White Sox

Sox Drawer: Quentin gains perspective

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Sox Drawer: Quentin gains perspective

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
5:32 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz -- A gentle breeze blew through Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. And heres some breaking news for you:

It was Carlos Quentin.

The ultra-focused outfielder who has spent the last two seasons playing baseball with an internal tornado whizzing through his head, arrived at spring training looking a whole lot lighter.

Some physically, but mostly mentally.

I just worked on some things to come back...and enjoy this game a little better, Quentin said. I would be foolish not to learn from things that Ive consistently repeated in my life and baseball career. Its been a consistent process for me and Im going to keep going with it.

No baseball player beats himself up more than Quentin, who seems to put himself through a 15-round heavyweight fight every time he takes the field. Spread that over the course of an entire baseball season, and Quentin ended the year with more stress and tension than the Golden Gate Bridge.

Something had to give.

Pressure has always been something that has been self-inflicted by myself. So its something Ive worked on to lighten up and enjoy this game this off-season, Quentin said. I talked with Ozzie (Guillen) a lot about last year and things I want to be accountable for. Things I need to be more accountable for. I feel like if I perform well, Ill be able to help this team.

Despite his mental struggles, plus injuries to his left hamstring and left knee, Quentin still finished with 26 home runs and 87 RBIs in 131 games last season. Surprising.

One of Quentins teammates who also reported for duty on Tuesday can relate to his internal battles, because they once nearly bulldozed his own career.

His name is Paul Konerko.

Ive done a wrong a million times. The potential is always there to do a wrong again, Konerko said. Its a day in and day out thing. Some guys have it naturally built in to do it the right way. I dont. And I dont think Carlos does. It took me a lot longer than it should have. Hopefully with him, its going to take less time than that.

If Tuesday was any indication, Quentin is headed in the right direction. The key, however, is to stay there.

I think hes on the right page now, but we all got to fight that fight once the season starts, Konerko said. Its not easy, but its in there. Everybody believes in him, otherwise he wouldnt be back here. They would have done something.

They is Kenny Williams who would like nothing more than to see Quentin recapture his MVP form of 2008.

This is a pretty special player, said the White Sox GM. And sometimes I think he loses sight of that and just tries to do too much and tries to carry too much weight. On this team I dont believe he needs to carry that much weight, and thats one of the things we tried to do is to allow him now to drop in the order a little bit. His responsibilities are lessened. All he has to do, forget about the home runs, is just get on base, because hes an on-base percentage machine.

Right now, Quentin is smiling and laughing, even hamming it up Tuesday with our CSN camera. Its the Carlos weve all been waiting to see. But this is spring training. Once the regular season begins, the White Sox will be watching Quentin closely to see how he reacts when things go south.

Because in baseball, they always do.

The real test comes in April when youve gone 2-3 games and you dont have a hit and youve lost all three games, Williams said. Thats the real test of when youre going to put those newly developed skills to the test. So well see. Hell find out and well find out together.

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

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with Frank Thomas

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with Frank Thomas

White Sox Hall of Famer Frank Thomas came on the podcast to talk with Chuck Garfien about his past, baseball's present and the future of the White Sox. He talks about his first major league hit (a stand-up triple!), how fame affected him when he was a player, his appearance on David Letterman in the 1990s and more. 

Plus, what was wrong with the baseball this past season? Thomas has some ideas and tells Garfien how many home runs he would have hit with that baseball in his prime. He talks about working with Alex Rodriguez at FOX and what it was like whenever girlfriend Jennifer Lopez came to visit in the studio.

Thomas praises the White Sox rebuild and reveals an idea he presented to GM Rick Hahn about where all the top prospects should play this upcoming season. He describes what it was like going to Roy Halladay's funeral, if he sees the White Sox signing Manny Machado in 2019 and much more.

Listen to the full White Sox Talk Podcast right here:

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

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Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

The Cubs made the Jose Quintana deal knowing it would have been more difficult to give up Dylan Cease if he was already performing at the Double-A level, and that the White Sox organization would be a good place to continue his education as a young pitcher.

While Eloy Jimenez keeps drawing ridiculous comparisons – the running total now includes Kris Bryant, Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz – Cease is more than just the other name prospect from the deal that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break.

“We still project him as a starter,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during this week’s GM meetings in Florida. “He certainly has the stuff where it’s easy to envision him as a potential dominant reliever. But to this point – for the foreseeable future – we deal with the starting and continue to develop him as a potential front-end arm.”

The Theo Epstein regime still hasn’t developed an impact homegrown pitcher, but that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from winning 292 games, six playoff rounds and a World Series title across the last three seasons, while still being in a strong position to win the National League Central again in 2018.

Without Quintana and his affordable contract that can run through 2020, Epstein’s front office might have been looking at the daunting possibility of trying to acquire three starting pitchers this winter.

While surveying a farm system in the middle of a natural downturn, Baseball America ranked seven pitchers on its top-10 list of prospects from the Cubs organization: Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Thomas Hatch and Jen-Ho Tseng.

So far, only Alzolay, an Arizona Fall League Fall Star with seven starts for Double-A Tennessee on his resume, and Tseng, who made his big-league debut in September, have pitched above the A-ball level.

Cease – who went 0-8 with a 3.89 ERA for Class-A Kannapolis in his first nine starts in the White Sox system – has a 100-mph fastball and a big curveball and won’t turn 22 until next month. That stuff allowed Cease to pile up 126 strikeouts against 44 walks in 93.1 innings this year, putting him in the wave that includes Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

“Ideally, we have a lot of guys we project to be part of the future, very good, championship-caliber rotation,” Hahn said. “In an ideal world, there’s not going to be room at the inn for all of them. You only have five in that rotation and some of these guys will wind up in the bullpen. In reality, as players develop, you’re going to see some attrition.”

One spot after the White Sox grabbed Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Cubs did Kyle Schwarber’s below-slot deal, using part of the savings to buy out Cease’s commitment to Vanderbilt University ($1.5 million bonus for a sixth-rounder) and supervise his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Cease was never going to be on the fast track to Wrigley Field, and now the White Sox hope he can be part of the foundation on the South Side, where it’s easier to sell a rebuild after watching the Cubs and Houston Astros become World Series champions.

“It doesn’t change really for us internally in terms of our commitment or focus or our plan or our timeline or anything along those lines,” Hahn said. “I do think, perhaps, it helps the fan base understand a little bit about what the process looks like, where other teams have been and how long the path they took to get to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series (was). In Chicago, many fans saw it firsthand with the Cubs.

“There are certainly more and more examples in the game over the last several years to help sort of show fans the path and justification for what we’re (doing).”