Results tagged ‘ Brent Morel ’

The Pen Again

Yesterday’s blog featured a photo that included Monday night heroes A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham and Sergio Santos celebrating after the game. Also in the photo was Brent Morel, who went 0 for 4 and committed what could have been a fatal fielding error if the Sox hadn’t rallied to win.

What a difference a day makes. Last night, Morel bounced back and was at the center of the offense as the Sox won their fifth in a row, 4-3. He drove in the Sox’s second run in the second inning with a single and homered in the fourth to widen the Pale Hose lead to 4-0.

While Morel’s bat, along with Carlos Quentin‘s 24th homer and Pierzynski’s RBI double, paced the attack, it was the shutdown bullpen that was most impressive as it held the O’s to only the three runs they scored off starter Gavin Floyd in the fifth. Granted, the pen hasn’t been perfect as evidenced by Jesse Crain surrendering the three-run homer to J.J. Hardy on Monday. But the talent and versatility that Ozzie has at his disposal gives the Sox an advantage over most of their opponents.

Here was last night’s scenario:

* Despite showing signs of tiring, Floyd  began the seventh. He gave up a double to Felix Pie, who moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Floyd then retired the red-hot J.J. Hardy on a grounder to third. Two outs, runner on third, Sox killer Nick Markakis at the plate. Ozzie makes the call to the pen and lefty Will Ohman ends the threat by striking out Markakis.

* Jason Frasor came on to start the eighth. He walked Adam Jones and struck out Vlad Guerrero. With the lefty Chris Davis coming up, Ozzie called on Chris Sale, who retired Davis on a popup and then struck out Mark Reynolds.

* Instead of calling on Santos to begin the ninth, the skipper chose to have Sale face switch-hitter Matt Wieters. He struck him out. With the Orioles opting to call on Josh Bell to pinch-hit for lefty Felix Pie against Sale, Ozzie decided to stay with his lefthander. Bell grounded out to shortstop. Two outs, nobody on.

*Making his final move, Ozzie then called on Santos to face righthanded hitter Robert Andino and  he proceeded to strike him out, the way he did with the three batters he faced the night before. For Santos, save number 24.

And at the risk of burying the lead, the Indians extra-inning win over the Tigers helped the Sox narrow the Detroit lead to four games. A win tonight and the Sox are back at the .500, something we doubted might happen again this season after last week’s four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees.

A Picture of Health

Just take a look at the picture above. It pretty much represents all you need to know about the White Sox’s impressive 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Orioles, their fourth consecutive victory.

–At the far left, there’s A.J. Pierzynski, who went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, including his sixth home run. He also made as good a catch on a foul pop as you’re ever going to see to record the second out of the eighth inning with men on first and second. Matt Thornton then came on to get the third out to thwart the Baltimore rally.

–Next to him is Alex Rios, whose two-out RBI single in the eighth (following an A.J. sac fly), broke a 6-6 tie after a three-run J.J. Hardy blast put the O’s ahead. It has to be said that Rios has been a different player the past three games after being benched in the opener in Minnesota for his less-than-spectacular offense. He has seven hits in the past three contests.

–At the far right of the photo is Gordon Beckham, whose two-run homer in the second provided the Sox with an early 4-0 lead.

–Right behind Beckham is Sergio Santos, who recorded his 23th save by striking out the side in the ninth. It was also his 28th straight scoreless appearance on the road. Not bad for a converted infielder.

–In the “who doesn’t belong and why” category, Brent Morel is also in the frame. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of his best nights. He went 0 for 4 and if it weren’t for the Sox rally he could have been the goat. He was charged with a missed catch error at third base in the seventh that put runners on first and third. One out later Hardy put the Orioles ahead.

A Happy Ending for a Change

After an inning and a half in last night’s game against the Twins, you could just imagine all the TVs and radios being shut off in disgust wherever White Sox fans had gathered.

