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Garfien: White Sox-D'Backs Game Live Blog

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Garfien: White Sox-D'Backs Game Live Blog

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

3:00 PM
Hey everyone. It's a gray day in Chicago. Sunny and perfect in Arizona. Life as Chicagoans as we know it!

Guess what? Baseball season is almost here. I think I have told myself this about 20 times ... today. If you're like me, this is the best and worst time of the year. Best because you know that Opening Day is so close you can taste the hot dogs (or in our case, the rounds of hot chocolate we end up drinking because it's the only thing at the concession stand to keep us "warm" on Opening Day). Worst because we're at the point where we've been watching spring training for so long it feels like life has stopped. Maybe that's a good thing. To put it another way, it's like going out and buying a brand new car with all the bells and whistles (GPS, DVD player, Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones), but you have to keep it under a tarp in your garage until April 5th.

Torture.

So to help pass the time I've decided to write a running blog about today's White Sox-Diamondbacks game airing on Fan's Best Friend, Comcast SportsNet.

It's all I can do.

So sit back, relax, and strap it down. White Sox baseball is coming your way.

3:12 PM
First inning.

John Danks gets the start for the Sox. He seems to be fully recovered from picking his beloved Texas Longhorns to win the NCAA Tournament.

Hello?

They didn't even make it out of the first round.

Danks gets out of the first inning unscathed. Mark Teahen almost threw a routine ground ball to third all the way to Flagstaff. But Paulie was there to nab it out of the air.

The Sox go 1-2-3 against Arizona pitcher Billy Buckner. No score after one.
3:35 PM
Second inning.

The year might be 2010, but this inning feels a lot like 2009.

JustinUpton leads off with a chopper to third. Teahen takes his time, makes abetter throw to first, but Upton beats it. He then steals second, RamonCastro throws the ball into the outfield. Upton to third. He scores ona base hit by Jeff Bailey. 1-0, D-backs. No more damage done.

Well,for the White Sox anyway. In the bottom of the second, there goes Uptonwith the Arizona training staff walking out of the ballpark. Maybe he'shurt. Maybe he wants to go buy some In N' Out Burger down the street. Ido.

Steve Stone says "If he's not ok, the Diamondbacks have real problems."

Speakingof problems, Mark Teahen comes to the plate. He's batting .143 thisspring with one RBI. Never a good sign when your biggest contribution sofar has been on Twitter (@espyteahen). Sorry, Mark (like he's reading this), but I couldn't help myself.

He'sa really funny guy. I've talked to him a little bit so far. He's quietat the start, but has a very dry sense of humor. He just needs to breakout of this slump.

Hasn't happened yet. Teahen grounds out to short.

3:58 PM
Third inning.

Stephen Drew up with two outs. He was my shortstop last year in fantasy baseball. That didn't work out good for either of us.

But he absolutely crushes a Danks pitch. I mean CRUSHED it. John knew it immediately. 2-0, Arizona.

Uptonhas a strained left ankle. I'm guessing he'll be ok. But then again,I'm a sportscaster writing about this from my couch.

Don Cooper is wired up for the bottom of the third.

Heconfirms that Jake Peavy threw nothing but fastballs against the Royals acouple days ago because they just wanted to build up his armstrength and not show anything to a division rival.

Coopersays he is much better suited being a pitching coach than an actualpitcher. Judging by his 1-6 career record with a 5.27 ERA ... Coop weall agree!

He says that Matt Thornton is "throwing the livingcrap out of the ball." He says there isn't anyone throwing the ballbetter in the Cactus League than Thornton. Cooper says he's fine with Mattclosing if Bobby needs a breather.

Need a quote to get youexcited for the season? Cooper: "Here's what I'm saying about our wholestaff, if we're healthy we're going to be good. And if we gethot ... watch out."

How about some offense?

Carlos Quentinwith an RBI single. Paul Konerko with an RBI groundout. Augie Ojeda robs Jones of a double that would have scored two more. Gotta talk about Joneseventually. We're tied at 2 after three.

4:12 PM
Fourth inning.

