White Sox

X marks a tough spot for Guillen, White Sox

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X marks a tough spot for Guillen, White Sox

Friday, Sept. 16, 2011Posted: 7:50 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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KANSAS CITY With the Chicago White Sox finally eliminated, the reality sunk in for manager Ozzie Guillen, whose combination of head cold and depression over losing out on the playoffs stringing his pregame sessions longer and longer.

This is a hard moment, especially when your expectation was to win the division and fight all the way through it, he said. Mentally, you have to overcome whatever it is to finish strong. Me? I have a passion and love for the game. Every game to me, I dont want to say I treat the same, but I take the same approach. Im not going to change anything for whatever reason; after opening day, there are 161 to go. Same thing here.

The White Sox are measurably worse this year than a year ago, when on Sept. 16 they were 79-67 and still had a faint flicker of life in the division race. Of course, a year ago marked the finish of sweep in Chicago at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, who would go on to win the division by six games over the White Sox. The Twins wouldnt clinch over Chicago until Sept. 20.

We get paid to deal with this thing the right way and the best way we can, Guillen said. No matter the excuses, you have to perform the right way. Obviously, the drive maybe is not there. But as soon as the game starts everybody has to go about their business.

For a manager who claims to rarely take games home with him, Guillen admits to being struck by the swift elimination of the White Sox this season.

I just talked to my wife about how very tough it is to go through it everything goes through your mind, like Wow, what did we do wrong? I put a lot of questions to myself, and the front office people and players do the same stuff: What could have been better? But at 7:05 or 7:10 game time, you have to play the game right. Thats what I expect from the players; I dont care if they have the desire or not. When the national anthem is over, they should be prepared to play, and play to win.

While all players cope in different ways with losses and elimination, the customarily quiet White Sox clubhouse remained no more so before Fridays game.

It should hit everyone: Im done. Its over with., Guillen said. How do you prepare yourself for the next day? Do you want to come back to the ballpark tomorrow? We play for pride, to win, finish off strong, but when its over, its over. When the referee counts 10, you cant get up anymore, its done. Throw in the towel, take a shower, and go home.

But as Guillen points out, baseball is not a 12-round prize fight.

This is baseball unfortunately we have to play another 10-12 days, he said, calling himself 'the loser.' I wish I could keep my quotes and remember how excited I was in spring training: Look at this ballclub, wow. Look at me now, what am I talking about? Second place, third place, wow.

A guy with less love for the game, Guillen said, wouldnt go through such suffering.

If I dont have the passion and love for this organization, for baseball, bro, Id pick up my stuff and go, Guillen said. What dont I have in baseball, a Silver Slugger? Everything else, I have: Playoff experience, coaching experience, manager experience, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year, a lot of stuff, championships, everything.

Thus for Guillen, without winning, theres nothing.

Theres nothing better than winning, I dont care what people say, he said. Winning is the best thing. The accomplishment of what you went through, you dont care if the owner was mad at you in April, if you had a confrontation with a player, people dont care what I say in the paper, its all beautiful. When you lose, all the stuff comes out, boom boom. This guys fault, that guys fault, blame this guy and that guy. At the end of the day were all here together, were all pulling on the same rope.

And Guillen finished his thoughts on this lost season again by defending those who put this team together and paid the bills.

If you want to blame somebody, dont blame the man, Guillen said. Blame me, because we didnt do what we were supposed to do. A lot of people are going to say Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham, we only have two guys win 10 games but as a team, you have to blame all the Chicago White Sox. The players, coaches, were the only ones who can control winning. We didnt do that, we didnt do the job. We failed once again.

"A lot of people think Don Cooper is an unbelievable f------ pitching coach but nobody has won 15 games yet. Everybody thinks Im the greatest manager in the g----- game, but I only won once. Its about what you win, what you can do, what you bring to the table We just didnt perform the way we thought we were going to perform. Whoever was here for 162 games and whoever wrote the lineup, blame them. Dont blame Jerry or Kenny, or anybody else. They did a good job putting this team together. Whoever was wearing this uniform failed.

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

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.