The Sox blew a golden opportunity to take a sizeable lead by leaving the bases loaded after scoring just a single run in the top of the first. Then, a ground ball got through the legs of Adam Dunn at first base that paved the way for three unearned runs for Minny in the bottom half of the inning.

In the top of the second, Alejandro De Aza singled to lead off the inning, but was quickly caught stealing. Brent Morel reached on an error and Juan Pierre walked to set up a potential one-out rally. You guessed it, Alexei Ramirez grounded out and Paul Konerko popped out to the shortstop. Nada.

I know what you’re thinking. We’ve seen this movie before. But for the first time in a week, there was a different ending. Thanks to two players who can’t be blamed for the team’s woes this season, Carlos Quentin and Mark Buehrle, the Sox were able to win a game, snapping their six-game slide with a 5-3 victory.

Quentin hit a pair of homers and drove in four runs while Buehrle gave up only four hits in eight innings, allowing no earned runs and lowering his ERA to 3.04.

The Zach Stewart Era Begins Tonight

When minor leaguer Zach Stewart was recently acquired along with proven reliever Jason Fraser in the Edwin Jackson/Mark Teahen trade, Kenny Williams made it clear that Stewart would be in the major leagues before the end of the season.

The comment was somewhat surprising, but the 24-year-old righthander did make three major league starts in June  before he was sent back to AA New Hampshire.

The future is now–as in tonight–for Stewart, who will take the mound for the Sox against Carl Pavano and the Twins with Jake Peavy being moved back to Sunday. It’ll be a challenge for the former high draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds as Pavano has had his way with the South Siders this season.

To make room for Stewart, the Sox designated reliever Brian Bruney for assignment.

M & M Boys to the Rescue

The duo of Brent Morel and Dallas McPherson (pictured above) is a far cry from the powerful twosomes of Mantle and Maris, Mays and McCovey and even Mauer and Morneau. But at least for one night, one of the most unlikely M & M combos you’ll ever see provided plenty of excitement and set the stage for the much-needed White Sox victory.

For the first half of last night’s game against the Rangers, the formula looked very familiar. Subpar pitching, sloppy defense and the inability to capitalize offensively. It seemed like the same uninspired, lethargic team we’ve seen so often in this young season.

Then, the strangest thing happened. In the bottom of the fifth, Morel tied the game at three with a three-run blast for his first homer of the season. If that wasn’t rare enough, McPherson, the one-time Angel phenom who was just called up from Charlotte to replace DL-bound Mark Teahen, delivered a clutch single up the middle in the eighth that sent Gordon Beckham to third. Just moments later, Beckham scored the eventual game-winner on a wild pitch and Sergio Santos recorded his sixth save in as many opportunities. His ERA remains at 0.00 with 16 consecutive scoreless innings spanning over 20 innings.

It was nice to see Morel come through and Santos continue his streak. But you have to be the happiest for the hard luck McPherson, who certainly stopped to smell the roses after the game.

“Yeah, that definitely was a great moment,” he said. ” It was nice to get that one out of the way. I was looking for something to hook in the four-hole. I miscalculated the sink a little bit, and I kind of got lucky it went over the middle.”

For the record, Dallas’s last major league hit was in September, 2008 with the Marlins.

A Different Approach

For the rest of spring training–Opening Day in Cleveland is a week from today–I’ve decided NOT to provide my daily game recaps. For the most part, I enjoy writing them but with the White Sox record the way it is (9-17-1) and the regular season approaching, I’m going to start focusing on the key 2011 storylines. So, if you were expecting my angst about Philip Humber’s start yesterday against the Cubs or Adam Dunn‘s 0 for 5, three strikeout day, you’re going to be disappointed.

Morel’s the Man

It certainly was no surprise, but Ozzie’s declaration that rookie Brent Morel is the starting third baseman became official yesterday. The wise decision gives the Sox an excellent defensive player at an important position and a promising line-drive hitter in the lineup. As with any first-year player, there will be ups and downs with Morel, but Mark Teahen will have much more value in short spurts as a backup at third, first, left and right.
Who Will be the Last Man Standing?

