White Sox

First Pitch: Softballer Pierre is Ozzie's hero

First Pitch: Softballer Pierre is Ozzie's hero

Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010
8:09 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO There were many factors in the Chicago White Sox turnaround, most significantly the teams resurgent starting pitching.

But one player who spurred the White Sox offensively and hasnt seemed to slack even as the starters have sputtered is leadoff man Juan Pierre, who Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen took time out to herald before their final game of the season at Minnesotas Target Field on Thursday.

I dont know how he does it, Guillen said. From the first day of spring training, he never changed. Hes played his best when we need him, but hes been the same guy when he struggled and when he was hitting.

Pierres first-inning single extended his hitting streak to eight games, right on the heels of a 16-game streak. The left-fielder, customarily adorned in his baggy pants and high socks, took a 16-inch softball slap at a Carl Pavano offering and deposited it oppositely, in left field, coming around to score on Alex Rios groundout to third. In the second, Pierre singled again, then stole second. Despite getting spiked by shortstop J.J. Hardy on the attempt, and with blood trickling down his arm broke for third on a steal attempt on the very next pitch.

Its not amazingits just the way he plays the game, Guillen said. We need a guy like that to make us go, and hes been doing it. Thats the reason we got him.

Pierre has upped his on-base percentage in every month this season, topping out at .405 heading into action tonight, with an OPS of .828.

To his credit, Pierre has simply kept digging all through the season, seemingly indefatigable. Hes on pace for his biggest base-stealing month yet this season, with nine already in August putting him just two short of his seasons best.

I hope top Chicago outfield prospect Jared Mitchell next year runs to Juan and learn to play baseball, how to go about his business, to prepare for the game every day, to not take anything for granted, Guillen said. Juan went from very good to oh-my-God not playinghe went through every scenario in baseball to do what hes doing. When you have the type of game like Juan does, even your teammates know hes a great pro and very into his game, takes a lot of pride in his game, always talking baseball. And thats something you appreciate as a manager and a coach, people like him.

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

Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

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USA TODAY

Remember That Guy: Chris Snopek

Chris Snopek was born September 20, 1970 in Cynthiana, KY. He was a multi-sport standout in high school, averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 assists on the hardwood, as well as hitting .576 with 20 HR as a senior on the diamond. He was a standout third baseman/shortstop at Ole Miss, hitting .407/.491/.725 with 13 home runs and 62 RBI (a school-record at the time) in 54 games as a junior. The White Sox made him a 6th round draft pick in 1992.

In 1994, Snopek played for the Double-A Birmingham Barons, where he was one of two players on the team with 50+ RBI and 50+ walks. The other one was Michael Jordan.By 1995, Snopek hit .323/.402/.494 with 12 HR in 113 games for Nashville (AAA); that batting average good for second in the American Association. He made his MLB Debut on July 31, 1995, going 2 for 3 with a run, RBI, walk and stolen base as the starting third baseman. The 6’1” right-handed infielder drew a walk in each of his first five career MLB games; the first White Sox player to do so since Ray Morehart in 1924.

The White Sox had Robin Ventura at third and Ozzie Guillen at short, so Snopek had to settle for a start here and a start there. He was sent back down to the minors but returned in September. On September 20, 1995, Snopek connected for his first career home run; the blast coming off Indians starter Joe Roa. The milestone round tripper came on Snopek’s 25th birthday. He remains the only player in White Sox history whose first career home run came on his birthday. It was his lone homer of 1995, though Snopek did quite well in his first taste of MLB action, hitting .324 (22 for 68), .407 vs lefties (11 for 27) in 22 games.

Entering the 1996 season, he was the #52 overall prospect according to Baseball America (in between Jason Varitek and Dustin Hermanson); topping the White Sox organizational top ten:

White Sox top 10 prospects according to Baseball America entering 1996

  1. Chris Snopek
  2. Jeff Abbott
  3. Scott Ruffcorn
  4. James Baldwin
  5. Jeff Liefer
  6. Mike Cameron
  7. Jimmy Hurst
  8. Luis Andujar
  9. McKay Christensen
  10. Greg Norton

Snopek started the 1996 season in a utility role, making spot starts at third and short as well as pinch hitting. On April 28, 1996, he became the first White Sox shortstop to start and hit cleanup since Ron Hansen in 1967 (Only José Valentín & Alexei Ramírez have done it since). In limited duty, Snopek hit 6 home runs in 1996 – all off lefties.

Snopek got his chance in 1997 when Robin Ventura suffered an ankle injury, getting the nod as the opening day third baseman. He went 0 for 5 that game and never got it going, hitting .218/.263/.319 in 86 games. The following season, after struggling to the tune of .208/.291/.248 in 53 games, Snopek was traded to the Red Sox at the end of August, where he finished the season and as fate would have it, his MLB career, with eight final games. He bounced around the minors the next four seasons.

In 2017, Snopek and a business partner purchased P360 Performance Sports in Jackson, Mississippi, where they offer baseball training facilities and instruction programs. Snopek also serves as the Assistant Varsity Baseball Coach at Madison Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi.

Chris Snopek… remember that guy?

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

Thirteen of the White Sox top American born prospects are in the Dominican Republic this week for a cultural exchange trip organized by the White Sox, giving players like Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins and Dane Dunning a first-hand experience to learn about the country where many of their Latin teammates like Eloy Jimenez call home. Chuck Garfien speaks with Ryan McGuffey who is covering the trip for NBC Sports Chicago. They talk about the White Sox training academy in the Dominican Republic (3:50), what the players are learning and how they're bonding on the trip (6:30), the crazy atmosphere going to a Dominican Winter League game (11:10), going with Reynaldo Lopez to the home where he grew up (14:40), personal stories from the trip (23:15) and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: