White Sox

Sox spring surprises have international flavor

Sox spring surprises have international flavor

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Posted 6:17 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Coming into camp, everyone knew there would be few open roster spots for the Chicago White Sox this Cactus League season. The steady climb toward a healthy opener by Jake Peavy alone evaporates one open spot.

So by any count, there are two spots open. One comes in the bullpen, as pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Ozzie Guillen lobby every year against more pragmatic GM Ken Williams for a 12th pitcher on the roster even breaking camp, when off-days create a bit more rest for everyone. The second resides on the bench, where Omar Vizquel, Mark Teahen, and Ramon Castro provide a bit of flexibility, allowing the team to potentially select the best player for 25th man, rather than the best roster fit.

Guillen hasnt been shy in admitting he hasnt seen many standouts among his bubble players, but two names keep coming to his mind when asked to assess players in camp, even this early on: Dayan Viciedo and Shane Lindsay.

The Tank is rolling

Viciedo fractures thumb

When the reports came earlier this year that the acquisition of Adam Dunn would push Cuban bonus baby Viciedo to the outfield, Guillen cracked a joke about giving the heavy youngster a golf cart to get out to right field every inning.

Unfortunately, Viciedo wasnt able to get out of the way of a Dave Bush pitch in the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers on Thursday and he will miss 3-4 weeks with a fractured right thumb.

While hes effectively out of the running for a roster spot when the team breaks camp, it doesnt diminish what the Tank did to put himself in position for one.

In Viciedos first moments on the field, heading out to the field on March 1 vs. the Milwaukee Brewers, he held up the game by lollygagging his way out to right. But on the first play of the game, Rickie Weeks hit a screaming meemie over Viciedos head. Viciedo merely chased it down with a nice, over-the-shoulder catch.

Thats natural, Viciedo said. Natural instinct.

Indeed, if there was a single player who has opened Guillens eyes this spring, it was the 22-year-old. And finally arriving at a set position might be the biggest factor as to why.

Much is being said of the game of musical chairs the Tank has played since signing with Chicago in 2008.

Guillen admits, When we got this guy, he was an outfielder in Cuba, thats what he told me. For some reason, we put him at third base. I said, Well, thats what we got a third baseman. Hopefully this year we finally have got him in one position. Hes played only a couple years in baseball, and we moved him from third base to first base, first base to third base -- thats not easy. Hes handled it very well.

Viciedo wasnt frustrated at all about being shuttled from position to position.

Im relaxed about it. Its a positive for me; it shows me how important I am to the team, Viciedo said. Most of all, I want to help us win.

The right fielder admits its been an adjustment moving to the outfield -- but not as much as youd think.

I feel comfortable, he said. Now that Ive got more practice out there, Im able to feel comfortable out there so I feel good. The hardest thing is keeping up with the pitchers and what they are going to pitch in order to know and make adjustments during the game. You pretty much have to keep moving, just to play out scenarios of where the ball might land.

When you play third base, every pitch you have to be on-point because something might be coming toward you. You have to be attentive. When you are in the outfield, you might get a fly ball every once in a while. You might have a dribble coming out there. You are not as intense in your concentration as much as you would be at third.

Guillen has said that the positive reports coming from the teams outfield coaches, including Harold Baines, Daryl Boston and Devon White have opened his eyes to the possibility of the Tank roaming in right at U.S. Cellular Field.

Hes playing RF very well, better than what we thought, Guillen said. I got good feedback on him playing in the outfield. I was pretty excited about what I heard. Hes going to have a lot of big league time.

Viciedo is quick to praise the White Sox coaching staff for his fast success in the outfield, including two assists (a punchout at third base vs. the Brewers, and a bullet thrown home to nail a Colorado Rocky at the plate this past Tuesday).

Theyve been helping me out quite a bit, Viciedo said. I work out with them a lot. Ive been learning. All of this practicing is what is really helping me out.

Viciedo has also benefited from the tutelage of one of Cubas greatest outfielders, Victor Mesa (a superstar on the island and in international competition from 1978-95), who was one of the young players managers and mentors.

I really looked up to him, Viciedo said. He was a great center fielder, so a lot of what I learned playing the outfield actually came from him. I picked up a lot of stuff from him and looked up to him.
Dayan Viciedo played outfield in Cuba, but has been shifted from third base to first base and back again with the White Sox. Manager Ozzie Guillen hopes that letting Viciedo settle in to right field will be beneficial for his development. (AP)
Guillen has also been quick to acknowledge that this is the first of Viciedos three spring trainings with the White Sox where the slugger has reported in top condition.

