White Sox

Opposites attract: Vizquel, Sale set marks in win

Opposites attract: Vizquel, Sale set marks in win

Monday, Sept. 6, 2010
7:40 PM
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT Chris Sale was born on March 30, 1989. Four days later, Omar Vizquel made his major-league debut at shortstop for the Seattle Mariners.

Both players, now members of the Chicago White Sox, set distinctive marks in Mondays 10-inning, 5-4 win in Detroit over the Tigers.

Vizquel played in his 2,832nd game, breaking a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for most games played among players born outside of the United Statesthe rest of the top five are Tony Perez (2,777), Luis Aparicio (2,601) and Julio Franco (2,527).

Its hard to believe through all these years and talking about playing so many games, I look back on my career and it feels like I just started playing five years ago, Vizquel said. All of a sudden you find yourself with a lot of games on you, a lot of hits, a lot of records. Im feeling very proud because I never thought Id be in the big leagues for this long. And its been a very great road for me. Each year was a different challenge.

I take pride because you never know what could happen to you, an injury where you cant rebound and play again. It takes a lot of hours and experience to know your body to be in the place that I am today.

And to think that before the game, no one knew that Vizquelnot even the 43-year-old himselfwas on the verge of such a major milestone.

Well, thats not quite trueit was surprise baseball historian Miguel Cabrera (moonlighting as Detroits first baseman) who approached White Sox first-base coach Omer Munoz with the news. Munoz told Vizquel in the dugout before the game, whereupon Vizquel, surprised, put the record out of his mind for the rest of the game.

But the record that no Chicagoan knew of could have been meant to be broken on Monday. How else can it be explained that Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop who had started just five games there this season, got the call to spell starter Alexei Ramirez?

Theres not many shortstops that get to play that position at 43, Vizquel said. Im happy that Im still able to do that. Even though I have two knee surgeries, Im still able to come back out of that and keep myself in shape to play this year.

All the talk about the record postgame didnt mean that Vizquel still wasnt somewhat surprised by it.

Omer told me when I was sitting on the bench, Vizquel said. I didnt really have an idea and I said, Really, whos the leader? He said he thought Palmeiro was. I never thought Palmeiro played in that many games. People also think the same way about me, which is kind of weird.

Sale, just 21, has flown up the White Soxs depth chart to the extent that he is now spelling 2010 All-Star lefty fireballer Matt Thornton in the pen. In 12 major-league appearances, Sale has logged a 0.66 ERA and 1.39 strikeouts per inning.

Though brimming with confidence, Sale himself has been wowed by his rapid ascendance.

This is far beyond where I thought I was going to be right now, Sale said postgame, appearing fully dried from the traditional beer shower that accompanies a first major-league win. I figured I would get a few chances, up five, down five, stuff like that. Its been awesome. I thank them for how much trust they put and have in me. Its very gratifying.

Sale threw 2 23 innings, his longest professional outing.

I felt fine, Sale said. I didnt throw too much in his last outing, one inning vs. the Boston Red Sox last Saturday. I had a great rest. I felt good today. The first inning, I didnt feel 100 percent but as the game went on, I loosened up a little bit more. I felt like this is one of my better outings.

The southpaw also has earned the respect of the guy who is charged with catching his whip-smart fastball, wicked slider and plus-change.

Hes good, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. Considering he was in college three months ago, for him to be able to do what hes done is pretty darned amazing. You dont see too many guys that are able to do that, especially right out of college, come into the middle of a pennant race and go out and dominate big-league hitters the way he has. Hes got a chance to be pretty special. You can see why he was drafted as high as he was.

More than just his livewire arm, the veteran Pierzynski is impressed with how the wide-eyed rook has carried himselfsomething just as important for a young players long-term prospects.

Sale has been great, Pierzynski said. Hes done everything right since hes been here. Hes gone about everything the right way. So far, so good.

Sale is a very pleasant surprise, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I loved the way he was throwing. If we couldnt use him again tomorrow I thought why not use him another inning?

Sales guileless pitching has lit up the stat charts and his teammates eyes. And the rookie has done a good job of considering himself one of the very players he had so long admired.

They are all just people, Sale said. They come up and speak with me. They dont treat me like the rookie but like a regular person. Its a lot easier when you speak with them. Its just like a normal conversation. Its a lot easier when you arent thinking, Thats Buehrle, or Thats Manny.

Especially once the kids of today start whispering, Thats Sale.

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

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Hawk Harrelson joins Hall of Fame

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Hawk Harrelson joins Hall of Fame

SportsTalk Live is on location at Day 3 of the MLB Winter Meetings.

0:00- Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber and Scott Merkin join David Kaplan to react to Hawk Harrelson making the Hall of Fame. Plus, they share their thoughts the Nomar Mazara trade and what may be next for the White Sox this winter.

10:00- Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer joins Kap and Tony Andracki to talk about the Cubs slow offseason and the importance of staying under the luxury tax. Hoyer also responds to Anthony Rizzo's agent's comment that the team will not be signing the first baseman to an extension this offseason.

