White Sox

Walk talk: He's not gonna take it

Walk talk: He's not gonna take it

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 3:52 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT The Chicago White Sox opened the season on fire, pounding out 23 runs in their first two games and 40 in the first five. In the last 11 games, the Sox are hitting just .201 with 32 runs scored.

Pardon hitting coach Greg Walker for being a little irritated at not being chatted up when times were good and being under fire since theyve turned.

Actually, our scuffles are way overblown, Walker said. Were averaging five 4.7, in fact runs a game . Were fourth in the league in runs scored. Weve got a couple of high-profile guys who havent got going yet. One of them got operated on a week ago actually April 6. Im not worried. Were good. Were averaging five runs a game and we got two of our big boys not even started. Im just sort of sick of the negative s---, I really am. Were not that bad.

Overall, the White Sox are hitting .251, with a tumbling .710 OPS. Just two regulars, Carlos Quentin (1.107) and Paul Konerko (.943) are producing beyond expectations so far.

Both Walker and manager Ozzie Guillen have pointed to the fearsome starting pitching the White Sox have faced over the past week as a reason for the offensive cooling.

We faced the toughest pitching, Walker said. You media said that, and you guys are smart. Sit down and figure out who is going to be pitching in the All-Star Game Have we faced any of them? Or all of them? Were good. Were doing good. Weve scored more runs off these tough guys than anyone else is doing off any of them. We have had a tough stretch against tough pitching. We scored some runs off them. Were battling. Were not giving them away.

Guillen is fond of praising the offenses battling, as well, often citing long at-bats that may even end in an out. But there is a fallacy in the facing aces argumentits Chicagos poor showing against them that helps build their cases as aces.

Rallying behind the offense is fine and predictable, but to round up everyone the White Sox are facing, including raw rookie Tyler Chatwood of the Los Angeles Angels, is disingenuous. Even Walker realizes there are some limits.

Theres been one game where I was disappointed in our focus and effort, the second game against Anaheim vs. Chatwood on April 16, he said. Other than that, our guys have been there battling, got a couple high profile guys scuffling a bit. But overall, were scoring runs. Were doing fine. When we do get everyone healthy overall, I dont look at this as being a negative situation as its been portrayed. I dont see it that way.

Dunns Feel

Adam Dunn is first on the list of White Sox fans concerns, first because of his health (due to his April 6 appendectomy), second due to his struggles at the plate since.

Ive been up, and Ive been down, the affable slugger said. It will even itself out.

Dunn has 22 strikeouts and carries a .620 OPS into Saturdays action. His .293 on-base percentage is nearly 100 points worse than his .380 career mark, an indication the DH is pressing. Last year, Dunn swung (and missed) at many more pitches, in a situation he ascribed to the Washington Nationals anemic offense. Through the first three weeks of the season, Dunn when healthy has been pressing, clearly indicated by his poor OBP.

Hey, the guy was a dominant force until he had an appendectomy, Walker said. Hes had, what, six, seven, eight days back? Sit around and watch. Hell be fine.

Dunn struggled to elucidate on his slump, saying that he just didnt have the feel at the plate hes used to. He pointed to his seventh inning, second-to-last at-bat in Fridays loss to the Tigers as a good one despite the foul pop out to second baseman Ramon Santiago, while his final plate appearance (a K vs. Jose Valverde in the ninth) as expletive.

Walker sees the same thing, although he ascribes it to poor timing and direction by Dunn.

His timing is off, Walker said, insistently. Hes a big man. Hes got a lot of moving parts. Hes got to get his timing back. Because his timing is off, Hes been getting beat and cheating, trying to get the fastball. When he starts hitting fastballs, watch out, because a lot of people are going to pay.

Dunn said that despite his hitting woes being a feel thing, there is some stuff Walk sees that the two work on together. But mostly, the gentle giant knows its a matter of him getting his own act together.

You never can tell when the switch flips, he said. Its not always a solid gapper or a home run. Last year, it clicked for me when I took a pitch for a ball. Then I drew a walk, and I was off to the races.

Feeling more and more comfortable, Dunn nonetheless warns of expecting too much, too soon.

Baby steps, brother, he said, laughing in self-deprecation. Ive got to hit the ball first. But Im getting there.

Fond memories of Motown

It was last AugustAugust 4, the rookie will remind youthat Chris Sale walked into the clubhouse for the first time as a member of the Chicago White Sox. And it was hereno, a few locker stalls over, the rookie is quick to point outthat Sales legend began.

Detroit is definitely a special place, the first ballpark I walked into as a major-leaguer, Sale said, recalling with a laugh at how green he was just a summer ago.

Konerko was walking him through all getaway day protocols, Sale recalled, but otherwise, his call-up was just a blur.

