January 2012

LOOKING AHEAD, WRAPPING UP

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Must’ve heard the word “consistency” 50 times during the LOOKING AHEAD seminar: Farmer w/Flowers, Lillibridge and Morel. In approach, routine, mentally, physically, “consistency” is key during a long season, especially for a young player.  Other tidbits:

-When a fan said she and her son saw him at a community event last season, and her son told Tyler he’d hit a home run that night, which Tyler did, his response: “I like that.”

-Lillibridge on Konerko: “We all thrive off of Paulie.”

-Morel: “The best players in the game understand how to deal with failure.”

Photo: Ron Vesely

-Flowers: “I like facing guys with high ERAs.  Guys with low ERAs tend to be better pitchers.”

-Lillibridge on how he’s improved as a hitter: “I made a point to not miss pitches down the middle or get into a hole by swinging at bad pitches. I try to think up the middle – because if you’re late, it goes to right field, if you’re early, it’s probably still fair in left, and if you’re on time, it’s a shot up the middle.”

Photo: Ron Vesely

-Also said his favorite position is his natural one, shortstop, but “I love to play anywhere in the infield, and I like playing center and running around and jumping the wall.”

-When asked how he felt playing first base last season when Paulie was hurt: “I’m comfortable over there, but I felt bad because I was such a small target. I stood on the base so the guys could see me.”

-WHEN ASKED WHAT IT’S LIKE TO HAVE PEOPLE COME TO WATCH THEM PLAY BASEBALL:

> Morel: It’s pretty cool. We’re lucky.”

> Lillibridge: “You can’t beat it.  I still get nervous during every game, and I think that’s a good thing.”

-Tyler on AJ: “We get along great. We had a couple confrontations early, like he does with everybody in the league.”

-Morel: “We’re really happy that Robin is here. We have extreme confidence in our coaching staff, and after a frustratinbg year last year, we’re all looking forward to putting that behind us and just playing ball.”

And on that note…

Thank you to everyone who enjoyed the weekend with us at the Palmer House Hilton – and to everyone else who followed along the way.  Like always, SoxFest kicks off the White Sox Baseball season, and your excitement gets us excited, too.  What a fun weekend. Don’t forget – if you attended SoxFest, tomorrow we encourage you to go to www.whitesox.com/survey to share your thoughts about the event.  We value your feedback and try to make SoxFest better every year. Who’s ready for SoxFest 2013?

Well, first things first: On to Spring Training!

SLUGFEST

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Standing room only crowd for the SLUGGERS seminar: Melton w/Big Frank, Joe Crede and Kittle – which started with Kittle and Melton cracking jokes (Melton said Frank and Joe were running late because “They’re probably up in the suite stuffing their faces, with Kittle adding “They’re eating lobster.”).  Kittle talks up the White Sox Fantasy Camp. Joe and Frank show up – and Melton realizes he and Joe are wearing the same shirt.

-BEST OF FRANK:

> “I’m not worried about the Sox this year. They’ll be fine. Robin’s a steady man, a good man, he’ll be great for this ballclub.”

> On being such a great hitter: “I came up in baseball with the mentality of just getting hits, and I never changed that, but I also took my walks.”

Photo: Ron Vesely

> On steroids: “It’s a shame. Some guys wanted to be the best ever, and they got greedy. It’s called karma. Use what God gave you.”

> Advice to a young baseball player: “Have fun in your childhood. Just play and have fun. If you love it and keep going, then you can ramp it up starting around 13-14.”

> Toughest pitcher: reliever Jeff Nelson. “He was like 6’7″, dropped down with a nasty breaking ball. Could never figure that guy out.”

Photo: Ron Vesely

> Nastiest pitch he ever saw: “Pedro Martinez’ change-up. It would drop straight down like a split-fingered fastball. I’d be like “That was a split-finger fastball, right? Nope.”

