White Sox

Pabst: Ozzie's hall pass is all but expired

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Pabst: Ozzie's hall pass is all but expired

Friday, Sept. 23, 2011
Posted: 1:56 p.m.

By Paul Pabst
CSNChicago.com Contributor

READ: The 13 highlights of 2011 White Sox seasonREAD: Reinsdorf interested in buying Coyotes?FOLLOW: Paul Pabst on Twitter
Going into the White Sox meaningless weekend set against the Royals, the annual Ozzie Guillen managerial status headlines are out in full force. Among the best are: Ozzies Last HomestandNo Reason to Meet Ozzies DemandsGuillen Awaits Fate.

White Sox fans have been here before, but with a team that is below .500 and limping to the finish, will this be the year that the Sox brass make a move? This team is not good, but not awful. This team is neither a doormat, nor enough of an embarrassment where the decision on Guillen would be an easy one.

Since the World Series win in 2005, the White Sox have finished third, fourth, first, third, second and a likely third-place result this season. Since 2005 there has been just one brief postseason appearance.

In sport, like school, we have hall passes. For MLB managers, winning a World Series is obviously the ultimate hall pass. In most cases, winning a title will allow you a few years of mediocrity at least. Well, the Sox have been mediocre and Guillens hall pass is all but expired. In Guillens favor is that in the past century, only two managers have taken the Sox to a title and he is one of them. The other, Clarence Pants Rowland, passed away more than 30 years ago.

Rowland managed the White Sox to a World Series win in 1917. He was fired the following season reportedly because of disagreements he has with Sox owner Charles Comiskey. The year after Rowland left the team...the 1919 Black Sox.

This was written of Rowland in his New York Times obit:

He (Rowland) never permitted himself to go beyond the bounds of decency and he restrained his players in the same mannerRowland was a true leader. He never bawled a player out for a mistake or tried to rile his players hoping for a better result.

You couldnt script this. The obit description of Rowland is the polar opposite of Ozzie Guillens reputation. Guillen steps outside the bounds of decency on a weekly basis with his language and temper. You must give credit to Guillen for being passionate and never appearing to mail it in. He has no filter on or off the field. He never worries about being PC or how his comments will play in this 24-hour sports media that Pants never had to deal with.

Guillen is the Howard Stern of baseball. Hes off color so often that you become almost numb to it and cant really put your finger on one offensive line that bothered you. From a national standpoint, he is overwhelmingly the face of the organization. Other teams are known for star players. The White Sox, nationally, are known for Guillen and each time he spouts venom an editor quickly puts together a top ten list of Ozzie bleep-worthy moments.

Its probably a coin flip as to whether Guillen is back for the 2012 season. This is for sure; Chicago sports fans will miss him terribly if he goes. During a long baseball season, when you cant count on great play on the field, fans can count on the daily soap opera that is Ozzie Guillen. He actually might be more captivating when the Sox are losing. And if the White Sox decide to bring Guillen back for 2012, we can do this all again next September.

Paul Pabst is the Executive Producer of "The Dan Patrick Show", which airs Monday-Friday from 8:00-11:00 a.m. on Comcast SportsNet. Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulPabst.

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Four-hit day for Eloy Jimenez

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Eloy Jimenez had four hits, including a pair of doubles to boost his batting average to .322 on the season. Seby Zavala hit his 10th home run of the season and drove in a pair of runs in the 7-2 loss. Spencer Adams got the start and allowed four runs but also struck out nine in just 4.2 innings of work.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had two doubles and Evan Skoug had two hits in a 3-2 win. Big leaguer Carlos Rodon made a rehab start and struck out six, allowing one run in five innings.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and Thyago Vieira threw a scoreless inning in an 8-4 loss.

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

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USA TODAY

Jace Fry, who still hasn't allowed a hit, is penciling his name into the White Sox bullpen of the future

The White Sox best reliever through the first 42 games of this rebuilding season? Undoubtedly, it’s been Jace Fry.

With Rick Renteria’s bullpen hardly the most reliable relief corps the game has ever seen, Fry has been a revelation, starting his 2018 campaign with 7.1 scoreless innings over six appearances.

And now things are getting a bit more dramatic for the 24-year-old lefty, a guy who’s been through a pair of Tommy John surgeries. He pitched some high-leverage ball in Saturday night’s 5-3 win, sitting down all four hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth innings while protecting a two-run lead.

“I was ready the whole game, just waiting for my name to be called,” Fry said. “But it was awesome getting in there in the eighth inning, even getting the first guy in the ninth inning. After I got him I was kind of hoping he’d let me keep going.”

Renteria uses his bullpen in a non-traditional manner, one that perhaps he thinks is a way of the future or one that’s a result of his lack of dominant options out there. Whichever it is, he doesn’t really have a closer but rather a host of guys he uses in those high-leverage situations, whenever they might come during the late stages of a game. Joakim Soria, Nate Jones and Bruce Rondon have all been used to get big outs late in games, and Rondon threw a scoreless seventh Saturday, with Jones getting the game’s final two outs for the save.

But it could be argued that most difficult outs were recorded by Fry, who put away the visiting Texas Rangers’ fourth, fifth and sixth hitters before getting the seventh hitter to strike out to start off the ninth.

Renteria steered away from dubbing Fry one of his new high-leverage guys after the game, but why wouldn’t Fry be in that mix? All he’s done since joining the big league squad earlier this month is get outs. He’s got 10 strikeouts, hasn’t allowed a hit and has just two walks as the lone blemishes on an otherwise perfect season line.

“It just happens to be that it was the eighth inning and the ninth that he pitched,” Renteria said. “I think he’s looking very comfortable in those. It happens to be the eighth and ninth we needed him. He’s been very, very effective. He’s been commanding the strike zone very well, confidently approaching his hitters. He’s got pretty good stuff.

“He’s able to command the zone. Along with that nice breaking ball he’s got to lefties and righties, it’s pretty effective. But he’s continuing to show you he’s capable of coming in and getting some pretty good hitters.”

Fry has been a rarity this season in that he’s appeared to be a candidate for a long-term spot in the White Sox bullpen. Jones would perhaps be the only other guy coming close to qualifying for that, mostly because of his team-friendly contract that keeps him under control a few more years, but he’s had some rough moments, even with his ERA dropping to 3.50 on Saturday.

Fry, though, is young and is dealing at the moment. He even got a shoutout as a potential long-term piece from general manager Rick Hahn earlier this week.

“Take Jace Fry, someone we haven’t mentioned when we’ve had this conversation the last couple of weeks,” Hahn said Thursday, discussing the positives he’s seen during this developmental season. “He’s shown up here and shown that he’s made some progress in his last stint in the minors and now, at age 24, seems like he’s ready to take that next step, and pencil his name in as part of what we’re building here going forward.”

There’s a lot of season left, and no one’s expecting Fry to keep batters hitless and opposing teams scoreless from now through the end of September. But this is a nice development for the rebuilding White Sox at the moment, a guy who’s giving them at least one name to put into that bullpen of the future.

How long can he keep this thing going? As long as he keeps getting ahead of hitters.

“Having the success is awesome, but I realize it’s the plan, the plan of attack,” Fry said. “I’m going out and throwing Strike 1 and getting ahead. Actually doing it, seeing it and having the process work definitely creates more confidence. Once you go back to the blueprint of baseball, Strike 1 is everything.”