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.

For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

The White Sox lost Saturday night.

That’s baseball, of course, they’re not all going to be winners. And this rebuilding franchise has seen plenty of losses. But the feelings have been so good of late — whether because of Eloy Jimenez’s 400-foot homers or Lucas Giolito’s Cy Young caliber season to this point or a variety of other positive signs that make the White Sox future so bright — that losing Saturday to the first-place New York Yankees seemed rather sour.

Obviously there will be plenty more losses for this White Sox team before the book closes on the 2019 campaign. Back under .500, these South Siders aren’t expected to reach elite status before all the pieces arrive, and it would be no shock if they’re removed from the playoff race in the American League by the time crunch time rolls around in September.

But don’t tell these White Sox that an 8-4 defeat is a return to reality or a reminder that this team is still a work in progress. Even if, for a lot of players, development is still occurring at the major league level, the “learning experiences” that have been such a large part of the conversation surrounding this team in recent seasons and their daily goal of winning baseball games aren’t mutually exclusive.

“The Yankees are sitting in first place and they lost two games in a row,” catcher James McCann said Saturday night, providing a reminder of how the first two games of this weekend series went. “Just because you're expected to win and expected to be World Series contenders doesn't mean you're not going to lose ballgames. It's how you bounce back.

“And it doesn't mean you're going to win tomorrow, either. It's just, how do you handle a defeat? How do you handle a bad at-bat? How do you handle a bad outing, whatever it may be? But it doesn't mean that we step back and say, ‘Oh, we're back under .500, we're supposed to lose.’

“We expect to win when we show up to the ballpark. You can take learning experiences whether you win or lose. Do I think a game like tonight reminds us we're supposed to be in a rebuilding mode? No. We still expect to win, and we're going to show up tomorrow with that mentality.”

Maybe that’s a description of the much-discussed “learning to win” young teams supposedly need to do on the road to contender status. Maybe that can’t happen until a team figures out how to bounce back from a defeat — until it learns how to lose and how to act in the wake of a loss.

For all McCann’s certainty about the team’s expectations on a daily basis, his explanation was peppered with questions. He said he’s seen the answer to “how do you bounce back?” from this club, and his three-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday night was fairly convincing evidence that the White Sox didn’t use up all their fight just getting back to .500.

So while the White Sox know they won’t win every game — that no team will — they need to know how they handle defeat. Losing, it turns out, might end up being more instructive about when this team is ready to win.

“I think we've done a pretty good job (bouncing back),” McCann said. “You look at the road trip in Houston and Minnesota where we took two out of four from a good Houston team and then played really not very good baseball for three days in Minnesota only to come home and have an extremely good homestand.

“It's the big picture. It's not the very next day. It's not, ‘We've got to bounce back and win.’ It's not a must-win situation in the middle of June. But it's how do you handle yourself? How does a game like tonight, do you show up flat tomorrow and let it snowball into a three-, four-game spiral? Or do you fight?

“And that's what this team's been really good at doing is fighting and not giving in.”

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Eloy Jimenez gets rave review from Yankees All Star: 'He can be a star for all of MLB'

Eloy Jimenez gets rave review from Yankees All Star: 'He can be a star for all of MLB'

The temperature is rising on the South Side, and if you look outside, you know it has nothing to do with Mother Nature.

Instead, it’s a heat wave coming from a fresh-faced 22-year-old slugger who’s crushing baseballs, igniting a fan base and screaming “Hi Mom!” to his actual mother whenever he spots a TV camera with its red light on.

Eloy Jimenez has arrived with the White Sox, and according to a New York Yankees All Star who has known him for years, the best is yet to come.

“Not this year, but next year, he’s going to be even better,” infielder Gleyber Torres said about Jimenez.

The two of them were signed by that team across town in 2013 when they were both 16 years old. They were practically inseparable back then, and they remain tight to this day.

“I talk with Gleyber pretty much every single day now. He’s kind of like my brother,” Jimenez said. “We haven’t lost that communication, and I think that’s good for us.”

Torres echoed similar thoughts about Jimenez.

“In my first couple years with the Cubs, he was my roommate every day. We’ve got a really good relationship. We’re like brothers. We are really good friends,” Torres said. “I’m just happy to see what he’s doing right now.”

Which, lately, has been just about everything.

There was that majestic home run Jimenez belted on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals that landed on the center field concourse at Guaranteed Rate Field, the two walks the next day when the Yankees decided to pitch around Jimenez as if he was a perennial All Star, and then the two-homer game on Friday: The first one gave the White Sox the lead, the second stuck a dagger into the Yankees, as well as the heart of his longtime friend.

“For sure, I didn’t like it,” Torres said with a smile about Jimenez’s two-homer, six-RBI game. “I’m not surprised. I knew Eloy before he signed with the Cubs out of the Dominican. He’s a big dude. The power is coming every day.”

How good can Jimenez be? Torres, who plays on a star-studded team with Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius, sees Jimenez reaching the same stratosphere.

“He can be a star for all of MLB. He’s just a young guy right now, but when he matures a little more, he can do everything.”

Jimenez is turning up the heat in Chicago, and it’s not even summer yet.

The South Side can’t wait for the sizzle to come.

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