Teahen smokes the ball up the middle. That's what Greg Walker has been telling him to do. But the ball ricochets off Buckner's foot and he throws Mark out at first.

Baby steps.

My great, great grandfather Omar Vizquel drives in Mark Kotsay. Sox up, 3-2.

By the way, we're halfway done with the game and there hasn't been a single shot of Ozzie. But he's talking so loud his voice is being picked up by a nearby microphone. Ozzie, keep it clean.

Want some Ozzie Ball?

Vizquel on third. Pierre on first. Beckham at the plate. Pierre breaks for second, Vizquel races home. Everybody safe. Get used to this. 4-2, Sox.

Beckham smashes a base hit to left. Pierre scores. 5-2, Sox.

Meanwhile, my computer is at the Apple store, so I'm doing this entirely on my blackberry. I might be getting the early signs of Carpal tunnel syndrome. Anyone have Carlos Zambrano's contact info?

4:34 PM
Fifth inning.

Danks moving right along.

I start dozing a little (it's spring training) until I hear this from Hawk Harrelson:

Aubrey Huff says that Danks' changeup is as good if not better than Johan Santana's.

Really?

Not sure if you caught my recent interview with John and his brother Jordan. They last played together at Round Rock High School in Texas in 2003. In fact, they played in the state championship game. With a victory, they would have been the No. 1 high school team in the country.

Danks got the start that day but gave up five runs and took the loss.

The game still bothers John to this day. He says it's the worst loss of his career. This past winter his dad wanted to take out the tape of that game and show it John for some crazy reason. John wanted no part of it.

Danks gives up a run in the fifth to make it 5-3, Sox.

5:01 PM
Sixth inning.

After getting out of the inning unharmed, Danks is mic'd up with Hawk and Steve.

Danks says he'll pitch once more in Arizona against the Angels and then the last preseason game in Atlanta.

He gave up three runs over six. Threw 92 pitches.

Breaking news: Teahen with a base hit up the middle. He's winning the AL batting title. You heard it here first!

That would be sarcasm. But I'm not worried about him.

Ozzie calls for a hit-and-run.

95-year-old Vizuel rips a double to left. Teahen scores. Castro scores. I can hear Ozzie yapping with glee in the dugout.

7-3, Sox.

I don't know about you, but with this kind of offense, Sox-Twins games should be pretty interesting this year.

A Quentin RBI single drives in Vizquel. Yes, the Sox offense is finally here. 8-3.

Konerko is up. He gave me a hitting lesson this winter while I attended the Sox Fantasy Camp.

When we got in the cage he said he thought I'd be of the "non-athletic type."

Thanks Paul.

I asked him if we were playing a pick-up game, where would he pick me? He said in the middle to late rounds "because every team needs charisma."

So I've got that going for me ... which is nice.

5:21 PM
Seventh inning.

Greg Aquino in for Danks. Remember Chris Young, the "can't-miss" prospect the Sox traded to Arizona in the Javier Vazquez?

Well, after that breakout season in 2007, he's come back down to earth. Last year he hit .212 with 15 homers and 42 RBIs. Aquino strikes him out. He's 0-for-3.

Kotsay with another hit. He'll bat .980 this year.

Here's Teahen. And here's Hawk:

"YOU CAN PUT IT ON THE BOARD ... YES!!!!"

Mark goes oppo to left.

His first home run of the spring. A two-run jack. He goes straight into the dugout and tweets about it.

10-3, Sox. Hawk is VERY happy. So is Teahen.

5:42 PM
Eighth inning.

Bobby Jenks is in.

A couple weeks ago when I was at Spring Training, I asked him if he'd be willing to sit down with us for an interview about his decision to give up drinking.

He had just spoken to mlb.com about it, but he decided he was done talking about it.

So we started talking about Bobby's trip out to Glendale. He drives each year with his family all the way from Chicago, making tourist stops along the way.

Bobby says, "You should come with us next year with your cameraman."

Hmmm. I think we might have to do it. Although that's a looooooonnnnnnggggg drive. Maybe we'll meet him somewhere in New Mexico.

