White Sox

Buehrle's struggles continue in loss to Cubs

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Buehrle's struggles continue in loss to Cubs

Friday, March 11, 2011
Posted: 4:47 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Mark Buehrle suffered through a second straight subpar start, this time at the hands of the Chicago Cubs, as the Chicago White Sox fell 4-3 at Camelback Ranch on Friday afternoon.

Buehrle was hammered for three runs (two earned) and six hits in just three innings of work, burning through 63 pitches and raising his ERA to 7.88. The outing included uncharacteristic wildness (two walks), a rare error by the two-time Gold Glover, and a gopher ball served up to Carlos Pena, his fist round-tripper of the spring.

I was supposed to be building up innings, but my innings are going downhill instead of going uphill, Buehrle said. I was a little more wild than you want to be but its spring training and Im getting pitches in and building stuff up.

This was the first time I saw him a little upset after the game. Maybe it carried over from the last outing, when he was hit pretty well, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I dont remember Buehrle having too many good springs.

A three-run rally by the White Sox fell short, although the South Siders did notch three late runs, one on a Stefan Gartrell double to deep left-center, two on a 420-foot blast by the following batter, Lastings Milledge.

Jeffrey Marquez, Will Ohman and Jesse Crain relieved Buehrle and had almost perfect results, Marquez offering up one hit and striking out three and Crain allowing just one runner on a hit batsman. Ohman retired the Cubs 1-2-3 and has had a glistening spring, with four innings of perfect pitching.

There are a few people who have picked it up, Guillen said. Now that Dayan Viciedo is not on the map, Milledge has played pretty well. Alejandro De Aza and Lilly Brent Lillibridge also have had good at-bats.

I said a couple of days ago that nobody has stepped up and I didnt see anything special. Now the players got the message and are swinging the bat better You dont need to go 4-for-4 to make this ballclub, you need to play the game well, and I will pick the right guy.

But the story of the gameeven this relatively meaningless one, smack dab in the middle of spring trainingwas Buehrles rough start digging another early hole for the White Sox.

Im more frustrated than I should be for a spring training start, Buehrle said. Being competitive, I dont like getting hit around. Im not overpowering; Im not going to throw the ball by guys, so its like I make a couple of good pitches, and they get hits, and then I miss a spot, and they hit the ball hard. Its frustrating that when Im hitting my spots, theyre putting the ball in play and hitting holes.

I just worry about Mark on April 1, Guillen said. Besides that, the only thing I can wait for is him to be healthy, get out of spring training and be ready for the season.

The White Sox didnt do much to back Buehrle, mustering just two hits (and striking out seven times) in the first six innings off of Cubs starter Ryan Dempster and reliever Sean Marshall.

In the ninth, White Sox reliever Anthony Carter was touched for back-to-back doubles, pushing across the North Siders final run.

10 vs. 10,000

Making his rough effort all the more annoying to Buehrle is that he did it in front of the White Sox biggest game of the season.

Yeah, you get a little more adrenaline going playing in front of 10,000 fans instead of 10 gets you going a little bit more, Buehrle said. It is a spring training game and we were joking around coming into it that its too early in the spring to have a pressure situation, but its good to play in front of a big crowd so it feels more like the regular season.

First: Ozzie on Quade

When asked whether hed have any advice for his new managing counterpart, Mike Quade, Guillen felt it wasnt quite his place to advisethen offered plenty anyhow.

Its hard to predict what will happen in Chicago, Guillen said. Coaching in Chicago before, its different to go through it as a coach than it is as a manager. I know hes not going to lose his hair, thats for sure. I guarantee that, he wont lose his hair. And hes not going to get gray.

I always say Chicago, sometimes Chicago people are like the weather. Sometimes theyre nice, sometimes theyre not. One day, theyre beautiful, the next day they hate you. You have to live with that. Fans in Chicago are pretty tough; media in Chicago is pretty tough; radio is pretty tough. You have a couple of good games, they love you. All of a sudden you lose a game, and they hate you. You have to be prepared and have very thick skin to handle it, take one day at a time and hope for the best. But anybody who coaches or manages in Chicago know they are on the hot seat every day. No matter what you do, you will have more negative than positive. You have to be prepared for that.

Guillen doesnt know Quade too well, but has heard enough to give a ringing endorsement.

This man is a great baseball man, Guillen said. I kind of like that, because a lot of people say he doesnt have a name and stuff. Hopefully he puts that team in a position to win and puts them in a good spot. This guy has been in baseball so long; I know hes happy to have the job. I hope the players play well for him and hopefully he keeps the job. The players are the ones who fire the coaching staff. Its not the general manager, its the playershopefully the players play well for him.

