White Sox

A.J. Pierzynski's top moments with the White Sox

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A.J. Pierzynski's top moments with the White Sox

With A.J. Pierzynski heading to Texas, CSN Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka put together his personal top nine moments from his eight years on the South Side.

Sept. 20, 2005: Pierzynski stomps Aaron Boone

With the Sox lead down to 2 12 games in the Central race, there was an air of urgency at U.S. Cellular Field. Cleveland was up 5-3 entering the bottom of the 7th, but Pierzynski had something to say about that.

First Pierzynski doubled home Carl Everett. Next he made his way to third as Paul Konerko scored on an Aaron Rowand sac fly. But an errant throw from first baseman Jose Hernandez sent third baseman Aaron Boone diving to the dirt and Pierzynski stomped him as he lie in his path before scoring the go-ahead run.

A shot of the stomp showed A.J. with his eyes fixed on his victim. Hawk Harrelson chuckled. So did I.

Oct. 4, 2005: A pair of homers in postseason opener

The White Sox dominated in the 2005 regular season, but they also dominated in 2000. So the 2000 ALDS disappointment against the Mariners was fresh in my mind. And they drew the defending champion Red Sox. And then Game 1 of the 2005 ALDS happened.

BoSox starter Matt Clement was lit up to the tune of 8 earned runs in 3 13 IP, and Pierzynski clouted two homers and knocked in four. It was the second multi-HR game in franchise postseason history (after Ted Kluszewski in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series) and Chicago's Sox won in a 14-2 laugher.

Oct. 12, 2005: Pierzynski steals first base

Run first, ask questions later. A.J. did. Angels catcher Josh Paul thought the Sox receiver was the victim of an inning-ending strikeout against Kelvim Escobar, and technically he was. But Pierzynski ran to first and home-plate umpire Doug Eddings ruled that Paul didn't catch it cleanly. Pablo Ozuna entered as a pinch runner and scored on a Joe Crede walk-off double.

Instead of heading into extra innings, facing perhaps an 0-2 hole in the ALCS, they evened the series and won the next three games. And Angels fans haven't forgotten. Unfortunately, they'll be seeing more of Pierzynski than ever in 2013.

May 20, 2006: The punch

After Jermaine Dye grounded out to start the bottom of the second, Cubs starter Rich Hill walked Pierzynski, Crede and Juan Uribe consecutively. When Pierzynski scored on a Brian Anderson sacrifice fly, he emphatically slapped home plate after barreling over Cubs receiver Michael Barrett.

Of course, then Barrett clocked A.J. in the face and the next thing you know, Brian Anderson was throwing down with John Mabry. This eventually led to the White Sox' clever "Punch A.J." campaign for a 2006 All-Star roster spot (which he won).

The dropped third strike and the punch were arguably Pierzynski's two signature games. He went a combined 0-3 with 2 strikeouts, 2 walks and a run in those two games combined.

May 21, 2006: Pierzynski Shows up Big Z

The day after "The Punch," the Sox (wearing 1906 throwbacks) & Cubs met again at US Cellular Field. In the fourth inning, Pierzynski took Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano deep to tie the game at two. After crossing home plate, Pierzynski, ever the instigator, pointed skyward, just like Zambrano does after an inning-ending out. Big Z had to be restrained, and the crowd was abuzz. However, Zambrano & the Cubs emerged 7-4 victors after a bullpen letdown.

July 1, 2006: Redemption at Wrigley

A third SoxCubs moment from 2006. The rivalry was as heated as ever mainly from the intense May series, despite a miserable season on the Northside (while the White Sox were on their way to a second consecutive 90 win season). The Sox trailed 6-5 entering the 9th inning, and Cubs closer Ryan Dempster came in to try to nail down the save.

Dempster got two quick outs on a Scott Podsednik flyout and a Tadahito Iguchi groundout, but Ross Gload singled and Dye walked to set the stage. Pierzynski crushed a 1-1 pitch to right to give the Southsiders an 8-6 lead, which Bobby Jenks preserved with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Related: Flowers ready to earn his role

Aug. 24, 2008: Quick thinking on the basepaths

In the bottom of the 10th inning against the Rays, Pierzynski singled and advanced to second on a Carlos Quentin flyout. When Dye hit into a fielder's choice to shortstop Jason Bartlett, Pierzynski was caught in a rundown and appeared to be in trouble. When it seemed the Sox were destined to blow a good scoring chance, he initiated contact with third baseman Willy Aybar after Aybar made a throw back to second.

Umpire Doug Eddings (him again) ruled obstruction and awarded Pierzynski third base, which created a first and third situation. After a Jim Thome intentional walk to load the bases, Alexei Ramirez singled Pierzynski home with the winning run.

