White Sox

After shut out, 'boring' Sox ready to get mean

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After shut out, 'boring' Sox ready to get mean

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 6:20 p.m. Updated: 10:11 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT There have been a lot of excuses made on behalf of the Chicago White Sox offense as it has made like Sleeping Beauty over the past two weeks.

And the familial theme that marks all of manager Ozzie Guillens clubsleading directly to a no-panic clubhousebodes well for this ballclubs chances of shaking the doldrums.

Walker insists hitting is fine; angry about job talk

But something needs to be shaken up fast, before Chicago makes like a college dropout and turns a weekend stay in the AL Central basementthe Chisox slipped there, at 8-13, after Saturdays 9-0 trouncing at the hands of the Detroit Tigersinto a permanent move.

We passed pissed a few days ago, I dont know, A.J. Pierzynski said. It seems like when it rains, it pours. We are not hitting. We are not making pitches. We are making blunders in the field. We have to find a way to turn it around. If you have any suggestions, well take them.

The manager of the ugliness, who had to sit through all three hours of the ugly game with a head cold, has run out of patience.

I hope those guys out there are getting tired of getting their asses kicked, because I am, he said. Right now is the time to cut it out and start playing like the way we can. We have a better ballclub than that.

After weeks of defending losses because his team was still fighting hard and doing things the right way, Guillen saw something different today.

We play kind of too carefully, he said. We dont go after people. It seems like every at-bat we worry about making outs. Thats the way I look at it; I hope Im wrong. Every time we make a pitch, we worry about making a bad pitch, and when you play like that, very conservative, youre going to have problems.

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"Youve got to go out there and be mean, aggressive, have fun," Guillen continued. "I know its not easy having fun when you only have two hits a game, three hits a game and all that stuff. But you cant do anything about the past, youve got to turn the page, forget about this one and come back ready to play. Thats all you can do.

I dont say theyre not giving me their best effort, but its boring, very boring to watch because I expect this ballclub to be good. Weve got good guys out there, good talent, but it seems like every day we wait for something to happen to lose a game, and thats not the way to play. You have to go after it.

Meanwhile the team stood firm that they were doing all they could to win, and remained confident that a change of fortune was right around the corner.

Everyone handles things differently. You try to have energy and bring a positive attitude every day, and weve been pretty good about that. As far as squeezing the bat and all that stuff, you do what you do. You try to get a hit, and you want to get a hit," Pierzynski said.

"Alex Rios and Adam Dunn arent going to hit .150 all year. They are going to get their hits. The thing you have to remember is someone is going to pay, and hopefully it comes sooner than later," Pierzynski went on to say. "Someone eventually will pay. Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko are swinging the bat really well right now, and the rest of us need to catch up and do what they are doing. Its a battle. Its a long way to go. We are 21 games in and we have 141 to go.

Were not playing well right nowthats obviousin any facet of the game. Just like everyone, we want to get results, we just have to just get back to playing good baseball," Juan Pierre said. "Before, we were playing good baseball and losing, now were just not playing good baseball overall, and now were getting our heads beaten in a little bit. But as a team, we dont need to hit the panic switch.

"Maybe the coaches and media will, because they cant directly affect what we do on the field, but collectively in the clubhouse we need to keep a positive attitude and just go out there and work. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. A week ago everybody was talking that we were almost the best team in baseball, now were probably the worst team in baseball. We need to find that happy medium and continue to get the work in and just play good baseball. The results will come.

The White Sox managed a single hitand that one, a matter of debate as Brent Morel reached first after Brandon Inges throw from third base fell short and slightly wideagainst Bengals starter Brad Penny, he of an 0-2 record and 8.44 ERA entering the contest. Boos rained down on the official scorer after the hit was announced.

I really didnt see the play yet, Morel said. I knew I hit it down the line and he made a pretty good play. So you just run the ball out and see what happens.

Pierre, who was on deck and had a good angle on the play, was adamant.

