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.

WATCH: Sox more than just pissed

"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.

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

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GOOGLE IMAGES

Let's compare birthday boy Dan Pasqua to Daniel Palka

Daniel Palka was a phenomenon in 2018. But before there was Daniel Palka, there was Dan Pasqua. You might have heard the Palka/Pasqua comparisons on White Sox game broadcasts or within White Sox fan circles. Both are lefty sluggers with a similar build: Palka listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Pasqua at 6-foot-0 and 203 ppounds. Both led the White Sox in home runs in their age-26 seasons: Pasqua with 20 in 1988, Palka with 27 in 2018. And hey, they have the same first name and last initial!

Pasqua, nicknamed “The Hammer,” turned 57 years old Wednesday. Let’s learn a few more things about him.

— He was a teammate of John Elway (for four games with Oneonta of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1982), Bo Jackson (with the White Sox from 1991 to 1993) and Michael Jordan (for four games with Birmingham of the Southern League in 1994).

— He was the 1985 International League MVP with the Columbus Clippers.

— He homered in his MLB debut on May 30, 1985, with the Yankees

— He was Sports Illustrated’s 1987 preseason pick to lead the American League in home runs. He finished with 17, only 32 behind Mark McGwire.

— He hit a Comiskey Park roof shot on May 30, 1989.

— He hit the last triple (and had the last RBI) in Comiskey Park history on Sept. 30, 1990.

— He hit a 484-foot home run, the third-longest by a White Sox player in Guaranteed Rate Field history, on April 27, 1991.

— He finished his MLB career with 117 home runs, tied with all-time great outfielders Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Ichiro Suzuki.

And finally, let’s compare Pasqua to Palka statistically. Since Palka had 449 career plate appearances through the end of the 2018 season, here's the duo's numbers through their first 449 career MLB plate appearances.

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

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USA TODAY

Could Manny Machado's NLCS shenanigans impact White Sox potential free-agent pursuit?

"It's a dirty play by a dirty player."

That was Christian Yelich, the all-but-sure-to-be NL MVP, describing Manny Machado, who's about to become one of the best-paid players in baseball history, after Game 4 of the NLCS, a game in which Machado once again grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Machado's Los Angeles Dodgers and Yelich's Milwaukee Brewers have played four games in this NLCS, and after three of them, the focus has been on Machado. Not because of his bat or his glove but because of lack of hustle and certain methods on the base paths that weren't exactly on the up and up.

After Game 2, he was criticized for not hustling on a ground ball to shortstop. In something straight out of a public-relations person's nightmare, he defended himself by saying that hustling really isn't his cup of tea. During Game 3, he twice attempted to break up double plays by interfering at second base and was, upon review, busted for it the second time. In extra innings in Game 4, he appeared to intentionally drag his leg across Jesus Aguilar's at first base. That play cleared the benches, got Machado called "dirty" in the Brewers' clubhouse and earned him the reputation of postseason villain.

And so Machado's impending free agency gets to be discussed in a brand new light. There's now more baggage attached to the 26-year-old superstar with a fantastic bat and a stellar glove.

The question is: Will the White Sox, one of many teams that could be mulling a contract offer worth hundreds of millions of dollars, care?

As much as it’s talked about building a perennial contender of the future by developing the on-field skills of their fleet of highly touted prospects, the White Sox brain trust has discussed developing a culture, a way of doing things, to go along with all that talent and all that skill. Unsurprisingly that conversation has focused on the oft-used phrase of “doing things the right way.”

Does what Machado has been doing count as “doing things the right way”? It seems easy to assess that it doesn't. It's far more difficult to determine whether it will end up making a difference or not.

Not hustling is one of Rick Renteria's biggest bugaboos. He sat down multiple players on multiple occasions throughout the 2018 season — starting with Avisail Garcia in a spring training game and including a veteran like Welington Castillo as well as a young star like Tim Anderson — for not running to first base on pop ups and line outs and ground outs. Would Renteria's tune suddenly change if Machado and his preference for not hustling arrived on the South Side in what would surely be the biggest free-agent deal in club history?

Renteria got fired up over the issue at the end of July, when he benched Anderson for not hustling on what the shortstop believed was a line out.

“We tell these guys, don’t assume anything. ... It’s as simple as that, and he understands it. He knows it. We’ve talked about it. He comes out of the box, he doesn’t stand there. But we just reiterated to make sure that you allow the umpires to make the calls and you allow the other clubs to go ahead and ask for reviews. We run.”

But asked about not running out his ground ball in Game 2, Machado shared pretty much the opposite philosophy.

"Obviously I'm not going to change, I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle,' and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen," Machado told The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. "That's just not my personality, that's not my cup of tea, that's not who I am."

What about Machado's interferences at second base? It was that exact play that sent Anderson into an on-field tiff with umpire Joe West during the second Crosstown series of the season just last month. Javy Baez slid into second base, and Anderson thought Baez did something he shouldn't have, raising his arm to interfere with a double-play turn, that sequence of events ending with Anderson screaming at West on the field. Would Anderson be cool with playing alongside — and potentially vacating his position at shortstop for — an infamous interferer?

And what about being a "dirty player," a villain? The White Sox always seemed fine — heck, they loved it — having one of baseball's greatest irritants in A.J. Pierzynski on the roster. Perhaps no player wore the "villain" title as a badge of honor more than the catcher on the 2005 World Series team. But remember that Pierzynski took the punch, he didn't throw it. Being baseball's version of a "villain" and being a guy who makes dangerous plays that could hurt somebody are two different things.

The point being: Do Machado's actions in this postseason series make him anathema to the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra? If the White Sox were to turn a blind eye to the events of this NLCS, would it qualify as a betrayal of their quest to establish a high-effort, high-character culture?

Or do they value that culture so much that they stay away from Machado this offseason?

Here's Rick Hahn from September of last year.

"It’s the culture that Ricky and his coaching staff have been able to create in that clubhouse. I cannot tell you how many various fans have stopped me, or emailed me or mentioned to me that they’ve never been this excited over a 60-win team. Or they’ve never been excited about a team that isn’t going to the playoffs. And I think so much of that is based on how Ricky and the coaches have them playing day in and day out. You see them fighting for 27 outs, you see them prepared every night. Sure, we’re going to get out-manned at portions during this process, but the fight and competitiveness and the style of play is the kind of thing that is going to endure year in and year out. And that is extremely important for us to establish at the big league level for all of us."

Machado's talent would make any team he's a part of more competitive. But for the White Sox, who talk an awful lot about hustling and refusing to quit, perhaps all these postseason shenanigans make it so Machado just isn't their cup of tea.