Bobby puts a couple runners on. One on a hit off the end of the bat. The other on a walk. But he gets out of it.

Andruw Jones is up. He's a beast! A base hit up the middle. He just hurt that ball. Yep, Kenny Williams got him for 500,000, 1.5 million with incentives.

Look out American League.

5:47 PM
Ninth inning.

I've just come to the realization that I have watched an entire spring training game on television.

I think there's something wrong with me.

No, I'm just studying. Yeah, that's it! I'm simply preparing myself for the season.

Opening Day better get here soon.

Like tomorrow.

Sox win, 10-3.

Magic, buzz and something crazy: It's time for the White Sox to win

Magic, buzz and something crazy: It's time for the White Sox to win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox are rebuilt.

No, the rebuild isn’t officially over. You’ll have to wait for after the parade for that. And it’s true that there are plenty of question marks on this roster.

But for the first time in a long time, the White Sox are preparing for a season with expectations. Big ones. The manager set them early, saying he’d be disappointed if his squad didn’t reach the postseason. There hasn’t been October baseball on the South Side in more than a decade. But that’s not stopping anyone in silver and black from realizing that things are different now.

“It’s definitely a little different,” shortstop Tim Anderson said. “It’s more relaxed and we know what we want. We know what we want this spring training versus last spring training. We kind of knew what we wanted, but now we know what we want and we see it. We just have to put the work in and go get it.

“I get a winning vibe, all positive and winning vibes. Everybody knows what we are here to do. We are here to win a championship, and we are here to take it all.”

Everyone at Camelback Ranch is talking about expectations. And whether they’ve voiced their intent to just play better baseball, make the playoffs or win the World Series, there’s one common conclusion: It’s time to win.

The losing has not been fun during the last three rebuilding seasons. The White Sox lost a combined 284 games in 2017, 2018 and 2019, with contending often taking a backseat to development.

But a host of breakout campaigns from young, core players in 2019 laid the groundwork for Rick Hahn’s front office to make a slew of veteran additions this winter, inlcuding All-Stars like Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion and Gio Gonzalez.

It all adds up to realistic postseason expectations on the South Side and a feeling that those losing days are firmly in the rearview mirror.

“I think it's just about time for us to start winning,” first baseman Jose Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “It's just that time for us to start winning games and start to be relevant.

“The team that the front office put together, we're going to be able to do it. We have to be united. We need to be strong in good times and bad times if we want to be successful this season. With the guys that we have right now, that's something that's doable. That's our goal.

“I think expectations are high because we all know that this is the time for us to win.”

Abreu would certainly love to experience that. He hasn’t been part of a winning team in his major league career and has spent six sub-.500 seasons on the South Side. But his love for the organization kept him in a White Sox uniform as he briefly hit free agency this winter. He’ll be wearing those colors for at least another three years thanks to a new deal. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if he never wears another.

But you don’t have to have sweltered through the dog days to express your excitement for 2020. Something had to lure all those free agents this winter. Grandal, Keuchel, Encarnacion and Gonzalez all liked what they saw. Now they’re a big part of why there is such electricity running through White Sox camp.

“It seems like they want to do magic this year and for years to come now,” he said. “I look at it now as, let's keep competing as much as we can and see it from there. The buzz is in the locker room. We are excited. We do want to play, and I think this is the year we're going to push for it.

“They went out and got some guys that wanted to make something happen this year, and I think we have the team to do it. If you’re someone in Chicago watching the White Sox, this is a team to watch, and we’re excited to see that we can put it together.”

It truly seems like Hahn’s front office went out and got everything that was missing from this roster, which featured as impressive a collection of young talent as you’ll find but lacked experience; especially winning experience. Even 33-year-old team leader Abreu has never played in the postseason.

Enter the newcomers. Grandal and Encarnacion have appeared in each of the last five postseasons. Keuchel’s been to the playoffs in four of the last five years. Gonzalez played in three of the last four postseasons. New reliever Steve Cishek went to the National League Wild Card game with the Cubs in 2018.

They have no plans of stopping those postseason streaks.

