White Sox

The critics, Cubs-White Sox wont get under Sveums skin

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The critics, Cubs-White Sox wont get under Sveums skin

Almost two years ago, the Chicago media crowded around Lou Piniella as the Cubs manager sat down in the Wrigley Field dugout.

A crosstown game against the White Sox meant wall-to-wall coverage. One reporter asked a harmless question about how encouraged Piniella must be by the development of Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro.

That set off Piniella, who fired back at the critics questioning how he handled young players. He blasted White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone and the ridiculous way media personalities did their jobs.

Ive won over 1,800 games as a manager and Im not a damn dummy, Piniella said that day. There are only 13 others that have won more games than me, so I guess I think I know what the hell Im doing.

Dale Sveum has a much longer fuse, and we havent seen him explode yet. Theres almost no chance the Cubs manager will go viral when the White Sox come to the North Side for a three-game series that begins Friday.

Ozzie Guillen who was replaced by the low-key Robin Ventura and Carlos Zambrano and Milton Bradley wont be there to light a match.

Sveum has an answer for everything Castro bunting, using or not using Kerry Wood and he explains baseball mechanics in great detail. He understands that the second-guessing is part of the job.

Its gonna happen, Sveum said Wednesday. I dont read the papers. Im not a guy that Tweets, or whatever you call that thing. Im not a big computer guy. I dont read the news.

(During) my free time, I watch the NFL channel as much as I canto keep up on (things) for fantasy reasons.

Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer had managerial candidates meet with the media as part of the interview process last fall. They knew that Sveum took the heat as an aggressive third-base coach with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2005.

There was about a two-week period where I got about 10 guys thrown out at home, Sveum recalled. Thats the animal you deal with when youre in the big markets. If I got 10 guys thrown out in Milwaukee, I wouldnt have had press conferences. I was having press conferences as a third-base coach.

I understand how fans react when youre in a passionate place.

Sveum shows no signs of nervous energy. Reading his body language behind the desk, youd have no idea whether the Cubs won or lost when you walk into the managers office after the game.

Sveum thought back to Tuesdays walk-off loss in St. Louis, how the Cardinals won it when Yadier Molina hit a ball past diving second baseman Darwin Barney, who was shaded one way because thats where the data said he should be.

Theres nothing you can do about it, Sveum said. Sometimes it is a game of inches. As long as you know that your team is giving everything theyve got, and the preparation is there through the coaching staff, (you live with it).

You know somebodys got to lose that night. Put it that way. (When you do), you dwell on it for a little while. Maybe (its) should-a, would-a, could-a, but I dont take it home with me. That woulddrive you crazy.

Sveum has been disciplined and stayed on message. His quotes dont go out on Twitter the way it could when Mike Quade said things like Im not a lunatic.

Sveum has shown patience with young pitchers and trusted them in big situations. He has set the tone for a quiet, purpose-driven clubhouse. He has the hammer that comes with being a former big-leaguer, and being Epsteins guy.

The Cubs president hired Sveum so he could grow into the job and become the next Terry Francona (instead of bringing in the actual Terry Francona).

It helped having 16 games as Milwaukees interim manager in 2008. But its not easy when you have to tell Carlos Marmol that hes losing his job. Six weeks in, the manager is settling into the job. The White Sox shouldnt knock him off his game.

You can sit here and say youre prepared and want to manage and all that, Sveum said. There are still many things that are going to come up, (like) when you take somebody out of the closers role.

(Its not) the nine-inning strategies you go through or the double switches and all that. Sometimes, thats the easy part of managing the game. Its a lot of the other stuff behind the scenes.

Michael Saunders joins Triple-A Charlotte: A potential addition to White Sox banged-up outfield?

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USA TODAY

Michael Saunders joins Triple-A Charlotte: A potential addition to White Sox banged-up outfield?

The White Sox could use some help in the outfield.

Did a reinforcement just join Triple-A Charlotte?

Former Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders signed with the White Sox organization Monday, joining up with Charlotte.

Saunders, 31, has parts of nine major league seasons under his belt. Last year, he split time with the Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies, posting a .202/.256/.344 slash line with six homers and 21 RBIs in 73 games.

The year prior he made his as-of-yet only All-Star appearance, slashing .253/.338/.478 with 24 homers in 140 games with the Jays.

The White Sox currently have both Opening Day corner outfielders on the shelf. Avisail Garcia has been on the disabled list for almost a month with a hamstring strain, and the team announced over the weekend that Garcia's injury is bad enough that it will likely keep him out until late June. Nicky Delmonico suffered a broken bone in his hand during the recently completed series with the Texas Rangers and will miss four to six weeks.

The White Sox have been giving playing time to Adam Engel, Leury Garcia, Daniel Palka and Trayce Thompson. But Engel and Thompson are both batting under .200, while Palka has an on-base percentage under .300.

So perhaps, with his major league experience, Saunders might make an appearance on the South Side sometime this summer.

Who knew? Statistical oddities from Ian Happ, Daniel Palka and others from the past week in Chicago baseball

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USA TODAY

Who knew? Statistical oddities from Ian Happ, Daniel Palka and others from the past week in Chicago baseball

This past weekend Ian Happ rocked Cincinnati harder than anyone since Dr. Johnny Fever, and the White Sox from last Sunday to yesterday posted a winning 4-3 record.

