White Sox

On The Farm: Canzler Leads Tennessee By Birmingham

On The Farm: Canzler Leads Tennessee By Birmingham

Saturday Aug. 28, 2010
Posted: 10:10 p.m.
By Kevin Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

CUBS Tennessee AA
Russ Canzlers one-out home run in the ninth inning Saturday night capped a big rally and gave Tennessee an 8-7 victory over Birmingham at Smokies Park.

The Barons had held leads of 4-0 and 7-4, the latter of which was in the eighth inning. But Brandon Guyers two-run double capped a three-run inning and set the stage for Canzlers heroics in the ninth. Guyer finished with four hits, including a pair of doubles and four RBIs.

The GuyerCanzler tandem also helped make a winner of Kyle Smit, who picked up his fourth victory since coming over from the Dodgers in a July 31 deal. Smit 4-1 pitched a scoreless ninth, helping get Aaron Shafer off the hook after he allowed the three eighth-inning runs that gave the Barons their second big lead.

Trey McNutt started for the Smokies and allowed four runs two earned in five innings.
Peoria A
DJ Fitzgeralds three-run triple capped a five-run second inning and propelled Peoria to a 7-1 victory over Clinton at OBrien Field.

Clinton had committed a pair of errors that fueled the rally, which began after the Chiefs had already made two outs. Anthony Giansanti had an RBI double while Hak-Ju Lee added a run-scoring single in the inning. Fitzgerald finished with four hits and four RBIs while Giansanti had three hits.

Austin Kirk allowed a run in 5 23 innings of relief to earn his first Midwest League victory. He fanned four, walked one and gave up a hit.
In other action, Lakeland blanked Daytona, 3-0, at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Cubs managed only four hits and Nick Struck 0-2 took the loss after allowing a run in four innings. Iowa dropped a 5-4 decision at Omaha, leaving them just a half game ahead of Memphis in the Pacific Coast Leagues American North Division. The I-Cubs have been in first place since July 20. Austin Bibens-Dirkx took the loss, his third staright, after allowing five runs in 4 23 innings. Bryan LaHair had a homer and two RBIs.
WHITE SOXWinston-Salem A
Nick Ciollis Carolina debut was a successful Saturday night as Winston-Salem upended Myrtle Beach, 8-3, at BB&T Ballpark.

Ciolli was promoted from Kannapolis earlier in the day after Brandon Short was placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain. Short hasnt played since Aug. 18. Ciolli, who had 73 RBIs in the South Atlantic League, picked right up where he left off at Kannapolis, collecting a pair of hits, scoring twice and driving in a run.

Luis Sierra drove in three runs and extended his hitting streak to six games with a pair of hits. Jon Gilmore had three hits and two RBIs. Terry Doyle picked up his second consecutive victory, scattering seven hits and allowing three runs over seven innings. Ryan Kussmaul struck out four over two scoreless innings for his first save. LHP Garrett Johnson was promoted to Charlotte.
Kannapolis A
The Intimidators got a strong start from Ryan Buch and though the bullpen stumbled a bit, the Intimidators were able to hang on for a 6-5 victory over Lexington at Fieldcret Cannon Stadium.

Buch 5-2 snapped a two-game losing streak and equaled a season-high with seven strikeouts. He went 6 23 innings, his second-longest outing of the year, allowing a pair of unearned runs. Kevin Moran allowed three eighth-inning runs to make things closer than they needed to before Orlando Santos earned his 14th save with a perfect ninth.

The Intimidators used a four-run sixth inning to break the game open. The Legends committed a pair of errors and threw three wild pitches in the inning to fuel the rally. Dan Wagner had a pair of hits and scored twice for Kannapolis, which will now finish the regular season on the road.
Bristol Rookie
The Sox exploded for five seventh-inning runs on Saturday and defeated visiting Pulaski, 9-6.

Mike Schwartzs two-run single was the highlight of an inning that also saw Pulaski make a pair of errors and hit a batter with a pitch. Rangel Ravelo finished with three this and drove in a pair while Dan Black also had two RBIs.

