White Sox

Sweepless in Seattle as Jenks blows another save

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Sweepless in Seattle as Jenks blows another save

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Updated: 2:28 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

SEATTLE You cant dwell on days like this. You cant dwell on them.

As much as Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks admitted struggling to find good answers to his horrific week out of the bullpen, its this mantra, along with the image of his head in hands in front of his locker, that resounds.

Jenks lost his second game in relief in the last four days, spoiling an apparent 11th-inning win by surrendering a one-out, two-run single to Franklin Gutierrez that gave the Seattle Mariners a 2-1 win on Wednesday night.

After the game, a distressed Ozzie Guillen declared the closers role open and that the team would finish games based on situational matchups for the time being.

I get paid to win games, the White Sox manager said. Im going to put the guys out there who have the best shot. Were a better ballclub with Bobby as closer. But we have a few options, and were going to see what those options are.

Omar Vizquels single with two out in the top of the 11th gave the White Sox their brief 1-0 lead. Mariners shortstop Jack Wilson led off the bottom half with a perfect bunt single and was moved to second on an Ichiro Suzuki sacrifice. Chone Figgins smacked a sharp single and stole second to put the winning runs in scoring position when Gutierrez stroked the game-winner.

I feel strong. Things just didnt work out today, Jenks said. Sunday in Minnesota, that was on me. Today I felt good and made pitches.

With this one, theres nothing to do about it. Wilsons bunt hit to start off the inning was goodthe pitch was down, he just put it in the right spot. The ball to Figgins I got in on him, he kept his hands inside well and hit the ball back up the middlehe didnt hit it hard. Gutierrezs base hit, if Alexei Ramirez was playing over it probably would have been right at him.

Before the 11th-inning heroics on both sides, Seattle and Chicago were embroiled in a deliciously swift pitchers duel.

Chisox starter Gavin Floyd pitched seven scoreless innings, notching six Ks against just one walk and five hits. The hurler had just one true close call, coming in the fourth, when Casey Kotchman clocked a Floyd flip down the right-field line that landed a wisp foul. One pitch later, the stalwart righty punched the first baseman out for his second K of the game, ending the inning. Floyd seemingly got stronger as the game went on, striking out the side in the sixth.

Seattle starter Felix Hernandez you know is going to go out there and pitch a good game, Floyd said. Youve just got to focus on what you can to try to do your job.

Until Floyds final inning, Seattle had been stymied by White Sox pitching; in the 16 innings in the series leading up to the Mariners seventh, Chicago had held its opponent to just five hits.

Hernandez was even more masterful than Floyd, using just 93 pitches to cruise through eight innings of two-hit ball. The King retired the last 17 White Sox he faced.

Thats fun to watch; thats good baseball, Guillen said. Unfortunately, we finished like that.

Chicago rallied in the ninth, as Juan Pierre turned a HBP into a double with a stolen baseagain employing his swim technique. But after a walk to Vizquel, both Alex Rios and Paul Konerko failed to push Pierre home.

In the bottom of the ninth, Seattles streak of 25 scoreless innings in the seriesyes, theyd scored their only run in the first inning of the openerwas extended in a most unorthodox manner. An infield hit by Figgins (sacrificed to second by third-place hitter Gutierrez) and an intentional walk to Jose Lopez put two runners on with one out. Chisox reliever Sergio Santos coaxed a broken bat from Milton Bradley that blooped dangerously to right, but former Gold Glover Andruw Jones made an outstanding diving catch and instantaneous whirl to first to double off Lopez.

Indicative of the fact that Seattles baserunning is nearly as bad as its hitting, Lopezs run was meaningless. In Little League, you might go without postgame treats for such a gaffe.

Both teams went out meekly in the 10th, White Sox reliever Erick Threets striking out the side in the bottom half. Threets was in position for his first major-league victory prior to Seattles comeback on Jenks.

With one out in the 11th, Gordon Beckham jumped on a Brandon League pitch and left it just five feet short of a tiebreaking homer. But Bacon settled for a double, advancing to third on Pierres fly to right and setting up Vizquels apparent game-winner.

We had some breaks today and thought wed pull it together and win it, so obviously, you want to win these games, Floyd said. But there a lot of season left.

Theres no lost faith in here, said Santos, who pitched 1.1 innings of scoreless baseball. You put this behind you. We have all the faith in the world in Bobby. Thats just the way pitching is.

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

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

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AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

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.