White Sox

Remember That Guy: Timo Pérez

NBC Sports Chicago

Remember That Guy: Timo Pérez

Whenever White Sox fans hear the name Timo Pérez, they can’t help but think of one thing.
Come on, Timo! Come on, Timo!
Thanks to one of Hawk Harrelson’s popular calls, we remember that guy. Let’s remember a little more.
Timoniel Pérez was born April 8, 1975 in Bani, Dominican Republic. As a teenager, he was recruited by the Japanese Central League’s Hiroshima Carp, who have an academy in San Pedro de Macoris in the DR. After arriving in Japan at age 18 and spending 1994 to 1999 in the organization, he was scouted by the Mets (including Omar Minaya) and signed on March 17, 2000 for around $85,000. It was a similar route to the Majors – from the Dominican Republic to Japan to New York – that Alfonso Soriano took (although, he signed with the Yankees instead of the Mets). 
Pérez started out in high-A St. Lucie where he played eight games before moving up to triple-A Norfolk. He set the International League on fire, hitting .357/.392/.512 with six home runs in 72 games before the Mets came calling. Timo made his MLB debut on Sept. 1, 2000, collecting a single off of Cardinals pitcher Dave Veres while pinch hitting for reliever Turk Wendell. Perhaps pinch hitting for arguably the most superstitious player in history was some kind of good luck charm.
Timo’s first career home run was Sept. 24, 2000 off of White Sox nemesis (playing for the Phillies at this time) Bruce Chen, and it was inside-the-park. He’s one of four Mets whose first home run was inside-the-park, along with Edgardo Alfonzo, Don Hahn & Bud Harrelson. Pérez was a spark plug for the Mets in the playoffs, collecting a hit-and-run in all five games of the NLCS against the Cardinals. His 8 RBIs tied a single season LCS record (since broken), and he's the only player in Mets history to get a hit-and-run in every game of a postseason series of at least five games. He struggled (2 for 16) in the Subway World Series against the Yankees, but how many players get a chance to play in the Series as a rookie anyway? Overall, he had as many hits in the postseason (14 in 14 games) as he did in the regular season (14 hits in 24 games). Quite a first season in the bigs.
Pérez started 2001 with the Mets and spent most of the season there, except for an April groin injury and a July-August stint at Norfolk, where he was red hot once again (.359 BA). His season highlight was his first career major league four-hit game on June 12 in Baltimore. He finished his season with the Mets hitting .247/.287/.356 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 85 games. 2002 was a career year, hitting .295/.331/.437 with eight homers, 47 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 136 games – career highs for each counting number. On June 11, he had his second four-hit game, this time in a 10-8 Mets loss against the White Sox in Chicago! Also notable was Aug. 8, 2002 when he became the first player ever (and the only player until 2015) to triple twice at Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

RELATED: Remember That Guy: Wilson Álvarez
Pérez tailed off in 2003, hitting .269/.301/.364 with four home runs in 127 games. The Mets dealt him to the White Sox on March 27, 2004 in exchange for pitcher Matt Ginter. Pérez continued his work as a fourth outfielder, making starts at all three spots while hitting .246/.285/.338 with five home runs in 103 games. He tied a career-high (Game 4 of the 2000 NLCS) with three runs in the wild 17-14 loss at Olympic Stadium in Montreal on June 19, otherwise known to many White Sox fans as the Arnie Muñoz game. On Aug. 8, Pérez started a two-out rally with a single in the ninth inning of a 2-2 tie and came around to score the winning run on a Ben Davis single. This play has been forever immortalized by Hawk Harrelson’s call:

