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White Sox blast Royals to end losing streak

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White Sox blast Royals to end losing streak

Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011Posted: 4:20 p.m. Updated: 5:28 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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WATCH: Pierzynski happy to get a winWATCH: Danks reviews startREAD: Seven things we've learned about the White Sox

KANSAS CITY In a game witnessed by 325 canines for Kauffman Stadiums Bark at the K promotion, both of Sundays starters were doggedly determined to reject good fortune.

The worm turned on the Godfather, Ozzie Guillen, measuring words carefully to Kansas City starter Bruce Chen.

I told Bruce Chen Were going to kick your butt today, the Godfather chuckled. I did. Ask him.

However Ozzie said, Chen listened, as the Chicago White Sox surprisingly broke through and touched Cy for four runs and nine hits over 5 13 innings.

Unfortunately on the flip side, struggling Chisox starter John Danks did all he could to return the bounty right back to the Royals, slapped with 10 hits and four runs (three earned) over six-plus innings. But Danks managed to earn the win without a single strikeout (or walk) as the White Sox scored six late runs to secure the 10-5 victory and salvage a win in Sundays four-game series finale.

Early on he was pretty good, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. He made some good pitches when he had to, Brent Morel threw a guy out at the plate. He wasnt perfect or good as he can be, but he made pitches when he had to and thats what good guys do.

He came through it, Guillen said. He lost it for a couple of innings. He was good, and all of a sudden he lost it and was throwing the all over the place. But he gave us the opportunity to win and keep the team out there.

As an indication of just how sluggish his stuff has gotten, Danks has just two strikeouts over his last two starts (11 innings). Although Danks did earn his seventh win of the season, September has been forgettable for the ace lefty: A 9.14 ERA, 1.98 WHIP and 28 game score over four starts.

I have no idea, Danks said with regard to his stuff in September. My last few, today included, I dont feel Ive had great stuff, I guess. Its part of the learning process, to go out there and throw strikes and compete the best you can without your best stuff. Today it worked out, and in my last few, it hasnt.

Pierzynski didnt get to wreak revenge against Chen for the cagey lefty having broken the catchers wrist with a pitch on August 12, sending Pierzynski to the DL for the first time, although he just missed a deep triple to right-center off him and later clocked a towering home run to right to provide Chicago an insurance run.

The backstop went back-to-back behind Paul Konerko, who clocked his 30th home run of the season and now has five campaigns where he has tapped out at least 30 dingers and driven in 100 runs, second in team history to Frank Thomas.

Its one of those things where theres a balance of thats your job to drive in runs and drive the ball, Konerko said. The last couple of years Im trying to switch up goals, and what is good for me is showing up for 150-plus games. If I make that goal, the byproduct will be the numbers.

A.J. had a great night and Im very excited about PK, Guillen said. He may be the only bright thing we have here this year, 30 home runs, 100-plus RBI, with really no protection in the order. Im very happy for him. I was pulling for that home run more than anything else. A lot of people think Well, 30 home runs, 100 RBI, youre still losing, but it means a lot to him and it means a lot to me seeing one of my players have success and have a great year.

Slumping slugger Adam Dunn broke out, to a degree, vs. Chen, who entered the game 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA vs. the White Sox this season. The DH had a double down the right-field line in the fourth and lined a single off of Chen in the sixth, for a 2-for-5 day. Dunn had his first extra-base hit vs. a lefthander this season and first since August 6, 2010. The RBI on the double was Dunns first since Aug. 8.

As the Royals crept within 6-4 with a run in the seventh, Chicago bit right back with a four-run rally that started with none on and two outs. The key blow was Pierzynskis second homer of the game, a three-run shot off the right field foul pole. It was A.J.s first multihomer game of the year, fourth of his career, and first since July 9, 2010 against the Royals.

The win prevented a season-high eight-game losing streak for the White Sox.

It feels good, especially with the off-day, Pierzynski said of the win. It seems like weve been grinding. Going into the off-day with a good feeling, hopefully we play well the first two games of the doubleheader there on Tuesday. Its nice to win on a travel day, and its nice to win on a football day so we can relax and watch football.

