White Sox

Sox stuck in a rut as skid reaches seven games

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Sox stuck in a rut as skid reaches seven games

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 8:15 p.m. Updated: 9:39 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. The lifeless Chicago White Sox have fallen, and they seem unable to get up.

Manager Ozzie Guillen, flummoxed by the free-fall his club has suffered after battering foes in the first week of the season, is running out of choices. Hes lazy-susaned his bullpen, tetrised his batting order, argued calls for the sake of arguing, and tipped his cap to opposing aces.

In contrast to his feisty, foul-mouthed persona, Guillen has maintained a confident stance, supportive of his club and proud of the work theyre putting into improving. So if you think after seven straight lifeless losses and some 51 consecutive innings without holding a lead it may be time for the jefe to go Hal McRae on his club, think again.

Im not angry, he said postgame, after first instructing gathered media to just run last nights postgame tape, because his answers would be exactly the same. If we arent fighting, then I would say something, but right now the ball isnt bouncing our way.

Yet another game bounced away, this one in which bonus starter Phil Humber didnt help himself with a number of two-out or two-strike shots in foot.

I was disappointed with a couple of decisions I made with two outs (pitch selection), Humber said. Casey Kotchman, I threw two fastballs right by him, then threw him a curve, and on top of that, threw it right down the middle. It was just one of those things where Id get two out and then Id make a bad pitch, or a bad decision. Its something Ive got to get better at. As far as how I felt, I had good stuff tonight but just didnt make the right pitches at the right time.

Guillen cited Humbers work and that of the bullpen (2 23 scoreless innings from Will Ohman, Tony Pena and Chris Sale), remaining steadfastly behind his Chicago 9.

We are a few inches away from scoring a couple of runs when the Rays catch the ball, he said. I am not going to take any credit away from the Rays, they are playing well. They are playing great defense and the outfield has played very well against us. The one thing about it is they have gotten big hits and we havent.

We have hit a lot of balls hard and the Rays have made great plays, A.J. Pierzynski said. Give the Rays credit for the defense theyve played.

As the 4-1 final indicated, again, that no opponents lead is ever too small against these South Side Hitless Men, who have tallied just nine runs in the last six losses of the streak.

Only one Chisox safety ended up mattering, Carlos Quentins fourth homer of the season. The hulking right fielder continues to blister the ball (1.014 OPS) and has seen 14 of his 21 hits this season fall for extra bases.

Pierzynski was tossed from the game (for saying something not very nice to home plate umpire Brian Knight, according to Guillen) after the catcher grounded out to end the top half of the sixth inning. Although Pierzynski ended Wednesday nights game in the clubhouse, watching it on TV in his skivvies, the feistmeister unyieldingly supports the 2011 All-In Chisox.

We are fighting and clawing. We are doing everything we can, Pierzynski said. Thats the way its going right now. We need to keep fighting, keep our heads up, and do everything we can to try and win.

The pressures on, but the White Sox arent bowing.

If wed won six in a row, wed still want to win today, Humber said. Obviously, we need a winits not fun to go out there and lose, especially a few in a row. But I dont see anybody quitting in here; everybodys getting their work in. The talents going to rise to the top. Were right on the verge of breaking out; its just one of those things. Youve got to battle.

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

Eloy Jimenez has high praise for Luis Robert: 'He's going to be the next Mike Trout'

Eloy Jimenez has high praise for Luis Robert: 'He's going to be the next Mike Trout'

Last spring, Michael Kopech said Eloy Jimenez was the Babe Ruth of this generation. Jimenez returned the favor by calling Kopech this generation's Nolan Ryan.

Well, start blocking out a wing of the Hall of Fame for members of the 2020 White Sox, because we've got another comp for the ages.

Obviously, everyone's very excited to see Luis Robert hit the major leagues. Jimenez is cranking that excitement up to 11.

"Some people are going to call me crazy," he said Friday before SoxFest kicked off at McCormick Place, "but he’s going to be the next Mike Trout.