Austin Evans allowed a run in two innings of relief to pick up the victory.
In other action, Russ Canzlers one-out home run in the ninth inning Saturday night capped a big rally and gave Tennessee an 8-7 victory over Birmingham at Smokies Park. Anthony Carter took the loss, his fourth of the season. The loss was Birminghams seventh in a row to Tennessee. ... Dayan Viciedo's two-run blast in the bottom of the 11th gave Charlotte a 3-1 victory over Durham at Knights Stadium. Miguel Socolovich tossed two scoreless innings for the win. Prior to the game, Carlos Torres was recalled by the White Sox when Erick Threets went on the disabled list.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Will Avisail Garcia be traded this offseason? More important question is whether he can replicate 2017 success

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USA TODAY

Will Avisail Garcia be traded this offseason? More important question is whether he can replicate 2017 success

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Will Avisail Garcia be traded this offseason?

With his name completely absent from trade rumors, the logical conclusion to draw is a “no.”

But there is a more pertinent question, the answer to which will go a long way in determining whether Garcia ever gets dealt away from the South Side: Will he repeat what he did in 2017?

Garcia was an All Star last season and one of the best hitters in the American League. He slashed .330/.380/.506 during his breakout season, ranking second in the AL in batting average (behind only MVP Jose Altuve) and sixth in on-base percentage.

It’s that production that figured to make him a trade chip for the White Sox this season, joining Jose Abreu as valuable bats the team could deal away and further bolster their highly ranked farm system, perhaps acquiring packages of minor league talent similar to the ones received in deals involving Chris Sale and Adam Eaton last December and the one involving Jose Quintana in July.

But there’s been little to no reported interest from other clubs, leading to the conjecture that any teams thinking about adding Garcia in a deal are waiting to make sure 2017 wasn’t a fluke. After all, Garcia’s been at this whole Major League Baseball thing a while now, in the bigs since 2012. He’s had high hopes and lots of hype both with the Detroit Tigers and with the White Sox. And really, he failed to put it completely together until last season.

If Garcia can keep hitting and hitting big in 2018, then interest would figure to pick up. Garcia is under team control for two more seasons, giving the White Sox options when it comes to keeping him or moving him. If they can bring back a lot of young talent, it’d make sense to move him. If he hits really well (remember, he’s only 26 years old), the White Sox could choose to extend him and keep as a centerpiece of this rebuilding effort.

The possibilities are many. But regardless of what the eventual fate ends up being, the White Sox are indeed confident that Garcia can keep the momentum from 2017 going.

“I understand if there’s some teams that have some level of skepticism of Avi’s ability to repeat what he did, his All-Star season,” general manager Rick Hahn said Monday at the Winter Meetings. “I think that us being in the position to see the amount of work and commitment that went into that, not just with the weight loss, the change in diet, the fitness but the mechanical adjustments, the approach each and everyday to carry that ‘close and late’ approach that he had in ’14, ’15 and ’16 over to every at-bat, and carry that approach over 500 plate appearances in 2017, I think each of those things give us more confidence that this is closer than to the new normal for Avi than what we previously saw from him prior to 2017.

“So maybe that does make us value him more than other clubs because they have that skepticism about his ability to repeat. He’s a player who everyone throughout baseball was bullish on his tools for many years. He’s now entering his prime and he’s played at an All-Star caliber level in the recent past. That’s a valuable guy.”

As Hahn mentioned, the White Sox know what went into Garcia finally figuring things out last season. It’s what makes them think so highly of him and makes them think he can keep doing what he did in 2017.

While Hahn hasn’t shown any timidity when it comes to trading big names (Sale, Eaton, Quintana), the team admits there is value they see that other teams can’t. Abreu is extremely valuable for his clubhouse contributions. In Garcia, the White Sox have seen his evolution and know how good he can be.