I’m assuming, right or wrong, that Lastings Milledge has made the club as the fourth outfielder and Humber, despite yesterday’s performance, will be the fifth starter until Jake Peavy is ready. 
If that’s the case, the Sox will break camp with a 12th pitcher–presumably Jeffrey Marquez because he’s the only pitcher with uncertain status still in camp–or keep the versatility of Brent Lillibridge. 
The other possible scenario is the Sox acquiring a pitcher from outside the organization and Humber or Marquez filling the “seventh man in the bullpen” role with Lillibridge on the outside looking in–and he’s out of options.
By the way, what IS up with Dunn?

Day 1: SoxFest More Like an OzzieFest

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The first day of the annual SoxFest celebration turned out to be quite a day for the Sox skipper.
A group of fans broke out into a rendition of “Happy Birthday” in honor of Ozzie’s 47th (celebrated on Thursday), a brand new website, ozzieguillen.com, was launched and, most significantly, the Sox picked up Guillen’s option for 2012.
The extension wasn’t a sure thing as we all know. After a hellish (Ozzie’s sentiments, not mine) summer where he bickered with GM Kenny Williams, dealt with his son Oney‘s annoying tweeting (my view, not Ozzie’s) and was on the verge of being traded to the Marlins, Guillen’s future was certainly in doubt. But when all was said and done, Williams had his back.
“I’ve never doubted the man’s managerial ability and the ability to pull people together,” Williams said at SoxFest, according to Mark Gonzales of the Tribune.  “Listen, we all can get off track a little bit, and we (did) last year. All I want us to do is to get back on track and focus on the baseball team and the fans. They’re hand in hand. Everything else, I want out of the equation.

“And I wanted to get that (option) thing behind and move on and enjoy the game. I always enjoy the game. Go about my business the way I always do. We know it was a tough season last year. We just put everything behind, and everything goes well.”
More from SoxFest:
* It was apparent that the GM was unhappy with his pitching coach Don Cooper‘s comment that he would prefer that Chris Sale prepare for a single role as opposed to preparing to be a starter and reliever. Here’s Williams’ view: “…to have Sale prepare as a reliever and take away one or two of his pitches, because that’s what guys tend to do, I don’t think it’s wise. My pitching coach will ultimately fall in line with his general manager and his manager. Coop should probably speak to us before he speaks to you guys.”

* Sale’s immediate future, of course, will depend largely on Jake Peavy‘s progress. Reports range from he’ll be ready on Opening Day to him stepping into the rotation by May 1.
* Mark Buehrle is the latest Sox star to be headed into his “walk” year. Where does he stand? “If I have a good year and something happens, there’s an opportunity out there to sign and I’m open to it. I’ll talk with the wife and play for a couple more years, possibly. So we’ll see. It’s a long year. If I decide to retire at the end, I’ll retire. If not, I’ll sign somewhere.”

* With third base (Brent Morel, Mark Teahen, Omar Vizquel) and first base (Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn) spoken for, Williams indicated that Dayan Viciedo is spending time learning how to play outfield to give him a shot at the Opening Day roster. The GM says Viciedo has done well so far.

58945940.jpgMatt Thornton, decked out in a Brian Urlacher jersey at yesterday’s SoxFest, shows where his football loyalty lies.

Sox-Wise and Otherwise


My weekly off-season opinions and observations about the White Sox…


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With the World Series in the rearview mirror, The White Sox brass can now get busy preparing for a championship run in 2011.


No huge news has come out of the Sox camp thus far, but there have been some productive and interesting activity as we wait on bigger things to come. Those “bigger” things I’m talking about are the decisions around free agents Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, the attempt to get a solid lefthanded hitter (the Cardinals’ Colby Rasmus has been rumored as a target), a move to shore up the bullpen which will impact the futures of arbitration-eligible Bobby Jenks and free agent J.J. Putz, plus various and sundry other determinations.