It was a hit, he said. Its not a routine play. I know Inge over there makes a lot of plays look routine. From my vantage point, that looked like a hit, and Morel runs well down the line We got more hits after that, so it wont be too much of a talker right now, but good for big Mo. He got two hits today, so hopefully he can catch fire.
After the game, Ozzie Guillen promised that changes would be made to his lineup, which include sitting Alex Rios. (US PRESSWIRE)
But the drama surrounding a no-hit bid from a B pitcher aside, Chicagos gradual descent into the basement has come with little fight. The last stand had been taken by the rotation, which has generally pitched better than it did out of the gate in 2010. But as distressing as the utter lack of offense in 11 of the past 12 games has been, recent efforts by Mark Buehrle on Friday and Edwin Jackson on Saturday are an alarming sign.

Buehrle threw the worst game all season for a White Sox starter in Friday nights 9-3 tumble, and Jackson raised him with a messy effort on Saturday, compiling a game score of just 10 (starters begin games with 50 points). His 5 23 inning, 12-hit, eight-run (seven earned), four-walk, three-K effort was the worst of the season, by a wide margin.

Jackson didnt have his slider at all today, Pierzynski said. He hung a lot of sliders today and thats usually his pitch. With two strikes, you can almost tell the guy its coming its so good. Today, he got under a lot of them. A lot of them were spinning and they got a lot of hits on bad sliders. Thats not like Jax at all. You know, guys have bad outings. Today was one of them. He battled and tried to get through. He tried to give us six innings and save the bullpen. It was a rough day all around.

Jackson got in trouble, two innings got him in trouble big time, Guillen said. But when we win, its everyone. When we lose, its everyone. Were not a good team to watch right now.

No surprise, but Jackson wasnt helped by some typically bad White Sox defense, lowlights which included an error on a line drive to Pierre in left, dosey-doeing from Rios on a flyball-turned-triple, and poor throw to home by Alexei Ramirez, all adding momentum to Detroits five-run fourth, which both opened the scoring and effectively ended the game.

I never really look at the game, I just base my stuff off me, Jackson said diplomatically. Today was one of those days, it seems like the past three starts Ive been leaving things up in the zone. I get ahead and I cant put anybody away Ive been up in the zone lately and cant get outs when Im ahead. Ive just got to get it down and work on that.

Guillen, sick physically and sick of the way his club is playing, promised changes for Sundays Easter finale.

Brent Lillibridge in center field to give Alex Rios a break. Im going to put Omar Vizquel in the lineup. Ill try to play Mark Teahen too, Guillen said. Ill try to move people around , not to panic, but get those guys mentally ready. Like I say, its not easy. Weve been thereIve been there personally Weve got great talent, but its time right now to get mean. Its time to show people how good we are.

Controlled mean, that seems to be the theme.

Panicking on our part it does no good, even if theres 10 games left, Pierre said. You can only control what you can control. You start looking too far ahead, and stuff starts getting crazy. Now we really have to take things one game at a time, one pitch at a time, and thats it. We had a good game in Tampa and then we came in here and get waxed these first two games. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We dont feel sorry for ourselves. Guys have track records. Were going to play good baseball. Sometimes it has to run its course. You try to change up things and do this or that, you might run into trouble. If you stay with what you know, well just come out of it.

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

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

SportsTalk Live is on location at McCormick Place to preview SoxFest 2020. Chuck Garfien and David Haugh join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00 - White Sox manager Rick Renteria joins the guys to talk about the team's big offseason and the expectations for the 2020 season. He also talks about how the team with handle Michael Kopech (4:00) and what Dallas Keuchel brings to the rotation. (6:00) Plus, he explains how guys who turned the corner in 2019 like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada can stay hot in 2020. (15:00)

17:00 - Steve Stone joins the guys to explain how the White Sox rebuild is going according to plan despite not landing one of the top free agents this winter. Plus, he updates his Twitter follower battle with Jason Benetti (23:00) and talks about how he would handle Michael Kopech's return. (25:30)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox reward for winning the offseason: They get to talk playoffs ... or bust

White Sox reward for winning the offseason: They get to talk playoffs ... or bust

The White Sox know there is no trophy for winning the offseason.

Make no mistake, they did win the offseason, Rick Hahn’s front office adding enough veteran cache to vault the 89-loss South Siders from just another rebuilding team with a bright future to a team whose future is pulling into the station.

But there was no self-congratulating at Hahn’s pre-SoxFest press conference Thursday.

