Sunday, February 28, 2010
Rain eliminated major outdoor activities, while Photo Day and the annual MLBPA meeting took up much of the early morning of Day 8 of spring training.
I spent much of the morning with Ken Williams as he spoke to the MLB Network crew for creation of The Club. The neat part was that the NFL Draft Combine was be shown as Kenny spoke with MLB. He interrupted the interview from time to time to watch his son Kyle, a senior wide receiver from Arizona State, run the 40-yard dash. Kyle turned in a 4.36 mark his first sprint, one of the best of the day, and KW’s phone started to go crazy with well wishers, Kyle’s agent, etc. Papa was pretty proud.
It made KW talk a little about his high school career as a track sprinter, baseball players and football star in Oakland.
Kenny spoke of the first time he ran a 9.3 100-yard-dash in a high school meet and came home feeling pretty proud.
“My godfather was John Carlos (a sprinter and football star in the 1960s, famous for raising his fist at the 1968 Olympics), and he and my dad were sitting at home when I walked in the door,” Williams recalled. (KW’s dad was also a sprinter who raced with, and beat, Carlos). “They told me to get my tennis shoes.”
The group went outside in the street in front of Williams’ house. The race would be from one telephone pole to another. The adults took off their shirts but still wore dress shoes.
“That’s when I learned there was a difference between speed and world class speed,” he laughed.
He joked again that the scenario repeated itself with him and his sons a few years ago.
“We went out to race, I pulled a hamstring and still feel it to this day,” he said.
Finally, we begin Cactus League play this week (Thursday). A “practice” game is scheduled with the Dodgers for Tuesday (8 innings beginning at 11 am for those of you in Phoenix).
Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010
Expected late afternoon rain held off and we enjoyed another beautiful day in Glendale, Ariz. I spent the early afternoon at Goldman’s Deli in Scottsdale (corner of Hayden Road and Indian Bend Road) with the MLB Network crew as Jerry Reinsdorf and Commissioner Bud Selig enjoyed a baseball lunch in front of camera for “The Club.”
It was fun listening in (as I scarfed down a brisket sandwich) as the two recounted favorite baseball stories … they really are both great fans, and historians, of the game.
One of the things I learned: Jerry missed Geoff Blum’s game-winning home run in Game 3 of the 2005 World Series. Upset by a White Sox GIDP earlier in the inning, he has dejectedly walked to the back of the suite where he was watching the game. Hearing a roar, he looked up at a television in time to see a baseball fly over the right-field fence at Minute Maid Field.
Sunday is Photo Day in Sox camp, as our players happily (OK, sometimes not that happily) smile for the cameras at 7 a.m. We’ll try to give you a behind the scenes look at the exercise tomorrow on twitter.
(Note to readers: you may also want to follow our feed @InsideTheSox for up to the minute news, observations, photos and video)
I may have told this story in previous years, but my personal favorite Photo Day story comes from Sarasota, Fla. Obsessed with not being late for the 5:30 a.m. arrival time, I set my alarm at the beautiful Sleep Inn hotel near the airport and laid down for a restless night. I wear glasses and can’t really see well (curse of the job, that and losing a lot of hair way too early). After tossing and turning most of the night, I rolled over to see the clock read 6:20.
“Oh, my God,” I thought, hopping out of bed and into my clothes. I raced down to my car in the pitch black Florida morning and started it up. The radio came on; 2:15 a.m.
I went back up to my hotel room where the digital clock read 2:20 a.m. and the room temperature was 62 degrees.
My second best involved Michael Jordan. Faced with 30-some photo stops for a White Sox Photo Day involving the basketball immortal, he calmly explained to each photographer, “I got two free throws, you get two shots. Make them good.”
I sit in Scottsdale, Ariz. on a Saturday afternoon with temperatures in the high 60s/low 70s and a PGA tournament across the street while talking to my kids who are in Michigan skiing down a mountainside (or at least a hillside). I can’t wait to see my wife and kids on March 17. Seems a long way off right now …
Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
Today’s first White Sox full-squad workout of the spring took place under beautiful Arizona skies. Prior to the workout, the annual team meeting occurred with Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen addressing the troops.
All Accounted For
Every player arrived in camp on time and was on the field.
Line of the Day
According to Sox GM Ken Williams, the line of the day came from a member of the media who said, “Scott Reifert doesn’t remember anything from before he became a VP.”
