White Sox

Sox Drawer: Crede's still feeling the pain

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Sox Drawer: Crede's still feeling the pain

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
Posted: 9:36 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Exactly two years ago today, Joe Crede took the field at the Metrodome against the Oakland As. He didnt know it at the time, but it would be the final game of his major league career.

Battling an injured back that on a scale between 1 and 10 had the pain level of 10, Crede came to the plate four times that day. He struck out every time.

The pain was just out of this world. I played the whole game through that pain, Crede said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.

Afterwards, he walked into the office of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and told him that his season was over. So was his career. He just didnt know it at the time.

It really bothered me, trying to come back the next year and not getting much for offers at all. Not being wanted in baseball is not a good feeling after youve played so well and all of sudden it just stops, Crede said. I wish it would have been a storybook ending, but probably 95 percent of major league players dont have a fairy tale ending.

Baseball might have stopped for Crede in 2009, but the pain in his back still remains. Its a problem that may never go away.

It eats at me everyday almost. Everyday I get out of bed, Crede said. I have to get up in the middle of the night and I feel that pain again in my back. It really bothers me. It usually takes me an hour, or an hour and a half to get back to feeling normal walking around. Its what I deal with on a daily basis.

What specifically is wrong with Credes back? Seemingly just about everything.

Theres arthritis back there. My joints are just swelling up, causing irritation. Im sure theres still some herniation in the lower part of the disc, which is irritating the nerves and stuff, Crede said.

The former White Sox third baseman has had three surgeries on his back, and so many cortisone shots during his playing career he doesnt want to know the number. What hed like to know is if there is a doctor somewhere in the world who can fix his back.

Hes yet to find him.

Ive been going to doctors trying to figure out whats going on back there. I dont know. I just dont really have a good enough answer, Crede said. Im kind of at a loss for words with it. How many doctors can you see about it and still feel the same way? Thats another frustrating thing about it for me, is seeing some of the top doctors supposedly in the world and still having my back feel the same way. Ive just kind of learned to deal with it and move on. Thats life.
Joe Crede's fondest memories of his White Sox career come from the magical 2005 season that resulted in a World Series Championship. Crede hit .333 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in the ALCS and World Series. (AP)
In his nine-year White Sox career, Crede made a name for himself diving for baseballs at the hot corner. His incredible plays might have been rally killers, but they also punished just about every fiber in his lower back.

I dont know if it was hereditary or a degenerative disc, which it very possibly could be. I hate to talk about it because Im someone who doesnt like to talk about himself.

But Tuesday, Crede was willing to speak about his calamity while sitting in the White Sox dugout, just yards away from his old third base spot. The White Sox invited Crede back to U.S. Cellular Field to honor him for his celebrated career.

Looking out at the diamond, memories of his playing days started flooding back -- both good and bad.

I can remember dropping a pop fly in the top of the ninth with two outs (vs. the Red Sox in July, 2005). Manny Ramirez on the next pitch hit a home run. We lost 1-0. In the headlines the next day it said Crede E, he said with a laugh. I wanted to crawl under a rock after that.

But he redeemed himself tenfold later that season, especially on Sept. 20 at U.S. Cellular, when he hit a walk-off homer in the 10th inning against the Indians, who had cut the White Sox lead in the Central Division from 15 games to 1 12.

It felt like we were going to blow this big lead here. It just felt like they had all the momentum in the world. But then I hit the home run, that kind of swung the momentum. That was a big moment.

So was the four-game sweep of the Houston Astros, giving the White Sox their first World Series title in 88 years. And there on one of Credes fingers was his championship ring.

Its been a while since Ive worn it, he said, admitting that hes kept it hidden in a closet all this time. I should probably put it in a safe or something, but I guess I live in the country.

Living without pain. Thats Credes goal. Hopefully he gets there. If he does, hell offer the doctor an enormous thank you.

Come to think of it, thats exactly what every White Sox fan would probably say to Joe.

For the memories.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

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AP

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant: Now this is the show South Side fans have been waiting for

Yo-Yo and the Big Elephant sound like characters from your kid’s favorite show (or your favorite show, if you happen to be a kid).

But instead they’re the duo South Side baseball fans have been waiting for.

You might know them better as the Cuban Connection, an alliterative and far less confusing nickname that describes Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu, who in Monday night’s 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners combined for seven hits, three home runs, a double, a triple, six runs scored and four RBIs.

