White Sox

Sox Drawer: Who, What... How?

Sox Drawer: Who, What... How?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted 7:50 p.m. Updated 10:19 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

What just happened? What is going on here?

Frankly, I have no idea.

One of the strangest days in White Sox memory began with the stunning news that Adam Dunn needed an emergency appendectomy after the game in Kansas City on Tuesday night. About six or seven percent of Americans will need their appendix taken out in their lifetime, so maybe thats not so strange. But the fact that Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday needed his removed last Friday after a game, also in the state of Missouri, things were starting to get weird.

The White Sox payroll in 2010 is 127 million, fifth highest in the majors. The Twins are at 112 million, the Tigers are 105 million. But when Wednesday began, who was in first place in the American League Central? The team with the absolute lowest payroll in all of baseball, the Kansas City Royals at 36 million. For perspective: Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, and Alex Rios will make 42 million combined.

And yet, there were the Royals, sitting pretty in the penthouse at 4-1. How did they do it?

I still have no idea.

The Royals first four wins, all in a row, came thanks to runs in their final at-bat. In over 110 years of baseball, how many teams have done this to start a season? Three. The 1901 Tigers, 1989 Royals, and these pesky 2011 Royals.

"These first five games have been the funnest five games I ever played in my life, said Royals DH Billy Butler.

Get used to it. Thats the character of this team, added first baseman Kila Ka'aihue.

And thats another thing. Weve entered this 2011 season realizing that we will have to learn how to pronounce Kila Ka'aihue. Hes not going away, and for the record, his name is pronounced Keela Kya-whooay. I have it written on a piece of paper at my desk so I wont forget. Dont even ask Bill Melton to say it, hes having enough trouble saying Shin-Soo Choo.

Fortunately for the White Sox, the Royals improbable streak mercifully ended on Wednesday. How?

Again, no idea.

The Sox trailed 5-0 after six innings. They have the offense to come back from that, even without Dunn. So no surprise there. But in the ninth inning, they were down 6-3 with two outs, nobody on, and facing Royals closer Joakim Soria - a White Sox killer, with 15 saves, 29 strikeouts and a 1.86 ERA in 27 career games.

The chances of the Sox tying the game? Right up there with Melton going on the air with a goatee. Okay, bad comparison.

But then it happened. Absolute random magic. Juan Pierre singled, Gordon Beckham walked, Rios singled, Paul Konerko singled, all capped off by a Carlos Quentin double that gave the Sox a 7-6 lead.

How this comeback occurred is so improbable and inconceivable, it should be studied by some of the greatest minds at Harvard and M.I.T.

Let's start with Quentin's double. He hit it on an 0-2 count. In his six-year career, Quentin is batting .167 on 0-2 counts with 54 strikeouts in 120 at-bats.

But that's only the start of it.

In Soria's career on 0-2 counts, hitters are batting just .058 against him with 71 strikeouts in 121 at-bats.

Crazy.

But wait. There's more.

The White Sox scored four runs off Soria in the 9th inning. Last year, Soria didnt give up more than three runs in a single MONTH.

"I never thought this was going to happen ever, Soria give up that many runs with two out," Guillen said.

"You've got to look at it as the beauty of baseball," Quentin said. "Sometimes that happens. Guys will lock in. Pitches are made and swings are put on pitches that are proper swings. We're well aware of what Soria has done in his career. He's a quality pitcher and today we were fortunate enough to come back."

The Sox then scored three runs in the 12th, with the game-winning hit coming from Brent Morel, thought to be the weakest hitter on the team.

The Sox won the game despite committing four errors, not counting the fly ball Lastings Milledge misplayed in the first inning, which was called a hit, and led to two first-inning runs off Buehrle. Mark Teahen also dropped a routine fly ball, right around the same spot.

Other oddities: Alexei Ramirez laid down a perfect bunt in the 12th, Chris Sale stopped a hot grounder from going into the outfield in the 12th by knocking it down with his rear end, which is about two inches in diameter.

"Crazy game. Very crazy game," Guillen said. "Both sides. But thank God we win."

All this to split a series with the Royals. What does it all mean?

No idea.

All I can say is, thats baseball. Get ready for a lot more of it.

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 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.