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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.

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

White Sox Talk Podcast: The 10th anniversary of Mark Buehrle's perfect game

Chuck Garfien and Steve Stone take a look back at Mark Buehrle's perfect game. How did Buehrle do it? How did Dewayne Wise make that catch?

Plus, Buehrle and A.J. Pierzynski talk about how Buehrle actually told Pierzynski before taking that field that day that he would throw a perfect game and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Yoan Moncada cleans up for White Sox: 'I think we found our No. 4 hitter'

Yoan Moncada cleans up for White Sox: 'I think we found our No. 4 hitter'

Though Jose Abreu and James McCann represented the team at the All-Star Game earlier this month, Yoan Moncada holds the title of the White Sox best hitter through the first 97 games of the 2019 season.

The guy who struck out 217 times during his first full season in the majors last year has been a completely different hitter this time around. Instead of looking lost at the plate, he’s the guy White Sox fans want to see at the plate in run-producing situations. He hasn’t spent much time in one of those traditional run-producing spots in the batting order, but manager Rick Renteria inserted Moncada into the cleanup spot Monday night.

And Moncada cleaned up, all right.

“I think we found our No. 4 hitter,” starting pitcher Ivan Nova said after he went the distance in a 9-1 waxing of the Miami Marlins. “A lot of times you get surprised. While he was hitting second, you're thinking and knowing, the type of hitter that he is — you're only thinking as a player, they have another way to think. But today, I think it was first time hit in fourth, and he showed.”

Moncada went 2-for-4 with the game’s biggest blow, a three-run homer in the fifth inning that blew things wide open. He drove in four runs on the night, and he flashed a potential glimpse of the future of this future-focused franchise.

Combining with Abreu, who went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and three runs scored, Moncada showed what the middle of the order might look like for this team when rebuilding finally transitions to contending. That could come as soon as next year, and when you throw the currently injured Eloy Jimenez into that group, the White Sox could boast a fearsome 3-4-5 as soon as later this season.

“If someone is happy that we finally found a cleanup hitter, it’s me,” Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “Nothing that he does surprises me because I know all the talent he has. I know that he still can do more. He has been working hard. He’s a great baseball player with a lot of talent and I still think he can do more.

“What he did today is not a surprise for me. I still know he’s a great player and I think we’ve seen that throughout the whole season this year. He’s going to get better.”

Moncada has been sensational all season long, proving why the White Sox weren’t at all worried during his struggles in 2018. He owns a .304/.362/.530 slash line through these first 97 games, and his three-run blast Monday night gave him a new career high in that category after he smacked 17 a year ago. He’s six RBIs away from setting a new career high there, too. And even though he made a fielding error Monday that only briefly delayed Nova finishing off his complete-game effort, Moncada has been generally excellent at third base in his first season at that position as a big leaguer.

But putting Moncada in a run-producing spot in the order is a new wrinkle for Renteria this season. Coming into Monday’s game, Moncada had spent 63 games as the team’s No. 2 hitter and just 26 everywhere else. According to the skipper, Moncada is good enough to hit anywhere, and that’s certainly true. His eventual everyday spot in the lineup might have more to do with the hitters around him than simply what he can do by himself.

But if Moncada keeps up the kind of offensive production he’s churned out this season, maybe sticking him right in the thick of the order is what's best for the White Sox — even if those lineups of the future include big bats like those swung by Abreu, Jimenez, Luis Robert and Andrew Vaughn.

“For me, it's an advantage to hit in the cleanup spot having (Abreu) ahead of me,” Moncada said through Russo. “That way, you can see how the pitchers are attacking him, and you have a better idea, in those situations when you need to produce, how the pitchers are doing it. Even though he's a right-handed hitter and I hit from both sides of the plate, it's good. It's something that gives you a better idea of how the pitchers are doing, how their pitches are working.”

“He had a nice game,” Renteria said. “He can hit anywhere in the middle and the top of the order. I wish I could say I'm really a genius, but I'm not. He's got that talent. He's able to take advantage of it and today he had a nice day. He made everybody look good.”

It would make sense to see Moncada batting fourth again as this first homestand of the second half and the 2019 season roll on, but that’s up to Renteria, who has his reasons for every permutation to his lineups.

Of course, if Abreu gets ahold of Renteria's lineup card and starts writing out the batting orders, we’ll know where Moncada will be slotted.

“If I would have that decision,” Abreu said, “I would put him in the cleanup spot for the rest of the season.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.