June 2005

From The Interview Room

From Ozzie Guillen

On starter and winning pitcher Mark Buehrle:

"I’ve run out of quotes.  I don’t know what to say.  Finally, we swung the bats while he was on the mound.  The way he was throwing, he deserved the shutout and the complete game.  He’s the heart of the White Sox."

On the fact that five of Frank Thomas’ eight hits have been home runs:

"Good, that way he doesn’t have to run the bases."

From Mark Buehrle

On four straight no decisions before tonight’s victory:

"Deep down inside, I just want to go out there and get the team a win.  If I don’t get it, I hope someone in the bullpen does.

On posting 42 starts in a row with at least 6.0 IP:

"I want to go deep into games.  I’m proud of it because it means I must not be getting beaten around too much and knocked out early."

On his comments about other pitchers’ possible cheating:

"First off, I want to know what I said that was wrong?  I said I did not know personally, but that you hear things, you hear rumors, around the league about guys cheating.  Guys can use a corked bat and you will never know until it breaks.  They can check hitters and check guys each inning.  I’ll drop my drawers and they can check whatever they want."

"By the way, we won the game tonight."

1959 Rematch

The Dodgers Have Arrived

It seems strange to see a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform at U.S. Cellular Field.  It appears popular right now to diss interleague play, but this series will be fun to watch.  My dad was a Dodgers fan as I grew up, so I think out of an anti-Dodger reaction, I became a Houston Astros fan … J.R. Richard, Mike Scott, Enos Cabell, Cesar Cedeno and Terry Puhl era (to date myself).  Of course, now I am forever committed to being a White Sox fan.  It is in the blood.

Tonight, the first 10,000 adults will receive replica Sox hats from the 1959 season.  Tomorrow morning, there will be a private brunch for 11 of the 1959 players who will attend the game Saturday.  The players include Rudy Arias, Joe Hicks, Ron Jackson, Jim Landis, Jim McAnany, J.C. Martin, Bill Pierce, Claude Raymond, Jim Rivera and Bob Shaw.  Luis Aparicio will be in town next weekend when the Sox play the Cubs.  Little Louie will be one of the broadcasters for RC-TV in

Venezuela

.  On Saturday, the White Sox players will wear replica 1959 uniforms as part of our “Turn Back the Clock” game.  They look sharp hanging in our lockers.  I like the look of the cream-colored unis.  Tickets remain, so come on out if you want to see the 1959 guys before tomorrow’s game.

WSCR In 2006

You may have seen that the White Sox have entered into a new radio deal with WSCR Radio (AM 670) to begin broadcasting White Sox baseball in 2006.  Our games remain on ESPN 1000 through this season before we move for spring training next March.  The good news for many Sox fans is that the 670 signal can be heard over a large area, so hopefully even more Sox fans can catch the broadcasts.

Carl Everett

We hope it is clear to everyone that Carl Everett’s opinions do not reflect those of the White Sox organization.  He speaks for himself (which is sometimes true of Ozzie Guillen, as well).

Enough Already

We all grow very weary of the constant media harping on attendance (or their perceived lack thereof).  A look at the facts:  the White Sox have drawn 706,524 fans through 30 home dates, an average of 23,551, up from 654,687 (21,823) at the same point last year.  Our increase through May was the third-largest in the American League, and we are off to our best attendance start since 1994.  As of this morning, our total sales for the season stood at almost 1.7 million, which already would rank as the 13th-highest figure in franchise history (even if we don’t sell another ticket).  More than 77,000 tickets have been sold for this weekend’s interleague series vs. the Dodgers.  We have sold 24,800 for tonight (as of 10 am), nearly 31,000 for Saturday and just over 21,000 for Sunday.  Come early to these games, particularly if you are planning to buy your tickets at the box office day of game.  We suggest you purchase ahead of time.

So enough already, let’s celebrate and appreciate the Sox fans who have been turning out this season in such strong numbers.

