White Sox

Ballantini: Animated Ozzie livening up Sox camp

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Ballantini: Animated Ozzie livening up Sox camp

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
Posted 11:10 a.m. Updated 2:24 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has already constructed a new mantra for 2011 spring training, predictably involving curse words but along the lines of needing some drama to liven up camp. Thursday brought more of the same for Ozzie, fighting boredom but as always, finding joy in life.

On the lush, green fields of Camelback Ranch, Adam Dunn was routinely singled out for his glovework during fielding drills, in somewhat tongue-in-cheek fashion (although to be fair, Dunn played first base as his primary position for the first time in 2010 and compiled a -3.1 ultimate zone ratingnot great, but better than Paul Konerkos worst-in-baseball -13.4). After the drills, Guillen joked: The Big Donkey Dunn is gonna have a sore arm and a sore back tomorrow. By way of encouragement and introduction, Konerko explained to Dunn that he played both catcher and third base (where I was fine, as long as they hit it right at me) before settling in as a first baseman. Later, the Captain was chatting with pitching coach Don Cooper over his status as a league leader in assists (he finished tied for fourth a season ago, with 83).

As players hit the fields this morning, Guillen let them know the pressure was on, with owner Jerry Reinsdorf in attendance. He also was quick to give Roger Bossards ground crew trouble for their aggressiveness in dragging the field, claiming their attentiveness to detail was due exclusively to the big boss being around.

Mark Teahen made a number of nifty plays and strong throws from third, an indication that some of the injury-induced yips of 2010 might be a thing of the past.

Alexei Ramirez, on the other hand, was a loose as ever at shortstop, responding to Guillens chatterings by more than once encouraging Guillen to come out to short to field with him. Guillen: Oh no, you dont want to start that fight with me.

For Openers

Guillen made it more certain than ever that Mark Buehrle would be the White Soxs Opening Day starter, basically intimating the non-news that if all goes according to plan (no injuries, outrageous struggles, or dissention from GM Ken Williams or Cooper), the lefthander would start his team-record ninth opener. The lefthander would bring a career 3-1 record and 3.39 ERA into Opening Day 2011.

Early Impressions

Jordan Danks opened some eyes in his live BP session, at one point prompting A.J. Pierzynski to ask him whether he had visualized a long drive into the gap. After his session, it was Danks and veteran Omar Vizquel on a side field practicing bunting off of a batting machine.

On the mound, it was Miguel Socolovich getting some plaudits and attention. The 24-year-old has played five minor-league seasons but only distinguished himself in 2010, going 7-6 with a 3.33 ERA at AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte. Socolovich had quite a battle with Alex Rios, at one point sawing off Rios bat and causing Rios to angrily chuck the splintered bat to the backstop. Guillen called Cooper over to look at the 61, 175-pound righthander, and shouted out a compliment to the non-roster invitee once he finished his 40-pitch session.

Peavy A-OK

Jake Peavy had a quick chat with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen before workouts on Thursday, pronouncing himself just as fit as he did to the media yesterday. Peavy was in high spirits in reassuring his skipper, who has indicated that if theres one worry with his righty fireballer, its whether he will be forthright about how hes feeling. Yesterday, Peavy seemed to indicate he was cognizant of that worry, telling reporters that in a sense, he had learned his lesson.

It really doesnt mean a whole lot to me, Peavy said of breaking camp in the rotation. I just want to be healthy. I want to be healthy for the majority of the season. If Im healthy this whole season and throw 200 innings with the guys, its certainly something I want to do. But if I dont, I dont see myself being that far behind. I just want to make sure when I get back theres not any kind of setbacks.

If for no other reason, Peavy is tired of having to explain how he came to the White Sox in 2009 injured, rushed back, then pitched through discomfort in 2010, leading to his dramatic, detached latissimus dorsi muscle injury.

Today, prospective fourth outfielder Lastings Milledge laughed when asked about his trial by fire with the White Soxfacing Peavy in his first live BP of spring training: Injuring Peavy on a comebacker isnt going to get me on the roster.

Lefthander Will Ohman, who is proving to be one of the more entertaining players on the roster, questioning Peavy about wearing his socks high (Peavys retort: I go up and down with the old-timey look I have no sense of fashion.).

