Results tagged ‘ Juan Pierre ’

The White Sox From A to Z: Notes From Spring Training

After a week at Camelback Ranch, it’s back to reality. Here are my spring training thoughts from A to Z:

* A — A big plus for me was to see both Andruw Jones and Alex Rios off to great starts. Jones has hit two home runs, eight RBI and is hitting .385 with a .467 on base percentage. Rios has been nursing an injury, but is hitting .304 with a pair of homers, six RBI and a .346 OBP.

* B — The Natural, Gordon Beckham (pictured below), doesn’t look like he’s going to suffer from the sophomore jinx. So far in the spring, he’s hitting .333 with five doubles and a homer and is getting on base 43 percent of the time. He’s also been making every play at second base.

* C — is for the catching situation. A.J. Pierzynski is hitting at a .345 clip and shows no signs of slowing down. Ramon Castro is a capable backup. There was never any question that Tyler Flowers would begin the season at Charlotte, but it is a bit troubling he’s off to such a slow start.

* D — One of the highlights of Sox spring training has been the play of former Florida Marlin, outfielder Alejandro De Aza. Despite being destined to begin the year with Charlotte, he is hitting .333 with seven RBI. He’s an exciting player who very well might be up in Chicago at some time during the season.

* E is for errors, which I’m happy to say will hopefully occur much less in 2010. The Sox will be a more versatile and fundamentally sound team so there will likely be fewer miscues and brain cramps.

41231.jpg* F — is for the Twittergate “flap,” which looked for a while like it would be a major
distraction. Luckily Ozzie stopped it before it really impacted the team.

* G — Our old friend Freddy Garcia (pictured below) takes the hill this season as the fifth starter. He seems a lot older because he’s been around so long, but Freddy is just shy of 34 and should give us the necessary push at the No. 5 spot in an outstanding rotation.

* H — If Freddy doesn’t come through the Sox are well-protected with Dan Hudson, who pitched at every level of baseball last season and did a creditable job with the Sox in September. He looks like the real deal.

* I — I predict that the Sox will win the AL Central with the Twins, Tigers, Royals and Indians finishing in that order.

* JBobby Jenks has been struggling with his calf, but he says he’ll be ready to go Opening Day. The Sox have some depth in the bullpen, but losing Jenks would definitely be a big blow.

t1_1206_garcia_getty.jpg* K — We need Paul Konerko to have a big year, especially with the departure of Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye. It could be Paulie’s last season in Chicago, but let’s hope it’s one of his best.

* LScott Linebrink has proven himself to be a capable reliever, but you wouldn’t know it from his performance a year ago. He’s been up and down this spring, but he needs to rebound to max out our pen.

* M — As THE lefty in the bullpen, Matt Thornton (pictured below) is indispensible. While I was in Arizona he was perfect. The other half of the main DH platoon with Jones, Mark Kotsay, is on fire this spring, hitting .433 with a .514 on base percentage and a .500 slugging mark.

* N — Will Jayson Nix, Brent Lillibridge or a perhaps a late spring pickup win the last remaining spot among position players?  Since it’s listed under “N,” my choice is naturally Nix.

* O — Brought to the Sox to back up and mentor Alexei Ramirez and Beckham, Omar Vizquel, who will be 43 in April, still looks perfectly capable of contributing.

43105659.jpg* P — Jake Peavy, entering his first Sox season, J.J. Putz and Juan Pierre (pictured below) all have key roles. From what I witnessed in Glendale, Peavy’s in mid-season form, Putz was up and down and it’s obvious what positives Pierre is going to give us from the leadoff spot. Another “P” is Tony Pena, a member of the relief corps who has compiled a 1.59 ERA in five appearances in Arizona.

* QCarlos Quentin looks ready to go, even though his spring stats aren’t gaudy. Health is the key here and CQ looks like he’s ready for the long haul.

* R — With the help of Vizquel, Ramirez will be better defensively and that may make him more relaxed at the plate.

* S — A converted infielder and former No. 1 draft choice of the Diamondbacks, Sergio Santos has been a revelation and a real candidate for the final spot in the bullpen. He’s been very impressive and brings a lot of heat. The fact he’s out of options may force the Sox to bring him North.

* T — If I have one major concern, it’s Mark Teahen. He’s been awful so far in spring training, presumably putting a lot pressure on himself. I don’t even want to think about what happens if he flops.

52656898.jpg* U — U stands for the Sox being underrated. Haven’t seen any of the so-called experts throwing compliments our way, let alone picking the Sox to win the AL Central. Hopefully I’m right and they’re wrong.

* V — I’ve thrown around the word versatile when writing and talking about the Sox. It was certainly apparent to me that they’ll be more running and bunting on this team–with players that can actually execute.

