Results tagged ‘ Will Ohman ’

After a Tough Loss, the Sox Try to Make the Best of a Brutal Schedule

Halfway through yesterday’s game, with the Sox leading 6-0, I started to think about what I was going to write about the Sox’s two-game sweep over the Tigers.

Then came the  top of the sixth inning and all I could think about is “Hold the Presses.”

Andy Dirks singles. Miguel Cabrera homers. Prince Fielder doubles. Alex Avila grounds out, Fielder to third. Brennan Boesch is hit by a pitch. Ryan Raburn homers. Jhonny Peralta walks. (Will Ohman replaces Jake Peavy). Pinch-hitter Delmon Young is hit by a pitch, Peralta to second. Austin Jackson homers. Dirks pops out. Cabrera lines out to center.

D-i-s-a-s-t-e-r.

Heading into the ninth trailing 10-6, The Sox did make it interesting. They scored twice and had runners on second and third with Dayan Viciedo representing the winning run at the plate. Tank hit a long drive to right that came within a few feet of sending Sox fans home happy. But it was not to be.

Now comes the fun part. After losing a tough game, the Sox entourage took the long flight to Cali to face the Angels in a two-game series, today and tomorrow. Then it’s back to Chicago to face the Media Darlings at Bartman Field. What were the schedule-makers thinking?

Sox Note of Note:  A.J. Pierzynski was on fire yesterday, going 5 for 5 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

A Run and Five Hits Not Enough in Rubber Match Against the Tigers

After Adam Dunn‘s first inning homer, I thought the Sox had a great chance to take the rubber game against the Tigers and head into Cleveland with some momentum. But it was not to be.

Dunn’s blast proved to be the only run the Sox could muster on just five hits. Still, they had their chances where a base hit could have tied the game or even put them ahead, but it didn’t  happen in the 3-1 loss. Give credit to Tiger starter Rick Porcello and relievers Octavio Dotel, Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde.

Sox sub starter Dylan Axelrod wasn’t horrible, but didn’t last long was tagged by two long balls. In 4 1/3 innings he gave up two runs–solo homers to Austin Jackson and Prince Fielder. Axelrod and relievers Will Ohman, Zach Stewart and Hector Santiago did a credible job in the clutch as 12 Detroit runners were left on base. A credible job in the clutch with one exception. Santiago’s penchant to give up homers came back to bite him in the ninth as Andy Dirks‘ solo shot provided the Tigers with a key insurance run that proved key as the Sox had the tying runs on base in the final frame.

Chris Sale, welcome to the closer role.

As Ventura Era Begins, Hector Santiago is a Most Interesting Piece of the South Side Puzzle

Just because I haven’t posted lately, it doesn’t mean I’m not eagerly awaiting the 2012 season. And it makes it more fun when the so-called experts, who frankly don’t have much more insight than those of us fans that follow the game closely, predict doomsday for our Sox.

Things seem to be coming together with a week to go before the opener against the defending A.L. champion Rangers. The remaining roster spots are in the bullpen and on the bench.

It looks like the pen will shape up with Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Will Ohman, Addison Reed and Hector Santiago with two of the following five fighting it out for the two remaining spots: Eric Stults, Brian Bruney, Nate Jones, Zack Stewart and Dylan Axelrod. The specific roles, including the annointment of the closer, are yet to be determined. The most interesting candidates are the rookie Reed, who closed for Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State, and Santiago, a New Jersey native who has impressed everyone in Glendale with an effective screwball.

If nothing unusual happens, Eduardo Escobar has won the last spot among position players. He’s had a good enough spring and displayed enough infield versatility to prompt the Sox to send the likes of Dan Johnson, Dallas McPherson, Jim Gallagher and Jordan Danks back to minor league camp.

It’s so hard to know what this team is going to be. For now, let’s sit back, relax and watch the Robin Ventura era begin.

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…

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.

SoxFest Day 2: The Chairman Explains “All In” Philosophy and Konerko Bullish About 2011

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The most fascinating news item coming out of the second day of SoxFest was Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf‘s explanation of why the Sox took the “All In” route in 2011 as opposed to entering the season with a younger, less expensive product.
Reinsdorf, who has been given a bad rap over the years for NOT spending, went above and beyond this offseason by increasing the payroll by more than $20 million.
Here are some of the comments from the man who has won seven titles–six with the Bulls and in 2005 with the White Sox–courtesy of MLB.com’s Scott Merkin:
“Last year was a difficult year. We weren’t as good as we thought we could be. Our attendance was down. Financially, it came out OK. 

“Thinking about this year, we had to make a decision for the long term: Were we better off to try to get better or were we better off to use this as a rebuilding year? That’s the thing that took us a long time to make up our mind.