Here’s a rundown of what’s happened up until now:


Omar Back in Fold

Omar Vizquel‘s signing for another year at $1.75 million is the most positive move so far. He was a godsend this past season and, aside from Konerko, was probably the club’s MVP as a result of his infield wizardry and respectable .276 batting average. With promising third baseman Brent Morel slated for third base, Vizquel provides insurance there and valuable backup at both second base and shortstop.

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Thornton, Castr
o Return to Unsettled Bullpen and Catching Situations

Next to the Vizquel deal, picking up the options of All-Star setup man Matt Thornton and Ramon Castro, perhaps the best backup backstop in the game, have provided the most positive news. Depending on what happens with the bullpen, Thornton could be next year’s closer. And Castro, who batted .328 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in only 37 games, gives depth to the catching position, especially if Pierzynski walks.

Paulie News

Konerko’s decision will probably take a while, but word is that there is at least one serious suitor–his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks. Paulie, who lives in Scottsdale and grew up in that area, certainly could be tempted to stay home as opposed to re-upping with the Sox.

Pal Joey

Unless something surprising happens, Joey Cora will be back as the White Sox bench coach. Just last week he came in second to Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke for the Milwaukee Brewers managing job.

Peavy on the Mend

Because his shoulder injury is so rare, no one knows when and, frankly, if Jake Peavy will come back close to his Cy Young form. Latest word is that he’s working hard in rehab and it won’t be long until he starts soft-tossing.

Sox Seek New AAA Skipper

The White Sox are looking for a new manager at AAA Charlotte. The previous incumbent, Chris Chambliss, best known for his pennant-winning homer for the Yankees in the 1976 ALCS, is the new hitting coach for the Mariners under new skipper Eric Wedge.
Lucy, Williams Minor League Free Agents

The Sox have outrighted both catcher Donny Lucy and lefty reliever Randy Williams to Charlotte. They are now off the 40-man roster and qualify as minor league free agents.
Rising Stars: White Sox Style

Three White Sox prospects were named to last Saturday’s Rising Stars Game, the Arizona Fall League’s All-Star Game.
Those Sox chosen were standout shortstop Eduardo Escobar (pictured below), right-handed pitcher Anthony Carter and the club’s 2009 No. 1 draft pick, Jared Mitchell.
Thus far, Escobar has been far and away the most impressive of the trio in the AFL. He is hitting .377 with an outstanding OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) while leading the league with four homers along with great play in the field. For the record, he has also added four doubles and four triples.
Carter has recorded two saves while striking out 12 in seven innings of work while Mitchell, sans the gaudy stats, is still making significant progress after missing the entire 2010 season due to a leg injury.
In the Rising Stars Game itself, Escobar and Mitchell were both 0 for 1 and Carter pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning. Their team, the West, nipped the East, 3-2.
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White Sox Look to Viciedo and Morel as Possible Pieces to 2011 Puzzle

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Dayan Viciedo (above), Brent Morel (below), Tyler Flowers and Alejandro De Aza found themselves in the Sox starting lineup last night as the likes of Paul Konerko, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez, A.J. Pierzynski, Manny Ramirez and the injured Gordon Beckham were firmly planted on the bench in the third base dugout.

Ozzie apparently felt that giving the youngsters some playing time was more important than the Sox extending their three-game winning streak and finishing the season a game shy of 90 victories. The Good Guys wound up losing to the Tribe, 7-3, after Tony Pena surrendered three runs in the first.
With so many questions that need to be answered, it’s impossible to predict what roles, if any, the above four prospects will have with the big league club in 2011. In my view, Morel could certainly be the starting third baseman and Viciedo either a DH or maybe the first baseman if Konerko doesn’t return. With his great speed, De Aza is a possible fourth or fifth outfielder. Pun intended, the bloom could be off the Flowers rose. He no longer looks like the blue-chipper both the Braves and White Sox thought he was. I would be surprised if he’s in the picture next season.
With two games remaining, it’s uncertain who Ozzie will put on the field. But there is still something to play for. I would like to see Mark Buehrle get to the .500 mark tonight with his 13th win and it would be a nice sendoff for Edwin Jackson, who has been less than stellar lately, to shine in his last start of the season.
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Second Place, Manny and Looking Ahead to 2011