Will that impact the likelihood of a deal, now or in the future? Maybe. Garcia — and Abreu, too — provide options for Hahn and his front office. But in order to keep all of those options available, Garcia has to have another strong season at the plate.

The White Sox think he can do it.

“Confidence for him has been a key to his growth,” manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday. “His routines and some adjustments that he’s made have helped him maintain that consistency. I’ve only been here a couple years. The first year he started off pretty good and then he kind of tailed off. Last year he maintained and had a little wall but then he continued to move forward. I think that’s just his experience and understanding that he is a good player.

“He has confidence that he’s a good player, but he’s also understood that the work that’s been putting in was going to ultimately pay off, it started to. I think for him it’s just continuing to maintain the consistency in which he did last year. I think that is very possible.

“I don’t know that he’ll hit .330. Somebody just asked me that a little while ago. They say, 'between .315 and .330?' Yeah, I’ll see that. All I know is that if he maintains that consistent approach that he’s had both emotionally, confidently and the work structure, he’s got a good chance of doing what he did last year.”

What was it like to coach against Devin Hester? 'You hold your breath'

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Associated Press

What was it like to coach against Devin Hester? 'You hold your breath'

Jeff Rodgers had to gameplan for Devin Hester twice in his career as a special teams coordinator under John Fox: First, in 2010 with the Carolina Panthers, and second, in 2011 with the Denver Broncos. 

“You're holding your breath,” Rodgers, who’s in his third year as the Bears’ special teams coordinator, said. “There's been nobody like him in my generation.”

Neither of those games were necessarily the most memorable performances by Hester, who set an NFL record with 19 special teams touchdowns (14 on punt returns, five on kickoff returns). But the fact that Rodgers — like every other special teams coordinator from 2006-2016 — had to gameplan for Hester was notable in and of itself. 

“He was really the first guy that you really game-planned for and you saw different people take different approaches,” Rodgers said. “You see people try to punt the ball out of bounds. Well, defenses can combat that with some of the rush scheme so you may have to change that. Saw people try to kick fair catch balls and short because the reality is, if you played Chicago when he was rolling and you came out of the game with a 35 or 36 punt, which isn't great, but against him, you're usually taking that every time. He's as good as it gets.”

In that first meeting, on Oct. 10, 2010 in Charlotte, Rodgers’ strategy was to punt out of bounds or away from Hester to prevent him from fielding anything. 

At first, it didn’t work: Hester ripped off a 50-yard return on the first punt he fielded.

“We tried to punt the ball out of bounds and our punter put the ball about four inches from the sideline,” Rodgers said. “He reached in and got it and shot straight up the sideline.” 

From there, punter Jason Baker largely succeeded in kicking away from Hester, with his next six punts not being fielded or being fair caught. But the downside to that strategy was the Bears frequently received good starting field position — though having drives begin between the 40s was preferable to Hester ripping off a big return to set up a drive beginning in the Panthers’ red zone. 

A year later, Rodgers again had to figure out how to mute Hester’s success with the Denver Broncos. He was more successful in this Dec. 11, 2011 meeting, with Hester returning one kickoff for 25 yards and gaining 36 yards on two punt returns. Hester fair caught four punts, and one went out of bounds.

But Hester still notched returns of 26 and 10 yards despite Denver’s strategy to kick the ball as high as possible. 

“In Denver, we tried to hang it up there,” Rodgers said. “Did a good job on the first couple. Actually the best ball that our punter hit that day, that was the 2011 game, the best ball our punter hit that day with hang time and distance, he kind of circled around, went backwards, sideline, all of a sudden he turned a corner and you're holding your breath. We were able to get him on the ground, but he's a game-changer.”

The game-changing success Hester found as a return specialist should get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday, unless the rather strange stinginess on special teamers in Canton continues. But there’s no doubt in Rodgers’ mind when it comes to how great Hester was — and how maddening it was to scheme against him. 

“I'd say (he) changed the game on both kickoffs and punts,” Rodgers said. “He's the best that's ever done it.”