In 2005, Pérez’s playing time decreased. He only played in 76 games and hit .218, but was able to enjoy being a part of the wire-to-wire division run by the White Sox. He made two postseason appearances – in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Red Sox and in the epic 14-inning Game 3 of the World Series in Houston. He was a combined 0 for 2 in a pair of pinch hitting opportunities. Timo hit free agency after the season and signed with the Reds, but was brought in by the Cardinals before he was played a game. Pérez played 23 games for the Cardinals, including each game of a three-game set in Chicago against the White Sox (a White Sox sweep by scores of 20-6, 13-5 and 1-0). Although he didn’t make the postseason roster, Timo played for two straight World Series-winning teams as the Cardinals went on to win the Fall Classic. He moved on to Detroit in 2007, where played what would be his final MLB games. He hung around the minors in the Dodgers, Phillies and Tigers systems for several more years while also playing independent ball, the Dominican Winter League and the Mexican League.
For his career, Timo Pérez appeared in 603 MLB games and posted a .269/.308/.382 slash line with 26 home runs. Those 26 dingers were off of 25 different pitchers. The one pitcher he got to twice? Greg Maddux, against whom Pérez hit 9 for 22 (.409).
Come on, Timo! You remember that guy.

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White Sox 2005 Rewind: With a little help from old friend Tony Graffanino

White Sox 2005 Rewind: With a little help from old friend Tony Graffanino

In the eighth inning of Game 3 of the 2000 ALDS, the White Sox inserted Tony Graffanino into the game as a pinch-runner.

He was erased when Paul Konerko hit into an inning-ending double play. Graffanino stayed in the game at third base and was on the field when the Seattle Mariners walked off Keith Foulke and the White Sox.

The White Sox didn’t get back to the postseason for another five years.

But when they did, Graffanino was there again, this time playing for the opposing Boston Red Sox. He started at second base and had one of the best seats in the house to watch the South Siders beat the defending champs’ brains in for a 14-2 win in Game 1 of the 2005 ALDS. The next night, he factored into things a bit more prominently, though certainly not in the way he hoped.

Graffanino played for the White Sox from 2000 to 2003. He started the 2005 season as a division rival, suiting up for the Kansas City Royals before being dealt to the Red Sox in the middle of the campaign. He had himself an excellent season, and his good numbers with the Royals got even better when he went to Boston. He hit .319 and reached base at a .355 clip in his 51 regular-season games with the Red Sox.

But his defense, or lack thereof, would be his key contribution to the ALDS that season, unintentionally helping turn the tide in the middle of the series’ second game — for his old mates.

After torching Matt Clement for eight runs in Game 1, the White Sox offense wasn’t finding things quite as easy against another former South Sider, David Wells, who had the bats well silenced through four innings. Meanwhile, Mark Buehrle was atypically hittable in the early going of this one, giving up two first-inning runs — he only gave up six first-inning runs in his 33 regular-season starts — and two more runs in the third.

But the same White Sox lineup scored two touchdowns the day before and was obviously capable of banging around Boston’s lackluster pitching staff. The White Sox strung some hits together against Wells in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit in half, and Juan Uribe came up with a runner on first and one out. He tapped a grounder to second, hitting what appeared to be a pretty routine double-play ball.

Except Graffanino whiffed.

RELATED: White Sox 2005 Rewind: Underdogs? 14-run ALDS coming-out party said otherwise

Instead of an inning-ending double play, Graffanino’s error kept the inning alive. And after Scott Podsednik popped out to third base, the bill came due. Tadahito Iguchi hit a go-ahead, three-run homer that sent the South Side into pure chaos.

All three runs were unearned, but they still counted.

Buehrle settled down nicely, and after giving up his fourth run, he retired 13 of the final 15 hitters he faced, allowing just a couple singles. Bobby Jenks was stellar in his first career playoff game, called upon for a two-inning save in a one-run game. No matter. He retired six of the eight batters he faced, including Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, the only hit he gave up a ninth-inning double to, who else, Graffanino. But with the tying run 180 feet away, Jenks got a pop out and a ground ball to put the White Sox a win away from an ALDS sweep.

Now, I’m not trying to revive the one-time trend of jumping all over a guy who lets a ball roll under his glove during a key playoff game on the right side of the Red Sox infield. That’s, as the kids say, tired and not at all wired.