“Quite candidly, we haven't accomplished anything yet, we haven't won yet,” he said. “This whole process was about winning championships, was about finishing with a parade at the end of October down Michigan Avenue. Until that happens, I don't think any of us are really in a position to feel satisfied or feel like we've accomplished anything.

“We've had a nice winter. We've had, frankly, in our opinion, a real nice three years since we started (the rebuild) with the Chris Sale trade. We think very bright days are ahead of us, and we look forward to enjoying them. But in terms of feeling like we've accomplished something or feeling satisfied, ask me after the parade.”

Give me a second while I email that last bit over to our marketing department. They might be able to conjure up a few things with “ask me after the parade.”

But in all seriousness, Hahn is right. There is no trophy for winning the offseason. The act of signing free agents does not balance out all the losing over the last three seasons. Only winning can do that.

There has been, however, a reward for winning the offseason. Rick Renteria — and presumably all his players this weekend during SoxFest — get to talk about playoff expectations. Real ones.

“I would be disappointed if we don’t make the postseason,” Renteria said during his own session Thursday. “We want to break through. We want this to be an impactful season.”

As recently as a year ago, no matter how bright the future appeared to be, that comment would have raised eyebrows. It would not have been taken seriously. Now? It is the expectation.

Renteria has not been shy about the rebuilding White Sox turning the corner in 2020. He spent the last few weeks of the 2019 campaign making similar postseason proclamations. But now Hahn has backed his manager up with all this winter’s acquisitions.

The White Sox place in the standings by the end of September still figures to have a lot more to do with Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito and Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson and Luis Robert than any of the individual newcomers, even players as talented and accomplished as Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel. The core is that important. But the outsiders brought in this offseason have embodied the turning tide — and given Renteria the chance to talk seriously about these kinds of big expectations for the first time in his tenure as the South Side skipper.

“I think, man for man,” he said, “now we at least have a little bit more ammunition to be able to go out and compete hopefully on a consistent basis and put those victories on the board.

“I’m not afraid of talking about high expectations and winning. … If we do our job and we go about preparing and hopefully the actions and performances come to fruition, we should be on top of the victory column in terms of wins and losses. And there’s nothing beyond my thought that doesn’t say that I expect us to compete and be in conversation for postseason play.”

Hahn isn’t quite as willing to declare the 2020 season “playoffs or bust” because he’s still got his eye on the long term, the same place it’s been throughout this rebuilding process. That next parade down Michigan Avenue is supposed to be merely the first.

And so while the White Sox can reap the rewards of Hahn’s offseason work in the form of preseason talk, he’ll bask in nothing more than setting up his team for that long-term postseason success.

“I think the expectations are understandably high, at least when you talk to Ricky or the coaches or any of the players or anyone in uniform. Their expectation is that this team is in a position to win in the 2020 season, which is exactly where all of us in the front office would want them to be,” he said. “That said, whether you're talking Jerry (Reinsdorf) or Kenny (Williams) or myself, the entire purpose of this rebuild was to put ourselves in a multi-year position to win multiple championships.

“So the progress that we make in any given offseason has to be viewed not just about what's going to happen in that upcoming season, but what position that puts us in toward accomplishing that long-term goal. We want to make sure that we are well positioned, once that window opens, to win as many championships as possible.

“When that window opens, we're going to find out together. I certainly think the players in uniform think it's going to happen come Opening Day of this year. Whether we're blessed with good health and continued progress from our young players, we're going to find out together.

“But we look at it, in the front office, from a multi-year perspective. The guys in uniform are going to do everything in their power to make it about now, which you've got to appreciate.”

That’s going to be the theme of this weekend, as White Sox fans descend on SoxFest with more excitement than they have in years. This is a White Sox team expected to reach October, and that hasn’t exactly been common, as evidenced by the franchise’s more than decade-long postseason drought.

Hahn can talk about putting the team in good position for 2021 and 2022 and 2023 and beyond all he wants. The fans are finally — and with good reason — thinking playoffs or bust for the upcoming season.

And the manager agrees.

“I see our club, and I want to go into this season thinking I don't want to miss an opportunity,” Renteria said. “That's my goal right now, not to miss this opportunity. Expectations bread opportunities. I'm not afraid of expectations because it breads opportunity. I want to attain and complete those tasks that I think our club is going to have a chance to be able to do.

“I'm not afraid to say it.”

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