Sunday, April 24, 2011
Posted: 2:30 p.m. Updated: 3:40 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
DETROITSigns abound in the Chicago clubhouse that White Sox havent given up on the season and are still enjoying the game theyre paid to play.
And yes, that goes beyond the potboiler quotes about fighting hard, taking one day at a time, and the team inevitably catching fire again.
Adam Dunn remains calm in the face of an OPS careening down dangerously close to his body weight. Omar Vizquel celebrates his 44th birthday with a cake and a dance around the clubhouse. Lefty compadres John Danks and Mark Buehrle are teasing one another over any volume of minutiae.
But after reaching their worst start in 10 years (8-14) after another spiritless loss to the Detroit Tigers, 3-0, its getting harder to believe theres a break in the clouds that threaten, in just April, to blot out Chicagos season.
Nothing works, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I continue to plug those guys in the lineup. Hopefully they come out of this. The only way you come out of this is playing otherwise theres nothing you can do about it. It seems like every day a rerun, seeing the same at-bats and it seems like everybody we face is pretty nasty. But you have to get ready for the next day because you cant control what happened today, only tomorrow. My faith and hope is still very high and Im still very optimistic about this ballclub; we know were going to hit. As a group were not very strong right now. We try to figure out what we try to do about it but nothing is going well for us.
I couldnt tell you what is wrong, said Matt Thornton, who threw a scoreless eighth to keep Chicagos recent strong bullpen run going. There are numerous aspects of the game that go on, from defense to starting pitching to bullpen to hitting to situational hitting and theyve all been missing in the past few days. At least one major one is always missing in each game. Thats why were dropping so many. But were way too talented: Look at guys track records on this team, and we have a lot of guys with a lot of success in major league baseball. Its a matter of getting everyone on a roll and going.
The White Sox were again no-hit for the first three innings, something thats happened in all three games in Motown. Bengals starter Max Scherzer climbed to 4-0 by keeping the Chisox hitless through four and by surrendering just four through eight innings, racking up seven Ks against three walks in an efficient 103 pitches.
Danks stopped a streak of subpar starts from Chicago, although he was just a step past mediocre by allowing 11 baserunners over six innings. The Chicago ace remains winless through his first five starts.
We lost, Danks said in response to a question about hurling a stronger game this time out. It was a battle, no doubt. I found myself in some pretty tight jams, in the fourth inning, especially, when Im just thinking damage control at that point. Its one of those games where you go out and battle the best you can and give us a chance to win. Unfortunately, Scherzer is pretty darn good. You just have to move on.
We arent going to dwell on it. We know its early. We arent helping ourselves digging ourselves a hole. At the same time, theres plenty of time and plenty of talent on this team to think we are out of it just yet. We are going to battle and try to win every game we can and go from there.
The White Sox are suffering through a deep freeze that gets worse by the day. In Detroit this weekend, they mustered just three runs. With runners on base, the White Sox were 2-26, including an 0-9 series with runners in scoring position. Chicago has been held scoreless for 20 straight innings.
After the game, Guillen joked about the meaninglessness of a pep talk at this juncture of the season: What am I going to tell them? But it was a comment that came before the game that might be a strong statement of support, and one he has already shared with the likes of Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham.
I worry about them mentally, yes, he said. Players, in general, when they see the beginning of the season and look up at the scoreboard, they have 40 at-bats and see .090, they start to panic. I dont care how strong you are mentally or how much you care or not, you will think about it. The only thing you can do is former White Sox hitting coach Walt Hriniak told me: Erase the season and start over.
Peavy lightens the load
Dont take Jake Peavys temporary detour into journalism as a sign that his rehabilitation took a bad turn in the Comerica Park bullpen on Sunday.
Peavy, who hid behind a crowd of reporters to ask Danks, What about those two walks?got a nonplussed response from the chill Texas lefty.
One was intentional, he answered. That doesnt count.
I was just trying to lighten the mood, Peavy smiled, moments later. John pitched hard. It could have been worse or better. Scherzer was a little bit better today. We are going to grind through this and win or lose together.
Of course, the main focus with Peavy postgame was how his 40-pitch bullpen session went. And by all accountsgrunts, snorts, and allthe intensity was quite a bit higher than any bullpen Ill ever throw, and went very well.
I felt good, he said. Im excited to move forward. Ill throw another bullpen in Yankee Stadium and go ahead and go out on assignment on Friday to Charlotte. I felt nice and free today, nothing painful that I felt the other night. Thats exciting.
As for the scar tissue around his reattached latissimus dorsi muscle that caused him to snap his prior start on April 18 some 75 pitches short, Peavy was all smiles.
The intensity was high today, Peavy said. I needed to find out if I turned the ball loose, if I was going to feel what I felt. I cant say Im going to start without giving it a test run. We certainly did that today and the scar tissue checked out OK.
Peavy feels particularly helpless these days, unable to help the Chisox snap out of a funk that threatens to scuttle their season before May.
READ: Peavy throws side session, on track for next rehabilitation start.
Im excited to get back out and just obviously feel bad sitting here talking to you guys about this when team is going the way its going, he said. I just try to keep the boys as positive as we can and be a cheerleader for next couple of days, and go out and rehab and get back here and help as soon as I can.
Oddly enough, after talking to teammates like Jesse Crain and Will Ohman, who have also had significant arm surgeries, Peavy is starting to believe that the serious surgery he suffered last July could have a sunny effect overall.
We had to take it for a test run and find out if the irritation and scar tissue was still an issue, he said. We might have freed the tissue up a little bit Maybe this thing will work beneficially in the long run.
For now, Peavy is dealing with shifting his focus from a sort of homecoming start in Chicago later this week to another round of rehab in Charlotte. Peavy is all smiles and trying to play it cool, but inside hes ready to jump out of his stirrups.
Hopefully setbacks are behind us, he said. I look forward to getting back out to Charlotte once again. Hopefully, its one of the last times.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.