"He has five tools, and he plays hard like Mike Trout."

Well then.

Trout has long been considered the best baseball player on the planet, someone who's putting up hall of Fame numbers on an annual basis to the extent that folks wonder if he's the best to ever play.

Should Robert come anywhere close to that, White Sox fans will be quite pleased.

Certainly the praise is not entirely unwarranted, with Robert boasting a full toolbox of baseball skills. He's fresh off a 2019 campaign that saw him set the minor leagues on fire: a .328/.376/.624 slash line to go along with 32 home runs, 92 RBIs, 108 runs scored, 31 doubles and 36 stolen bases. Along the way he sent highlight after highlight back to his adoring public on the South Side, clips of him blasting balls into the Charlotte sky, making eye-popping catches and using his blazing speed to great effect.

The defensive skill ought to be especially intriguing to Jimenez, who's going to play next to Robert in the White Sox outfield. But while Jimenez's defensive improvement will continue to be a big focus in 2020, so will Robert's range in center field. Jimenez has a plan, though, if Robert tries to steal away any of his fly balls.

"I’m going to draw a line," Jimenez said with a smile. "If he goes over the line, I’m going to punch him. It’s going to be like that this year."

It was just the minor leagues, of course, but those descriptions aren't terribly dissimilar from the ones frequently assigned to Trout out in Anaheim.

You likely won't hear Rick Hahn or Rick Renteria comparing Robert to the best player in the game, not wanting to put too much pressure on the 22-year-old. Jimenez knows as well as anyone how difficult the transition to the majors can be, even for the most talented athletes in the world. He set the minors ablaze in 2018, only to experience growing pains as opposing pitchers attacked him like a proven veteran.

So seeing something similar from Robert would not be surprising.

"Last year, I was a little bit anxious," Jimenez said, "and I know he’s going to be, too.

"The first year of your contract, you play on Opening Day, it’s going to be a little bit tough for him, too. It’s not going to be (tough) just for him, it’s for anybody who makes the Opening Day roster. It’s a little bit tough because it’s different pitching, it’s different stuff and the pitchers are a lot better at this level.

"He’s going to need someone. But he’s got (Jose) Abreu, he’s got (Yoan) Moncada and he’s got me. So he’s going to be good."

One of the biggest differences between Jimenez's ascent to the major leagues and Robert's is that Robert is joining a White Sox team with playoff expectations. Between the young core that broke out in such a big way last season and all the newcomers Hahn's front office brought in this winter, the White Sox look ready to vault into contention mode. Robert's arrival is a factor in those expectations, too, so while it might seem like the spotlight can be lured away by other players, Jimenez said it will be tough for Robert to adjust to the big leagues in relative obscurity.

"When you have five tools," he said, "everybody’s going to have their eyes on you."

Well put.

If he truly is the next Trout, then he'll never lose that spotlight. Though playing alongside the next Ruth and the next Ryan, a couple fellow future Hall of Famers, ought to help.

That might sound a little crazy, as Jimenez well knows. But he's sticking to that comp.

"You will see."

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Dallas Keuchel apologizes and details Astros' sign-stealing controversy

Dallas Keuchel apologizes and details Astros' sign-stealing controversy

Dallas Keuchel met with media ahead of this weekend's SoxFest, and was asked about the recent sign-stealing scandal that's dominated the offseason. 

Keuchel was drafted by Houston in the 7th round of the 2009 Draft, and spent the first seven seasons of his career there. While with the Astros, Keuchel was one of the best pitchers in baseball, posting a 3.72 FIP and a 12.2% K-BB ratio during his time there. 

He was also apart of the 2017 team that now faces intense scrutiny for their use of technology in stealing signs during the World Series. While players have not faced punishment yet for the scandal, Houston GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were both suspended for a year without pay by MLB and then subsequently fired by the Astros. 

Keuchel signed a 3-year, $55 million contract with the White Sox back in late December.