White Sox

Guillen's sound and fury signifies a BS-L

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Guillen's sound and fury signifies a BS-L

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Posted: 4:34 p.m Updated: 6:14 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGOGames like these, they challenge a managers soul.

This afternoon, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was full of sound and fury, and in a rare case of wheel-spinning and foundation-collapsing, he was signifying nothing.

In truth, Guillen doled out one notion with crystal clarity in a brief postgame session that was scarred by ferocity and found him linguistically leaping like a leopard from a bush before physically standing up and storming out of his own press conference, swearing and toppling his chair.

The message to take from the White Soxs dastardly 7-4, fall-from-ahead loss to the Oakland As on Wednesday, wherein Guillen lit the match of a full-blown closer conundrum that threatens to hang over Chicago all season? Its simple.

This aint on me.

Guillen tackled a first, tenuous question about bullpen dj vu, and set off on a rant: When you have a bad bullpen, thats what happens. Thats what happens. Thats the third time a big blown lead has happened. I wish I knew who I could bring in the ninth. I mean, today we tried everyone in one inning. No more excuses.

Guillen then proceeded to throw 21-year-old reliever Chris Sale under the bus, accepting no responsibility for running the lefthander right back out after having thrown 34 pitches in two innings just half a day earlier.

We had a three-run lead, and he said he could go, was Guillens explanation for plugging Sale right back into action.

While on the surface Guillen appeared to be enraged by his media session and furious at his cowardly lion of a bullpen, it was clear he was growing increasingly angry at himself for precipitating the situation.

Asked for his opinion on his wheezing pen, Guillen took a seat in the stands, or press row, rather than the dugout, where he was tossing cups full of water as his team melted before him: I see what you guys see. Next. What the hell am I going to see? I see the same sh-- you guys see.

Drunkenly descending into a spate of postgame madness, Guillen became increasingly blinded by rage, hopping from excusing Sergio Santos from the debacle (ignoring the fact that the righty threw just 24 pitches yesterday vs. Sales 34) to an offhand joke about calling in ex-Sox closing ace Bobby Thigpen now Single-A Winston-Salem pitching coach to help out before a final, ranting meltdown against his own pitchers, a scene almost frightening to witness.

When we play good, they send those guys to this g-damn table and talk to them like heroes, Guillen spat. When we f--- it up, Im the one who has to go-damn sit here and talk to you guys.

With that, Ozzie flew the coop.

Team security offered a pat on the back during the death march back through the tunnel, which Guillen pulled away from, too sensitive to touch.

The White Sox headmaster too often spins vitriol into poetry, keeping the 24-hour sports media industry awash in cash. Today, his daggers were better disguised, surprisingly turning inward.

An off-day, and a trip to Miami to visit youngest son Ozney, await. The timing could not possibly be better.

The dirty details

In truth, it had been a nice run for Guillen early in the season, navigating the Chicago White Sox to a 7-4 record in spite of dealing with a struggling bullpen, Adam Dunns cranky appendix and some chronically-leaky outfield D.

Dropping to 7-5 has never seemed so precipitous.

John Danks threw eight sparkling innings, notching seven strikeouts against five hits and two walks. After a solid first start and a throwaway second, Danks tossed a gem to put himself in line for his first win of the season, giving the White Sox four well above-average starts in their last five.

But in the ninth, Sale came on to relieve Danks after having thrown 34 pitches a half a day earlier, and the rookie lefty threw gasoline on embers, surrendering a double, single, and single to pull Oakland within two. Jesse Crains attempt to rescue Sale was mixed, walking the bases full before striking out Kurt Suzuki.

Closer Matt Thornton came on and quickly Ks Ryan Sweeney, but surrendered a two-run single to Cliff Pennington tie the game. The Pale Hose, surely the most booed and mocked 7-5 team as the 2011 season gets underway, again had to open the umbrellas on a storm of boos.
John Danks left with a 4-1 lead after eight innings of work, but is still in search of his first win this season. (US PRESSWIRE)
Unfortunately for the embattled Thornton, Guillen has already burned two relievers, meaning hed have to ascend the bump for the 10th. Once there, the towering lefty retired Mark Ellis but successively walked Conor Jackson and Josh Willingham, setting the table for safeties from Coco Crisp and Daric Barton. In a sneeze, the As were up for good, 7-4.

It was a first-pitch fastball. I just dropped it in, Thornton said with a muted laugh. After that, I didnt do anything right. I walked two guys. Oh, man. Theres no way to even describe it right now, frustration is pretty high. Just keep on working and battling and get back to what I do best, going out and attacking hitters and making pitches. Right now, Im not making good enough pitches.

Confidence isnt the problem. Its frustration right now. This is the most frustrated Ive been in a long time. I cant remember a run of games like this where I havent gotten the job done this many times in a row. So, Ill get out of here for a day, clear my head and come back strong on Friday, ready to go.

Similarly Danks, despite all he lost in the gameand yeah, this marks three lost opportunities to stack winsstood tall, wearing beard scruff and John Wayne swagger.

Obviously these are games we should win, and we feel like were gonna win, Danks said. With that said, we know were gonna win these games over the course of the season. Were gonna win these games. It sucks now, butWere gonna win these games.

Better days

Before this worst ninth inning of the season, the first eight featured all the hallmarks of an ideal Guillen game: terrific starting pitching, solid infield defense, and smallball aggressiveness.

Danks was simply delicious, dancing through eight innings and 108 seemingly effortless pitches.

I felt good, I really did, the lefty said. I made a couple of bad 0-2 pitches early in the game that fortunately B-mo Brent Morel over there at 3rd base made some good plays on and Carlos Quentin made a helluva play in right field in the fourth. But once I got settled into the game, I felt real good.

As Danks alluded, Morel provided outstanding defense, and Chicagos infield turned in two double plays to keep Danks on cruise control late.

After the fans base howled that Mark Buehrle should have been allowed to finish the game on Tuesday night, thereby rendering Alexei Ramirezs heroics unnecessary, the thought that Danks should finish what he started has been raised.

Danks dismissed that without undue delay.

No, no, no, I was done, he said. If I hadnt have gotten the double play in the eighth, I might not have finished the inning. So there wasnt even a thought of me going back out in the ninth.

Another positive for Chicago was its abundant smallball, most significantly in the form of multiple bunt hits and sacrifices, including Morels safety squeeze to plate Chicagos third run. And Juan Pierre committed his third error of the young season on a base hit to left, but reached base all five times in the game with his usual assortment of scrappy, scratchy play.

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

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 in anticipation of the transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode.

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, adding to that core 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.”

Certainly Abreu would love to experience that. He hasn’t been a part of a winning team in his major league career, part of 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 any others.

But you don’t have to have sweltered through the dog days of this rebuild to express your excitement for 2020. Something had to lure all those free agents this winter. Grandal, Keuchel, Encarnacion, Gonzalez, they 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 does seem that Hahn’s front office did go out and get 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 NL wild card game with the Cubs in 2018.

They have no plans of stopping those 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. As mentioned, 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, good reason to be talking playoffs for the first time in so long. That light at the end of the tunnel that Hahn has been talking about for a while now 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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