-First PG 13 comment by Kittle: 11:08 CT.  Also said his toughest pitcher was third-base coach Jim Leyland, who threw batting practice for the Sox then. (Ba-dum-bum…)

BEST OF CREDE:

> Toughest pitchers: “Mariano Rivera…like I’m sure a lot of guys say.” And Jose Contreras when he was with the Yankees: “He was throwing 95-96 with a splitter for strikes. So he throws one of those, and I’m like ‘I don’t know if this is going to work out, if I have to face guys like this every day.”

> On the sequence of events during the infamous AJ play in the ’05 ALCS vs. the Angels (when Joe was at-bat and knocked in the winning run): “I thought he struck out, then he’s safe and I’m thinking ‘I hope it’s not AJ running the bases.’ They bring in Ozuna to pinch run, and I knew he would steal, so I took some pitches.  One of them was a good pitch, and I thought maybe I missed my pitch, but I still knew I had a chance to end the game.  The guy hung a slider, and I got the hit.”

Photo: Ron Vesely

> On coaching for the White Sox: “Down the road, that’s something I’d think about. I actually just interviewed for a coaching job back home…maybe I should start there.”

> “I wouldn’t have won a Silver Slugger or made an All-Star team without ‘Walk’ (Greg Walker.)” (With Frank adding, “Joe was Mr. Clutch, and he should’ve won a Gold Glove.”)

KITTLE QUIPS

> On steroids: “I popped M&Ms.”

> Joking to a fan: “Just wait back there for your butt-whooping.”

MISC.

> Fan congratulates Frank for his “award-winning performance” in the movie “Mr. Baseball.”

> Another fan tells Frank, “I’m honored to breathe the same air as you” …before saying her favorite player of all time is Joe Crede.

>  Swear that Joe preened when a woman started her question with “Crede, you’re gorgeous.”

> And finally, Frank’s reply when Melton said he should’ve been a three-time MVP instead of two: “I love you, man.”

SoxFest = LoveFest.

SUNDAY QUOTABLES

Sunday, January 29, 2012

More great quotes coming out of the SoxFest seminars today…

-The third chapter of YOUR 2012 WHITE SOX w/Stone, Robin, Coop, Manto and Parent:

-Coop on the bullpen: “We have four openings, and the guys will let us know who belongs.” Listed Addison Reed, Hector Santiago, Zach Stewart and Dylan Axelrod as candidates.

-Robin: “You can’t force a player to do something, but you can get him to want to do it.”

-Manto on Beckham: I feel like his struggles “are behind him. We’ll be doing a lot of drill work in Spring Training.”

-Parent: “We’re going to be more gritty.”

-Fan asked what Robin was going to do about Adam Dunn…his response: “Well, I know I’m going to put in the lineup on Opening Day.”

-Right at the end, a woman said most of her family members are Cubs fans, to which Robin joked loudly, “OK, we’re done here.”

SHOUT OUT

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kris V., congrats on the birth of your very first grandchild (safe for us all to assume a White Sox fan) … A little Tom Quaid bird told me today at SoxFest.

SOXFEST SUNDAY

Sunday, January 29, 2012

At 9 a.m. today, Coop was already working on the pitching schedule for Spring Training. He was surrounded by paperwork and wrote out the team’s March pitching plans on a legal pad, sliding them across the table for Robin and Mark Parent to review.

“You’ll throw the second day of spring,” Coop said to Phil Humber, who had just sat down with his breakfast.  “Plan your workout schedule around that.”

“Great,” answered Humber.

SATURDAY WRAP-UP

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nice variety of seminars to close out day two of SoxFest.  First up, From the Draft to the Major Leagues w/Assistant GM Rick Hahn, Minor League Field Coordinator Nick Capra, Director of Amateur Scouting Doug Laumann and Director of Player Development Buddy Bell.  Some interesting tidbits:

-HAHN ON TRADES THIS OFFSEASON: “We feel like we replensihed the next level of players coming to Chicago.”

-MORE HAHN: “We don’t worry about player or prospect ratings.  Our job is to get our players to Chicago.”