July 4, 2011: The balk-off

Pierzynski came on to pinch hit in the 9th following a blown save by Sergio Santos. A single, a sacrifice, and a wild offering by Aaron Crow put Pierzynski on third with one out. Mark Teahen went down on strikes for the second out which left it up to Adam Dunn (whose homer gave the Sox a 4-3 lead in the 8th). Or did it?

On a 1-0 count, home plate umpire Ed Rapuano signaled Pierzynski home. Who else would score on a game-ending balk? Cue the fireworks.

March 23, 2012: Spring speed

Yeah, it was Cactus League action, but who could forget Pierzynski's inside-the-park blast off Diamondbacks reliever Brett Lorin. The ball hit slightly to the left of the 410 mark in center and ended up about 10-20 feet from the right field line. Hawk and Steve Stone called for an oxygen mask.

Honorable Mention: August 3, 2012

Pierzynski shoved a pie in our former colleague Sarah Kustok's face on her last day at CSN (during a postgame interview with Alex Rios).

Potential first-ballot guy and Blackout Game hero Jim Thome headlines group of former White Sox on this year's Hall of Fame ballot

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AP

Potential first-ballot guy and Blackout Game hero Jim Thome headlines group of former White Sox on this year's Hall of Fame ballot

White Sox fans have seen a couple of their team's all-time greats go into the Hall of Fame in recent years, with Frank Thomas inducted in 2014 and Tim Raines inducted earlier this year.

Seven former White Sox are on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, even if only a couple of them made a big impact on the South Side.

Jim Thome is on the ballot for the first time. While more famously a member of those great Cleveland Indians teams of the 1990s, Thome spent four seasons in a White Sox uniform, playing in 529 games and belting 134 of his 612 career home runs with the South Siders.

A Peoria native currently working as a member of the organization, Thome was a beloved part of four White Sox teams, including the last one to reach the postseason in 2008. He smacked a solo homer to drive in the lone run in the legendary Blackout Game, a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins that gave the White Sox the American League Central crown in the 163rd game of the 2008 regular season.

Thome ranks second in White Sox history in slugging percentage and OPS, trailing only Thomas in both categories. He's No. 7 on the franchise leaderboard in on-base percentage and No. 13 on the home run list.

Given that he ranks eighth on baseball's all-time home run list, Thome could very well be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Also on this year's ballot is Carlos Lee, a power-hitting outfielder who spent the first six seasons of his major league career with the White Sox. El Caballo hit 152 homers and drove in 552 runs in 880 games with the White Sox, finishing 18th in AL MVP voting in 2003 after he slashed .291/.331/.499 with 31 homers. His numbers were even better in 2004, his final season with the White Sox.

Lee ranks ninth on the team's all-time home run list and 11th on the franchise leaderboard in slugging percentage.

Lee did an awful lot of damage in six seasons with the Houston Astros, as well, and earned three All-Star nods in his post-Sox career.

Five others to play for the White Sox are on this year's ballot. Sammy Sosa, more noteworthy for what he did with the Cubs, spent parts of three seasons on the South Side. Omar Vizquel, another Indians great like Thome, played for the White Sox in 2010 and 2011. Andruw Jones, better known for his defensive highlights with the Atlanta Braves, played 107 games with the White Sox in 2010. Orlando Hudson played in 51 games for the White Sox in 2012. And Manny Ramirez, the legendary Indians and Red Sox slugger, played 24 games with the White Sox in 2010.

In order to qualify for election into the Hall of Fame, a player must appear on 75 of ballots submitted by voters.

Omar Vizquel will reportedly be a minor league manager for White Sox in 2018

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AP

Omar Vizquel will reportedly be a minor league manager for White Sox in 2018

Former White Sox shortstop Omar Vizquel is reportedly about to become current White Sox minor league manager Omar Vizquel.

According to a Sunday report, Vizquel will be the manager of the Winston-Salem Dash in 2018.

Vizquel spent 24 seasons in the big leagues, most of those with the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants. But two of his final four seasons, 2010 and 2011, came on the South Side, where he appeared in 166 games over those two campaigns.

Vizquel is considered one of baseball's all-time great defenders and has 11 Gold Gloves to back that up. He batted .272 with a .336 on-base percentage over a nearly quarter-century major league career that saw him play in four different decades with six different big league teams.

Vizquel has spent the past five seasons as a major league coach. He was an infield coach with the Los Angeles Angels in 2013, and he was a common sight for White Sox fans during his four-year stint as the Detroit Tigers' first-base coach.

Vizquel also interviewed this offseason for the Tigers' open managerial position that eventually went to former Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. Vizquel was not retained by the Tigers to be a part of Gardenhire's new coaching staff.

Vizquel managed the Venezuelan team in this year's World Baseball Classic. His team advanced to the second round of the competition, losing all three games in that round.

Last season, Winston-Salem was a focal point for those watching the White Sox bevy of highly ranked prospects develop in the minor leagues. Another former White Sox player, Willie Harris, was the manager at Winston-Salem last season.