Nice Victory

Good Win

A nice win tonight heading into an off day.  The team is tired and certainly played that way for the first 22 innings against the D’backs before the 10-run explosion.  Thursday’s day off will do a world of good.

Jon Garland improved to 11-2 with the victory to become the first 11-game winner in the American League.  He is now 6-0 at home. With a 43-22 record, the team trails only the 1915 Sox (44-21) for best record through 65 games.

"The Truth" a.k.a. Carl Everett

Carl Everett, known as "The Truth" in the clubhouse, received some attention today for comments he made this spring that were published in the most recent Maxim magazine.  Carl is Carl, so no one reacted too strongly in the White Sox clubhouse.  He has a different view of the world than most, is willing to express his opinions and is very honest.  That’s what makes him such a good teammate, but his opinions certainly aren’t mainstream (to say the least).  They don’t seem to affect anyone on the team much, they chuckle, and they certainly don’t represent the views of our organization.  We hope fans understand that.

I wonder how many other guys in baseball think dinosaurs didn’t exist?

Carl is one of the guys who earlier this year rented a suite at a hotel while the team was on the road and held a big party for anyone on the Sox who wanted to attend.  People talk about chemistry on a team … that’s one of the reasons this team has grown so close.

Notes for Tonight

Lunch in the Land of Oz

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had lunch today at Maggiano’s downtown with a family of baseball fans who purchased the sitdown with Guillen to benefit charity.  During lunch, the grandson asked Ozzie, "Just what do you say to a pitcher when you go out to the mound?"

"Well," said Ozzie.  "Usually when I go out there, it’s not to say ‘Good job … way to go.’  Usually, if I am out there, it’s not good news.  Most times, I take the ball and say, ‘Get out of here.’"  Ozzie laughed.

"Last night, I didn’t want the fans to be too hard on the kid (Jose Contreras) because he had been throwing pretty well, and I don’t want him to lose confidence.  He helped save our bullpen last night."Ozzie_1

Guillen shared another mound story from spring training.  The game was being played in Peoria, Ariz., and it was hot.  It was the first inning, and the Sox starter was getting pounded.  Ozzie ran to the mound, called in all the infielders, and proceeded to spray them all down with sunscreen.  "It looks like we might be out here awhile today," he said.  Everyone, including the pitcher, burst out laughing.

Guillen signed autographs for Maggiano’s patrons, posed for photographs and said hello to Arizona Diamondbacks Luis Gonzalez and Jose Cruz Jr., who also stopped by for lunch.

Home Notes

After playing 29 of their first 50 games on the road, the White Sox are in the middle of a stretch where they play 18 of 24 games at U.S. CelluBuehrlelar Field, including this 12-game homestand … the Sox are 19-9 (.679) at home, the second-best winning percentage in the major leagues behind Washington (24-9, .727) … the Sox 3.61 ERA at home is down from 5.09 in 2004 when they were last in the league … Mark Buehrle (3rd, 2.29) and Jon Garland (5th, 2.39) rank among the AL Top 10 in ERA.

Tonight’s Lineup

Pods, LF; Iguchi, 2B; Rowand, CF; Konerko, 1B; Everett, DH; Dye, RF; Pierzynski, C; Crede, 3B; and Uribe, SS.  Orlando Hernandez (7-1, 4.34) starts on the mound.  He has never faced the D’backs.

Great Crowd, Bad Result

Not Too Many of These

The good news this season is that there have not been too many blah nights like tonight.  We drew a great Monday crowd — 32,952 — but played poorly in the first few innings to put us in a deep hole.  We all are disappointed.  It seems every time we get a big crowd and play on National TV, we struggle.  Tomorrow is another day.  Make sure to look at the standings, maybe it will make you feel a little better.