And the White Sox deserve plenty if not most of the credit. They were no strangers to comebacks of all stripes during that 2005 season. It's one thing to be gifted an opportunity. It's another to be able to capitalize. Iguchi was clutch as could be, and his defensive plays at second base in this one were important, too, earning him an enthusiastic hug from Buehrle in the dugout after the seventh inning. Buehrle and Jenks’ efforts on the hill were just as important as a big inning at the right time.

But how funny does the world work — the baseball world, in particular — that with the White Sox attempting to erase an 88-year title drought, who should be there to turn the game around in their favor but a former teammate and a guy who was on the field the last time they were this close, half a decade earlier?

That’s team-of-destiny stuff right there.

Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 3 of the ALDS, airing at 7 p.m. Monday on NBC Sports Chicago.


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MLB The Show: White Sox complete sweep of Twins as power surge continues

MLB The Show: White Sox complete sweep of Twins as power surge continues

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Twins 13-4
Record: 24-29, T-3rd in A.L. Central (5.5 GB of Twins)

W: Dylan Cease (3-3)
L: Rich Hill (3-4)

Game summary: Things couldn’t have gone any better for the White Sox in this weekend’s four-game series vs the Twins. The South Siders took the first three games by offensive force and the finale was no different.

Nick Madrigal’s unlikely tenure in the cleanup spot has mostly been underwhelming, until Sunday afternoon. The slight-in-stature second baseman ripped a three-run homer to left to give the White Sox the lead in the first.

Chicago doubled the advantage in the second, when Edwin Encarnacion slugged a two-run homer and Eloy Jimenez drilled a solo shot. Jimenez remains the gift that keeps on giving, as he now has 19 long balls on the season, second in the American League and already a career-high. The White Sox led 6-0 after two frames.

Meanwhile, Jose Abreu continued his torrid stretch. The first baseman extended his hitting streak to 17 games, going a perfect 4-for-4 on Sunday. He also went deep twice: a two-run homer in the fifth and a three-run blast in the eighth. His five-RBI night ensured this was yet another blowout vs. the division leaders.

The White Sox clobbered the Twins 13-4 for their sixth straight win and suddenly sit just 5.5 games back in the AL Central.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 2-5, HR (15), 2 RBI, 2 R (.312 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 3-5, 2B, HR (19), RBI, 3 R (.270 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-4, R (.258 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-5, HR (6), 3 RBI, 3 R (.246 BA)
Jose Abreu:  4-4, 2 HR (17), 5 RBI, 3 R (.309 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-5, RBI (.296 BA)
Luis Robert: 1-4 (.240 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 1-5, R (.295 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 1-5, RBI (.244 BA)

Scoring Summary:

Top first

Nick Madrigal homered to left field, Edwin Encarnacion and Eloy Jimenez scored. 3-0 CHW.

Top second

Encarnacion homered to left field, Yasmani Grandal scored. 5-0 CHW.
Jimenez homered to center field. 6-0 CHW.

Bottom second

Mitch Garver homered to center field. 6-1 CHW.

Bottom fourth

Garver homered to left field, Josh Donaldson scored. 6-3 CHW.

Top fifth

Jose Abreu homered to center field, Madrigal scored. 8-3 CHW.

Top seventh

Tim Anderson singled to center field, Yoan Moncada scored. 9-3 CHW.
Nomar Mazara singled to second baseman, Abreu scored. 10-3 CHW.

Top eighth

Abreu homered to left field, Jimenez and Madrigal scored. 13-3 CHW.

Bottom ninth

Eddie Rosario doubled to center field, Donaldson scored. 13-4 CHW.

Notable performance: The home run played a vital role in this series sweep of the Twins. The White Sox hit 14 long balls as they completely eviscerated the division leaders in four games.

Next game: Monday, May 25 - Game 54: White Sox at Orioles (Reynaldo Lopez, 4-2, 4.36 ERA vs Asher Wojciechowski, 1-5, 4.89 ERA)

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