Loony Lefty

Ohman also related his (failed) offer to Guillen (a Rolex) to get his skipper to give him the No. 13 jersey: If Omar Vizquel couldnt get it from him, I didnt stand much of a chance, did I?

Danks You Very Much

John Danks laughingly admitted he was roughed up in his first live BP throws on Wednesday, particularly by slugger Tyler Flowers, who hit at least one moon shot off the lefthander: That one went a long waybut its hard to hold guys down when hitters know whats coming. Danks admitted that it was some competitive spirit that found him then sawing off Flowers bat with a cutter.

Danks spent his off-time between sets of 20 pitches behind the batting cage, watching Matt Thornton get his work in, the reflection on it today making him shudder. Matt throws so hard and right where he wants it. Hes got a scary arm.

Impatient A.J.

Around the cage, talk turned to swinging on 3-0. Pierzynski was curious whether Dunn was inclined to swing on 3-0, or got many green lights from his managers. Dunn had a few comments, and asked A.J. the same. Youve got to get to 3-0 to swing on 3-0, the rapscallion backstop said in reference to his infamous impatience. By the time I see three pitches, its 2-1 or 1-2.

Pena the Toro

Asked whether he felt strong so far this spring, prospective spot starter Tony Pena replied in the affirmative: Como toro. Like a bull.

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

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Chris Widger homered for the first time in five years

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AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Chris Widger homered for the first time in five years

You want some “team of destiny” type moments from the 2005 season?

How about Chris Widger just teeing off on Barry Zito?

Zito is one of the more accomplished pitchers of the modern era and a fearsome foe in his day. He held the White Sox to just a couple hits through the first six innings on April 25, 2005.

Meanwhile, Widger, the White Sox backup catcher, hadn’t homered in a big league game in half a decade. As Chris Kamka described when he remembered this guy back in October, Widger had few big league opportunities after the 2000 season and played fast-pitch softball and independent league ball in 2004 before the White Sox picked him up.

Coming into this matchup against Zito and the A’s, Widger’s last major league homer came against the White Sox, off Mike Sirotka, in a 2000 game on the South Side.

No matter. Widger played the unlikely hero this night, breaking a scoreless tie in the seventh inning by obliterating a Zito offering into the outfield seats at the Oakland Coliseum.


That swing turned the game around, with the White Sox turning a scoreless tie into a 6-0 rout over the final three innings.

Widger also caught Jon Garland’s complete-game shutout in this one, doing good work both at the plate and behind it.

The reserve position players were clutch for these White Sox, and you don’t need to look any further than this game to see it. In addition to Widger’s offensive fireworks, Pablo Ozuna made some things happen in this one, too. He reached base three times, stole two bases and scored two runs, including the fourth run off Zito in the seventh inning with a diving slide into home plate.

Widger and Ozuna were the only two White Sox batters this night with multi-hit games.

Just like the White Sox bullpen complemented the starting rotation to form a championship-caliber pitching staff, the bench provided a few reliable options for Ozzie Guillen when his regulars needed days off.

It all added up to a world-champion roster.

What else?

— Garland was fantastic, and he was the story of the night despite all the Widger talk above. This was the second shutout of his career and his first since 2002. This performance capped an incredible month of April for Garland, with a dazzling 1.80 ERA in 30 innings over his first four starts of the campaign. Against the A’s, he allowed just four hits and one walk, retiring the final 13 batters he faced in order. He went toe to toe with Zito and was the better pitcher this night.

— Zito, of course, was good, too. But the White Sox actually ended up handing him one of his worst days of the 2005 season. Of Zito’s major league leading 35 starts, in only 12 of them did he give up more than three earned runs. He made 21 quality starts that season. And he looked every bit his dominant self throughout much of this one. Through six innings, he gave up just two hits, putting only five batters on base. But a pair of two-RBI hits in the seventh turned things around quickly. He went from one of his finest outings of the season to a rare four-run evening. He ended up facing the White Sox again later in the 2005 season, with much better results. Zito tossed eight two-run innings on July 3.

— Two of the five White Sox hitters who reached in those first six innings against Zito reached after getting hit by a pitch. Ozuna was hit in the hand leading off the game. Joe Crede was hit in the ribs leading off the third inning. Zito hit 13 batters in 2005, matching a career high. This was one of two starts where he hit multiple batters. The Angels lineup got it worse 10 days before this game, with three batters hit by Zito pitches.