Our presale for the week is really strong, so look for big crowds all week and weekend (Dodgers).  Through May, our attendance was up 12 percent, the ninth-biggest increase in baseball and the third-largest in the American League.  We topped 1.5 million tickets sold a month ahead of last year’s pace, so the trends are very good.

News on Frank

Good news on Frank Thomas.  It was just a cramp.  He should be fine tomorrow.

Wake Up Call

What a Wake-Up Call!

The White Sox and all San Diegoans were gently shaken at about 8:45 am by an earthquake.  We were told it was centered in Palm Springs, so we hope everyone there is fine.  Some guys felt it (myself included), some slept through it, some were at the ballpark and some were in the shower.  "If you thought you felt things moving, you did," a local anchorman said on the news.  "Well, now you’ve felt one," said the bellman who collected my bags.  "The building is designed to move, that’s why you felt it so much." Comforting.

I think we would like to get back to Chicago.

A Few Thoughts …

On Petco Park … Really neat architecture, lots of angles, fountains and flowering planters … great work space in the clubhouses and press box … a very cool lawn area in center field where they held a pregame concert last night … very small dugouts … a re-habbed old building that becomes the left-field foul pole (I am sure it has been shown on TV).  It is obvious that the ballpark is the center piece of a major initiative to redevelop San Diego’s downtown area. 

Notes for Today’s Game

Neither team took batting practice before the game … the White Sox are 16-7 (.696) in day games, the highest winning percentage in the major leagues … people here warn to watch how differently the ball travels during day games than at night, when the damp, cooler sea air knocks balls down … the Sox are 4-1 on this trip … a win today would give the team its best road trip (by winning percentage) since going 7-0 at Cleveland and New York in June 2000 … today’s starter, Freddy Garcia, is 11-1 with a 2.39 ERA in his last 15 daytime starts.

Today’s lineup:  Pods, LF; Harris, 2B; Everett, RF; Konerko, 1B; Pierzynski, C; Crede, 3B; Perez, LF; Uribe, SS; and Garcia, P against San Diego’s Brian Lawrence, RHP, 3-6, 4.78.

Warming Up

For Mark Buehrle, it may be a matter of minutes.  For Jon Garland, it’s preparation and letting it go.  And for the two Cubans, it’s a Latin twist on an old tradition.  If you ask pitching coach Don Cooper, the only thing consistent about how five White Sox pitchers warm up for a start is that they are inconsistent.

Cooper sat down before Buehrle’s start on Saturday at San Diego and described how each pitcher prepares to take the mound.

"Mark heads out about 6:40-45 after stretching inside the clubhouse and having a rubdown with Hermie (Herm Schneider)," Cooper said.  "They all bicycle inside and stretch.  By the time they get outside, they already are loose.  Mark starts out throwing long toss to Man Soo Lee (Sox bullpen catcher) before taking the mound in the bullpen." 

Buehrle then works with that night’s catcher.  How long does the pregame session last?  Well, that depends …

"There are times Mark will look at me after 20 pitches and say, ‘This ain’t going to get any better, let’s go,’" Cooper said.  "He has such a good feel for pitching and for his arm."

Garland likes to really stretch out his arm and let if fly during long toss.  For Garcia, his preparation seems to take on his personality:  laid back.

It is Jose Contreras and Orlando Hernandez who bring a different approach to their preparation, thanks in part to years of success pitching for the Cuban National Team.

Jose plays catch with Lee and then makes the catcher throw balls to his backhand like an infielder.  "It helps him focus on staying closed with his front shoulder," Cooper explained.

Contreras then moves to throwing a weighted ball, then a 12-inch softball and finally a real baseball.  Hernandez also utilizes the weighted ball from time-to-time and also goes through an elaborate stretching routine before he pitches.  Fans can watch him in the outfield between 6:30-45 when he is scheduled to pitch.

