White Sox

Konerko, Garcia lead Sox to fourth straight win


Konerko, Garcia lead Sox to fourth straight win

Thursday, July 8, 2010
Updated: 1:30 AM
By Brett Ballantini

CHICAGO Another day, another win paced by a multitude of heroes from the Chicago White Sox.

The hottest team in baseball took its 17th of 21 with a 5-2 battering of the Los Angeles Angels, earning Freddy Garcia his ninth win in spite of a season-high five errors. The win moved the White Sox ahead of the Minnesota Twins into second place in the AL Central. The Detroit Tigers sit one game up in first place, rightfully shaking in their knickers.

That was the first time our defense didnt help us, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. But our staff overcame those errors. Were picking each other up.

Im just throwing strikes and keeping the ball down to keep it in the park, Garcia said. And we scored when we needed to.

The game was delayed for a second straight night by rain, this time the stoppage clocking in at two hours and 20 minutes.

The otherwise-unflappable Garcia admitted being affected by the delayhe was warm and ready to take the mound at 7:10, but the rains came just moments before game time. The veteran got out of a jam in the second after a single by Torii Hunter and a catchers interference call on a Hideki Matsui swing put runners on first and second with nobody out. But Mike Napolis hot smash to third was handled by Dayan Viciedo and transformed into an awkward but effective 5-4-3 double play. Matsui opted for Wiffleball rules on the play, simply running into second sacker Gordon Beckham as Bacon flipped on the double-play turn rather than Matsui sliding to take him out. Garcia fanned Juan Rivera to extinguish the threat, marking the rightys second straight inning ending with a K, en route to six on the game.

I still have to do my job, Garcia said of the start-stop delays that could have stymied his outing. I tried to relax and get ready. Thats all you can do.

Paul Konerko continued his campaign to be sent to Tuesdays All-Star Game in Pauliewood with a two-out, opposite-field double to score two in the third and spot Garcia a two-run lead. Konerko also doubled in the eighth, finishing with a 2-4 night.

It was a typically laborious outing for Garcia, who scattered five hits and one run over six innings, leaving six Halos stranded. Those six innings ate up 92 pitches.

I cant say anything more about Freddy, Guillen said. He knows how to pitch.

He just frustrates you, left fielder Juan Pierre said. Ive faced him enough times to know, its a quiet 0-3 or 0-4, but youre still heading back to the dugout unhappy.

Garcia could rest easy by the time his long night ended thanks to a crooked number his offense put up in the bottom of the fifth. Alex Rios singled and was pushed to second by an Andruw Jones walk and to third with a Ramon Castro sac fly. It was then that Dick Allen in Cuban threads, Viciedo, rocketed a double off the left-center wall, further underscoring his at-bats as must-see. Viciedos bullet plated Rios, and the masher came around to score along with Jones, when Power Packed Energy Wad Brent Lillibridgeindeed, with the late scratch of Carlos Quentin, Guillens designated hitter tonighttapped a soft single to center.

Its a matter of confidence, Lillibridge says of the dagger that ran Angels starter Joe Saunders. I know what I did wrong on his two earlier Ks, adjusted and swung at the right pitches.

J.J. Putz came on for the seventh (yawn) to protect the 5-1 lead and strung his (snooze) 21st straight scoreless outing (snore) with a one-two-three inning, complete with two strikeouts. (Putz now owns the second-longest streak of scoreless outings in White Sox history.)

In the bottom of the eighth, rookie Sergio Santos came on and made things a bit exciting with two straight walks, then a K before Hunter tapped a grounder to third that resulted in a double errorone from defensive replacement Omar Visquels fielding (his first error in 20 years, Guillen cracked), a second charged to Alexei Ramirez on the throw. The double gaffe tapped out Chicagos errors for the game at five, Erick Aybar scoring on the second error to trim the Chisox lead to 5-2.

The game was sloppy tonight, Lillibridge said. Normally, Id want to be out there in the field, but that was a weird, wild game. It just goes to show that things are really going our way.

Matt Thornton came in again to bail out Santos and the rest of the men in black, inducing a line-shot to center from Matsui and a sawed-off bat, weak liner to short from Napoli.

Bobby Jenks came on for a perfect ninth to earn his 18th save in 19 tries.

In a game where once again the list of Chicago Nine heroes was long, Garcia stood out as the wearer of the cape. But the hurler was nonplussed over the nine wins that have shocked Chicago.

If Im 100 percent and feel good, this is what I can do, Garcia said. People can say whatever they want, theyre surprised or something. But I know what I can do.

Still, his manager and biggest fan, Guillen, is delighted by the turn of events.