* WRandy Williams, the journeyman reliever who has pretty much locked up the role as the second lefty in the pen, has pitched eight scoreless innings this spring.

* X — Saw a few ex-Sox in Florida, including Orlando Cabrera, Nick Masset (Reds), Josh Fields, Chris Getz and Scott Podsednik (Royals) plus former farmhand Aaron Cunningham (Padres). I saw that Brian Anderson hit for the cyle for KC and went 5 for 5 in a game during that time, but I wasn’t there to witness it.

* Y — Why is Jordan Danks listed here? Because I had to find some place to give him his due, that’s Y. He’s big, strong, fast and will be a major element to the Sox fortunes for many years to come. We’ll likely see him in Chicago with his big bro some time this season.

* Z — Z stands for the many zeroes our starting staff will throw this season. The strength of the club is definitely our rotation with Peavy (pictured below, top), Garcia, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and last but not least Mr. Perfect, Mark Buehrle (pictured below, bottom).

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A Fun Win, the Roster Narrows Down and Another Day in Paradise

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.

Juan Pierre was 3 for 5 with an RBI, Mark Kotsay 3 for 4 with an RBI and Alex Rios clouted a stand-up triple, driving in two first inning runs. The struggling Mark Teahen singled and laid down a nice sacrifice bunt.
On the pitching side, Freddy Garcia gave up a run and five hits in three frames. Dan Hudson and Randy Williams pitched two perfect innings each. Sergio Santos had some control issues in the eighth, but was rescued by Greg Aquino who got the last out of the inning and pitched a flawless ninth.
Speaking of Hudson, Santos and Aquino, it appears that they are the last men standing for the seventh and final spot in the pen as Jhonny Nunez and Freddy Dolsi were both optioned to Charlotte. Others on the chopping block were pitchers Lucas Harrell, Brian Omogrosso, Clevelan Santeliz (optioned to Charlotte), Brian Hynick (outrighted to Charlotte after an injury-plagued spring) and Santo Luis (Birmingham). The lone non-pitcher cut was catcher Cole Armstrong, who was assigned to minor league camp. The Sox are left with 44 players in the major league camp–20 pitchers, four catchers, 11 infielders and nine outfielders.
Sox notes of note: Nothing serious, but both Rios (left quad) and Carlos Quentin (left shoulder after being hit by a pitch for the second time) were taken out of yesterday’s game for precautionary reasons…Jared Mitchell‘s surgery was a success, but he’s definitely out for the season…Spent a great day at the ballpark yesterday with a group of friends, including Jeff and Lee Weiss who are fellow natives of Northwest Indiana. The only negative was that their sister, Lynn Garson, was in Florida and couldn’t join us. She’s at the top of the list when it comes to fans of the Pale Hose.
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   Jake Peavy, who will be on the mound against the Dodgers in today’s St.
   Patty’s matinee, and Alex Rios, one of yesterday’s hitting stars. 

The Interesting Case of Alejandro De Aza

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. 

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.
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                        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.
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                                              Peavy hopes to stifle Cubs


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

 

Lance Johnson, Juan Pierre “One” of a Kind as Past and Present Meet in White Sox Outfield

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Sox Boast Teacher-Student Dynamic in the Leadoff Spot
I’ve always been fascinated by the special connections in sports that seemingly come out of nowhere. For instance, Hall of Famers John Havlicek and Phil Niekro grew up together in Ohio. Legends Bill Russell and Frank Robinson were 1952 basketball teammates at McClymonds High School in Oakland CA and the next year Robinson and future baseball stars Vada Pinson and Curt Flood comprised the nucleus of the McClymonds Five. Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola lived across the street from each other and were best buds as youngsters on The Hill in St. Louis.
Another interesting connection has surfaced in a story by Scott Merkin on whitesox.com describing the mentor-student relationship between former and current White Sox outfielders and leadoff men Lance “One Dog” Johnson and Juan Pierre, just acquired from the Dodgers. 
As the story goes, Johnson and Pierre are both products of the University of South Alabama, where Johnson came back to work out with his alma mater’s baseball squad. It was there he took Pierre under his wing.
“You have to realize I actually trained Juan and gave him the road map to the big leagues,” Johnson told Merkin with a modicum of levity. “I taught him my innermost secrets. I’m excited to see he’s here and wearing my number.” Pierre will wear No. 1 for the Sox in honor of Johnson. He has previously worn No. 9, but that was Sox favorite Minnie Minoso‘s number and it’s retired.
“He always preached being a leadoff hitter, not a leadoff man,” said Pierre. “You are not up there just trying to walk, but you should try to do damage. He took his walks, but he made his point clear about being a leadoff hitter, getting on base anyway you can and hitting the ball hard.”
Sox fans are looking forward to seeing Pierre put Johnson’s lesson plan to work at the Cell this summer.
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