— Juan Uribe made a couple excellent defensive plays in this one. He made a tremendous play up the middle to rob Eric Chavez of a hit in the sixth inning, sparking a terrific Hawk Harrelson call.


And he made another web gem in the bottom of the ninth to help Garland lock down the win.

— Speaking of web gems, though, the best play of the evening came from future White Sox outfielder Nick Swisher, who made a miraculous diving catch in right field to steal a hit away from Timo Perez in the top of the ninth. Seriously, it was one of the better catches you'll see. Swisher received mixed reviews from fans during his one season on the South Side in 2008, but he had some very good days with the A’s. In 2005, his first full season in the major leagues, he had the first of nine 20-homer seasons and finished sixth in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

— Last but not least, I need to point out Harrelson’s love for a couple of A’s players’ names. Marco Scutaro and Huston Street sounded oh so sweet to Hawk’s ears.

Since you been gone

While #SoxRewind is extensive, it doesn’t include all 162 regular-season contests, meaning we’re going to be skipping over some games. So what’d we miss since last time?

April 24, 2005: The White Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but Orlando Hernandez blew that advantage, with Matt Stairs homering off Cliff Politte to give the Royals a one-run edge. The White Sox struck back, though, in the eighth, getting back-to-back two-out RBI hits from Aaron Rowand and Ozuna to tie the game and then take the lead. White Sox win, 4-3, improve to 15-4.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Friday, when you can catch the May 1, 2005, game against the Tigers, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. It’s another Garland gem, plus some more out-of-the-park fun courtesy of Timo Perez.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Darrin Jackson remembers Ed Farmer: 'He bled White Sox, simple as that'

Darrin Jackson remembers Ed Farmer: 'He bled White Sox, simple as that'

Listening to the remembrances of Ed Farmer on Thursday, one thing was abundantly clear: He was a meaningful member of the White Sox family.

And every day and every night, he did everything he could to add to that family.

“He brought people in,” said Darrin Jackson, Farmer’s broadcast partner for more than a decade, during a Thursday conference call. “I always said there was nobody in Chicago or anywhere else that would bring in more new fans to that organization than Ed Farmer. You could be a Cardinal fan, you could be a fan of anybody and he would have you up in our booth and you would be converted instantly.

“He had a way of making sure to make you a part of the White Sox family. It was something special to be around.”

By the time he started his three decades as one of the signature voices of White Sox baseball, he had long been a part of the South Side baseball tradition. Farmer was born on the South Side and grew up a White Sox fan. He got to pitch for his hometown team for three seasons from 1979 to 1981, establishing himself as one of the best relief arms in team history.

To any of the hundreds of players who came to the White Sox during Farmer’s tenure in the broadcast booth, they learned what made him a unique part of the organization. Paul Konerko put Farmer on his “Mount Rushmore” of White Sox characters.

Everyone who talked of Farmer on Thursday, be it to reporters or in social media posts, remembered what he meant to them and the White Sox organization. The feeling, Jackson said, was mutual.

“He bled White Sox. Simple as that,” Jackson said. “He grew up loving the White Sox. He was fortunate enough to pitch for the White Sox, broadcast for the White Sox. Jerry Reinsdorf treated him like a younger brother. And Ed felt that he was part of a special family.

“Ed Farmer will always be remembered as a Chicago guy that absolutely loved being in the White Sox organization and in a White Sox uniform. … There was nothing more important than being part of the South Side and the White Sox.”

At times, Jackson was overcome by emotion while discussing his partner and friend. The two sat next to each other in the radio booth for the last 11 seasons. Their broadcast was often a talking point among White Sox fans, and A.J. Pierzynski even referenced Farmer’s tendencies Thursday: “It's a sad day for the White Sox organization and family that Farmio won't be there in the radio booth, talking about golf instead of baseball.”

But what everyone talking about Farmer on Thursday remembered was not the specifics of his broadcasting or the specifics of his pitching career. It was the interactions they had with him, the things he did for them and the love he showed them.

The way he brought them into the White Sox family. His family.

“No matter what you thought of him as a play-by-play (announcer), you’ll never forget what he brought into your home, into your car,” Jackson said. “And the times he was broadcasting, he’s just such a memorable guy that there’s absolutely no way he didn’t make a difference in your life.

“Ed Farmer will never be forgotten.”

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