White Sox

Sox Drawer: Johnny (Damon) Quest

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Sox Drawer: Johnny (Damon) Quest

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010
12:13pmBy Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.comIf you believe the headlines spreading across the internet on Thursday, youd probably assume that the White Sox were on the verge of signing a certain two-time World Series champ.

Or you might conclude that he was going to diss the Sox, and maybe even his wife (whod reportedly rather spend the summer in Chicago), and head to Motown to play for the Tigers.

And lets not forget about the Atlanta Braves who have reportedly offered Damon a one-year deal, one similar to the White Sox, and had Braves slugger Chipper Jones, like A.J. Pierzynski, do his very best recruiting pitch, trying to persuade Damon to come over to the NL.

Whos right? Whos wrong? Who knows?

But when asked about the reports that the Sox were on the verge of signing Damon, a White Sox front office source said on Thursday, We are currently not interested in adding to the misinformation out there and classified the Damon negotiations as private.

What has become public is Damons round of golf with Pierzynski on Monday at a charity golf tournament in Florida. Hawk Harrelson was also there. Because of wrist problems, Hawk didnt play, but rode along for nine holes. Speaking with the Sox broadcaster by phone on Thursday, Harrelson said he made his own sales pitch to Damon.

I told Johnny that were going to win the division whether hes with Detroit or not. And when I left after nine holes, I looked at him and said, Ill see you at Camelback Ranch (the White Sox spring training facility). He smiled back and said, I hear what youre saying.

But despite he and Pierzynskis recruiting mission, Harrelson said he left the golf course that day believing that Detroit was the favorite to land Damon.

And now?

Since Ive had some time to think about it, I would say that right now its 50-50 or that the Sox might be a little bit ahead.

Considering the Sox tense relationship with Damons agent Scott Boras, its a surprise that the negotiations have gotten this far. But Harrelson looks at it a different way.

It just so happens that this particular player that (Boras) has in Johnny Damon is a guy the White Sox would like to have. They need a left-handed bat regardless of who his agent it. As far as their relationship, I dont think its changed. Harrelson then laughed, I dont think its the best relationship.

What Hawk likes the most about Damon is like A.J., hes a winner. Hes an asset, and brings a lot of positives to the clubhouse, to the airplane, to the playing field and certainly in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. Thats when your real stars shine and Johnny has been a great 7th, 8th, and 9th inning player.

If the Sox are willing to pursue Damon, and use him as a DHback-up outfielder, one could argue that the Sox could just bring back Jermaine Dye and use him in that role.

Harrelson is surprised that Dye is still a free agent, and agrees with what Frank Thomas told CSN last week, that Dye will retire if he does not a receive a fair offer.

If he doesnt get the money he feels he deserves, it wouldnt surprise me to see Jermaine retire at all, Harrelson said. I think thats the kind of person he is. Hes a stand-up guy a lot of integrity. If he feels he cant get the money he thinks he should be getting, then hell hang them up.

The lack of interest in Dye isnt so much a reflection on Jermaine as a player. Hawk says its all about money, or lack thereof.

Things have changed. The culture of the game has changed since the economy took a downturn. Its almost like a virus that goes through, and everybody has caught it. And now it looks like a lot of guys who thought theyd get a lot money to sign for a respectable contract are finding out thats not the case. I think last year was the first time in eight or nine years that clubs have lost money. Theres definitely a different philosophy now in terms of signing older players.

Damon is two months older than Dye. But as Harrelson put it, Its a good thing Johnny can play baseball, because he cant play golf.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

For the first time in two months, Avisail Garcia is back in the White Sox lineup.

Garcia’s return from his lengthy stay on the disabled list was a refreshing sight for a team that came into the season believing he’d be one of its biggest bats. After all, Garcia was excellent in 2017, an All-Star campaign for him that saw him with some of the best hitting statistics in the American League.

But even with those good numbers, there were plenty of questions about where Garcia stood in the rebuilding White Sox long-term future. After a long wait for that breakout season, was it going to be the new normal or a one-hit wonder? He’s got just two more seasons of team control left, and there are a ton of outfield prospects developing behind him in the minor leagues.

His admittedly slow start this year didn’t help clarify anything: He returned to action with a .233/.250/.315 slash line, a far cry from the .330/.380/.506 line he finished with last season.

So now he’s back, and the “prove it” season resumes. He’s got time left to show the White Sox he can fend off challenges from the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Micker Adolfo and all the rest. Getting back on the field is the first step in doing that.

“Be healthy and play hard like I’ve been playing all my career,” Garcia said Friday. “Just trying stay healthy, do my routine and do my best to help my team win.

“My knee is good. My hamstring is good. I have no pain in my body right now. I feel great, great and focused and trying to compete every single day.”

The injury — injuries, it turns out — certainly didn’t help. After the hamstring strain he suffered turned out to be a tad more significant than originally believed, he suffered a separate knee injury during his recovery that kept him on the shelf a while longer.