Ha-Ha-Ha. (Williams seemed to find it funny)
The real line of the day came from an anonymous team doctor following a week full of physical exams:
“I need to go home. I can’t do another prostrate exam.”
Following today’s workout, Guillen did media interviews in english, spanish and with a Japanese TV crew who had recently interviwed Shingo Takatsu, Tadahito Iguchi and Jose Contreras together in Japan.
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010
A beautiful day today at Camleback Ranch — Glendale as more position players filed into camp. First day of full squad is tomorrow, which means Ozzie Guillen’s annual speech to the troops to open camp … and the arrival for the first time of the MLB cameras and microphones. Let’s see how that all goes …
The pitchers certainly are ahead of the hitters early in camp. Today, some of the pitching staff faced live hitters for the first time. Gavin Floyd and Daniel Cabrera, in particular, impressed Guillen.
“You have to like seeing Gavin Floyd on the mound, and I was pretty impressed (by Daniel Cabrera),” Guillen noted.
During his well-attended media session after the workout, Guillen was asked about Omar Vizquel and his potential impact on Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez.
“Alexei started slow offensively,” Guillen said, “And that carried over to his defense early in the year. I don’t expect him to mentally collapse like he did last year.”
Happy 74th birthday to Chicago White Sox/Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who spent the morning watching workouts.
“God bless him because I don’t think I’m going to make it to 74,” Guillen laughed. “He really means a lot to us.”
You could say Reinsdorf was Guillen’s “real dad,” he said, “My dad spent a few dollars on me but Jerry made me rich.”
Guillen noted that Reinsdorf shares the same birthday as former Sox pitcher and current BP pitcher Kevin Hickey.
“Jerry looks better than he does!” Guillen joked.
Wed., Feb. 24, 2010
A Boring Wednesday
To tweet or not to tweet? That seemed to be the question Wednesday, although it seemed to end up as a tempest in a teapot.
Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010
News of the Day
Had to be the performance Andruw Jones put on during batting practice when the early position players hit on a separate field. Jones came to camp in great shape.
We experimented today during camp with a lot of Social Media feeds, Twitter video and photos and the like. If you want up-to-date reports, follow me on Twitter @InsideTheSox (it’s free and amazingly easy, so try Twitter out, even if just to follow me).
While I can’t replicate the video of Carlos Quentin hitting or Gordon Beckham hitting on this blog, I can give you some images (courtesy of Team Photog extraordiniare Ron Vesely) of the first sunny day of camp:
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
White Sox fans, with all the great coverage of Frank Thomas’ retirement, we thought it might be useful to pull together a quick reference page of articles about Thomas, his retirement and his potential to be a Hall of Famer. Hope you enjoy…
Ozzie: Frank “one of the best” Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times
‘Big Hurt’ calls it quits, press conference Friday Dave Van Dyck, Chicago Trib
Thomas’ place in history secure Dave Van Dyck, Chicago Trib
Hitting guru recalls Thomas’ prowess David Haugh, Chicago Trib
Frank Thomas major force in his time Phil Rogers, Chicago Trib
Big Hurt even better than you think? Rob Neyer, ESPN.com
Thomas calls it a career Scot Gregor, Daily Herald
Former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas to announce retirement Friday Bruce Levine, ESPNChicago.com
Big Hurt decides to call it a career Scott Merkin, MLB.com
Thomas ‘at peace’ with retirement Scott Merkin, MLB.com
Thomas relishes his accomplishments Scott Merkin, MLB.com
Thomas deserves Hall of Fame on first ballot Dan Cahill, Chicago Sun-Times
Frank Thomas ‘proud, honored’ that the White Sox will retire his No. 35 Dave Van Dyck, Chicago Trib
Thomas doesn’t take a shot at steroid users Scot Gregor, Daily Herald
Thomas retires with Sox; next stop Cooperstown? Scot Gregor, Daily Herald
Don’t loathe Frank for his earnestness Phil Ariva, Southtown Star
Bowing out gracefully, at peace Melissa Isaacson, ESPNChicago.com
Reinsdorf: Put Thomas in HOF Melissa Isaacson, ESPNChicago.com
Thomas leaves legacy as greatest player in White Sox history Tom Verducci, SI.com
Big Hurt truly did it his way George Bremer, Boston Herald
White Sox to retire Big Hurt’s No. 35 Lisa Winston, MLB.com
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Monday, Feb. 22, 2010
News of the Day
Rain once again hampered today’s workout, driving many players indoors and abbreviating much of the outdoor activity. The second half of the pitching group threw today, but as manager Ozzie Guillen repeatedly reminded, ” You are not going to win a job on the first day, so relax and be smart.”
