White Sox

On the Farm: Gilmore comfortable with Sox

On the Farm: Gilmore comfortable with Sox

Friday, Aug. 6, 2010
3:10 PM

By Kevin T. Czerwinski
CSNChicago.com

Jon Gilmore admits that 2009 was a bit of a tumultuous season for him. It was his first year with the White Sox and he was pushing just a bit too hard in an effort to impress his new team, the one that had traded for him in December 2008.

Gilmore, whom Atlanta made the 33rd overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was just beginning to feel as if he fit in with the Braves, that he belonged at the time of the deal. He had spent a year and a half in Atlantas system, hit .291 over that stretch and rose out of the Gulf Coast League to the South Atlantic League in just over a season, offering glimpses of the hitter the Braves figured he would become after they expended such a lofty pick to get him.

Then came that early December day in 2008 when he learned that he had been traded to the White Sox, along with Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge and Santos Rodriguez. The Braves, seeking to recapture some of the glory they experienced through much of the 90s, picked up Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan in the deal.

It really surprised me, Gilmore, 21, said of the deal. I know that it is part of the game. My brother-in-law Ben Zobrist got traded, too. So it means that someone wants you. But it was a surprise.

And last year, after I got traded, I wanted to make a good impression on the team that I got traded, too. That was a big part of last year. I had just gotten comfortable with the Braves and had just gotten comfortable with their staff. It was a huge change and I was starting the process over. So I put a lot of pressure on myself early on to show them who I was.

Gilmore began the season by going 0-for-18 and 5-for-48 before leveling off. The third baseman ended up hitting .274 with 67 RBIs for Kannapolis, solid numbers for the South Atlantic League but not the type of numbers expected of a top draft pick.

This season, well, lets just say things have been a little different. Gilmore is leading or close to leading the Carolina League in several categories at Winston-Salem. Hes leading the league in hits (151), at-bats (450) and games played (106). Gilmore is second on the circuit in hitting (.336) -- hes one of three WS players in the top five in that category -- and is third in runs scored 68 and fourth in total bases 190.

Heading into Fridays action, Gilmore was also riding a six-game hitting streak during which he was hitting .375 9-for-24.

Im just confident in myself this season, Gilmore said. I did a lot of work and I found a comfortable swing and I have been able to repeat it during the course of the season. It helps when youre doing well and you have that consistent swing. Ive tweaked a little bit and it has helped a lot. Ive had a good swing all year.

Ive had three or four different swings the last few years and this year Ive stayed with the same approach on my swing all year and it has helped. I have pregame stuff that I work on and I take a lot of pride in that, having the same approach every day. It really helps over the course of the season.

Gilmore added that having former big-leaguer Joe McEwing as his manager has made a big difference as well. Super Joe was a scrapper during his playing days and earned his nickname as a result of his hard work, approach and determination to show up at the park every day ready to contribute.

McEwing has imparted some of that approach on Gilmore over the last four-plus months.

When he talks, you want to listen and learn from a guy like that, Gilmore said.

Folks should be listening to Gilmore before long. Theyre already watching him and they are impressed. Dont be too surprised if he gets a taste of life in Birmingham before the season is over if for no other reason that to spice up what has been a miserable season for the Barons.

The management of the White Sox has a plan for everyone, Gilmore said. Im just going to do what they tell me. The only thing I can do is keep playing well and to the best of my ability and let them make the decision for me.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Remember That Guy: Rob Mackowiak

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AP

Remember That Guy: Rob Mackowiak

Not too many players from the Chicagoland area make it to the Majors. Oak Lawn’s Rob Mackowiak did. And he even made his way to the South Side to play for the White Sox.  

After attending South Suburban College in South Holland, he was a 53rd round pick of the Pirates in 1996. That’s something that could never exist today. The MLB Draft capped at 50 rounds in 1998, then lowered again to 40 rounds for 2012.

Mackowiak, primarily an outfielder but also occasionally seeing infield duty, worked his way through the minors from 1996-2001. He suited up for the Lynchburg (VA) Hillcats, the Augusta (GA) GreenJackets, the Altoona (PA) Curve and the Nashville Sounds before debuting for Pittsburgh May 19, 2001 at PNC Park against the Brewers. His first career at-bat a strikeout against Ben Sheets. He collected his first career hit a few days later at Veterans Stadium off the Phillies’ Robert Person. His first home run came May 30th in Pittsburgh off the Marlins’ Braden Looper.

He hit .266 in 83 games in 2001, then hit 16 home runs in his first full season the following year. 2003 started out rough, hitting .183/.280/.256 through 44 games before he was able to find his groove at Triple-A Nashville. When he returned to the Pirates on August 20, he went 4 for 5 with 2 home runs. From that point on, he hit a scorching .348/.400/.609 in 100 plate appearances to finish the season.

