White Sox

Buehrle in the dark but anticipating Opening Day start

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Buehrle in the dark but anticipating Opening Day start

Friday, February 25, 2011
Posted 11:23 a.m. Updated 9:21 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. While sure to mention he hasnt been told anything about a potential Opening Day start, Chicago White Sox starter Mark Buehrle early Friday had the conversation hes undoubtedly anticipated since the start of camp.

In fact, the lefty was so prepared to discuss an Opening Day start that he had prepared both a happy statement in reaction to getting his ninth opener assignment and an angry one in case he was bypassed.

The way its lined up, it looks like Ill start Opening Day, Buehrle said. I havent been told a word yet. Its a great honor. Hopefully, I stay healthy down here and get out there and hopefully do better than I did the last time we started in Cleveland. Because that was 1 23 innings, and that was rough.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen loves the drama of naming an Opening Day starter, even when its a no-brainer in picking Buehrle. Still, Guillen could draw the storyline out no longer, caving in and naming Buehrle on just the fourth day of full camp.

You can put it this way: Yeah, hes going to be our starting guy, Guillen said. I dont think GM Kenny Williams is going to say anything It was in the paper this morning and on whatever TV, and Kenny didnt say anything, so thats the guy.

Of course, Buehrles one prior Opening Day game at the Cleveland Indians was also his worst opener ever, giving up seven earned runs to start 2008 but escaping with a no-decision, as the White Sox drove Indians starter C.C. Sabathia out of the box early in an eventual 10-8 loss.

The last time he started Opening Day in Cleveland, oh, it was an ugly one, Guillen said. Ill ask Mark: Please dont do that again.

Hopefully Ill do better than I did the last time we started in Cleveland, Buerhle smiled. Because that was 1 23 innings, and that was rough.

Buehrle is 3-1 lifetime with a 3.39 ERA in eight Opening Day starts. Remove 2008 from his opener resume, and the lefthanders Opening Day ERA falls to 2.08.

The normally droll veteran still does get excited about getting the nod to open the season. If manager Ozzie Guillen hands him the ball for the April Fools opener, it will extend Buehrles franchise record of season kickoffs to nine.

Its like an All-Star appearance, he said. A lot of people say it gets old, but I dont know how it can get old. Its a buildup from the offseason with all the offseason moves you make. Its the one game thats sold out. Its sort of like a playoff game Its going to be a great atmosphere, and Ill try to get us off on the right foot.

Buehrle had humbly admitted at the start of camp that if consulted, hed endorse fellow lefty John Danks as the Opening Day starter, an endorsement he jokingly pulled back when I reminded him.

No, screw him, Buehrle said, before the two started quibbling (like arguing with my wife, in Buerhles eyes). Ill take the Opening Day start.
Teahen Leaves

Infielder-outfielder Mark Teahen was excused from camp to attend to a family issue. The veteran, who struggled throughout 2010, his first season with the White Sox, looked good in his early drills and apparently was overcoming his hot corner fielding and throwing yips of a year ago.

I always say family is first, Guillen said, anticipating Teahens absence as just a couple of days. You take care of your stuff back home and you come back here and youre more than welcome back.

While rookie Brent Morel is the presumed starter at third base, a righted Teahen is invaluable to the White Sox as a superutility player. Any worries the 29-year-old might have had about his role shrinking while away was quickly allayed by Guillen.

I said to him, What are you going to miss, a game? Dont worry about it, Guillen said. Besides that, when youre on the field and thinking about something else, you might bring it on the field, and that wont help you. Make sure you take care of what you need to take care of, come back here, and well help you.

American League Dominates

White Sox assistant director of media relations Pat OConnell not only spurred the inaugural games, but clocked a deep-drive, ground-rule double as part of a 1-4 effort in Chicagos doubleheader sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers interleague office games.

You can read more about the games in Scott Reiferts Inside the White Sox blog, but one notable oddity (Reifert drew it out first, not me) was public relations coordinator Marty Maloneys two bases-loaded, ground outs to the pitcher in the same inning.

Its pretty clear that for such a unique achievement, it was Maloney and not winning pitchers Jeff Szynal and Stacy Tsihlopoulos, taking MVP honors.

Better luck next year, Dodgers.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.