“Finally, I just decided like two days before the Adam Dunn signing, ‘Let’s go for it.’ Let’s hope if we spend the money, the attendance will pick up and once we committed to Adam Dunn, then we had to be all in. Then it had to be (Paul Konerko) and we had to bring A.J. back.”

More from SoxFest:

* Another inside tidbit that was revealed yesterday involved Pierzynski. Apparently he was a phone call away from signing with the Dodgers, but because LA ownership was unavailable to approve some the of language, A.J. changed course and accepted the Sox offer through his agent. Because of the delicate nature of the circumstances, Pierzynski even called Reinsdorf to make sure the offer was real.
* In addition to relating the story behind his signing, A.J. endorsed another Sox offseason signing (via Merkin): “I told (Don Cooper), ‘We need another lefty. We need another lefty. We need another lefty.’ Going out and getting Will Ohman was huge. He can get lefties out. Look at our division with Mauer, Morneau, Choo, Sizemore…You have to have more than one lefty available to go through a lineup three times. People look at the eighth inning, but what about the sixth inning when you have the bases loaded with two out and Joe Mauer up and you have an extra lefty. Will Ohman is that guy.”

* Kenny Williams indicated that outfielder Alejandro De Aza, infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge and Dayan Viciedo, who is now learning how to play the outfield in addition to his previous experience at the two infield corner positions, will be fighting it out for the final utility spot on the roster. Williams also offered that De Aza is better than people think he is.
* Ozzie predicted that Carlos Quentin will revert back to his 2008 form when he was vying for the league MVP award before an injury cut his season short with a month to go. CQ slugged 36 homers, drove in 100 runs, batted .288 with a .965 OPS in ’08.
* Sox captain Konerko sees good things ahead for the 2011 Sox, as reported by Mark Gonzales in today’s Tribune: “Everyone has their opinions on who is good and who isn’t in baseball, and people have their advice and thoughts. But you’d be hard-pressed to say, ‘there’s a gaping hole there’ or ‘this is a real problem that is going to affect them.’ We’re pretty solid everywhere you look with everything you need.”

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Sox-Wise and Otherwise: Ohman, Alomar, Vizquel, Soriano, Baines and McEwing


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My weekly offseason opinions and observations about the White Sox and more…

* SoxWorld has been quiet since Oneygate II, but now we hear that lefty middle reliever Will Ohman is about to join the South Siders. An eight-year veteran, Ohman spent five years with the Cubs, had stints with the Braves and Dodgers and posted a 3.21 in 68 games with the Orioles and Marlins in 2010. He is a specialist against lefthanded hitters, who hit only .229 against him last season. While the Pale Hose has lefties Matt Thornton and Chris Sale at the back end of the pen, they were in need of a situational lefty. Ohman will fill that role.

* Despite his less-than-stellar performance in parts of two seasons (2003-04) with the White Sox, there is no doubt that Roberto Alomar is a Hall of Famer. And if he ever retires, his double-play partner and current White Sox infielder Omar Vizquel will join him in Cooperstown. Along with the combination of Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio, both Hall of Famers, the Alomar-Vizquel combo was the best double-play duo I ever saw. All of them are pictured above.
* Speaking of the Hall of Fame, it comes as no surprise to me that Harold Baines is now off the ballot, failing to get the necessary five percent of the writers’ vote. It’s not that Baines doesn’t deserve more support, it’s just that it’s a burden the Sox and their fans have carried for a long time dating back to Billy Pierce and Minnie Minoso. We simply don’t get the love from the voters. That said, things will surely change in a few years when the Big Hurt is on the ballot.
* Although rumors have spread that the Sox have been on the trail of ace reliever Rafael Soriano, the latest is that their interest has waned. It’s likely that the fact Soriano’s agent is Scott Boras and the subsequent asking price are the reasons why. The Sox are pretty close to their salary limit with all the spending this offseason and they still have to deal with the arbitration eligible John Danks, Carlos Quentin and Tony Pena.
* It didn’t get much notice at all, but Joe McEwing‘s appointment as manager of the top Sox farm club in Charlotte may be more significant than it seems. Ozzie‘s contract is up at the end of this season. Who knows?, if the Sox don’t live up to expectations and McEwing distinguishes himself…
For those of you not familiar with McEwing (pictured below), he was a hard-nosed utility player who played nine years in the majors with the Cardinals, Mets, Royals and Astros. A fan favorite, he sported a lifetime batting average of .251, but his hustle and versatility made him a valuable commodity. His promotion is a result of impressing the Sox brass the past two seasons at Class A Winston-Salem.
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