White Sox

Poetry in Pros: Guillen stays, Williams goes

Poetry in Pros: Guillen stays, Williams goes

Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010
8:46 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Given the controversies that have hounded Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen almost from the beginning of the season, he cant be blamed for wondering whether he will always be welcome at U.S. Cellular Field.

But the feisty skipper currently piloting the second-place club in the American League Central once again made it clear on Thursday that for as much bravado as he packs in his belief that if he ever was fired, he wouldnt be out of work long, he didnt plan to manage elsewhere anytime soon.

I was looking for a house in Chicago this morning. People think Im lying, Guillen said. I have a beautiful house back in Miami and in Caracas Venezuela, but Chicago is the place I live the most.

Guillen is currently signed to manage the White Sox through the 2011 season, and the team holds an option to extend him to 2012. While Guillen doesnt claim hed pout over an extension, clearly hed like to be rewarded for his consistently good work in the managers chair, emphasizing today how happy he was that his team had bounced back from a 9.5 games deficit to reach first place and remain in close contention3.5 gamesin the American League Central.

I like competition. I like to compete, Guillen said. I like people to ask me questions and second-guess me. I like people to hate me. I like that. Why not? Im not a perfect guy. Some people love me, some people hate me. I like that. I like to compete and make those players compete.

Guillens tardy pregame sessionwhich found media members waiting for a good half-hour in the dugout, then herded into his managers office, then back out to the dugout after the managers meeting with GM Ken Williams went overtimequickly took on a bit of a dissertational direction.

Asked how was feeling in a season that seemed especially trying both on and off the field, the Chisox jefe again replied with total honesty.

My energy, its good, Guillen said. It could be worse. Right now, Im fighting through it the dog days, and Im fine. Sometimes you leave this ballpark like, My God, wow, Im bad and tired of it, but then you go to sleep and come back and come back with the same energy.

The day I dont want to come here, I will retire. Ill send you media a note: Thank you for the support, Ill see you guys later. You know when I feel bad? When I walk from the car to the ballpark and you see those guys, the vendorsthey are pulling for us because the only way they make money is when we win.

Youre in this game for two reasonsto put a ring on your finger and get players to play well for you.

While Guillen again reiterated that he didnt need any new players to take the AL Central away from the Minnesota Twins (Im very happy with this ballclub I dont want anybody else), Williams is charged with examining every possible acquisition that could spell the difference between first and second place at seasons end.

To wit, the GM was less giddy than Guillen over the White Sox, saying before Thursdays game that, Theyll give me confidence when they string together some wins.

Williams also expressed a bit of exasperation at the consistent questioning about X or Y player, saying, People dont understand, but everybody goes through waivers, every year. If youre in the major leagues, youre put on waivers.

The GM acknowledged that while an ideal waiver claim would be of the Alex Rios 2009 variety, a player who could help both now and in the long term, such now-and-later players are rare on the wire.

And as for the concern that a certain playerdont just think Manny Ramirezmight be out of Chicagos range money-wise (a Rios concern in 2009 as well), Williams said, its less about money. Were looking at walk-up ticket sales every day, but owner Jerry Reinsdorf hasnt given me any monetary restrictions.

However, in case you think Williams took any joy getting out into the soothing, open air of the ballpark only to be hounded with questions about this and that waiver claim, well, the genial GM concluded his session thusly: And these are my waiver wire answers for tomorrow, too.

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

Michael Kopech absent from White Sox camp, adding another unknown to 2020

Michael Kopech absent from White Sox camp, adding another unknown to 2020

On the first day of "Summer Camp" workouts at Guaranteed Rate Field, there was one important absentee.

Michael Kopech has not yet reported to the second round of spring training ahead of the abbreviated, 60-game 2020 season, and the team has no timetable on when he'll rejoin the club.

General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that Kopech, who missed the entirety of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, is dealing with a personal matter. Recognizing that speculation could immediately turn to COVID-19, Hahn assured that the 24-year-old flamethrower is healthy.

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"It's obviously never ideal when any individual is dealing with off-field matters," Hahn said. "It's easy, I suppose, at times, to lose sight of the fact that you're dealing with human beings here. People have lives, people have families. People have all the same assortment of items to attend to that each and every other individual has. And this is obviously a very unique time we're all living through.

