White Sox

Pitching fits: Garcia working hard, Jenks absent

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Pitching fits: Garcia working hard, Jenks absent

Monday, Sept. 20, 2010
Updated 11:10 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

OAKLAND Something to watch down the stretch, White Sox fans, is the fate of two of the remaining three pitchers from the 2005 World Series-winning Chicago squad, Freddy Garcia and Bobby Jenks.

Garcia has been gradually recovering from back pain hes attempted to fight through since the beginning of September. Garcia pitched six innings in his two most recent, aborted starts, the first an eventual 6-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sept. 1 and the second a two-inning effort in a 11-6 loss at the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 7. In the process of recovery, Garcia has even received an epidural to relieve the discomfort in his back and aid the then still-alive White Sox playoff hopes.

Garcia has been a true, key cog on the White Sox this season, and is arguably the biggest surprise of the team in 2010. His numbers are nowhere near gaudy (4.88 ERA, and his first sub-2.00 KBB1.93in a decade), but his 62 percent mark on quality starts is second-best among the teams four season-long starters, trailing John Danks by a wisp and leading Mark Buehrle and Gavin Floyd.

I expect Freddy to pitch this trip, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I dont know where. I expect him to pitch again but hes got to throw in the pen first. I wont say Im counting on him, but I feel optimistic about having him on the mound before we return to Chicago.

Guillen has been awestruck by Garcias season, and of late, the veteran starters pain threshold. On the flip side, Guillen has been relatively dismissive of Jenks, subscribing to an outta-site, outta-mind philosophy with his wounded closer. Little changed in his comments on Monday in Oakland.

Bobbys home, Guillen said, surprising his pregame media gathering with the news that Jenks had been left behind. The six or seven days were going to be here, hes not going to throw, so I dont see why we would bring him here. White Sox trainer Herm Schneider knows better about what rehab Jenks is going to do.

Jenks, on the other hand, seems to have packed his season in. I said it last week, and Ill repeat it, with a relatively poor season (just 27 saves, a career low, and a 4.44 ERA, a career high and Jenkss first-ever ERA worse than the league average) marked again by iffy conditioning, Jenks is almost certain to leave Chicago after the 2010 season.

The burly closer has been increasingly slowed by injuries and was already on his way out after making 7.5 million this season and looking for a raise in 2011. But the strained forearm that will essentially erase his September has soured for good his future with the team.

While Jake Peavy is on this trip despite his best contribution to the team being antes to the pot on a bad poker night, Jenks is back in Chicago, purportedly to rehab his right arm in ways he could not on the trip with the team.

When Bobbys on the mound or available to pitch, our bullpen is better, said Guillen, chanting again the mantra hes spun all summer. But I dont know what direction were going to go, dont know what we have in mind. Bobbys been great for this organization since hes been here.

If it turns out Jenks has tossed his last with the White Sox, he will go down as the teams second-best fireman of all-time, with 173 saves trailing only Bobby Thigpens 201. And he will also have gone out on a high note, with badass doubleheader saves on Sept. 4 at the Red Sox.

Bringing Jenks back is the front office peoples job, Guillen said. I dont have any idea what theyre going to do. We havent talked about it yet. We havent had any meetings yet. I have to wait and have a clearer idea.

If that sounds like Guillen is hedging, he is. Theres a clear idea of what the future holds, and that future has any number of options, from Sergio Santos to Chris Sale to J.J. Putz to Matt Thornton, taking a crack at filling Jenkss shoes for a fraction of the price. It would be overly dramatic to say Jenkss lost September is the final straw, but while Garcia is fighting like hell to get back on the mound to finish out the season, Jenks is packing up his locker.

Its not just moxieor the lack ofthat has separated the two pitchers as their time in Chicago winds short. Garcias 2010 efforts have produced 1.4 WAR, which is by no means spectacular but downright stellar for the starters 1 million pricetag. Conversely, the only pitcher on the White Sox full-season roster worse than Jenkss 0.3 WAR is Tony Penas -0.6. As overpaid as Scott Linebrink is, he also boasts a 0.3 WAR for 2.5 million less than Jenks.