On the plane ride I didnt sleep a wink, he chuckled. I must have gone to the bathroom six times. My mind was going a mile a minute. Everything was going so fast.

Sale didnt make his major-league debut until the next series of the road trip, August 6 in Baltimoreone of just three poor outings he had of his 21 appearances in 2010). But the southpaw had no concrete expectations upon entering Comerica Park.

Every scenario was going through my mind on the way to Detroit, he recalled. But once I made it here, I was just excited to be pitching for the White Sox in a major league game.

He knew no one on the White Sox at the time, and took out his checkbook to tip the clubhouse attendants on getaway day. Now, hes part of the fabric of the team, so much so that Edwin Jackson interrupted the start of our interview to introduce himself as Sales new agent, and Chris doesnt speak on Saturdays.

Sale laughs at how far hes come in the gamealthough still designated as a rookie and with just 29 career appearances under his beltplayfully poking me jokingly on the shoulder on reflection: Now, its all just easy for me!

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

Dallas Keuchel apologizes in wake of Astros' sign-stealing scandal: 'I personally am sorry'

Dallas Keuchel apologizes in wake of Astros' sign-stealing scandal: 'I personally am sorry'

Dallas Keuchel started his White Sox tenure with an apology.

Keuchel said he was sorry Friday, the first player to do so in the aftermath of baseball busting Keuchel’s former club, the Houston Astros, for using technology to steal signs during their run to a world championship in 2017.

Keuchel didn’t get into too many specifics, nor did he reveal whether he played any kind of role in the Astros’ process of relaying the signs of opposing catchers via a center field camera and a monitor near the dugout, then alerting teammates to what sort of pitch was coming by banging on a trashcan in the dugout.

But he did apologize, doing so, perhaps, in an effort to speak for that group of players who have been the subject of much discussion since Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were fired earlier this month.

“I think, first and foremost, I think apologies should be in order,” Keuchel said before the opening ceremonies of SoxFest at McCormick Place. “When the stuff was going on, it was never intended to be what it’s made to be right now. I think when stuff comes out about some things that happen during the course of a big league ball season, it’s always blown up to the point of, ‘Oh my gosh, this has never happened before.’

“I’m not going to go into specific detail, but during the course of the playoffs in ‘17, everybody was using multiple signs. For factual purposes, when there’s nobody on base, when in the history of Major League Baseball has there been multiple signs? You can go back and watch film of every team in the playoffs, there were probably six out of eight teams with multiple signs. It’s just what the state of baseball was at that point in time.

“Was (what the Astros did) against the rules? Yes, it was, and I personally am sorry for what’s come about, the whole situation. But it is what it is, and we’ve got to move past that. I never thought anything would’ve come like it did, and I, myself, feel sorry. But you’ve got to move on.”

While no players have been punished for their roles in what happened in 2017, it remains somewhat head-scratching as to why the uber-talented Astros thought they even needed to do this sort of thing to reach the top of the baseball mountain.

Keuchel said Friday that sometimes the sign-stealing did give the Astros an edge and sometimes it didn't.

"To the extent of the whole situation back then, I can tell you that not every game there was signs being stolen," he said. "Some guys did a really good job. And sometimes we did as a group have signs, but we still couldn't hit the pitcher. So it wasn't like every game we had everything going on so at that point that's when the whole system, it really works a little bit, but at the same time there was a human element where some guys were better than our hitters."

In addition to offering up his own apology, Keuchel ever so briefly weighed in on the still-hot-button topic of whether former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers was right to act as a whistleblower and reveal details of the sign-stealing to the commissioner.

"That's a tough subject because it's such a tight-knit community in the clubhouse and in baseball, especially," Keuchel said. "You're playing 162 games, at least, in the regular season, plus spring training and then maybe in the playoffs, if you're lucky. So you're pushing 185 to 200 games (with each other), and it sucks to the extent of that the clubhouse rule was broken. And that's where I'll go with that. I don't have much else to say about Mike."

As for where things go from here, that remains to be seen. The Boston Red Sox remain under investigation for allegations of similar behavior during their run to a World Series title a year later. Alex Cora was the bench coach with the 2017 Astros and the manager of the 2018 Red Sox, and though baseball has not levied any specific punishment toward him yet, the Red Sox fired him. Carlos Beltran, the only player from the 2017 Astros mentioned in commissioner Rob Manfred's summary of the investigation, was fired from his briefly held post as the manager of the New York Mets.

"There are a lot of people who are sorry in that organization, including myself, for what happened," he said. "Do pitchers benefit from any of that? I mean, not really. But at the same time, we might've had a few runs more per game.

"In my instance, I did not. I was actually pretty mad about that, I didn't really enjoy that sometimes, but it is what it is and it just happened to come out that Mike said something and who knows.

"I don't think anybody else is going to come out and say anything from other teams. They see what happens now."

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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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