White Sox

Ramirez's second homer is a walk-off winner

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Ramirez's second homer is a walk-off winner

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Posted: April 12, 10:49 p.m. Updated: 12:12 a.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago White Sox entered their 11th game of the season at 6-4, a seeming letdown for a club that even manager Ozzie Guillen has acknowledged could easily be 9-1 at this juncture.

WATCH: Ozzie upset with Sox fans

But a .600 winning percentage gets you 97 wins on the major-league slate, even any Baseball Prospectus antimatter wouldnt require that many Ws to win the American League Central.

The White Sox upped that winning percentage to .636 with an improbably sloppy win, a game that started strong, got truly slushy in the middle, then finishing in thrilling fashion, as Alexei Ramirez launched a two-out solo homer in the 10th his second round-tripper of the game to send the Pale Hose home victorious, 6-5. It was the first game-ending home run of Ramirezs career.

The notoriously slow-starting Ramirez equaled his April home run output over the first three years of his career with Tuesday nights output, and the quiet shortstop has applied some fuzzy meteorology toward the solution to the problem.

Four years ago it was a lot colder than it was now, he said. Im just making the best of what the climate is and Im enjoying it.

Alexei has been great over the years against lefties, a very dangerous hitter, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I almost got him to swing 3-0 he was looking at me. I wanted someone on base but the last thing you expect is a home run.

Hes swung the bat very well this is the best month of April hes swung the bat. He got a big hit for us early in the game, especially against Trevor Cahill. Cahill is a kid who throws a lot of ground balls. I never thought wed hit a home run in April in this weather against him, and Alexei did.

The White Sox jumped out to a 4-0 lead courtesy of Ramirezs first homer, the three-run blast Guillen was referencing. The White Sox then kept the train rolling vs. the recently-extended righty, pushing across one more run on a Paul Konerko fielders choice.

The bounty proved too big for White Sox starter Edwin Jackson, coming off his best start in a White Sox uniform, his eight-inning masterpiece vs. the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. The righthander scuffled through every inning and was knocked from the box at 100 pitches and one out short of qualifying for his third win of the season.

Today, I just had no feel for my off-speed pitches, Jackson said. Everything came out spinning. You have to compete with what you have, and try to keep the game as close as possible.

One of the toughest decisions we had to make today is taking Jackson out with one out left in the fifth, Guillen said. He couldnt get the win. It was a bad feeling about it. There was a lefty hitter out there, and I wanted to switch him around. Thats the reason we made the move.

Jacksons body language slowly stalking off the field, looking back at Ramirez (who had just made his first error and second miscue of the inning) twice while leaving betrayed just how furious he was at the inefficient effort.

I dont know any starter that is going to be pretty happy going 4 23 innings, he said. Its definitely not helping the pen out, and you want to be in there as long as possible. But its part of the game and one of those things.

The sixth inning was reserved for the worst of the White Sox tonight. First, Tony Pena came on as the third pitcher of the night and promptly surrendered a single to Mark Ellis and a home run to Kevin Kouzmanoff - Oaklands seventh and eighth hitters - turning what had been a 4-3 lead upside-down. Just one out later, Alex Rios dropped a fly ball for an error, the outfields fifth in just 11 games.

The Bronx cheers from the U.S. Cellular Field crowd all game long and intensified after Rios drop bothered Guillen.

I know were not playing well weve made a couple mistakes that cost us a couple games, but every time we catch the ball and fans are going to boo, I dont think thats fair, Guillen said. I know we all want to win, but every fly ball were going to get booed? Dont kick the outfield when theyre down. Try to support them.

I dont see any better center fielder than Alex, and the way Juan plays for the White Sox the past couple years, I dont think he deserves every fly ball he catches to have people booing him. Youre going to boo someone, boo me. Because Im the one who makes the lineup and Im the one who plays those guys Weve only played 11 games. I played here for a long time. Its a bad feeling every time were booed when we catch the ball in the outfield.

Still, Guillen was pleased once again with how his team bounced back from a heartbreaking loss.

We needed this win bad, he said. With the loss last night, we bounced back again and played well.

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

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.