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Sox Drawer: Konerko finds himself in unfamiliar territory

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Sox Drawer: Konerko finds himself in unfamiliar territory

Mild-mannered Paul Konerko is normally not in the middle of any heated controversies. Thats usually reserved for the combative A.J. Pierzynski, especially when the White Sox play the Los Angeles Angels.

See: Game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship Series.

But Friday night, the slow-footed captain was the cause of a major dispute in the first inning.

And heres a first: it actually had to do with his running.

Ive really never caused many problems on the bases, quipped Konerko, a lumbering slugger whose baseball speed has the look of a tortoise or snail.

But there he was drawing the ire of Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who felt Konerko ran inside the baseline on his way to first base on a ground ball with the bases loaded, forcing the throw by catcher Chris Iannetta to pull Albert Pujols off the bag.

Replays showed that Konerko was guilty as charged. I guess I was running a little bit on the inside, Sox captain admitted to CSN. But according to crew chief Dana DeMuth, Konerko in no way interfered with the play at first. The catcher threw wild.

Still, that didnt stop Scioscia from putting the game under protest, a cause only magnified after the White Sox proceeded to score 4 runs that inning after the controversial play. The Angels lost the game 8-6 in 10 innings.

Were filing with the league, and I think its a very clear case in our favor, Scioscia said following the game.

However, the White Sox think otherwise.

I get what Scioscia is trying to say, Robin Ventura told reporters Saturday. But I dont see it affecting what happened on the play. Iannetta yanked it.

Would Ventura be surprised if the league rules that the game will have to be replayed from that play forward?

Id be surprised. Correct.

But while Konerko acknowledged that he is not fully innocent, he says there have been others who have taken a much more scenic route on the basepaths, like Monday against the Twins.

I dont think I was the worst youve ever seen, Konerko said. We had a play in Minnesota a couple nights ago that I promise you Brian Dozier was way worse than I was on a bunt late in the game when we got walked off that night. I think the way most umpires treat it is if the ball doesnt hit the guy, then theres no call made. Well just see what happens, I guess. Its a good win for now. Well see how it shakes it out.

As for the rule itself, its Rule 6.05 (k). Yeah, that one.

It states: In running the last half of the distance from the home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpires judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead; except that he may run outside (to the right of) the three foot line or inside (to the left of) the foul line to avoid a fielder attempting to field a batted ball.

Konerko might have a Ph.D. in hitting, but not MLB rule-making.

Im not sure how many people, even good baseball people know that rule, Konerko said. I dont even know what the rule actually says, so a lot of guys dont know. Sometimes you just get on the short end of something. All you can hope is that those types of plays just kind of even out and you just kind of leave it at that.

Considering these appeals rarely go through, maybe Scioscia should too.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

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.