White Sox

Ozzieball's reward: A breakout win

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Ozzieball's reward: A breakout win

Thursday, April 21, 2011Posted: 8:54 p.m Updated: 10:25 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.When a stray loss or two start to string together into a streak, most managers start to grip the managerial hot seat and start to snap back at even the simplest and kindest of questions.

For consummately chill Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen? Its a signal for story time.

Yesterday, I was talking to bench coach Joey Cora before the game started, saying, Man, I have to start doing hit-and-runs and stuff, Guillen said before Thursdays series finale vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. A good answer came back: Well, we have to get on base, first.

Guillen started a long dissertation on his smallball roots with that anecdote, with a conclusion drawn thusly: I grew up bunting. My baseball game is bunting. We win a lot of games bunting.

With 10 hitsthe clubs first double-digit parcel of safeties since April 8Ozzies smallball ways are likely to be discounted as a factor in the 9-2 trouncing. So the evidence of a first inning runthe first lead the Pale Hose have held in 51 inningsspurred by Juan Pierre bunting his way on (his first of two consecutive) and advancing to third on an overthrow is offered merely anecdotally.

JP did a great job getting on there and causing some havoc, said Carlos Quentin, after turning in a now-customary double, two RBI, HBP night. Getting that run in was big. It gave us a chance to put pressure on them.

Pierre himself, robbed of an inside-the-park grand slam by Sam Fuld in Chicago and victimized for extra bases by Matt Joyce in last nights game, was caught in a bit of a fib postgame. Asked whether he microscoped his at-bats (he bunted in his first two times up, twice for hits) intentionally because of the Tampas defensive prowess, he said, No.

Then, laughing, he changed his story: Well, a little bit. I made up my mind that there was a big guy on the mound, too, so I was like, Ill try to get some bunts down and try to create things.

For storyteller Guillen, it was the perfect end to his time in Tampa.

Thats the way we expect to play every day, to be honest with you, he said postgame. I dont want to be cocky or arrogant, but this team can play this way because of the way we built this club and the talent we have. Every time we take the field, we expect to play that way.

Translation: Snapping the slump, especially one that came on so stealthily and threatened to anesthetize the season if it went on much longer, was nothing short of enormous for the Chisox. But its something the club knew was just a matter of time.

We all knew it was a big game for us, Quentin said. No team wants to get swept, especially for it to happen two times in a row. Its something you dont want to happen at all. We have been playing hardWe just havent gotten results. Its unfortunate because thats what happens in this game. But its not for a lack of effort and well keep bringing that same effort level day in and day out.

Gavin Floyd pitched into traffic more than he needed to, but with seven Ks over six innings and another snappy bullpen effort (Will Ohman, Sergio Santos, Jeff Gray), smiles snuck their way back into the Chicago clubhouse.

Quentin maintained his beastly pace to start the season, cracking his major-league leading 11th double in the sixth to plate two. The two-bagger also set a White Sox record for April doubleswith nine games left in the month.

Quentin shrugged off any notion of April records, speaking with customary animatronic emotion postgame. Gavin Floyd, who immediately scoffed himself postgame for his series of two-out baserunners, provided the proper exaltation as the volume on the clubhouse joking and celebrating kept getting turned up:

Hallelujah!

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

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball released a second voting update for All-Star Game starters and three White Sox players are still in the mix.

The top three spots at each position (and top nine in the outfield) are all that matter for now, with those players advancing to MLB’s new Starters Election. James McCann is the only member of the White Sox to sit in one of those spots for now.

McCann is second at catcher behind Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. He is nearly 800,000 votes behind the Yankees backstop.

Jose Abreu was in third in the last update at first base, but has fallen behind Carlos Santana of the Indians. Luke Volt, another Yankee, leads with C.J. Cron of the Twins in second. Santana is just under 43,000 votes ahead of Abreu.

Tim Anderson is still in fourth at shortstop. Jorge Polanco of the Twins and Carlos Correa of the Astros are comfortably in the top two spots. Gleyber Torres, yet another Yankee, is just over 45,000 votes ahead of Anderson for third.

There aren’t any other White Sox within striking distance of the top three. Yoan Moncada remains in eighth among third basemen.

Polls close Friday at 3 p.m. CT.

 

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Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

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USA TODAY

Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

When Eloy Jiménez returned from the Injured List in late May and rejoined the White Sox lineup, he went on the road to Houston and Minnesota and he struggled to the tune of a .148 batting average and .148 on-base percentage, with four hits (three went over the fence), 11 strikeouts and no walks.

For the season, his slashline was .217/.259/.406 with five walks and 36 strikeouts. He was swinging at 49.8 percent of all the pitches he saw (a bit above the 46.7 percent league average); he was swinging at 38.8 percent of pitches outside the zone (quite a bit above the 30.9 percent league average).

He returned to the comfort of Guaranteed Rate Field on May 27 and took a pair of walks. From that point forward, things started to look a lot better… and the results were in line with that observation.

Eloy Jiménez this season:

  PA AVG OBP SLG BB K Swing % Outside zone swing %
Through May 26 112 ,217 .259 .406 5 36 49.8 38.8
Since May 27 71 .297 .366 .594 7 18 45.9 30.8

Not only has he improved quite a bit, but that 30.8 outside the zone swing percentage is second only to Yonder Alonso’s 29.9 percent mark among White Sox with at least 40 plate appearances since May 27. Jiménez hasn’t been chasing nearly as many bad pitches lately.

Those pitches he has been laying off of have for the most part been the low and away stuff, as indicated by his swing charts below. First, his swing rates before getting hurt and then since he came back from injury.

These charts are from the catcher’s perspective, and from what you can see, he has done a much better job of laying off the low and away pitches. Look at the three zones furthest low and away. There’s a big difference.

Start of the year through May 26:

Since May 27:

Through May 26 he swung at 33.8 percent of pitches (51 of 151)  low and away and out of the zone. Since May 27 he has swung at 14.5 percent of those pitches (10 of 69).

It’s only an 18-game sample, so there will certainly be more adjustments made to combat Jiménez, but I believe we’re watching Eloy begin to mature into the middle of the order force as he was advertised.

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