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Some White Sox thoughts on a football Saturday:
* Even before this week Sox fans got used to the fact that we weren’t going to catch the Twins. No one is really talking about it, but we now have a challenge to stay ahead of the Tigers and secure second place. After last night only six games separate us and Detroit. Two more Tiger victories this weekend (it’s Lucas Harrell vs. 16-game winner Justin Verlander this afternoon) and our lead is down to four. Then it’s off to the West Coast followed by a four-game series with the depleted, but always tough, Red Sox. I don’t want to cause any panic, I’m just saying…
* I wrote it before we acquired Manny Ramirez, I wrote it when we got Manny and I’ll say it again now after Manny has had no impact on the Sox pennant chances: regardless of his performance in a Sox uniform, it was the right thing for management to do. I do find it almost laughable, though, that it took a green uniform (because of the halfway to St. Patrick’s Day promotion) and nearly three weeks for him to record his first home run and RBI. To be fair, he is hitting .295 with a .456 on base percentage since arriving in Chicago.
* The Sox brass has a lot of lot of decisions to make in the offseason. So, it’ll be interesting to see how the ’11 Pale Hose are constituted. Some questions:
–Will the Sox sign free agents Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski?

–Will the South Siders bring back Omar Vizquel, after his amazing season?

–Will the intense, but brittle, Carlos Quentin be back?

–Will Tyler Flowers and Jordan Danks, who both seemed to take a step back this season, be viable candidates for the major league roster?

–What will become of Freddy Garcia?

–Will Chris Sale be in the starting rotation?

–Will Jake Peavy be ready for spring training?

–I can’t see Manny, Mark Kotsay or Andruw Jones returning, so who becomes the DH?

–All indications are that Bobby Jenks is a goner, so who will close? J.J. Putz?

–Despite the fact he has two more years to go on his three-year deal, will the disappointing Mark Teahen still be in a Sox uniform even as a utilityman? 

–What are Brent Morel‘s chances of winning the starting third base job? Maybe a platoon with Vizquel?

–I know I’m burying the lead, but will both Ozzie and Kenny Williams be back? 
The offseason certainly won’t be boring.
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A.J., Rookie Phenom Sale Come to the Rescue

56092570.jpgI have to be honest, I had the blog pretty much thought out in my head last night. It went something like this, with a definite hint of exasperation: Offense silent as Sox fall to lowly Royals in first game at the Cell after 11-day road trip…Lose for fourth straight time…Miss opportunity for a chance to gain on the Twins, who are shut out in Cleveland.

That, of course, was before the eighth inning heroics which saw A.J. Pierzynski power a two-out double into the gap in right-center (above), driving in the tying and eventual winning runs for the 4-3 victory over K.C. It just goes to show that, once again, these Sox keep coming back with their remarkable resiliency.

Prior to Pierzynski’s clutch two-bagger, the only offense the South Siders could muster was Brent Morel‘s first major league home run, slammed over the 400-foot sign in centerfield. Other than that it was the same-old, same-old that we saw the past three days in Detroit.

So, what could have been a devastating blow turned out to be a most welcome glimmer of hope. The Minnesota lead is still a commanding five games, but it was the first time the Hose gained a game in the standings since August 24. That fact is even more amazing in that we won seven in a row during that stretch. 

Along with Pierzynski’s key hit, the most satisfying moment of the game was the performance of rookie Chris Sale, who impressively chalked up his second save. With veterans like Bobby Jenks, Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, it’s pretty mind-boggling that a kid who was pitching in college just a few months ago is our most reliable arm out of the pen. With all the blown saves, injuries and spotty performances, he’s been a godsend.
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         The Heroes: A.J. congratulates Sale after the rookie recorded the save.


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