One thing has helped him: Hes showed up to camp in shape, Guillen said. Thats helped him develop his game because he doesnt have to worry about getting in shape and get on a scale every other day.

While I was in Miami this offseason, I worked on a diet, Viciedo said. I had a strong diet regimen. I trained in the gym really hard just to be prepared for this. I trained a lot harder. I dont want to be known as the chubby boy -- I want to be known as the strong guy.

While this might be the first story ever written about Viciedo that doesnt lead with and primarily focus on his mammoth power and vicious line drives, its a sign of how far hes risen in the organization that the conversation no longer starts and ends with him as a scale-tipping future DH.

So its not only a spring thats been marked with solid defense in right and a 1.024 OPS through his first six games thats won over team brass; its his entire approach to the game. Guillen has seen enough from the youngster to feel comfortable in letting him find his own way.

We should just let him go; do whatever you want to do, he said. We tried to fix the kid and it doesnt work. Let him swing the bat and do what hes supposed to do. Were better off that way.

We all know he can hit, says teammate and fellow Cuban Alexei Ramirez, who has served as a bit of a big brother to Viciedo. But look what hes doing now, challenging for a spot on the team and helping us in many ways. Hes a very different player than before.

Relief from Down Under

Much lesser known than Viciedo, who was in the majors at age 21, is Lindsay -- the darkhorse candidate for the bullpens final spot. Lindsay hails from Australia but has pitched in the minors for six seasons.

It took six days for Guillen even to mention his name, but if theres one hurler from the nameless masses shooting up the depth chart, its Lindsay. Counting last weeks B-game, the Australian reliever has finished up three games with three hitless, scoreless innings and five Ks.

I try not to worry about what the coaches are thinking, you know, he said. I just try to throw strikes and the rest will take care of itself. Im not worried too much. Ill do my head in if I keep thinking about that impressing people.

Lindsay isnt just rocking his surfer look and speaking in an incongruous Aussie accent as part of some sweet exchange program; hes embarked on a serious pitch to make his major-league debut with the White Sox in April. While some pitchers arrive at spring training to begin their hard work toward the season, Lindsay hasnt let up after amassing a 5.80 ERA in 33 Double- and Triple-A games for the Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians in 2010.

Cooper and I worked on a slider, and also allowing me to get the ball down and repeating my delivery, basically, Lindsay said. I was working big on rhythm and tempo in the offseason, and the White Sox added to that. Weve worked on hand placement and hand position.

Guillen has been impressed with Lindsay and is unafraid to throw out his name as a possible 12th man in the pen. With four power arms in Matt Thornton, Chris Sale, Sergio Santos and Jesse Crain at the back end of the pen, lefty specialist Will Ohman and multi-inning hurler Tony Pena in the mix, the need the club would have for another long reliever is mitigated.

We have so many guys right now that its very hard to point at somebody, Guillen said after Wednesdays loss to the San Francisco Giants. But Lindsay threw very hard once again.

Credit Lindsay for his focus: Hes had great success in the lower minors (3.32 ERA over 271 13 innings in all pro ball but Triple-A) but knows the biggest challenge of his career lays out in front of him over the next three weeks.

You know, there are a lot of other guys in this clubhouse who all want the job, Lindsay said. Im not trying to think about it at all. The coaches will worry about that. Ill give myself a headache thinking about who they should take. Thats not my job.

As for Lindsays actual job -- getting hitters out -- hes been all but perfect. If he can keep that up for another 10 outings or so, hes going to have some long flights to order up for family when he makes his major-league debut in Cleveland.

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

Happy Birthday, Big Hurt! 50 Frank Thomas dates and fun facts for his 50th birthday

frank_thomas.jpg
AP

Happy Birthday, Big Hurt! 50 Frank Thomas dates and fun facts for his 50th birthday

May 27, 1968 – Frank Thomas born in Columbus, Georgia

June 5, 1989 – Frank Thomas drafted 7th overall (out of Auburn) in first round of 1989 MLB Draft

August 2, 1990 – MLB Debut – 0 for 4 with RBI at Milwaukee (Game 1 of doubleheader).  First PA was flyout vs Teddy Higuera. Knocked in GW run with a fielder’s choice off Randy Veres in top of 9th.

August 3, 1990 – First Major League hit – a 2-run triple off Mark Knudson in 7th inning at Milwaukee

August 28, 1990 – First career HR.  Solo HR at Metrodome off Gary Wayne in 9th inning

September 27, 1990 – First career Major League home run in Chicago (at Comiskey Park)

September 28, 1990 – Thomas hits the last White Sox home run at old Comiskey Park (off Randy Johnson)

June 24, 1991 – First career Grand Slam – off Michael Jackson of Mariners at New Comiskey Park

July 15, 1991 – First career multi-HR game – both off Mike Gardiner of the Red Sox at New Comiskey Park

September 28, 1991 – 128th walk of season, breaking Lu Blue’s club record set 60 years prior.  Thomas finished with 138.

