White Sox

Williams 'All-In' with his Sox; Ozzie: Fire me

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Williams 'All-In' with his Sox; Ozzie: Fire me

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 6:32 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

NEW YORK He had to endure a flight delay and a corresponding grilling from angry Chicago White Sox fans while waiting in the terminal, but GM Ken Williams made it to Yankee Stadium in time for the first pitchand to chat a bit with hastily-assembled media.

My flight was delayed 2 hours, so had pleasure of sitting in terminal with angry White Sox fans, Williams laughed. So I almost didnt make it. (By interviews end, Williams laughed again: Their fans questions were a lot tougher than yours. These are softballs.

It was a kind and gentle Williams who smiled through a 10-minute grilling, noting that the season is still young and that the best thing he could do for the team would be walk through the clubhouse and offer some fatherly love.

If I knew how to fix the team, it would be fixed by now, he said. All I can do is go to clubhouse and offer some hugs, support them that way. The good thing is we have talent. Weve been down the road in the past where were not playing well, and I look in the mirror and say I dont have the talent. This is a different scenario, with guys whove prove themselves in the major leagues and on championship clubs. Weve got to weather this storm and come out of it sooner rather than later.

Williams mirrored his managers earlier comments about being somewhat limited to contributing to wins.

The coaching staff is not throwing the baseball or hitting the baseball, theyre doing what theyve always done, he said. The first 10 games of the season people talked about how well our offense was performingwe were hitting off the charts. When its turned around, we have to stand up and take the heat. Hitting coach Greg Walker is used to taking the heat and hes been consistent over the years the way teams have rebounded offensively. Pitching coach Don Cooper has taken his share In professional sports, fingers will be pointed your way. None of them have gotten any dumber the last couple weeks. Theyre same guys and I have a lot of confidence all of them.

Pressure mounts with every loss because of the All-In concept thats driving the team toward a championship. Because thats also come with the highest payroll in White Sox history, strong attendance is paramount. Williams is not throwing any fans under the bus for their perceived disinterest in a last-place team.

Chicago White Sox fans, you have to earn their patronage, and we havent earned it, he said. So I dont expect people to show up in droves until we earn it. This is the third week in April with a lot of games left, and we will earn their respect and their patronage. Until then, I wouldnt expect it.
Ozzie shoulders the blame

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen played coy before Mondays series opener at Yankee Stadium, unaware that GM Ken Williams was flying into town to immediately address the status of his ballclub.

I think hes coming in town today, he said.

As to whether Williams should be concerned with the White Sox to a degree of firing a coach, Guillen had a bold answer.

If somebody has to get fired here, it has to be Ozzie Guillen, he said. It doesnt have to be Greg Walker. It doesnt have to be Don Cooper. It has to be Ozzie Guillen because Im the one who makes the lineups, Im the one who tries to get the best from my players and I dont know how to do that right now.

As for whether or not someone from his staff should be dismissed, Guillen elucidated.

Kenny is my boss, and hes our boss. If he doesnt think our coaches do their jobs, well talk, Guillen said. One thing about it, like I always say, you can teach, you can help, but you dont hit for them. Its not fair when somebodys job is on the line because the players dont produce. Thats not fair. Some guys are making 12, 15 millionGreg Walker only makes 100,000. Why should it be Greg Walkers fault? He works, hes here early. He helps, flips, early hitting, batting practiceall the information is there, videos.

My players, you can talk to anyone here, I guarantee you they will blame themselves, because if I see those guys blaming my hitting coach, theyre not going to be here too long. Be a man, face it. Were struggling because were not hitting. Were not struggling because of Greg Walker. Greg Walker was the same coach in K.C. and Cleveland when the offense was hot. Same guy. All of a sudden were not hitting because its Greg Walkers fault?

"Well talk. Theres nothing wrong with that. And we have to listen to Williams, and he has to listen to us, too. I dont think we have to blame anyone here.

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

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia is back from his lengthy DL stay just in time to prove he's a part of White Sox long-term future

For the first time in two months, Avisail Garcia is back in the White Sox lineup.

Garcia’s return from his lengthy stay on the disabled list was a refreshing sight for a team that came into the season believing he’d be one of its biggest bats. After all, Garcia was excellent in 2017, an All-Star campaign for him that saw him with some of the best hitting statistics in the American League.

But even with those good numbers, there were plenty of questions about where Garcia stood in the rebuilding White Sox long-term future. After a long wait for that breakout season, was it going to be the new normal or a one-hit wonder? He’s got just two more seasons of team control left, and there are a ton of outfield prospects developing behind him in the minor leagues.

His admittedly slow start this year didn’t help clarify anything: He returned to action with a .233/.250/.315 slash line, a far cry from the .330/.380/.506 line he finished with last season.

So now he’s back, and the “prove it” season resumes. He’s got time left to show the White Sox he can fend off challenges from the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Micker Adolfo and all the rest. Getting back on the field is the first step in doing that.

“Be healthy and play hard like I’ve been playing all my career,” Garcia said Friday. “Just trying stay healthy, do my routine and do my best to help my team win.

“My knee is good. My hamstring is good. I have no pain in my body right now. I feel great, great and focused and trying to compete every single day.”

The injury — injuries, it turns out — certainly didn’t help. After the hamstring strain he suffered turned out to be a tad more significant than originally believed, he suffered a separate knee injury during his recovery that kept him on the shelf a while longer.

But Garcia showed that maybe his bat is ready to come back to life during his rehab at Triple-A Charlotte. He slashed an eye-popping .360/.429/.840 with three home runs, three doubles and nine RBIs in just seven games.

No one’s expecting that kind of production now that he’s back at the major league level. But plenty of fans and observers are expecting a lot who is still young enough to warrant consideration for a spot on the White Sox next contending team. He’s got the advantage of already playing at the big league level to show off for all the decision makers.

But there’s no doubt that it’s a stacked group behind him. Jimenez, the third-ranked prospect in baseball, was just promoted to Triple-A. A trio of high-performing outfielders — Basabe, Alex Call and Joel Booker — just got bumped up to Double-A. And perhaps the most exciting group of all — Robert, Rutherford, Adolfo and Luis Gonzalez — are all playing together at Class A Winston-Salem.

That’s an awful lot of young, inexpensive depth to contend with in the discussion for how the White Sox should align their outfield of the future. But Garcia can still stay in that discussion by doing one thing: hitting. His quest to turn his season around starts now.