"It's not ideal, but fundamentally, we're looking to put all our players in the best position they can be to perform and maximize their abilities on the field, and if there's anything standing in the way of that, we're going to provide them with whatever support and resources they need to help address those matters. ... We fully support Michael and are going to provide him with whatever time and resources he needs and look forward to seeing him in the future."

Kopech missing more time is certainly unfortunate, especially when considering the long layoff he had following the surgery at the end of the 2018 season. He spent all of 2019 in recovery mode and participated in spring training earlier this year, throwing one inning of Cactus League action — and a pretty spectacular one at that — before baseball was abruptly shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, Kopech was expected to begin the season in the minor leagues, building arm strength with so much time between competitive games. When the season was squeezed down to 60 games in two months, it appeared Kopech, three more months removed from the surgery, could have been utilized as a full-season option for the White Sox. Other pitchers, such as Carlos Rodon and Dane Dunning, could also be part of expanded pitching depth for the White Sox that they wouldn't have had if the season started in March, as scheduled.

But with no idea how long Kopech will be away from the team, those plans could again be forced to change.

RELATED: White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

It's already a huge question what shape starting pitchers will be in after a halted spring, a three-month layoff and only three weeks' worth of ramping up before the regular season begins. Pitchers might be only capable of throwing three or four innings per start as opposed to their usual six or seven as they take time to get back into in-season mode. Who knows how Kopech, individually, has kept himself in shape during the layoff, or how large a benefit "Summer Camp" will provide for pitchers.

While the White Sox continue to have options with guys like Rodon, Dunning and Jimmy Lambert to go along with their starting rotation of Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez and Gio Gonzalez, Kopech was expected to play a role of some significance either as a member of the rotation, a "piggybacking" starter out of the bullpen or even, potentially, as a late-inning option.

Any of that can still happen, but Kopech's beginning-of-camp absence adds another unknown into a season already full of them.


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White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an emergency travel order Thursday that requires travelers visiting Chicago from states experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases to quarantine for two weeks.

By the end of the month, a certain group of travelers — Major League Baseball teams — are scheduled to visit Chicago to play games against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Likewise, the White Sox will be traveling to play road games in other states, as well, from which they will eventually return.

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But the White Sox say they aren't expecting the new order to impact their upcoming 2020 season.

"Based on our current understanding, we do not expect this to impact our operations as presently planned," a White Sox spokesperson told NBC Sports Chicago on Thursday.

Currently, no states that are home to Central Division teams from either the AL or NL are impacted by Mayor Lightfoot's order. But as has become extremely apparent, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can change things quickly, and there's no knowing which states might be impacted come Opening Day or at any point during the two-month baseball season.

At the moment, the mayor's order, which goes into effect Monday, applies to visitors from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Landing on that list involves a specific metric. Per the city's website, "a state will be designated if it has a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a 7-day rolling average."

Major League Baseball is imposing a geographic schedule to minimize travel for teams during the shortened, 60-game season. Teams will only play their division rivals and teams from the same geographic division in the other league. The White Sox will play their four AL Central rivals and the five teams from the NL Central.

As of the mayor's order being issued Thursday, the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were not part of the travel order. But every one of those states except Missouri, as well as Illinois, is currently experiencing a week-to-week increase in the number of new cases. The number of new cases is also rising in Iowa, where the White Sox are still on schedule to play in the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 13.

The city has the ability to grant exemptions, though, and Major League Baseball's extensive health and safety measures could come into play. According to the city's website, "the Commissioner of Health may additionally grant an exemption based upon an organization’s or business’ testing and other control policies or in extraordinary circumstances, which warrant an exception from mandatory quarantine."

So the city has the power to let the MLB season, as it pertains to teams traveling in and out of Chicago, to operate as planned. It can allow the Cleveland Indians come to town, or allow the White Sox to return from a trip to Detroit, even if other travelers from Ohio or Michigan, for example, are mandated to quarantine for two weeks.

As mentioned, the evolving status of the pandemic and the response to it, not just in Chicago but across the country, can change everything in a hurry. Major League Baseball faces its own internal hurdles when it comes to safely getting the season off the ground and completing it.

But as the White Sox understand it, there might not be reason to believe Mayor Lightfoot would be throwing a separate wrench into the difficult task of playing the 2020 baseball season.


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