“Once you get a little taste of the playoffs, that's why you play, is to get that feeling,” Keuchel said. “As much as you want to replicate it in the regular season, for guys who have no playoff experience, I think the regular season is that feeling. But there's another feeling to it that pushes you and wants you to be a better player.

“I told Rick Hahn this, I said four out of the last five years I've made the playoffs, and I don't expect any of these three years (during his contract with the White Sox) to be any different.”

A lot of things will have to go right for the White Sox to make a rapid ascent to the top of the baseball mountain. And there are question marks. What will the team get from Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez a year after some ugly results? Will Michael Kopech be the pitcher who was promised prior to his Tommy John surgery? What will Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal do in their first tastes of the major leagues? Will Anderson and Yoan Moncada stay productive if their good luck diminishes? Will Nomar Mazara unlock the potential the White Sox see in their new right fielder?

It all has to work out for the White Sox to compete for the division title and a World Series championship. But isn’t that the case with every team?

This is the time of year when hope springs eternal. Viewing the upcoming season through rose-colored glasses is a February tradition on par with Presidents Day mattress sales.

But the White Sox have good reason to be excited and good reason to be talking playoffs. The light at the end of the tunnel that Hahn has been talking about for so long isn’t just visible; it’s bathing these young White Sox.

Of course, they have to prove they can do it. But all this talk? Don’t roll your eyes. It’s not at all crazy.

The White Sox are saving the crazy for the field.

“We have a chance to do something crazy,” Anderson said. “That’s what everybody is talking about, right? So why not own up to it and set the bar high, go to the playoffs and win the championship. That’s the goal, right?

“We didn’t come here to work for nothing. We come here to win championships and make it to the playoffs. That’s no secret. Everybody knows we are here to win championships.”

It’s time to get nuts.

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Zack Collins won't be surprised if he starts the season in Triple-A

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USA TODAY

Zack Collins won't be surprised if he starts the season in Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — After getting a taste of the majors last season, Zack Collins is here in spring training wondering when he’ll make it back.

Looking at the two All-Star catchers next to him in the clubhouse in Yasmani Grandal and James McCann, Collins says he won’t be surprised if he’s the odd man out when the White Sox break camp at the end of March.

"To have my first full season in the major leagues as a once-a-week player, pinch hitter is probably not the best thing for me," Collins said, "and it’s also tough to go back down to Triple-A, obviously, and to bring to reality that maybe that’s the best thing for me. At the same time, things happen, trades happen, injuries happen. I don’t wish anything on anybody. You just got to keep working hard and prove that I should be in the big leagues and continue to go."

With teams able to carry an additional player starting this season, some clubs will use the 26th spot for a third catcher, which on the surface could benefit someone like Collins. But he doesn’t see it that way.

"A lot of people think the 26th man is going to help me out. I’m not really sure about that, because you have a first baseman (Jose Abreu) who signed an extension, a new DH who came in, a veteran guy (Edwin Encarnacion), and then two veteran catchers," Collins said. "I don’t know if I’m going to go up to the big leagues to play once a week or something like that. Obviously, that’s a big question right now. It’s going to be pretty interesting to see. I guess we’ll have to wait and see."

Right after the White Sox signed Grandal, you might have assumed that the 2016 first-round pick, pegged as the White Sox catcher of the future, would have been upset about the team locking up the veteran catcher with a four-year deal.

Quite the opposite.

"The first thing I did was text (Grandal) and congratulate him," Collins said about his fellow University of Miami alum. "Seeing a guy coming from Cuba, moving here, going to the same college as me and the success that he‘s had is always great. Nothing but the best for him. I’m learning a ton from him. It’s only going to be good for me."

Collins has also developed a connection with McCann, who despite losing his No. 1 job to Grandal, is helping the younger Collins grow into his role as a major league catcher.

"A huge thing for me is relationships with pitchers. Being a younger guy, having a veteran staff is kind of tough and telling guys what to do. One piece of advice that McCann gave me was that when I’m behind the plate, I’m a leader no matter how old I am. That’s what I need to learn for myself and continue to grow,” Collins explained.

What will that growth look like for Collins in 2020 — and where will that be? Time will tell.

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