September 16, 1992 – Lone career 5-hit game (in this game, Don Mattingly took a handful of some kid’s popcorn on a pop foul by Tim Raines)

August 31, 1993 – 100th career HR – off Sterling Hitchcock at Yankee Stadium

September 1, 1993 – 38th HR of season (at Yankee Stadium off Scott Kamieniecki), setting a new White Sox record (breaking record previously held by Dick Allen & Carlton Fisk)

September 5, 1993 – 40th HR of season – first player in White Sox history to reach 40.  Thomas finished with 41.

October 5, 1993 – First career postseason game.  He reached base 5 times. (1 for 1 with 4 walks) in Game 1 of 1993 ALCS vs Blue Jays at New Comiskey Park

October 9, 1993 – First career postseason home run.  Game 4 of 1993 ALCS vs Blue Jays at Skydome off Todd Stottlemyre

November 10, 1993 – Thomas named American League MVP by the BBWAA

April 19, 1994 – Home Run for the 5th straight game.  It’s the first of two 5-game HR streaks in 1994

May 29, 1994 – Home Run for the 5th straight game.  It’s his second 5-game HR streak of the season.

October 26, 1994 – Thomas named American League MVP by the BBWAA for the second straight season

July 10, 1995 – Won 1995 Home Run Derby at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas

July 11, 1995 – First All-Star Home Run in White Sox history (at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas)

March 31, 1996 – Frank Thomas hits the first regular season home run in March in MLB history (off Randy Johnson)

May 15, 1996 – Career-high 6 RBI (first of two times he did it) in 20-8 win vs Brewers in Milwaukee

June 9, 1996 – 200th career HR – off Jimmy Haynes at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

September 15, 1996 – first career 3-HR game (all three off Tim Wakefield); the first of which is career HR #215, passing Carlton Fisk for most HR in White Sox history  

May 20, 1997 – Thomas reaches base for the 15th straight plate appearance (HR, 1B, BB, 2B, 2B, BB, 1B, BB, 1B, 1B, 1B, 1B, 2B, BB, BB)

July 14, 1998 – First career walkoff HR (off Rick Aguilera of the Twins)

June 15, 1999 – Extended his hitting streak to 21 games – a career-best.  He reached base 44 times during the 21-game stretch (33 hits, 10 walks, 1 HBP)

August 7, 1999 – 300th career HR – off Kevin Appier at the Oakland Coliseum

July 15, 2000 – Career-high 6 RBI (second of two times he did it) in 15-7 win vs Cardinals at New Comiskey Park

July 23, 2002 – 495’ home run off Johan Santana in Chicago.  His longest home run at New Comiskey Park/Guaranteed Rate Field

July 2, 2003 – Second career Walkoff HR – off Eddie Guardado of the Twins

July 25, 2003 – 400th career HR – off Jorge Sosa of the Rays at US Cellular Field

August 4, 2003  - 2,000th career hit – a home run off Nate Field of the Royals at US Cellular Field

August 18, 2003 – Third career Walkoff HR – off Jarrod Washburn of the Angels

July 18, 2005 – 448th and final home run in a White Sox uniform (448 remains a franchise record)

July 20, 2005 – Last game in a White Sox uniform.  He went 1 for 4 (single off Nate Robertson) in 8-6 loss vs Tigers at US Cellular Field

May 22, 2006 – First game AGAINST the White sox.  He homers twice at US Cellular Field (2 solo HR off Jon Garland) but the White Sox win 5-4

July 6, 2006 – Fourth and final career walkoff HR (only one not in a White Sox uniform).  With Oakland A’s off Scot Shields of the Angels

September 11, 2006 – Home Run for the sixth straight game (with the Oakland A’s); his career-long streak

October 3, 2006 – His lone career postseason multi-HR game.  In his first postseason game not in a White Sox uniform (with A’s – vs Twins at Metrodome)

June 28, 2007 – 500th career HR (with Blue Jays – off Carlos Silva at the Metrodome)

September 17, 2007 – Second of 2 career 3-HR games.  This game was with Toronto Blue Jays.  Tim Wakefield allowed the first 2 (Wakefield allowed all 3 of his HR 9/15/1996)

August 9, 2008 – 521st and final career HR (with Oakland A’s) – off Armando Galarraga at Comerica Park

August 29, 2008 – Final MLB game – he went 2 for 4 vs Twins at the Oakland Coliseum.  His final hit was off Kevin Slowey; final plate appearance was strikeout vs Craig Breslow

February 12, 2010 – Held press conference at US Cellular Field to formally announce his retirement

August 29, 2010 – White Sox retire #35 on Frank Thomas Day at US Cellular Field

January 8, 2014 – Thomas elected to the Hall of Fame

July 27, 2014 – Inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa & Joe Torre

 

 

 

50 Frank Thomas fun facts

 

  1. 521 career Home Runs.