Media spoke to both Mark Buehrle and Jake Peavy today about Guillen’s naming Buehrle his Opening Day starter. While Buehrle praised Peavy as being the No. 1 starter, Peavy deferred to Buehrle, saying he more than deserved the honor.
And Guillen on why he made the announcement on Day 1 of the spring: “I didn’t want the media asking me day after day who was going to start Opening Day. This way, it’s over. I announced it.”
According to the experts, the sun will be out the rest of the week (at least to the weekend) and temperatures should warm.
“It will be nice to at least be able to field a ground ball,” one coach joked.
I;m not disclosing sources, but word is that after 21 straight victories, Team Kevin Hickey/Harold Baines’ golf winless streak now stands at two dating to September 2009.
30 years since the Miracle on Ice? Really. It ranks up there during my lifetime in terms of the where-were-you-when moments. What are some of yours?
Man on the Moon
Do you believe in miracles?
World Series victory
To name a few candidates …
Sunday, Feb. 21, 2009
Day 1 of spring training was abbreviated someone because of morning rain. After physicals and a quick team meeting in the clubhouse, the team stretched inside the weight room with Allen Thomas, strength and conditioning coach.
The pitchers and catchers then headed outside for a look at one-year-old Camelback Ranch Glendale. After loosing up by playing catch in the outfield, half the pitchers threw their first bullpen (the other half go tomorrow). Then it was on to conditioning and work in the weight room. All in all, a quick day.
GM Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen spoke to the media at length after the workout. To see parts of their interview, click here.
News of the Day
Guillen named Mark Buehrle the Opening Day starter, with Jake Peavy going in game two. The next three are still to be determined.
With this start, Buehrle (who is 2-1 in seven previous OD starts) will pass White Sox great Billy Pierce for most OD honors. Pierce started White Sox openers in 1951-52, 54 and 56-59. Buehrle took the mound in 2002-06 and 2008-09.
Quote of the Day
Prior to today’s workout, newly acquired Andruw Jones was telling coach Joey Cora that he was going to prove he was the best centerfielder in camp.
“You should be,” Cora responded, “the only people here now are pitchers and catchers.”
New of the Day 2
Utility player Freddie Bynum has been released from his minor league contract so that he can pursue an opportunity to play in Japan.
Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010
White Sox pitchers, catchers and position players stopped by unofficially today, some playing catch (Mark Buehrle and John Danks), some setting up their lockers (Gordon Beckham, A.J.) and some spent time working out in the weight room.
It is cold and rainy here today (I know, I know), and the forecast is for this weather to hang around for the next couple of days.
Ozzie flies into town tonight, and everyone is looking forward to taking the field tomorrow morning.
You can follow White Sox news and notes through a variety of Social Media options: this blog, Facebook and Twitter (@InsideTheSox). My hope is to send items throughout the day and then provide some kind of summary here later in the day so that readers can respond/post comments.
You can also follow whitesox.com reporter Scott Merkin’s tweets and stories on our website.
What do you think will be the important story lines for the White Sox this spring training? Post them and we’ll make sure to follow up throughout Feb/March.
The complex looks amazing. The plants, trees, grass, etc, have really settled in and taken hold in Year 2 of the site.
Yes, it’s true, MLB Network is going to produce a reality TV show, called “The Club,” that will feature the interactions of Jerry Reinsdorf, Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen (along with a cast of others). The six episodes will begin to air in July. Hopefully, we give baseball fans a peak behind the scenes into the conversations and decisions that help form a Major League team. I’ll write more on this project tomorrow and will keep you posted all spring long.
I certainly felt old when Frank Thomas announced his retirement from baseball. For a long time, Frank was the one guy in the White Sox clubhouse with more “seniority” than me. Now, as I begin my 19th spring training and 20th year in baseball, I just feel old.
And if you didn’t read it, ESPN’s Rob Neyer offered a great look back at Frank Thomas’ career and HOF credentials.