White Sox

Long day ends on a sweet and sore note for Sox

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Long day ends on a sweet and sore note for Sox

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011
Posted: 9:27 p.m. Updated: 11:08 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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White Sox fall in Game 1

CLEVELAND The Chicago White Sox were pleased to escape with a doubleheader split as precious time to do so slipped away, storming back to knock off the Cleveland Indians in Tuesdays nightcap, 5-4.

But even in doing so, the sweet note turned sour, as three White Sox batters were pelted by Wahoos pitches, with nonexistent retaliation. The White Sox put more effort and aggression into criticizing one anothers clothing and style than offering opponents chin music or a slide spikes-high.

Paul Konerkohe of a month away from first base after taking a ball directly on a leg nerve in Julywas the first to be belted, with a 93 mph fastball, in what appeared to be a fairly sensitive spot. PK cussed his way to first base, but come bottom frame, Matt Thornton had nothing to say about it.

In the ninth, Indians reliever Josh Judy lost complete control, hitting everything in sight. First it was Gordon Beckham, drilled squarely below the numbers, shot in the back with an 89 mph fastball. Juan Pierre, who has already been hit by his share of baseballsseven so far in 2011escaped harm with an ever ready sac buntAll-In for the little fellas.

But then Alexei Ramirez took a shot up and in, off his shoulder. Ever dramatic, Alexei spun and hopped, hopped and spun. No, it wasnt his shot dead trick done sprawled on the ground, an act that makes even prankster jefe Ozzie Guillen giggle, but it was dramatic.

Perhaps, then, with two bruised and sore baserunners on first and second, revenge would be wreaked on the basepaths?

Opportunity arose, in the form of PK back at the plate. But Konerko grounded to short, and Ramirez did his best El Caballo (Carlos Lee) imitation with a slide that stopped some six feet short of second. Yes, legs were outstretched, but no second sacker would be spiked on this playnudged, brushed, peed on, perhaps. But spiked in retaliation, no. The slide was something you might see stealing a base in a father-son game.

Still, there was one more shot at redemption, with hard-throwing, wacky motioned, wicked movemented Chris Sale on the mound for the ninth. But no, it was just a mere, four-batter save. No harm, no foul. Pack it up and start tomorrow back at 1 behind the Wahoos for second place in a Central once preordained them.

Postgame, Konerko was so bruised he was unavailable, the Capn typically apologetic and promising time on Wednesday, when any sensitive swelling might not be so intrusive. Bacon was available, packed in ice like the fish to flop he was made out to be by his pitching staff. And Ramirez was also wrapped tightly around his left shoulder, muled down with enough ice to margarita the entire clubhouse.

Beckham spoke, and he really didnt have much to say vis a vis vitriol.

I feel fine. It just knocked the wind out of me a little bit. No worries, said the second baseman, stiff upper lipped. I dont ever take a HBP as intentional.

The young grinder, unfortunately having to answer for HBPs in advance of chatting on the breakout offensive game he finally experienced after a 150-game wait, seemed reluctant to dismiss the charges against Judy. Or, maybe he wasnt.

If it was intentionalit wasnt intentional, Beckham convinced himself. Judy didnt have control, and he let it slip on a couple. But after you see Paul get hit and Alexei earlier in the day and then two more, obviously it wasnt intentional. There was just a lot of hit batsmen today.

In advanced mathematics, we call this solving the proof, Gordon. The only problem is, you and the remainder of the clubhouse crew seem to have the solution twisted.

There wasnt a lot of guidance from the top, no matter how much grit and spit and grindiness espoused by the teams general.

Obviously, I was upset, but I dont think they were throwing at us, manager Ozzie Guillen said. Its a bunch of kids coming from the minor leagues, and you cant do nothing about it. Just run to first base and go get the trainer, thats all you can do. I doubt they threw at us.

Ozzie, forgive the snickers from your audience. They know not of this modern baseball you are forced to manage, when minor leaguers hit with impunity your millionaire, long-term superstars, guys who you feel will have statues at U.S. Cellular Field and even one day plaques in Cooperstown. They do not understand your powerlessness against the minimum-wagers of the sport.

Guillen was more interested in talking of the sweet than the sore, anyway.

You make a long day a little bit nicer by winning the nightcap, Guillen said. We got to feel both sideswe lose and we win. It was tough in the nightcap because were down 4-0 or 4-1 right away, and I thought this whole day is going to be very long. But we fought back and won the game.

Beckham has learned well at the foot of the master: Bark brusquely, but shy at the sign of a bite.

It would have been a really long night if we had lost the nightcap, but we were able to come through, he said. We really played a good game, so Im happy for us.

Alejandro De Aza, often unable to repeat starts in spite of his blistering .926 OPS in his short time in Chicago, was certainly happy; he had two hits, drove in two, and saved at least one with a customary sprawling play in center field.

Omar Vizquel, nearly two decades De Azas senior, likewise chipped in two hits as an adoring Cleveland Indians fanbase roared; he was all grins. And even Beckhams kidney punch came after a career-high three doubles; doubtlessly he sleeps more sweetly tonight, albeit on his stomach.

But smiles aside, the Chisox managed to show the true colors that embody this All In-turned-Well Were Here season on Tuesday night, making even a turnabout of 4-0, dead-dugout deficit into a colorless 5-4 comebacker anesthetized by anticlimax.

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

Avisail Garcia's extended time on DL adding new wrinkle to discussion over his place in White Sox long-term future

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia's extended time on DL adding new wrinkle to discussion over his place in White Sox long-term future

After a career year in 2017 and his first All-Star appearance, maybe Avisail Garcia has done enough to keep himself in the White Sox long-term plans.