Tied for 20th in MLB history with Willie McCovey & Ted Williams

One of 27 players in MLB history with 500+ Home Runs

 

  1. Thomas had 11 career grand slams

 

  1. 7 extra-inning home runs is a White Sox franchise record.

 

  1. Thomas holds the White Sox season record for both

Home runs at home (30 in 2000)

Home Runs on the road (25 in 1995)

 

  1. Thomas homered against every MLB team except the Pirates

 

  1. Thomas homered more against the Twins (52 HR) than any other team

 

  1. Thomas had 2 career pinch hit home runs.  Both times he pinch hit for pitchers.  Jim Parque & Luis Vizcaino

 

  1. Thomas hit 3 triples before he hit his first Major League home run.

He’s one of two 500-HR club members with 3 or more triples before hitting his first HR.  The other one is Reggie Jackson (4 triples before first HR)

 

  1. Thomas had 3 triples in his first 17 MLB games.

Thomas had 9 triples in his remaining 2,305 MLB games.

 

  1. Thomas was born the same day as Jeff Bagwell.   They both won 1994 MVP awards.

 

  1. Thomas (1993-94) was the first to win American League MVP in consecutive seasons since Roger Maris in 1960-61.  Only Miguel Cabrera (2012-13) has done it since.

 

  1. Thomas’s .419 career On-Base percentage is the best by any right-handed hitter alive (with at least 100 career Major League plate apperances).

 

  1. His last 162 games in a White Sox uniform:  .254/.387/.566, 104 Runs, 47 Home Runs, 121 RBI

 

  1. Thomas (the White Sox 1989 first round pick) and Alex Fernandez (the White Sox 1990 first round pick)

made their Major League debuts in the same game (August 2, 1990 – game 1 of doubleheader at Milwaukee)

 

  1. Frank Thomas had 9 seasons with 100 Runs, 100 RBI and 100 Walks.  Only three players had more.

Babe Ruth (11), Lou Gehrig (11) and Barry Bonds (10)

 

  1. 521 career HR x 4 bases per HR x 90 feet per base = 187,560 feet.  Or roughly 35.52 Miles.  Thomas’s #35 is retired by the White Sox.

 

  1. Thomas collected his 500th career home run the same day Craig Biggio collected his 3,000th career hit.  June 28, 2007

 

  1. Thomas collected his 300th career home run the same day Wade Boggs collected his 3,000th career hit.  August 7, 1999

 

  1. Thomas hit the last White Sox home run at Old Comiskey Park (9/28/1990) and the first White Sox home run at New Comiskey Park (4/22/1991)

 

  1. Thomas also had the first White Sox home run at five other parks.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards (5/8/1992), Progressive Field (7/21/1994), Rangers Ballpark (5/13/1994), Tropicana Field (4/4/1998) & Minute Maid Park (6/2/2000)

 

  1. In 14 career games on his birthday, Thomas hit .468/.583/.766 with 2 HR, 10 RBI, 22 Hits & 13 Walks

 

  1. From 1951-present, 1,109 players have appeared in at least one game with the White Sox**  One has won a batting title for the White Sox.  Frank Thomas (.347 in 1997)

(prior to Thomas, Luke Appling won two batting titles – 1936 & 1943.  His last game with the Sox was 1950)

                **through May 24, 2018

 

  1. In 1997, Frank Thomas hit .417/.524/.748 in 185 PA with RISP.

He had 39 walks.  Only 14 strikeouts.