It’s Monday, so let’s examine the box scores from the previous seven days for another edition of Who Knew?

Leading off

Tim Anderson started this season 5-for-5 in plate appearances leading off games: double, single, single, home run, single.

He finally made a leadoff out on Sunday.

Déjà Vu

On Monday, Ozzie Albies hit a leadoff home run off José Quintana for the second time this season. 

It was rare enough that a batter had multiple leadoff home runs against the Cubs in the same season. The last batter to do that was Hall of Famer Craig Biggio in 2006 (one each off Greg Maddux and then-starter Carlos Marmol).

But multiple leadoff home runs against the same Cubs PITCHER in the same season? Quite rare. At first, I believed it to be the first such occurrence since at least the 1880’s, but there was one other time since that I initially missed.

Prior to Ozzie Albies (off Quintana), the last batter with multiple leadoff home runs against a single Cubs pitcher in a season was Heinie Sand of the Phillies, who led off two games in 1924 with home runs off Cubs right-hander Vic Keen.

Before Sand, you DO have to go back to the 1880s. Hall of Famer Buck Ewing hit two leadoff home runs off Fred Goldsmith (who claimed to have invented the curveball, but likely did not) in 1883.  It may have happened in 1884, but there are some missing details in the home run database and I can’t be certain. But it’s rare!

Saves without Strikeouts

Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has 10 saves this season. In half of them (including his latest save Tuesday), he did not record a strikeout.

Only Wade Davis, who closed out games for the Cubs last season, has more strikeout-less saves in 2018 (no punchouts in seven of his 16 saves). Davis, for the record, saved 32 games for the Cubs last season, but in only nine of those 32 did he not strike anyone out.

Meanwhile, up in the Pacific Northwest, Edwin Díaz of the Mariners has 15 saves this season and has at least one strikeout in all 15.

National Treasure

Leury García took Jameson Taillon deep Wednesday in Pittsburgh, giving him 13 career home runs, all in a White Sox uniform.

The thing is, seven of those 13 home runs have been against National League teams!  Check out his career splits with the Sox:

Versus NL 26 games .325/.373/.636 7 home runs
Versus AL 225 games .227/.267/.306 6 home runs

Uncanny!

Hit Bonanza

The Cubs started Friday’s game in Cincinnati like this:

Zobrist single, Bryant double, Rizzo single, Contreras single, Russell single.

It was the first time the Cubs started a game with five straight hits since Sept. 8, 2009 when they had EIGHT straight hits to start a game. They started that game as follows:

Ryan Theriot single, Milton Bradley single, Derrek Lee single, Aramis Ramírez single, Jeff Baker single, Geovany Soto double, Kosuke Fukudome double, Bobby Scales single. A Ryan Dempster sacrifice bunt snapped the streak, giving up an out in the first inning with a 6-0 lead.

Palka Dots

Sox slugger Daniel Palka has made an impact so far in the Majors. Half of his 16 hits have been of the extra-base variety.

In only 18 career games, Palka already has multiple doubles (three), triples (two) and home runs (three). Through 18 career games, Frank Thomas could check off two of those three boxes, although maybe not the two that you think.

The Big Hurt had six doubles and THREE TRIPLES in his initial dozen-and-a-half career games, but no home runs! The last White Sox player who had at least two of each type of extra-base hit through his first 18 career Major League contests?

Go back to Greg Walker, who collected two doubles, two triples and three home runs in an 11-game taste of the Majors in 1982 and his first seven games of 1983.

Ace of On-Base

Ian Happ returned to his old stomping grounds (kind of… he attended the University of Cincinnati) over the weekend and had quite a four-game series:

Friday 1 hit 3 walks
Saturday (Game 1) 3 hits 1 walk
Saturday (Game 2) 1 hit 2 walks
Sunday 0 hits 3 walks

Now granted, there aren’t as many four-game series as there used to be, but Happ was the first Cub to reach base at least three times in each game of a four-game series since Mark Grace during a four-game set versus Mets at Wrigley Field Aug. 9-12, 1991.Five hits and nine walks; Happ reached base at least three times in all four games!

Happ’s season slashline was boosted from .233/.301/.417 to .254/.361/.509 in those four games alone. His nine walks (five intentional, four unintentional) in the series is better than Javier Báez (six walks: four intentional, two unintentional) has for the entire season.

Happ on Friday became the first Cub to be walked three times intentionally in a game since Andre Dawson (FIVE times) on May 22, 1990. Back then, it actually required pitches to intentionally walk a batter.

Happ was also the first Cub to homer in both ends of a doubleheader since Chris Coghlan July 8, 2014 – also at Cincinnati. But Happ was able to do something Coghlan didn’t: in both games, Happ hit the lone Cubs home run! That’s something no Cub had done since Alfonso Soriano hit the lone Cubs' home run in each game of a doubleheader in St. Louis on Sept. 15, 2007.

Extra Extra!

José Abreu continues to produce. He doubled and homered Saturday night, making him the 23rd player in White Sox history to reach 300 career extra-base hits. He reached 300 extra-base hits in only 655 career Major League games, a number surpassed in White Sox history only by Frank Thomas (626). 

It was also Abreu’s 222nd career multi-hit game in a White Sox uniform, matching our “Beltin’” Bill Melton.