It was a welcome sight after the White Sox offense slumbered through a weekend series with the Houston Astros in which they mustered just two runs. Heck, this offense has been hard to find during the entire month of April. Entering Monday, it’d produced just 16 runs in its last seven games (with 11 of those coming in a single contest).

But then came Monday’s show, in which Abreu launched a pair of homers and Moncada came a single short of hitting for the cycle. That had to be a proud moment for Abreu, who’s taken his countryman under his wing since Moncada arrived in the majors last summer.

“I’m really mad at him because he had two chances to do it and he couldn’t,” Abreu joked with the help of a translator. “Seriously, I’m really happy for him. I know today was a special game for him. I know he couldn’t hit for the cycle today. But he’s going to have more chances in the future. He’s going to be good.”

This is what White Sox fans have been hoping for. It’s what they’re still waiting for, considering much of that oft-discussed team of the future is still developing in the minor leagues. But Moncada is the story of 2018 at the major league level, how development will continue for the player White Sox fans drooled over at this time last year, when he was ranked as baseball’s top prospect.

Moncada got a lot of early attention for his high strikeout total, and with another punch out Monday he’s now got 34 on the season, still one of the highest totals in the league. But his numbers are looking good in many other facets. He raised his batting average .026 points Monday alone, and he’s now slashing .240/.345/.493 on the still-young season.

Abreu, of course, is the White Sox best hitter and has been ever since he arrived from Cuba before the 2014 season. For a team in such an offensive rut, Abreu’s four-hit night Monday raised his batting average up over .300, to .308. He’s now got six homers on the season, the most on the team and one of the higher totals in the American League. While Moncada and others will spend 2018 showing the White Sox what they will be in the future, this was expected from a guy who’s been one of baseball’s most consistent hitters in the last half decade.

But the future comes into play with Abreu, too, whose consistency at the plate and his presence in the clubhouse as a mentor to Moncada and other young players make him as believable a part of those planned future contenders as any of the organization’s highly rated prospects. A contract decision will need to be made at some point, obviously, but the White Sox will tell you any day of the week how much they value Abreu, who knows exactly where this franchise is and is excited as anyone about where it’s going.

“Everybody knows we are in the process, and everybody knows what this process is about,” Abreu said. “We have a lot of young talent, a lot of young players. They are going to hit some bumps and have some struggles as a team. But I think we all know how we have to play this game. (Manager Rick Renteria) has taught us how to play this game, how to play this game representing the White Sox organization and how they play this game.

“I feel really happy. We prove today that we are able to play a good game and to show the rest how we win games. That is the way we like to play.”

Monday was a bright spot in what’s been an otherwise very tough start to the 2018 campaign. But for a team where the future is what matters most, this is what fans have been waiting to see. A game like this might not be commonplace as the summer rolls on on the South Side. But for those dreaming about Moncada and Abreu teaming to lead those contenders of the future, this was one heck of a glimpse into the crystal ball.

“That’s our goal to have big games together for this team,” Moncada said. “Having the opportunity to play with Abreu — ‘The Big Elephant’ as we call him in Cuba — it’s good for me. It’s a big honor. I feel really happy when we have these kinds of games.”

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

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AP

Yoan Moncada nearly hits for the cycle, Jose Abreu hits two homers and the White Sox finally break out the bats

So, anyone out there still worried about Yoan Moncada?

The White Sox second baseman, who at this time last year was the top-ranked prospect in baseball, was the subject of much social-media frustration through the season's first few weeks. But it's safe to say he's "redeemed" himself in the eyes of fretting fans.

Monday night, he led the White Sox offensive eruption with a three-hit night that brought him just a single shy of the cycle in a 10-4 win over the visiting Seattle Mariners.

Moncada started the offensive outburst with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning. He doubled to start the bottom of the second and launched a solo homer to begin the bottom of the fourth. He scored all three times.

Moncada entered the game with a .214/.329/.400 slash line, though he's been hot of late. In the last seven games, he's got nine hits, six extra-base hits and three homers. He still has 34 strikeouts on the season, one of the highest totals in the majors, but he's putting up some good numbers elsewhere.

Abreu also had a red-hot Monday night, picking up four hits with a couple of homers, the 12th time he's bashed multiple long balls in a single game.

It was quite the performance for a White Sox offense that has mostly been quiet so far in 2018. They scored just two total runs in three straight blowout losses against the Houston Astros over the weekend. And while they plated 11 in that 14-inning marathon in Oakland, the three road games prior to that featured a grand total of three runs.

Monday night that all changed with the White Sox banging out 18 hits, including seven straight to start the bottom of the first, the first time that happened in the big leagues in four years.