Another point of differentiation among the five pitchers is their side day, when most pitchers throw between starts in the bullpen.  Buehrle doesn’t.  "He isn’t walking anyone," Cooper said.  "We just have him play catch."  Garland stays on schedule.  "We keep Jon in a routine, plus sometimes he is pitching every five days, sometimes six," said Cooper.  With Freddy it is hit-or-miss, depending upon his control.  El Duque has been recently, and Contreras always throws a side "to keep the feel."  When Jose throws a side, he actually uses four different balls, two weighted, a softball and a baseball.

The importance of side days for most pitchers is staying in their routine.

"We have our guys pitch both up in the zone and down," Cooper said.  "We have them throw change-ups and breaking balls to both sides of the plate, and pitch from the stretch and windup.  If a coach wasn’t out there, most players would just throw from a full wind-up because they are more comfortable … and that’s true of pitchers of any age.  But if you think about it, over the course of the season and over the course of your career, you probably spend as much or more time pitching out of the stretch.  You need to become more adept at it.

"We don’t time our sides," Cooper continued, "because we never let it go over.  We work on what we need to — not walking guys.  There is enough physical and mental stress with throwing 100 pitches in a major league game.  We don’t need to add to it."

Live From San Diego

Cinderella Man

Took in the movie last night.  While I am the last person to be Cinderella_man reviewing movies (and not really sure anyone should care what I think), it was excellent.  Super acting and a humbling story line.  As a child, I remembered questionning why my grandparents always saved everything (paper bags, cans, newspaper) and always kept the leftovers.  Nothing was wasted.  Seeing a movie like Cinderella Man, when so many good people lost everything through no direct fault of their own, makes you appreciate a generation that had to work so hard to re-gain what they had lost.  It certainly makes you appreciate them and appreciate what you have.

Fish Tales

Quite a few members of the White Sox travel party took advantage of yesterday’s day off to go fishing.  The clubhouse buffet tonight will include their catch, including a 70-pound Mako shark caught by A.J. Pierzynski.  The waters were choppy and the day wasn’t great, but everyone seemed to have a good time.

Notes

Manager Ozzie Guillen said before tonight’s game that left-hander Damaso Marte’s bicep was better, but that it was still sore and that he would not be available tonight.  Tomorrow is a possibility.  Guillen thinks Petco Park will favor his team’s re-vamped offense, but also believes the ballpark will benefit tonight’s starter, Jon Garland.  The park’s dimensions are 334-358-402-396 (center)-411-322.  Timo Perez took ground balls at first base again pregame.  The Sox start their usual lineup tonight, Podsednik, Iguchi, Rowand, Konerko, Dye, Pierzynski, Uribe, Crede and Garland.  Early returns show a great many Sox fans in attendance again.  Tomorrow, I am going to tour Petco before the game and offer some observations on this blog.  Sunday, I hope to sit down with pitching coach Don Cooper and have him explain how each of our starting pitchers prepares for a game and how each guy’s routine differs.  Stay tuned.

Kudos to Colorado

I Would Be Remiss …

I would be remiss in not mentioning how positive our experience was at Coors Field in Denver (and no, I am not just talking about winning three games).  Our fans, our staff and our players all commented about how friendly the ballpark employees were, how knowledgeable and how willing they were to talk baseball.  It was a pleasure to visit the city and the ballpark.

Arrival Time

I was a little off on my guess yesterday.  We made it to the hotel at about 2:10 am.  Today in San Diego was cloudy and drizzly.  Someone sent me the tourist brochure for the wrong city.

How the Sausage is Made …

For those of you who care about this stuff, I mentioned in a post on Monday that the financial numbers quoted about Ozzie Guillen’s contract by a local columnist were flat wrong.  The following correction ran today, Page 2, bottom left:  A Jay Mariotti column and a news story that appeared in the June 8 edition of the Chicago Sun-Times should have said that the Bulls’ contract with coach Scott Skiles was agreed on at $16 million guaranteed over four years, including the option year.  The Mariotti column should have said the deal was made in a telephone conversation with Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Skiles.  The Bulls’ offer did not change from the day before.  After that phone deal, Bulls General Manager John Paxson and Reinsdorf also agreed to give Skiles a $500,000 bonus for his recent success with the team.  The Mariotti column also should have said that Ozzie Guillen’s two-year contract extension was for $2.5 million.