But Garcia showed that maybe his bat is ready to come back to life during his rehab at Triple-A Charlotte. He slashed an eye-popping .360/.429/.840 with three home runs, three doubles and nine RBIs in just seven games.

No one’s expecting that kind of production now that he’s back at the major league level. But plenty of fans and observers are expecting a lot who is still young enough to warrant consideration for a spot on the White Sox next contending team. He’s got the advantage of already playing at the big league level to show off for all the decision makers.

But there’s no doubt that it’s a stacked group behind him. Jimenez, the third-ranked prospect in baseball, was just promoted to Triple-A. A trio of high-performing outfielders — Basabe, Alex Call and Joel Booker — just got bumped up to Double-A. And perhaps the most exciting group of all — Robert, Rutherford, Adolfo and Luis Gonzalez — are all playing together at Class A Winston-Salem.

That’s an awful lot of young, inexpensive depth to contend with in the discussion for how the White Sox should align their outfield of the future. But Garcia can still stay in that discussion by doing one thing: hitting. His quest to turn his season around starts now.

After Reynaldo Lopez said White Sox 'looked like clowns' in Cleveland, Rick Renteria fine with his pitcher's comments

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USA TODAY

After Reynaldo Lopez said White Sox 'looked like clowns' in Cleveland, Rick Renteria fine with his pitcher's comments

The White Sox are on a seven-game losing streak and are 25 games below .500.

It’s perhaps no surprise that the losses have piled up in a season that was always going to be about player development and advancing the rebuilding effort. Rick Hahn didn’t call this the hardest part of the rebuild for nothing.

But losing is fun for no one, and to be in the midst of such results on an everyday basis can unsurprisingly cause frustration to build.

The most verbalized display of that frustration to date came earlier this week, when at the end of a sweep at the hands of the division-rival Cleveland Indians, pitcher Reynaldo Lopez said he and his teammates “looked like clowns.”

“It’s unacceptable for us to look the way we looked today,” Lopez told reporters, including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, through a translator after Wednesday’s 12-0 loss in Cleveland. “Nobody is happy about the way we looked today. Honestly, we looked like clowns there, starting with me. But I know we can do better. It’s a matter of us to keep grinding, improving and working hard.”

Calling the people you work with “clowns” might cause some problems in the average workplace. But the leader of this team, manager Rick Renteria, was fine with what Lopez said and complimented him for making the comments, not a dissimilar reaction to the one he had after veteran pitcher James Shields said he didn’t care about the rebuild and wanted to win now earlier this season.

“Good for him,” Renteria said of Lopez on Friday. “I think he was just speaking what everybody was probably sensing. I think nobody was hiding it. I think the players knew it. I think we addressed it a little bit. You know, when the pitcher comes out — I mean, he took accountability for himself, that’s one of the things we were talking about, that’s a good thing.

“I think when these guys express themselves to each other and make it known that we expect certain things and we’re not doing those things and we want to get back to what we’ve always preached.

“I think they’re all accountable. They look in the mirror. They understand, I believe, that he was speaking from a place of trying to get us back to understanding that there’s a level of play that you expect, there’s a level of focus and concentration that you’re looking to have, and it’s the only way you have a chance in order to compete.

“I mean, you’re playing against some of the best teams in the game of baseball. You need to have that focus and concentration in order to give yourself a chance. He just made it known.”

As Renteria kept saying, Lopez was just as hard on himself, and he had a right to be. He allowed five runs on six hits and four walks in just 4.1 innings. Surely he’d be happy to avoid the Indians again this season: In two starts against them, he’s allowed 11 earned runs on 14 hits over seven innings.

But he wasn’t alone in Wednesday’s ugliness. The offense mustered only two hits in the shutout, Yoan Moncada committed another fielding error, and the bullpen allowed seven more runs, six of them charged to Bruce Rondon.

Similar vocalizations of this team’s frustrations have come from the likes of Hahn, Renteria and Shields. But now it’s coming from one of the young players who are the reason for this organization’s bright future. Lopez has pitched as well as any White Sox pitcher this season, and he figures to be in the mix for a spot in the team’s rotation of the future.

“I think it speaks volumes for him,” Renteria said. “You can’t be scared to voice what you believe is, in your opinion, something that you’re viewing, especially (about) yourself. And then you can direct it, if you need to, to the rest of the club. And I think he did a nice job. I thought he did it very respectfully, to be honest.”

The level of talent on this roster obviously isn’t what the White Sox hope it will be in the coming years, and because of the development happening in the minor leagues, many of the big league team’s current players aren’t expected to be around when things transition from rebuilding to contending.

But the attitude and identity that made “Ricky’s boys don’t quit” a rallying cry is still expected to be on display every day. It’s hard to find that kind of thing in a 12-0 loss.

Of course these players don’t want to lose, and Lopez’s comments are a way of saying that. Hence why the manager of the supposed no-quit boys was happy to hear them.