White Sox

Humber's gem lost in bullpen collapse

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Humber's gem lost in bullpen collapse

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011
Posted: 4:07 p.m. Updated: 5:33 p.m.

By BrettBallantini
CSNChicago.com White SoxInsiderFollow@CSNChi_Beatnik
Box score
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After two straight subpar starts, Phil Humber had expressed hope that when he drives home after pitching in his last startthe finale to the Chicago White Sox seasonhed have a smile on his face.

Humber, in a season filled with most improbable success, accomplished his mission, with one-hit pitching over 6 23 innings and a career-high nine strikeouts. With a game score of 71, it tied the Lillibridge game in the Bronx back in April for Humbers second-best of the season.

Today I went with more of a relaxed mindset, Humber said, noting that for most of the second half hes been putting too much pressure on his shoulders. I worked through things and pitched strong.

Phils been great all year, look at his numbers, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. Its a shame we couldnt get him his 10th win. I said at the time in July, he should have been an All-Star He can go out with his head held high, hopefully knowing he has a spot in the spring.

Unfortunately for Humber, he fell short in his bid for that 10th win and a record over .500 when Chris Sale blew the save in the ninth, when he loaded the bases and proceeded to walk in the tying and lead run.

Chris didnt quite have it, White Sox interim manager Don Cooper said. He had a surprising lack of strikes. He just didnt have it for us today.

The White Sox finished in third place in the AL Central, at 79-83.

The notion that Humber has been the White Sox's top starter this season if difficult to dispute. He leads the staff (in his 25 starts) in average game score (54.5) and WHIP (1.18), and finished second in ERA (3.75).

Chicagos first run came on a solo homer in the fourth from Gordon Beckham, his 10th of the season. The White Sox took the lead in the next inning, when Alexei Ramirez doubled home Alejandro De Aza. Toronto had leaped out to a lead in the first inning before an out had been recorded in the game, as Mike McCoy led off with a walk and was doubled home by Eric Thames.

Overall, it was another terrible offensive day for the White Sox, with lost opportunities at every turn. In what ex-Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen would have termed White Sox baseball, the club was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. Twice the sacks were stranded packed.

Still, the slim lead was intact heading into the ninth, when Sale came on and stitched two hits and three walks into two runs and a blown save. Sergio Santos and Will Ohman were forced to come on and bail Sale out, leaving the score at 3-2.

But the White Sox failed to rally in the ninth, evening Coopers career slate at 1-1.

Ive got to believe that my managing tenure has come to an end, Cooper smiled, noting he still feels he could manage in the big leagues and that, contrary to popular perception, pitching coaches have brains, too.

We always want to end on something positive, but it didnt happen today, Cooper said. Now weve got to come get it done next year. It wasnt a fun season. Take a couple weeks off, and get back to the routine.

As for whether his gut tells him whether the White Sox will come back strong in 2012, Cooper was direct.

They better come back stronger, otherwise crawl into a ball and let them beat the hell out of you again, he said.

Managerfan

At heart, Cooper is a fan of the game, and now that his stint as manager is finished, he enters the offseason in his usual roleas a fan.

Ill pick up the paper every day and scan the transactions, like I did when I was a kid Cooper said. Ill be looking at the ticker. Im back to being a fan now.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information. CSNChicago staff contributed to this report.

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: