White Sox

White Sox Notes, Nonsense: Where are they now?

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White Sox Notes, Nonsense: Where are they now?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 2:53 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO With a number of ex-Chicago White Sox turning up on the transaction wires as spring training camps broke, lets catch up on where some former Pale Hose are plying their wares:

Jose Contreras has just been named the closer in Philadelphia, as Phillies closer Brad Lidge has succumbed to a partially torn rotator cuff and will miss up to six weeks. Contreras is the rare pitcher whos found success outside of the White Sox and their pitching guru Don Cooper (although to be fair, it was Cooper who rescued Contreras career on at least a couple of occasions). With the Colorado Rockies in 2009 and Phillies last season, Contreras has, improbably, turned into a formidable reliever, starting just two of 74 games and notching four saves. His ERA since leaving Chicago is 2.58, compared to a healthy 4.66 in six seasons on the South Side.

In less sunny White Sox ex-pitcher news, J.J. Putz delayed the opening of his spring training work as the new Arizona Diamondbacks closerretiring just four batters in Cactus League actionwhile battling back stiffness. He had a so-so final tune-up against a Mexican League club Tuesday, recording three strikeouts but also allowing three baserunners and a run, with his fastball topping out at just 93 mph. Putz wasnt great with save opportunities a year ago, with far south of a 50 success rate, and that was when he was apparently healthy for much of the summer. He would have been better suited setting up or alternating save opportunities with best buddy Matt Thornton here in Chicago.
More from Ballantini: Konerko, not always the King?

Is it possible that Freddy Garcia refused to enter 2011 as a prospective White Sox long reliever, then changed his tune in Gotham, when he came close to being cut from the New York Yankees? Garcia and the White Sox were always a perfect match, and while the muculent hurler appeared to be squeezed out by a White Sox rotation that numbered six in the offseason, he signed on in New Yorkand a coaching staff unversed in treating him, both physically and emotionallyfor just 500,000 more than he made in Chicago during his resurgent 2010 campaign. Garcia did finish spring strong, allowing a run on four hits, with two walks and three strikeouts in 4 23 innings Tuesday in a win over the Detroit Tigers, but expect a scary summer from Sweaty Freddy under the bright lights of the big city.

Jon Garland, plying his wares as somewhat of a journeyman pitcher since being dealt from the White Sox to the Los Angeles Angels for Orlando Cabrera in 2007, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers but will miss Opening Day with a strained oblique muscle. Garland is now 131-114 over 11 major league seasons, with a 4.32 overall ERA thats a touch lower than his 4.41 ERA over eight seasons in Chicago.

Jayson Nix, who scraped his way onto the 2010 White Sox before getting cut loose and left for the Cleveland Indians to employ, was dealt from the Wahoos to the Toronto Blue Jays, where Nix will occupy his perpetual bench spot. The 28-year-old put up a .677 OPS for the two teams last year, occasionally flashing say-what power but mostly being mediocre.

READ: Beer options at U.S. Cellular Field changing

Once a rising star for the White Sox, John Shelby was dealt to the Tampa Rays for future considerations. Shelby regressed last year at AA Birmingham, with a .705 OPS and just 15 steals in 440 plate appearances. In five seasonsnone above AA, Shelby put up a .785 OPS and compiled 105 steals.

On a similar note, former first-rounder Kyle McCulloch was sold to the Cincinnati Reds. The Texans five seasons were considerably less productive for the White Sox, going 33-40 with a 4.54 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. In his last-gasp season at AAA Charlotte, McCulloch put up a 5.94 ERA in 24 games.

Fan favorite Joe Crede had signed with the Rockies in February, but opted not to report to spring training, so hes a free agent, likely battling some form of back trouble, and looking forward to a new season of University of Missouri basketball hoops this winter.