 

  1. Frank Thomas had 3 receptions for 45 yards as a Tight End for Auburn’s football team in 1986

 

  1. Thomas’s #35 is retired by the White Sox, but his first career Major League hit came while wearing #15.

 

  1. Had a hit off Charlie Hough (born 1/5/1948) & Felix Hernández (born 4/8/1986)

 

  1. In Thomas’s first 8 MLB seasons (1,076 games), he hit .330/.452/.600 with 879 walks and only 582 strikeouts.  And a 177 wRC+  Mike Trout is in his 8th MLB season.  His career wRC+ is 170

 

  1. Thomas is one of six players in MLB history with 500+ Home Runs and .300 BA, .400 OBP & .500 SLG. The others: Babe Ruth, Manny Ramírez, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams & Mel Ott

 

  1. Prior to joining the White Sox, Frank Thomas had 112 walks in 109 games with Birmingham in 1990

 

  1. Joe DiMaggio had 361 career home runs.  Frank Thomas had 361 career home runs… against right-handed pitchers alone.

 

  1. Frank Thomas had more career stolen bases (32) than Joe DiMaggio (30)

 

  1. Thomas homered in 28 different MLB ballparks, off 336 different pitchers.

 

  1. The most home runs Thomas hit off a pitcher was 9 off Mike Mussina.

30 hits is the most by Thomas off any pitcher during his career

 

  1. 9 of Thomas’s home runs were off pitchers currently in the Hall of Fame.

5 off Randy Johnson, 2 off Jack Morris, 1 off Pedro Martínez, 1 off Goose Gossage.

 

  1. Thomas homered off 17 different pitchers who won a Cy Young award

(Clemens, Colón, Cone, Hentgen, Hershiser, R. Johnson, P. Martínez, McDowell, Sabathia, Saberhagen, Santana, Sutcliffe, Valenzuela, Viola, Webb, Welch & Zito)

 

  1. Thomas homered off 6 pitchers who threw a perfect game

(Mark Buehrle, David Cone, Dennis Martínez, Kenny Rogers, David Wells & Randy Johnson)

 

  1. Thomas had 1,704 career RBI. 

He drove himself in 521 times.

He drove in exactly 100 different teammates

Most often driven in?  Ray Durham (184 times)

 

  1. 1,047 players had at least 100 career plate appearances at old Comiskey Park.  Frank Thomas had the best on-base percentage of all of them

(.510 OBP in 102 PA)

 

  1. Thomas had a 52-game on-base streak to begin 1996… the streak was 57 games if you included the last 5 games of 1995.

 

  1. In his first 162 career MLB games, Frank Thomas reached base 313 times.

He hit .317/.449/.532 with 110 Runs, 27 HR, 106 RBI, 134 BB, 132 K, 3 HBP

 

  1. Frank Thomas has 5 of the 12 seasons of at least 40 home runs in White Sox history.  Nobody else has more than two. 

 

  1. A Double in his 149th career plate appearance (in his 39th career MLB game) put his career batting average at .303.  That career batting average never fell under .300 again.

 

  1. Frank Thomas has the most career HR by a player named Frank Thomas (521); which is 235 more than the other Frank Thomas, who was the Frank Thomas who played his final MLB game in a Chicago Uniform (5/30/1966 – with the Cubs).

 

  1. Frank Thomas’s first career grand slam (6/24/1991) scored two future Hall of Famers (Thomas & Tim Raines) and two future White Sox managers (Ozzie Guillen & Robin Ventura)

 

  1. Four position players were picked ahead of Frank Thomas in the 1989 MLB Draft.  Two never reached the Majors (Jeff Jackson & Paul Coleman) and the other two combined for 65 career home runs (Tyler Houston & Donald Harris).

 

  1. 508 players had at least 1,000 plate appearances during the 1990s.  Of those 508 the top two in on-base percentage were Frank Thomas (.440) and Barry Bonds (.434)

 

  1. Thomas hit .322/.448/.635 career vs lefties

 

  1. Thomas is the only player in White Sox history with multiple 5-game home run streaks.  Both were in 1994.

 

  1. In 38 career plate appearances against Bartolo Colón, Thomas hit .483/.605/.828 with 2 HR, 14 hits & 9 walks

 

  1. Besides his 448 HR, Thomas also is the White Sox franchise career leader in Runs (1,327), Doubles (447), RBI (1,465), Walks (1,466), OBP (.427 – min 1,500 PA) & SLG (.568 – min 1,500 PA)

The White Sox turned Comerica Park into a Home Run Derby in Saturday's win

The White Sox turned Comerica Park into a Home Run Derby in Saturday's win

Chicks dug the White Sox on Saturday.

The South Siders hit four home runs in their 8-3 dismantling of the Tigers at Comerica Park. Tim Anderson stayed red-hot with a pair of long balls, Jose Abreu went deep in addition to his pair of doubles, and Daniel Palka made some interesting history with his long ball (see below).

We'll let our stat guru Chris Kamka take it from here.

Since their 10-29 start the White Sox are a respectable 6-4. Days at the plate like Saturday sure help.