Were all competitive we have pride, Danks said. We dont have many games left, but were going to try to win all of them. Theres nothing else to do but save face and have a decent taste in our mouths going into the offseason. Were not out here going through the motions. Were trying to win more games.

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

Magic, buzz and something crazy: It's time for the White Sox to win

Magic, buzz and something crazy: It's time for the White Sox to win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox are rebuilt.

No, the rebuild isn’t officially over. You’ll have to wait for after the parade for that. And it’s true that there are plenty of question marks on this roster.

But for the first time in a long time, the White Sox are preparing for a season with expectations. Big ones. The manager set them early, saying he’d be disappointed if his squad didn’t reach the postseason. There hasn’t been October baseball on the South Side in more than a decade. But that’s not stopping anyone in silver and black from realizing that things are different now.

“It’s definitely a little different,” shortstop Tim Anderson said. “It’s more relaxed and we know what we want. We know what we want this spring training versus last spring training. We kind of knew what we wanted, but now we know what we want and we see it. We just have to put the work in and go get it.

“I get a winning vibe, all positive and winning vibes. Everybody knows what we are here to do. We are here to win a championship, and we are here to take it all.”

Everyone at Camelback Ranch is talking about expectations. And whether they’ve voiced their intent to just play better baseball, make the playoffs or win the World Series, there’s one common conclusion: It’s time to win.

The losing has not been fun during the last three rebuilding seasons. The White Sox lost a combined 284 games in 2017, 2018 and 2019, with contending often taking a backseat to development.

But a host of breakout campaigns from young, core players in 2019 laid the groundwork for Rick Hahn’s front office to make a slew of veteran additions this winter, inlcuding All-Stars like Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion and Gio Gonzalez.

It all adds up to realistic postseason expectations on the South Side and a feeling that those losing days are firmly in the rearview mirror.

“I think it's just about time for us to start winning,” first baseman Jose Abreu said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “It's just that time for us to start winning games and start to be relevant.

“The team that the front office put together, we're going to be able to do it. We have to be united. We need to be strong in good times and bad times if we want to be successful this season. With the guys that we have right now, that's something that's doable. That's our goal.

“I think expectations are high because we all know that this is the time for us to win.”

Abreu would certainly love to experience that. He hasn’t been part of a winning team in his major league career and has spent six sub-.500 seasons on the South Side. But his love for the organization kept him in a White Sox uniform as he briefly hit free agency this winter. He’ll be wearing those colors for at least another three years thanks to a new deal. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if he never wears another.

But you don’t have to have sweltered through the dog days to express your excitement for 2020. Something had to lure all those free agents this winter. Grandal, Keuchel, Encarnacion and Gonzalez all liked what they saw. Now they’re a big part of why there is such electricity running through White Sox camp.

“It seems like they want to do magic this year and for years to come now,” he said. “I look at it now as, let's keep competing as much as we can and see it from there. The buzz is in the locker room. We are excited. We do want to play, and I think this is the year we're going to push for it.

“They went out and got some guys that wanted to make something happen this year, and I think we have the team to do it. If you’re someone in Chicago watching the White Sox, this is a team to watch, and we’re excited to see that we can put it together.”

It truly seems like Hahn’s front office went out and got everything that was missing from this roster, which featured as impressive a collection of young talent as you’ll find but lacked experience; especially winning experience. Even 33-year-old team leader Abreu has never played in the postseason.

Enter the newcomers. Grandal and Encarnacion have appeared in each of the last five postseasons. Keuchel’s been to the playoffs in four of the last five years. Gonzalez played in three of the last four postseasons. New reliever Steve Cishek went to the National League Wild Card game with the Cubs in 2018.

They have no plans of stopping those postseason streaks.

“Once you get a little taste of the playoffs, that's why you play, is to get that feeling,” Keuchel said. “As much as you want to replicate it in the regular season, for guys who have no playoff experience, I think the regular season is that feeling. But there's another feeling to it that pushes you and wants you to be a better player.