But there was plenty of mystery over whether Garcia, who finally broke out after four mostly middling seasons on the South Side, could do it again this season. That question doesn’t have an answer right now, even nearly two months into the 2018 campaign, as Garcia begins his fifth week on the disabled list. His hamstring strain is serious enough that the White Sox announced over the weekend that he likely won’t be back in action until late June.

“No one likes to be injured, especially position players (who are used to) playing every day,” Garcia said Tuesday. “I don’t like to watch the game. I mean, I like it, but I like it when I’m playing. So it is what it is. I’m just watching, learning more because we’re learning every single day.

“It felt like it was going to be two weeks, but it’s taking longer. No one likes that, you know? No people like injuries. It is what it is, and I won’t try to take it too hard, just work hard and put everything together to come back to the field.”

This season figured to be an important one for Garcia, who is under team control through the 2019 season, slated to hit the free-agent market ahead of the 2020 campaign, the year many are looking at as the one where the White Sox ongoing rebuilding process will yield to contention. Will Garcia be around for that contention?

His 2018 production was supposed to go a long way toward answering that question. Perhaps a strong season could’ve earned him a new contract and locked him into place as the team’s future right fielder. Perhaps a fast start could’ve made him a potential midseason trade candidate and fetched a prospect or two that would’ve helped advance the rebuild.

Instead, Garcia started slow, as he’ll readily admit. His numbers aren’t at all good through his first 18 games of the season. He owns a .233/.250/.315 slash line, nowhere close to the .330/.380/.506 line he posted last year, when he was statistically one of the American League’s best hitters.

“Slow start, slow start,” he said. “I was feeling better a couple games before I got the injury. I was seeing the ball better, but baseball is like that. Sometimes you start good, sometimes you start slow, so it is what it is. We’ve gotta make adjustments as a team and try to get better every single day.

“But you know, that happens, I’ve just got to come back now and make adjustments and help my team win.”

A starting spot in the White Sox outfield of the future is anything but assured for any player these days. In addition to Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert owning some of the highest prospect rankings in the game, guys like Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe have put up some impressive minor league numbers so far this season.

With all those youngsters doing what they’re doing, is there a place for Garcia? Or even if he were to produce well over the next two seasons, would the White Sox want to spend money to bring back a veteran when they have so many high-ceiling, low-cost players waiting in the wings?

It’s hard to answer those questions right now. Not only is it still early enough for Garcia’s fortune at the plate to change dramatically between now and the offseason, but his injury status throws a new wrinkle in the mix. Maybe it ends up making the White Sox decision easier than it would have been had Garcia’s performance been the lone factor here.

But for Garcia, 2018 remains about showing that he can replicate what he did a year ago. If he can’t — for whatever reason — maybe the keys to the outfield of the future get completely placed in the hands of those current minor leaguers. Until he returns from this injury, though, it's all a waiting game.

Welington Castillo on board with the reasoning behind his Monday benching and the identity Rick Renteria is trying to establish

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AP

Welington Castillo on board with the reasoning behind his Monday benching and the identity Rick Renteria is trying to establish

And that’s why you always run hard to first base.

Rick Renteria didn’t use a one-armed man to teach his team a lesson Monday night, but he used a relatively extreme measure, benching one of his few veteran players to send a message that lack of hustle won’t be tolerated on this rebuilding White Sox team.

In fact, it won’t be tolerated anywhere in this rebuilding White Sox organization.

That’s the hope, at least.

Welington Castillo stood at home plate while his popup fell into the first baseman’s glove during the sixth inning of Monday night’s loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles, and because of it he didn’t go back out with his teammates for the seventh inning. It was the latest in-game benching by Renteria for a similar offense. Avisail Garcia was sat down during spring training, and Leury Garcia at the end of the team’s previous homestand.

This kind of reoccurring strategy might seem a tad strange, a manager enforcing hustle regulations to pro players during a season in which his team entered play Tuesday with baseball’s worst record. But part of rebuilding and development is establishing a cultural identity, and Castillo seemed on board with Renteria’s strategy, as well as the end goal of these punishments.

“That’s something that he always says, that’s something that he’s not going to let pass,” Castillo said Tuesday. “He always says you’ve got to run the bases hard no matter what. And for some reason, I was just frustrated, I wanted to get the job done. I saw the ball was going to be fair, and for some reason I did not run. I think that the decision that he made was the right decision. That’s not me, and I’m not going to do it again.”

Castillo was brought in this past offseason to provide some veteran experience to what is otherwise a very young squad of South Siders. Coming off career years both offensively and defensively, Castillo seemed to be an addition that would benefit this club in the short and long term. He could be here all the way through the 2020 season, when the White Sox could see their talented minor leaguers arrive and open the organization’s contention window.

And therein lies the importance of what Renteria did Monday. Castillo would figure to be veteran enough to be past such punishments. But if he buys in to Renteria’s style and passes it along to the young guys when they come up, then Renteria will have achieved what he wanted: for this to be the standard of the present and the future.

“The same rule that is for the young guys is for the veteran guys, too,” Castillo said. “We are a team, we are a family. One thing is for me, and the same thing has to be for everybody because we are a family, we are a team. Sometimes that’s good that that happens, and we’ve just got to learn from that.”

“We’re trying to eliminate habits if they’re there. Accidents you understand, but we’re trying to continue to create the identity of the White Sox organization as to how we’re going to go about doing things,” Renteria said. “They accept it, they understand it, and when we take an action I think for the most part they are accountable to what goes on.”