He had as good a day as you could possibly imagine on May 28, 2004. Early that morning, his son Garrett was born. Then with the hospital band still on his wrist, he headed to the ballpark for a doubleheader against the Cubs. In Game 1, he hit a walkoff grand slam off Chicago closer Joe Borowski. In Game 2 he came off the bench in the 7th inning and hit a game-tying 2-run home run in the 9th off LaTroy Hawkins. If that wasn’t enough, he came back to terrorize the Cubs once again the next day going 2 for 4 with a home run and 5 RBI. A three-game total of 4 for 10 with a double, 3 home runs and 11 RBI (with a walk). He was named co-NL Player of the Week from May 24-30, sharing the honor with teammate Daryle Ward. He finished the year hitting .246/.319/.420 but racked up career highs in home runs (17) and RBI (75). In 2005, his final season in western Pennsylvania, he rebounded with a .272 average and .337 OBP but took a step back in the power numbers (9 HR, 58 RBI).

In 2006 he joined the White Sox in a deal sending Damaso Marte to the Steel City and hit .290/.365/.404 – career highs in BA and OBP. His first home run in a White Sox uniform was a memorable one. On May 22, 2006 the Oakland Athletics visited US Cellular Field. It was the first time Frank Thomas played a game against his formal team, and the Big Hurt delivered with a pair of home runs. Oakland was poised to win the game with a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. After Jermaine Dye homered to cut the deficit to 4-2, Juan Uribe doubled which caused manager Ken Macha to summon his closer Huston Street. Ozzie Guillen countered by taking down Brian Anderson and sending up Mackowiak, who delivered a pinch hit 2-run homer to knot the game at four. Pablo Ozuna won the game for the Sox in the 10th with a walkoff bunt scoring A.J. Pierzynski from third.

What was a solid hometown run ended at the 2007 trade deadline when the Sox sent Mackowiak to San Diego for reliever Jon Link. He finished the season with the Padres and played 38 games with the Nationals in 2008 before being released in June. He tried to catch on with minor league stints with the Reds, Mets & Indians in 2008-09 but he never made it back to the show.  He did hit .323/.418/.545 with 14 HR in 82 games with the independent Newark Bears to finish 2009.

Rob Mackowiak’s 8-year MLB career featured a respectable .259/.332/.405 slashline with 64 home runs and 286 RBI in 856 games. In 197 games with the White Sox, he hit .285/.360/.411 with 11 HR and 59 RBI. After his baseball career Mackowiak briefly worked as the hitting coach for the Windy City Thunderbolts (Frontier League). Later, he coached his son’s little league teams and worked as an instructor at Elite Baseball Training in Chicago.

A 53rd round pick. An unforgettable introduction to fatherhood. A Chicago Major League homecoming. Rob Mackowiak’s story is a special one.

Lucas Giolito goes to injured list, Sox bring Carson Fulmer and Ryan Cordell up from Triple-A

Lucas Giolito goes to injured list, Sox bring Carson Fulmer and Ryan Cordell up from Triple-A

Lucas Giolito will miss some time after straining his hamstring in Wednesday's game.

The White Sox placed the right-handed starting pitcher on the 10-day injured list ahead of Thursday's series-opener in Detroit. They also brought up relief pitcher Carson Fulmer and outfielder Ryan Cordell to take the roster spots of Giolito and outfielder Daniel Palka, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday night.

Giolito exited Wednesday's start after just 2.2 innings after tweaking his hamstring on a third-inning pitch. He was doing quite well in his second start of the season against the Kansas City Royals, with five strikeouts and no hits allowed before his early departure.

Giolito spoke with reporters Thursday morning in Detroit, saying the strain isn't too serious and that he expects to miss just one or two starts.

As for who will start in Giolito's stead, that remains to be seen. His turn in the rotation won't come until Monday's game that begins a series against the Baltimore Orioles. Fulmer arriving from Charlotte, however, points to Manny Banuelos being taken out of the major league bullpen to start in Giolito's place. Banuelos has had success as the White Sox long man so far this season, with a few effective multi-inning outings under his belt. Fulmer hasn't made a start since the White Sox moved him to the Charlotte bullpen last season but could serve as a replacement long man in the short term. This is Fulmer's second call-up this season, he was on the roster for one day earlier this month, pitching three innings of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Meanwhile, Cordell arrives to take the place of Palka, who picked up his first hit of the season Wednesday after starting in a dreadful 0-for-32 slump. He was sent down after the game with the task of figuring things out at the Triple-A level. While the White Sox could have opted to slide Adam Engel into an everyday role in the big league outfield, it appears Cordell might get his shot at more frequent big league playing time. He was in the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Tigers. Cordell made the Opening Day roster but only got six at-bats (homering in one and doubling in another) and was sent down to receive some more regular playing time, which he might now get in the majors.

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