“I told Rick Hahn this, I said four out of the last five years I've made the playoffs, and I don't expect any of these three years (during his contract with the White Sox) to be any different.”

A lot of things will have to go right for the White Sox to make a rapid ascent to the top of the baseball mountain. And there are question marks. What will the team get from Dylan Cease and Reynaldo Lopez a year after some ugly results? Will Michael Kopech be the pitcher who was promised prior to his Tommy John surgery? What will Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal do in their first tastes of the major leagues? Will Anderson and Yoan Moncada stay productive if their good luck diminishes? Will Nomar Mazara unlock the potential the White Sox see in their new right fielder?

It all has to work out for the White Sox to compete for the division title and a World Series championship. But isn’t that the case with every team?

This is the time of year when hope springs eternal. Viewing the upcoming season through rose-colored glasses is a February tradition on par with Presidents Day mattress sales.

But the White Sox have good reason to be excited and good reason to be talking playoffs. The light at the end of the tunnel that Hahn has been talking about for so long isn’t just visible; it’s bathing these young White Sox.

Of course, they have to prove they can do it. But all this talk? Don’t roll your eyes. It’s not at all crazy.

The White Sox are saving the crazy for the field.

“We have a chance to do something crazy,” Anderson said. “That’s what everybody is talking about, right? So why not own up to it and set the bar high, go to the playoffs and win the championship. That’s the goal, right?

“We didn’t come here to work for nothing. We come here to win championships and make it to the playoffs. That’s no secret. Everybody knows we are here to win championships.”

It’s time to get nuts.

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Zack Collins won't be surprised if he starts the season in Triple-A

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USA TODAY

Zack Collins won't be surprised if he starts the season in Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — After getting a taste of the majors last season, Zack Collins is here in spring training wondering when he’ll make it back.

Looking at the two All-Star catchers next to him in the clubhouse in Yasmani Grandal and James McCann, Collins says he won’t be surprised if he’s the odd man out when the White Sox break camp at the end of March.

"To have my first full season in the major leagues as a once-a-week player, pinch hitter is probably not the best thing for me," Collins said, "and it’s also tough to go back down to Triple-A, obviously, and to bring to reality that maybe that’s the best thing for me. At the same time, things happen, trades happen, injuries happen. I don’t wish anything on anybody. You just got to keep working hard and prove that I should be in the big leagues and continue to go."

With teams able to carry an additional player starting this season, some clubs will use the 26th spot for a third catcher, which on the surface could benefit someone like Collins. But he doesn’t see it that way.

"A lot of people think the 26th man is going to help me out. I’m not really sure about that, because you have a first baseman (Jose Abreu) who signed an extension, a new DH who came in, a veteran guy (Edwin Encarnacion), and then two veteran catchers," Collins said. "I don’t know if I’m going to go up to the big leagues to play once a week or something like that. Obviously, that’s a big question right now. It’s going to be pretty interesting to see. I guess we’ll have to wait and see."

Right after the White Sox signed Grandal, you might have assumed that the 2016 first-round pick, pegged as the White Sox catcher of the future, would have been upset about the team locking up the veteran catcher with a four-year deal.

Quite the opposite.

"The first thing I did was text (Grandal) and congratulate him," Collins said about his fellow University of Miami alum. "Seeing a guy coming from Cuba, moving here, going to the same college as me and the success that he‘s had is always great. Nothing but the best for him. I’m learning a ton from him. It’s only going to be good for me."

Collins has also developed a connection with McCann, who despite losing his No. 1 job to Grandal, is helping the younger Collins grow into his role as a major league catcher.

"A huge thing for me is relationships with pitchers. Being a younger guy, having a veteran staff is kind of tough and telling guys what to do. One piece of advice that McCann gave me was that when I’m behind the plate, I’m a leader no matter how old I am. That’s what I need to learn for myself and continue to grow,” Collins explained.

What will that growth look like for Collins in 2020 — and where will that be? Time will tell.

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