows that it didn’t produce a championship team. In fact, the Sox finished around .500 in both seasons Thomas and Belle played together.

So, keep the faith.

The White Sox in 2012: Nobody Knows for Sure

In a few weeks the White Sox will be firmly embedded in spring training mode trying to assemble a team that’s ready to contend in the A.L. Central.

Conventional wisdom says it’s going to be a difficult task with the Tigers showing no signs of fading and the Royals and Indians seemingly poised to reach the next level.

You really can’t blame the skeptics. As names like Pujols, Fielder, Buehrle, DarvishWilson and others have been the talk of the hot stove period, the White Sox made “headlines” with the acquisition of minor league pitchers Nestor Molina, Simon Castro, Pedro Hernandez, Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb while losing known quantities Sergio Santos, Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor in the process. The only major news was the signing of John Danks, who we all thought was destined to be traded.

It’s really easy to look at all this and come to the conclusion that bad things are in store for the 2012 club. But we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.  With myriad questions, the truth is that we just don’t know how the season will manifest.

How will the Ozzie-less Sox be with Robin Ventura at the helm?

Will the Sox survive without Buehrle?

Will Danks pick up where Buehrle left off?

Will an effective closer be found to replace Santos?

Will Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham rebound?

Will Alejandro De Aza be a competent major league leadoff hitter?

Will Paul Konerko be Paul Konerko?

Will Jake Peavy be the Cy Young Peavy?

Will Dayan Viciedo live up to the hype and make us forget Quentin?

Will Chris Sale make a successful switch to the starting rotation?

Will Kenny Williams make any more significant deals to upgrade the big league roster?

More than any other year I can remember, it’s hard to predict what’s in store for all of us this season.  We’re just going to have to wait and see.

The Rubber Meets the Road in Motown

 

It’s never a good thing when your starting pitcher gives up six runs–highlighted by two homers and three doubles–in the first inning. But the White Sox, despite Jake Peavy‘s early meltdown, gave it a shot this afternoon and came up one run short in the 7-6 loss to the Twins. Adam Dunn and Alex Rios both had their chances to be heroes in the ninth, but didn’t deliver. Sound familiar?

So, the five game winning streak is history and we sink to six games behind the Tigers, who staged a late-inning rally for a come-from-behind triumph over the Royals.

Now the fun begins as we head to Detroit for a three-game series after tomorrow’s off-day.  The pitching matchups:

Friday night: John Danks vs. Justin Verlander, he of the 20 wins–already.

Saturday afternoon: Gavin Floyd vs. Brad Penny

Sunday night: Mark Buehrle vs. Matt Scherzer

Look at the bright side, it’s the end of August and we’re still alive.

Is De Aza For Real? I, For One, Hope So

I remember the day in October, 2009, when the White Sox claimed outfielder Alejandro De Aza on waivers from the Florida Marlins–and I wondered if he was good enough to make the major league roster.

De Aza had played professionally since he was signed as a free agent by the Dodgers in 2001–but it was ba rocky road. After a couple seasons in the low minors, he was selected by the Marlins in the 2004 Minor League Rule 5 draft. He eventually had cups of coffee with Florida in 2007 and 2009, though wrist and ankle injuries hampered his progress. Obviously the Sox felt that if he were injury-free, he could contribute.

The speedy outfielder made a positive first impression in a Sox uniform as he enjoyed an outstanding spring training in 2010. He didn’t break camp with the Sox (though some thought he should have) but joined them during the season and hit an even .300 in 30 at bats while hitting .302 in 318 at bats at Charlotte.

While De Aza failed to make the team this year out of spring training, it was obvious to the White Sox after seeing him hit .322 in 385 at bats at Charlotte, that it was prudent to bring him up midseason to see if he could make an impact and compensate specifically for the poor play of Alex Rios and the overall stagnant offense.

Good call. From his first ’11 at bat, when he homered to win the game, to last night’s three-run homer, which tied the score in the Sox’s come-from-behind win over the Twins, he has been a sight for sore eyes. Add his blazing speed and outstanding defense and De Aza just might have finally reached his potential.

It remains to be seen if De Aza, 27, is an everyday player, but let’s enjoy his play while it lasts. No sense in speculating what his role will be in 2012 when we still have 29 games to go in 2011.

One thing, though, is for sure. He’s an exciting player and I’m rooting for him to succeed.

Mr. Perfect and the “Charlotte Three”

As the historically inadquate Adam Dunn takes a seat on the bench and Alex Rios holds firm with his .212 batting average and equally-deficient power numbers, a new wave of excitement has hit the South Side.

The emergence of Alejandro De Aza, Tyler Flowers and Dayan Viciedo, who all started the season at AAA Charlotte, has poured new energy into what has been a stagnant offense. In the last two days, as the Sox have won their third and fourth games in a row against the Mariners and Twins, respectively, the threesome has delivered big-time.

* Viciedo has gone 4 for 6 with a homer, four RBIs, three runs scored and a pair of walks in his first two major league games this season. It has been particularly satisfying to see how improved his plate discipline has been. Those two walks represent a major accomplishment.

* Flowers (pictured above), batting a very respectable .281 as he subs for the injured A.J. Pierzynski, hit his first career grand slam against the Mariners on Sunday and drove in two of the three White Sox runs last night  in the 3-0 victory over the Twins with a double and a sac fly.

* De Aza has been a breath of fresh air since joining the club and slamming a home run in his first ’11 major league at bat. He’s got great speed, is excellent defensively and is sporting a .319 batting average. Last night he went  2 for 3, including a double, with a run scored and a key stolen base.

While youth is being served, we can’t ignore the fact that the Mr. Perfect has been outstanding as well. Mark Buehrle was on his game once again last night as the Sox moved to within five games of Detroit and four games in the all-important loss column. He gave up just four hits in 7 2/3 innings as he improved his record to 11-6 and his ERA to a fine 3.05.

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