White Sox

Ballantini: Ozzie and that wacky outfield D

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Ballantini: Ozzie and that wacky outfield D

Wednesday, April 13, 2011Posted: 3:19 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

As much as White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has defended his defenseparticularly an outfield defense that has dropped five fly balls (four for errors) in Chicagos first 11 games, he knows that trend has to reverse course.

Its making an excuse when you are making a mistake and making errors, thats a no-no for me, Guillen said. You screw up, you screw upwell get them next time. It has been very windy here the last couple of days. We see a lot of guys were play against make mistakes, too. Just keep playing Hopefully we get better about it; I know we will. We know we need defense. Every time we make a mistake, we pay. And hopefully, we start making less mistakes.

Last year, the White Sox were an average defensive team overall, with a .983 fielding percentage that tied for 14th in the leaguethis year the White Sox are last in the AL with a .969 fielding percentage. This year, theyve sported a range factor per nine innings of 3.60 RF9 and 2.63 RFG, much poorer than last years 4.15 and 3.03, respectively. The clubs revised zone rating (RZR, the percentage of balls in each fielding zone a team coverts to outs) was .797 through the first 11 games (24th in the league) and .801 last year (29th), and the out-of-zone (OOZ) outs totaled 427 in 2010 (18th in baseball) and project to 368 this season (tied for 22nd).

So really, while five drops in the first 11 games of the season is a bit extreme, the White Sox defense is generally what it should be. Guillen is willing to put a positive spin on that.

We have played pretty good defense, he said. We dropped two balls that cost us runs. Overall, we play great defense. Rios just dropped one ball, and how many nice plays does he make? So does Juan. I not going to criticize the play because they make errors. I wish it would be better? We all do. They want to play good. They take a lot of pride playing defense. They take fly balls and ground balls, they take infield. Everything thats out there to get better, we do it. Execute during the game, we do it. We will make more mistakes because thats part of the game.

One thing that really gets Guillens goat, however, are the Bronx cheers that greeted half a dozen caught fly balls last night, something he said made him feel sad for his team.

The thing is that bugs me a little bit, if youre booing because we drop the ball, yes, please do. You boo because we make a bad pitch thats a double, yes. But dont think this is a little game where every time we catch fly balls you can be making fun of the team or embarrassing it, Guillen said. Everyone should be proud if youre a White Sox fan and you see Juan Pierre play every dayyou got your moneys worth. This kid plays very, very hard for us. He doesnt deserve Bronx cheers. I will be behind him and I dont care if people get mad at me Its just not fair, and Ill keep saying that. When the play happened, boo, but if every time teams hit a fly ball to us theyre going to do that, I dont think thats nice at all.

In the third inning of Wednesdays game vs. Oakland, Pierre made his third error of the young seasonthe fifth outfield error in 11-plus games for the White Soxon a single by Cliff Pennington in the third. Pierre had two singles early in the game, but was picked off of first base both times.

Having their backs

Guillen very quickly jumped to support his players during their defensive doldrums on the homestand, and thats just one reason why he is such a popular leader in the White Sox clubhouse.

He played the game. Hes got it in his blood, catcher Ramon Castro said. He knows what we go through and never hesitates to support us.

He doesnt throw us under the bus, centerfielder Alex Rios said. He runs a tight ship, but he absorbs a lot of the criticism for us, so we are protected.

Guillen constantly threatens to throw his players under the bus, but only a small percentage of the time does he follow through on those threatsand thats actually a big part of the circle of trust Guillen has with his team.

He establishes his rules and expects us to live up to them, shortstop Alexei Ramirez said. People think theres no method to how he works, but thats not true. We respond to his support and respect by respecting him right back, and working hard.

Rios, who says that a key to making the trust Ozzie has with his team work is the support that the players have for one another on the field and in the clubhouse, broke it down similarly.

Ozzies cool with us, he said. When you know someone is behind you, its good.

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

Freshly cut Michael Kopech feels 'different energy' around White Sox

Freshly cut Michael Kopech feels 'different energy' around White Sox

On the eve of the most anticipated SoxFest in recent memory, Michael Kopech got a haircut.

He likely won't be the only one sporting a fresh look when the White Sox gather for the annual fan convention this weekend at McCormick Place. But he's probably the only one who had his restyling attended by the local media.

Kopech got his trademark flowing locks clipped off Wednesday as part of a charity event that raised $20,000 for the Ronald McDonald House and White Sox charities, meaning there'll be a noticeable difference the next time he steps on a major league mound. There was bound to be a difference, considering he last pitched in a big league game in September of 2018. But how much of a difference there will be in his pitching style remains to be seen.