Josh Fields, forever a part of White Sox lore for his grand slam to provide Mark Buehrle all the cushion he needed in his 2009 perfect game vs. the Rays, has bounced from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Rockies, who are apparently bent on collecting Chicagos hot corner castoffs. Fields was dealt to Kansas City in the Mark Teahen trade two Novembers ago, and hit three homers in 13 games with the Royals while battling injury all season. Fields caught on with the Pittsburgh as a free agent, but failed to break camp with the Pirates.
READ: Who could the White Sox least afford to lose?

The other half of that Teahen trade, Chris Getz, is faring much better for the Royals. The 25-year-old is basically Kansas Citys Gordon Beckham, batting second (vs. righties, at least) and playing second. Of course, thats where the comparisons end, as Getz played only about half the time for the Royals a season ago, compiling a beyond-paltry .579 OPS.

And finally, Kip Wells, a key component of the worst trade Ken Williams has made as GM of the White Sox, has caught on with the Diamondbacks after last pitching for the Long Island Ducks of the Independent Atlantic League. Wells had been cut by Cincinnati prior to the 2010 season, and put up a 4.00 ERA in 27 innings in the northeast. Wells, who owns a 4.71 career ERA over 11 seasons, was dealt to the Pirates along with Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe for Todd Ritchie. None of the three pitchers dealt went on to superstardom, but Ritchie was so abominable in 2002 in Chicago (5-15, 6.06 ERA) that he would never pitch in the majors again.

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

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Jermaine Dye's slow start yielded to World Series MVP season

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AP

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Jermaine Dye's slow start yielded to World Series MVP season

Generally, while the temperatures take their time to rise across the American League Central, the pitchers are said to have the advantage.

So perhaps it should be no surprise that at least one hitter on the 2005 White Sox got off to a bit of a slow start before eventually being named the World Series MVP.

Jermaine Dye was one of four new starting position players for the White Sox as they turned the page from 2004 to 2005, but he was no stranger to the AL Central. Though he arrived on the South Side after three and a half seasons with the Oakland Athletics, he spent the four and a half years before that with the Kansas City Royals.

In this lineup, he didn’t need to stand out as one of the most dangerous bats in the league, though by the time the White Sox were hoisting the trophy at the end of October, that’s what he’d become. In 2006, he was even better and finished fifth in the AL MVP vote.

But things didn’t start so hot for Dye. In April, he slashed a nasty .175/.205/.313.

The game against the Detroit Tigers on April 20, our latest edition of #SoxRewind, was an outlier, with Dye besting his RBI total to that point (three) in a single evening. He drove in four runs with a two-run homer in the first inning and a two-run single in the fifth inning.

The 9-1 White Sox romp was perhaps more notable for another sterling performance from Jon Garland, who tossed eight one-run innings. But it had to be a welcome reprieve for Dye, who was still settling into his new digs in the middle of the White Sox lineup.

Things obviously improved dramatically for Dye once the calendar turned to May, and he slashed an eye-popping .292/.355/.548 with 28 home runs in the other five months of the regular season. He hit .311/.415/.444 during the postseason. Come 2006, he slashed .315/.385/.622 with a career-high 44 home runs and 120 RBIs.

It’s safe to say Dye found his footing.

But for White Sox fans getting their first exposure to Dye in the home dugout, as opposed to him suiting up for the division-rival Royals, a big night like the one he had April 20 was more an exception than the rule in that early stage. Even if it was a sign of what was to come.

What else?

— Base-running gaffes hardly matter when your team wins by eight runs, but Dye made a pair of them in this game, twice getting caught in a rundown between first and second. He was picked off of first base to end the third inning. And after singling in a pair of runs in the fifth, he was again trapped between first and second, caught, thankfully for the White Sox, after those two runs had crossed home plate.

— As mentioned, Garland was again fantastic, following up his seven innings of two-run ball against the Seattle Mariners by holding these Tigers to just one run in eight innings. He ended up going at least eight innings seven times in 2005, including a trio of complete-game shutouts. The White Sox won the World Series because of their starting pitching, and nights like this one showed just how dominant it was.