I hope when we get to Chicago, at least he can throw one or two innings to see if he can finish the year, Guillen said.

Guillen, while fully respecting the enormous role Jenks has played for the White Sox in his six seasons on the South Side, surely doesnt believe he will.

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

Dylan Cease shows off big velocity in first spring training start

Dylan Cease shows off big velocity in first spring training start

Dylan Cease is entering the 2020 season with plenty to prove. Considering how important he is to the future of the White Sox, it is perhaps fitting he was the first White Sox pitcher to take a mound in a spring training game.

On Saturday, Cease pitched two innings against the Cincinnati Reds as he ramps up to full strength. The most notable thing wasn’t how long he pitched or what his stat line was. It was his fastball.

Cease's fastball sat mostly at 96-98 mph and topped at 99. Cease quipped there could be a bit more in terms of his velocity.


Cease averaged 96.5 mph on his fastball in the majors in 2019. In 73 innings, he threw nine pitches that were at least 99 mph, topping out at 100.1 mph, according to Baseball Savant. He was capable of throwing that hard, but didn't do it often. For Cease to be on the higher end of his average and feature a 99 mph fastball in his first pitches of Cactus League baseball might be a sign that he could have added a touch more velocity.

It’s also just a two-inning spring training start, meaning Cease knew he could let fly a bit more in a shorter outing. Cease told reporters after his start he was focusing on his fastball command. He struck out three with no walks and three hits allowed.

In his rookie season, Cease struggled with command and consistency. He had a 5.79 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 35 walks over 14 starts.

February baseball doesn't carry any meaning, but this is a small encouraging sign for Cease.

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Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

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USA TODAY

Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

You can put to bed the rumors about free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig possibly signing with the White Sox. It’s not happening.

The two sides did get together during the MLB Winter Meetings in December. Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria met with Puig for about 90 minutes to discuss the possibility of the 29-year-old joining the White Sox as their everyday right fielder.

But instead, the White Sox chose to take a different route. That same week, they acquired Nomar Mazara from the Texas Rangers for minor league outfielder Steele Walker, ending any chance of Puig coming to the South Side.

“After our meeting we came away big Yasiel Puig fans, but he wasn’t the right fit for us then and he isn’t right now,” Williams said.

With spring training games starting this weekend and the regular season a little over a month away, fellow Cuban Jose Abreu says he’s surprised the flashy 29-year-old outfielder remains a free agent.

“Yes, I am (surprised). That’s one of those things that happen that you don’t understand. A guy with his talent. He’s still so young,” Abreu said through a translator. “He doesn’t have a team yet. It’s a surprise. I’m confident he’s going to find something this year.”

Even with Puig’s talent, Abreu looks around the White Sox clubhouse and agrees with the decision by the White Sox not to sign the former All-Star who hit .267/.327/.458 with the Reds and Indians last season.

“I don’t think he would be a good fit here. Don’t get me wrong. He has a lot of talent but we’re full," Abreu said. "Our outfield is looking great with Nomar (Mazara), Eloy (Jimenez) and (Luis) Robert. There’s no reason for us to make more moves in that area of our team. He’s someone who would fit in with any major league ball club because he has the talent to help any of those teams.”

What about possibly platooning Puig with Mazara in right field? On paper, that might sound like a good plan, although Puig has traditionally hit better against righties than lefties in his career. But a larger issue could be the timeshare. The idea of Puig, nicknamed “Wild Horse,” being forced to the stable for half the season could spell problems not only for him, but the chemistry inside the clubhouse.

“It would be difficult, especially for him being an everyday player,” Abreu said about Puig being a platoon player.  “When you have to make that decision, it’s not easy.”

So, where will Puig end up?  No one knows for sure but it won’t be with the White Sox.  

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