19:00- Kap, Chuck, Vinnie and Tony discuss Gerrit Cole's record contract with the Yankees.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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White Sox facing tempting trade possibilities at Winter Meetings

White Sox facing tempting trade possibilities at Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO — The White Sox, you might have heard, are committed to their rebuilding plans.

Still unsure if 2020 will be the year when that long-awaited leap into contender status occurs, Rick Hahn is staying the course and looking for long-term moves that line up with what he projects to be a lengthy contention window.

But there are plenty of moves, plenty of players, that don’t fit into that perfect box. And that’s where temptation arises. Hahn hasn’t been shy about discussing the instances of impatience felt by the team’s decision-makers, times when they get antsy about all the losing that’s occurred over the past few seasons.

The Winter Meetings holds many such temptations, opportunities to make the roster better right away, even though they might not fit in exactly with carefully crafted rebuilding plans.

And indeed the White Sox have faced temptation this week in Southern California.

“We’ve had some really interesting trade conversations,” Hahn said Wednesday. “We’ve got some prospects that are extraordinarily popular, and (there have been) a few things that at least made you take a step back and pause and think, ‘Is this consistent with what we started three years ago, or is this an effort to force things a little more quickly?’

“Kenny (Williams) and I had dinner last night and talked through some things about where this really fits in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish for the long term and being true to the long-term plan versus maybe a short-term hit or a short-term fix that that jumps us forward for next year but might compromise us for an extended period. Then we had another conversation about that again this morning.

“So there's been some temptation around. But again, we’re trying to stay true to what we set out to do three years ago and what we do feel we’re getting awfully close to being able to enjoy the fruits of.”

What might this really interesting trade proposal be? Hahn didn’t reveal much. And we can only guess, based on what he said, that it probably involves the White Sox parting with one of their prized prospects.

It would be kind of crazy to think Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal or Michael Kopech would go anywhere. But maybe Andrew Vaughn or Dane Dunning could be drawing interest in a way that makes the White Sox consider an offer? Past those five, the potential impact level of White Sox prospects seemingly drops off, and the team dealt away its No. 6 prospect, Steele Walker, in a trade for Nomar Mazara on Tuesday night.

Hahn has said the White Sox are not likely to deal highly ranked prospects in exchange for a short-term gain, saying Monday: “If we are trading a premium-type prospect, it’s going to be for someone who will be here for a while.”

Might, though, the White Sox have gotten an offer that would make them bend the rules a bit? That’s where temptation comes into play. It doesn’t sound like “this thing that was sort of intriguing,” as Hahn described it, was a roll of the dice the size of trading for only one year of Mookie Betts. But it might not have fit the team’s ideal for a long-term solution, either.

One thing it does sound is kind of big.

“I think this is my 20th Winter Meetings with the Sox, and far more than half of them, there’s been like this huge, interesting proposal on Wednesday night of the Winter Meetings,” Hahn said. “And by the time you get to the Rule 5 draft (Thursday morning), all things have blown up. That has happened like 12 times.

“So we were joking last night when we got this thing that was sort of intriguing that it was a day early.”

None of this is to suggest that something earth-shattering is imminent. Hahn referenced the history of such proposals falling apart within 24 hours. He also lumped the description of this intriguing offer in with his comments about needing to stick to the plan, perhaps describing a move that, while tempting, is the kind the White Sox should be staying away from. Earlier in the same media session, Hahn had this to say, specifically in reference to his front office’s hunt for starting pitching:

“What’s going on here is not an all-out effort to force our window open quicker,” he said. “We’re continuing to build something where we’re able to win on an annual basis and, once that window is open, be aggressive to add and continue to keep that thing moving.

“So there are certain moves that fit for that long term and certain moves that could be characterized more as trying to force open the window sooner. It's the former moves that make more sense for us right now, the ones that fit in for the long term.”

Maybe Hahn and Williams talked “this thing that was sort of intriguing” out and decided it didn’t line up with what they’re trying to accomplish. Or maybe it’s too good a move to pass up and they’re still discussing it. We can only speculate, given all teams’ secretive tendencies when it comes to such things.

But speculating is also pretty fun, and so maybe it’s worth a few stabs in the dark as to what this might be.

The White Sox were reported to be in trade talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers surrounding Joc Pederson.

The Pittsburgh Pirates might deal away Starling Marte.

The New York Yankees, now in possession of Gerrit Cole, are supposedly looking to trade J.A. Happ.

If you want to dream really, really big, the Colorado Rockies are reportedly listening on Nolan Arenado.

And the Boston Red Sox, still looking to shave salary, might still be thinking about dealing any number of players, including Betts, David Price and Andrew Benintendi.

And maybe none of those names have anything to do with the interesting conversations Hahn was talking about. But there is something tempting out there for the White Sox. Maybe they’d prefer to resist and stick closer to their rebuilding plans. Maybe they won’t be able to resist and it will be a smashing success. Who knows.

But this is the Winter Meetings. And anything can happen at any time.

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