If you had told me that Freddy would have nine wins in the first half, wed be in first place, Guillen said. Well, were almost there.

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

Will Ozzie Guillen ever manage again? 'I think my time's going to come up, maybe'

Will Ozzie Guillen ever manage again? 'I think my time's going to come up, maybe'

Will Ozzie Guillen ever manage again?

He was the guy who helped bring a World Series championship to the South Side in 2005 hasn't been a big league skipper since 2012, in his one ill-fated season managing the Miami Marlins. But his name has come up as a social-media suggestion for open jobs for years, including just two winters ago when the White Sox needed to replace Robin Ventura.

But Guillen, who spent eight seasons as the White Sox manager, said on the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast that he hasn't interviewed for any jobs since leaving the Marlins and discussed the trend of hiring young managers who just recently finished their playing careers.

"A couple tried, not to interview me but say, 'Can we talk to you about it?' And I knew I'm not going to be the manager of that team," Guillen told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien. "When you look at the manager list, you're going to interview me and you have kid, kid, kid, kid, kid, Ozzie. What's the chance I'm going to manage that team? None. 'Thank you for thinking about me,' and it's cool.

"I've known I'm not going to be the guy because the list. Before, they interview you for a managing job, it's two or three or four guys. Now they've got 30. Nowadays, it's harder to become a manager than win the World Series. Because there are so many interviews.

But does that mean he'll never manage again?

"I think my time's going to come up, maybe," Guillen said. "I always think about (former Florida Marlins manager) Jack McKeon. Jack McKeon was out of baseball for 30 years and all of a sudden came out and won the World Series (in 2003). ... I hope I don't die before that. Jack was 70-plus when he was managing. But we'll see."

Guillen talked about his hopes to be more involved in the White Sox organization after the way his tenure ended back in 2011, saying he hopes to be at spring training with the team one day.

"I'd like to go to spring training with them, that's the first time I'm going to say that, just because I see everybody in baseball, they're bringing former players to the field," he said. "But the problem is, I go there, here we go. 'Why is it ... you're coming here?'

"I don't (want to be a distraction), and I never will be."

Hear more of Garfien's interview with Guillen on the White Sox Talk Podcast.

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Avisail Garcia be on the White Sox by season's end?


Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Will Avisail Garcia be on the White Sox by season's end?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

Avisail Garcia was great last year for the White Sox.

But does that mean he's a long-term part of this rebuilding team or a potential trade piece?

How Garcia follows things up in 2018 will go a long way in determining the answer to that question, as well as a perhaps more pressing one: Will Garcia still be on the White Sox when the 2018 campaign comes to a close?

Whatever your scouting-eye impressions might have been, statistically, Garcia was one of baseball's best hitters last season. He ranked second in the American League with a .346 batting average. Only league MVP Jose Altuve ranked above Garcia. The White Sox right fielder also ranked sixth in the AL with a .380 on-base percentage. His .885 OPS ranked in the top 10 in the Junior Circuit.

It was the much-anticipated breakout for a guy who's had big expectations ever since he hit the bigs as a 21-year-old in 2012, when he carried a pressure-packed comparison to Detroit Tigers teammate and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. After coming to the South Side in a mid-2013 trade, his first three seasons were impacted by injuries and featured an unimpressive .250/.308/.380 slash line with only 32 homers in 314 games.

But last season, that all changed. He had a career year, slashing .330/.380/.506 with 18 homers, 80 RBIs, 27 doubles and 171 hits. Garcia was named to the AL All-Star team and established himself as the second best hitter on a team where the best hitter, Jose Abreu, is one of baseball's most productive and most consistent.

So can he do it again? That remains to be seen, of course. The scale of the improvements in so many statistical categories make one think that Garcia being able to do it two years in a row would almost be as surprising or more surprising than him doing it just once.

But if Garcia can repeat his performance, at least in the season's first few months, he could potentially draw the eyes of numerous contending teams looking for a bat to add to their lineups. One season of production perhaps wasn't enough to demand the kind of return package Rick Hahn's front office got in return for Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana. But a few good months at the outset of 2018 could draw plenty of interest, making the question of whether Garcia will stay in a White Sox uniform for the entirety of the season a valid one.

All that being said, Garcia's situation — he's under team control for two more seasons — allows the White Sox to be flexible. Garcia's still young, entering his age-27 season. The White Sox could opt to keep a talented hitter, extend him and make him a part of the rebuilding effort, penciling him into the lineup of the future alongside younger hitters like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert. Or they could wait to move him, perhaps next offseason or at the 2019 trade deadline.

But Garcia's performance will dictate how viable each of those options ends up being. He finally put it all together in 2017. In 2018, he'll have to keep it all together.