Kudos to the Sun-Times.

Feedback

I really appreciate the continued feedback on this blog — the good, the bad and the ugly.  It is great to see the passion people have for the White Sox.  We are lucky to work in an industry where our fans have such a passion for our product.  I have been amazed at how many have read this blog and how many reactions I have received.  I have tried to reply as often as possible. If you have questions about the White Sox you would like to ask or topics you would like to see covered, please just let me know.

I might go see Cinderalla Man tonight.  Ken Williams watched it the other day in Denver and said it was excellent.  He said he even shed a tear …

Getaway Day on the Road

While Major League teams certainly travel in style, it is often in the dark of the night.  Moving 25 players and another 20-or so staff members is a pretty impressive feat.  Ed Cassin, our manager of team travel, arranges all the logistics, from hotels to buses to airplanes to, this year, trains (we are training from New York to Boston in August like baseball teams did decades ago).

On a night like tonight (travel after a night game), players and staff check out late from the hotel.  Our luggage is trucked out to the airport in advance to speed our postgame exit, and everyone heads to the ballpark.  After the game, players eat, shower and talk to the media.  Ed usually has the team buses leave about 45 minutes after the last out.  Manager, coaches, staff and media travel on one bus, while players are on another.

Once we get to the airport, everyone goes through security before boarding our charter.  It generally takes 15-30 minutes to get the plane loaded with our game equipment.  We take off as soon as we can.

Where we really get spoiled is the food and service on the plane.  There are drinaks and snacks waiting for us as soon as we board.  The food in-flight is excellent.  On the last flight we could choose between beef medallions or teriyaki chicken (of course, the silverware is now plastic).  After dinner, there is dessert, ice cream and candy.

Everyone has their assigned seats on the plane.  Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen are up front, followed by the coaching staff and trainers.  Other staff and media fill in the middle, and White Sox players sit in the back.  They often listen to music, talk, play cards or sleep on the flight.

When we arrive, our buses meet us planeside.

Our luggage gets shipped to the hotel or ballpark and delivered right to your room by a bellman.  The last thing we want is someone hurt carrying a suitcase, but it is sure nice to make one phone call and have your bags.

Tonight, we probably leave the ballpark at 10:45 pm, take off by midnight and then land in San Diego at about 1 am local time.  Tomorrow is an off day and guys are looking forward to the day in San Diego to golf, sleep, shop and maybe visit the beach.  Off days are rare and precious in baseball.

Notes

With two wins in Colorado, the Sox have tied the 1951 team for the best start in franchise history at 39-19.  Those Go-Go Sox won their next game to improve to 40-19.  Congratulations to Paul Konerko on collecting the 1,000th hit of his career.  His glove was re-stitched prior to tonight’s game, and there is no truth to the rumor that he and Jose Contreras practiced glove tossing before this evening’s game.  The Sox have been in first place all 65 days this season, just 29 fewer than their combined total of 94 from 2001-04.  Chicago has led in 54 of its first 58 games.  Pablo Ozuna starts tonight at 3B (leading off) and Carl Everett in LF (batting fifth).

Something to Watch for Tonight

Something to Watch for During Tonight’s Game

Sitting here at Coors Field as the first pitch was thrown in this evening’s game, I asked Ken Williams, Sox general manager, what he thought the key to tonight’s game would be … "Strikes," he answered.  "Jose (Contreras) needs to have command of his fastball and be able to throw his slider for strikes."

Pre-Game News … Ross Gload has suffered a setback in his rehab and will be brought back from Class AAA Charlotte.  Gload remains on the disabled list with inflammation in his left shoulder that hinders his throwing.

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