Kopech has long been promised as a flamethrower that can touch ungodly speeds like 101, 102 and 103 miles an hour on the radar gun. He'll still be able to do that, he says, but there will be a difference.

"I don't know if I'm going to necessarily be that type of power pitcher again in my career," he said Wednesday. "I think I'm going to be a little bit smarter and cautious about how I pitch. That being said, velocity will always be a part of my game."

We'll have to wait and see exactly how Kopech will attack opposing hitters after his recovery from Tommy John surgery. "Wait and see" will be a theme of at least the early portion of Kopech's 2020 campaign. The White Sox have signaled that he'll be limited in some capacity in an effort not to overwork him — remember that his next major league appearance will be only his fifth — but we don't know what that will look like yet. Will he be part of the rotation, but be skipped at times? Will he pitch out of the bullpen for a little bit? Will he start the season in the minor leagues?

According to Kopech, he doesn't know the plan, either, knowing only that he feels great and will be looking to earn a roster spot in spring training.

"Not really," he said, asked if he's talked with the team about what it has planned for him. "My plan for myself is to be competitive in the spring and give my team a chance to win, and hopefully that's giving myself the best chance I can.

"But for what the team has in store for me, I really don't know those answers. I'm just going to do my best when I get there."

Between the moves Rick Hahn's front office has made this winter and the way so many of the White Sox young, core players broke out in 2019, there are realistic playoff expectations on the South Side for the first time in a long time, with the expectation being that the team will make its long awaited leap out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. Kopech would figure to be a big part of that, still ranked as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. Even with plans to limit his workload, the White Sox would figure to want him to be pitching in meaningful games if they should roll around in August and September, or even October.

Of course, these kinds of expectations are nothing new for these White Sox players, who have long been willing to express their confidence in the organization's bright future. Kopech has talked about wanting to win the 2020 World Series. Eloy Jimenez has talked about being a part of a championship outfield. Lucas Giolito, "sick of losing," has been talking playoffs since the end of last year's 89-loss season. And the freshly extended Luis Robert is talking about winning multiple championships.

This group has always been about setting lofty goals. But now the fan base is buying in to all that, too, and setting its own set of expectations, ones that end with the White Sox reaching the postseason. Kopech can already feel a different vibe surrounding this team, though added that the expectations inside the clubhouse haven't changed from what they've always been.

"We were just talking about that a couple of days ago. We were out playing catch, me, Zack Burdi, Ryan Burr, Grandal was out there. It was that camaraderie, but more so, the underlining competitiveness in all of us. It felt like a different energy, was the word that was used," Kopech said. "We were all pulling in the same direction, which I think is kind of a glimpse to us what the future is going to look like.

"Not to look too far ahead, but I think we all are pulling in the same direction, not that that wasn't the case before. We're all starting to get that taste, sort of speak.

"(Playoff expectations are) what we've put on ourselves, as well. We're always going to want to be a competitive team, and we're going to want to be a competitive team at the highest level and that's to be in the playoffs.

"Those expectations that people are putting on us, we're going to also put on ourselves and try to achieve that."

It's still a bit of an unknown when and in what capacity we'll first see Kopech contributing toward reaching those expectations. But don't adjust your television set when he does make his first appearance. That's him, all right. Just lighter now without all that extra hair.

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Paul Konerko misses out on 2020 Hall of Fame, falls off ballot after receiving 2.5% of vote

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USA Today

Paul Konerko misses out on 2020 Hall of Fame, falls off ballot after receiving 2.5% of vote

Former White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko will not be elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 2020. Konerko received 2.5% of the vote, less than the 5% needed to remain on the ballot.

Konerko came to Chicago in 1998 and played his first season with the Sox in 1999, hitting .294 with 24 home runs and 81 RBIs. The following season, the White Sox made the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Konerko was with the team during their triumphant 2005 World Series win, hitting the first grand slam in White Sox World Series history and giving the Sox the lead 6-4 in Game 2 against the Astros.

Confused and frustrated? You’re not alone. Here's how the multi-step voting process works. Players become eligible to enter the Hall of Fame ballot five years after they’ve retired, if they’ve played a minimum of 10 seasons. From there, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America screening committee votes to determine which players make the ballot. Each voter can vote for 10 players. Players need to achieve at least 5% of the vote to be included on the next year’s ballot. If a player makes the ballot, they then need to achieve 75% of all ballots cast to be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Regardless of the voting, Konerko will always be a White Sox legend.

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