Second: Speechless Ozzie?

Guillen showed writers a letter from Dallas Green that was sitting on his desk postgame, thanking him for his role in Mondays fundraising game in Tucson. The ebullient manager recounted catching the ceremonial first pitch from the longtime executive, whose granddaughter, Christina Taylor-Green, was killed by a gunman in a mass shooting in January. Simply recounting the story of talking with Green before the game was giving the confident manager goose bumps.

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

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

White Sox free-agent focus: Dallas Keuchel

This week, we’re profiling some of the biggest names on the free-agent market and taking a look at what kind of fits they are for the White Sox.

The White Sox need starting pitching, so why not bring in a guy with a Cy Young Award sitting on his mantle?

Dallas Keuchel is one of the two biggest names on the starting-pitching market this winter, along with Patrick Corbin, who will get more attention — and likely more dollars — because he's two years younger. But Keuchel's the guy with the track record, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015 (when he was also a top-five MVP finisher), a two-time All Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and the owner of a 3.28 ERA over the past five seasons, during which he helped the Houston Astros transition from rebuilding to one of baseball's perennial contenders. You might have heard something about them winning the World Series in 2017.

It's true that things have been somewhat up and down for Keuchel since his Cy Young win. After posting a 2.48 ERA with a career-high 216 strikeouts in 33 starts during that 2015 season, he had a 4.55 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 26 starts in 2016, then a 2.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 23 starts in 2017 and a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 34 starts last season. But three times in the last five years he's finished with an ERA under 3.00. In other words, he's pretty darn good.

How might he fit with the White Sox? Well, in terms of whether or not he lines up with their long-term plans. Keuchel's older than Corbin, but it's not like he's old. He'll be 31 on Opening Day 2019, and a long-term deal, which he's expected to fetch, would keep him around for another planned transition from rebuilding to contention. Keuchel — a veteran who's accomplished a lot already, including putting a World Series ring on his finger — could be viewed as a Jon Lester type for these rebuilding White Sox, a big name who buys into the front office's long-term plan and helps make those plans become reality.

And there's no doubt the White Sox are in the market for starting pitching this winter. Michael Kopech is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the White Sox decided not to pick up James Shields' option for 2019. That leaves two holes in the starting rotation. An addition like Keuchel would be a long-term one, which means the White Sox would opt to make him a safety net for their still-developing fleet of young pitchers and choose not to roll the dice on a homegrown starting staff for 2020. However, if they're confident in a quintet of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease, then maybe they opt for a couple one-year fill-ins in 2019. Keuchel would not be a one-year fill-in.

Keuchel could also fill the role vacated by Shields, a veteran who could help bring along the young guys in an off-the-field mentor role. His experience going through the dark days of a rebuild — he was a member of Astros teams that lost a combined 310 games from 2012 to 2014 — and coming out the other end a world champ would also figure to be of value.

Of course, the White Sox wouldn't be alone in a pursuit of Keuchel, if they were interested. Thanks to Clayton Kershaw signing a new contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he's one of the two biggest names on the market when it comes to starting pitchers. The White Sox would likely have to go through the same bidding war and pitch of planned future success they would with other big names like Corbin, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

But there's no doubt Keuchel would be an upgrade to this rotation in 2019 and could provide plenty of value for years beyond.

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

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USA TODAY

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again, and the Big Hurt let 'em hear about it

ESPN forgot about the White Sox again.

The Worldwide Leader in Sports has made a habit of failing to remember the South Siders in recent years, most notably forgetting (on multiple occasions) that the White Sox did in fact win the 2005 World Series.

It happened enough times that A.J. Pierzynski had some opinions about it.

This time, the omission came in an effort to illustrate how good Mike Trout is, with ESPN researcher Paul Hembekides listing baseball players who appeared in the top four in MVP voting three or more times. Trout, the Los Angeles Angels superstar, has already done it seven times, and boy that is terrific.

But Hembekides left someone out. And that someone let him hear about it.

You tell 'em, Frank.

Yes, the Big Hurt finished in the top four of the AL MVP vote on six separate occasions: 1991 (third), 1993 (first), 1994 (first), 1997 (third), 2000 (second) and 2006 (fourth, while playing for the Oakland Athletics).

ESPN's blind spot for the White Sox doesn't end up meaning much of anything, though it's amusing that they've now managed to leave out a relatively recent World Series champion and a relatively recent first-ballot Hall of Famer.

We all make mistakes. But it's a little funny that ESPN's are, repeatedly, White Sox related.