— Joe Crede joined Dye in having a big night, driving in three runs of his own and extending his hit streak to 11 games. Crede homered in the sixth inning, capitalizing when gifted an extra swing by Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen. Guillen tracked a pop up into foul territory but completely whiffed on the attempt. “Make him pay, Joe,” Hawk Harrelson said. That’s exactly what happened. Crede hit the next pitch for a three-run homer.

— Speaking of The Hawkeroo, he took the viewers on an emotional roller-coaster ride in the fifth inning. With one out and Tadahito Iguchi on first base, Paul Konerko drove a ball to deep right field, not far out of the reach of the right fielder. Hawk cheered the thing on the whole time, but his mood changed when the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. “Get down! Get down! Get down! It will! Dagummit!” Did I mention the White Sox were up three at the time?

— Scott Podsednik, another one of those new position players, kept making his presence felt by making things happen at the top of the order. He scored the game’s first run after stealing third base and coming home on a wild pitch. Sure, he would have scored anyway on Dye’s ensuing home run. But seeing how much difference that elite speed element made on a nightly basis makes you long for more of it in today’s game.

Next up

#SoxRewind rolls on Wednesday, when you can catch the April 23, 2005, game against the Royals, starting at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. Some phenomenal work by the White Sox bullpen and extra-inning heroics from Aaron Rowand.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Lucas Giolito: Playing games in empty stadiums 'not the most enjoyable experience'

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USA TODAY

Lucas Giolito: Playing games in empty stadiums 'not the most enjoyable experience'

One of the many possibilities being discussed as baseball tries to figure out what the 2020 season could end up looking like? Playing games without fans present.

Obviously, no one would consider that the ideal scenario. But as uncertainty reigns during the global COVID-19 pandemic, any baseball might be preferable to no baseball at all, and if playing games in empty stadiums makes that a possibility, it’s under consideration as a potential outcome.

Chalk up Lucas Giolito as someone who wouldn’t find that scenario all that appealing. But also count him as someone who’d stomach it if it meant getting back on the field.

"That's definitely not the most enjoyable experience for a player,” Giolito said during a Tuesday conference call. “For me, personally, I really love to feed off the crowd's energy, whether that's at home and everyone's rooting for me or if we're on the road and I want to shut all the other fans up.

“I like that part of the game. I think it's a big part of the game. The more fans that are packed into a stadium, the more exciting a game can be, the more it adds to it.

“But at the same time, we're all used to playing those back-field games, chain link fence league games. We've done it coming up through the minor leagues. We even do it in spring training, at times.

“If things matter, if games matter, I think we'd be able to go and get it done with or without fans in the stadium. But I'd definitely prefer to have fans. We'll see what we'll be able to make happen.”

Like everything surrounding the game and American life in general, this is hardly a certainty. Baseball is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, which entail banning gatherings of at least 50 people until mid May. Any major league game, with two 26-man rosters going up against one another, is a gathering of 50 or more people, fans or no fans.

The recent agreement between the league and the union established certain criteria for returning to action, among them that no governmental edicts exist that make it impossible for teams to play at their home stadiums. Though there is a caveat that special arrangements could be made if there’s no better solution. Different local governments across the country could have different restrictions at different times, complicating things as baseball tries to figure out if it’s safe to play.

The New York Post’s Joel Sherman wrote Tuesday that the season is perhaps likely to start with no fans present as the league and the players aim to play as many games as possible in a short amount of time. But there are obvious reasons why all stakeholders would want that to be a last resort: The more fans in the stands, the more revenue the league can generate. But having any kinds of games to put on TV would provide revenue, as well, even if fans can’t attend.

Throughout his conversation Tuesday, Giolito repeatedly mentioned his realization that baseball needs to take a backseat at the moment. But even baseball fans who share that understanding of the national and global situation are curious about when — and where and how — they will be able to watch their favorite team.

Playing in empty stadiums would be weird for the players and weird for the fans who would be forced to watch on TV. But weird would be better than non-existent.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.