-HAHN, PART 3: We promote players if we feel like they can help at the next level and if they’ve earned it, regardless of pedigree.”

-BELL: “The best day of our year is when all of our draft picks sign.  And then our job is to slow everything down for them.”

-LAUMANN ON PLAYERS WHO USE FAKE NAMES/AGES: “It’s prevalant, but getting better. Major League Baseball is doing a great job of cleaning it up.”

-CAPRA ON WHITE SOX PROSPECTS:

> Jordan Danks: “If he works out a few things, we’ll have a special player there.”

> Josh Phegley: “Been unlucky with injuries, but he’s a take-charge guy.”

> Brandon Short: “Doesn’t stand out athletically, just gets the job done. He’s a sleeper.”

> Trayce Thompson: “Really excited about him. Five-tool guy, has a chance to be a great major-league player.”

> 2011 1st round pick Keenyn Walker: “Still getting acclimated to our program, but we see good things. You just can’t pass up that kind of talent.”

-BELL ON 2010 1st-round pick JARED MITCHELL: “I would take him in the draft every year. He’s doing some swing changes.  When it clicks, he’s going to be an All-Star. His ceiling is so high.”

***

BATTER’S BOX seminar w/Hawk, Adam Dunn, Brent Lillibridge and hitting coach Jeff Manto. Always interesting to hear players talk about situational hitting. Too much to type, but suffice it to say there’s quite a thought process at the plate – approach on certain counts, attacking the pitcher’s weaknesses and exploiting tendencies…good stuff.  So maybe “Don’t think, just hit” is a bit of a misnomer.  Other highlights:

DUNN ON BEING BOOED: “It’s happened before (in Cincinnati).  It’s hard, but you have to give them a reason to cheer. I feel like I can handle it.”

Photo: Ron Vesely

-AND ON THE STRUGGLES OF SWITCHING LEAGUES: “None. It’s still baseball.”

-LILLIBRIDGE ON HIS APPROACH TO HITTING: “When Manny (Ramirez) was here, it was great to pick his brain because he’s an amazing hitter.  He said he looks for a spot, not a pitch.  Doesn’t matter if you watch two strikes go by, wait for your spot.”

-AND ON HITTING IN COLD WEATHER: “Don’t try to do too much. It’s not good to add to your baseball swing. You try to swing harder to hit it out, you end up with a lot of popouts to 2B. I did enough of that in the past, so I’m not doing that again.”

-MANTO: “With a guy like Adam or any great hitter, when they struggle, as a hitting coach, there’s not really a ‘Hey, guess what I found!” moment where you just give him the answer. He just needs to find his comfort zone again and play ball.”

Adam sounded relaxed and ready for the season…

***

Final SoxFest seminar of the day: WHITE SOX MARKETING w/Senior VP of Sales/Marketing Brooks Boyer, Senior Director of Community Relations Christine O’Reilly, Director of Ticket Operations Mike Mazza and Director of Ticket Sales Tom Sheridan. A few points of note:

-BROOKS: “Our goal for every fan is to have them say when they leave, ‘Wow, what a great time!’ We want to make all 81 home games an event.

-AND ON DYNAMIC PRICING: “Prices may go down 30 percent for certain seats for some games. Best to get tickets early.”

-AND ON THE BULLS/WHITE SOX TRAINING ACADEMY IN LISLE: “There’s nothing better than teaching kids how to play the game the right way in a White Sox uniform.”

-CHRISTINE ON THE WHITE SOX VOLUNTEER CORPS WINNING THE COMMISSIONER’S AWARD FOR PHILANTHROPIC EXCELLENCE, AND COMMISSION SELIG PRESENTING THE AWARD AT SOXFEST: ” So cool! I think it’s the first time a sitting Commissioner has attended a SoxFest, so it was very exciting.”

Thank you to all the fans who shared their feedback about SoxFest, game enhancements, promotions, etc.  And on that note – we’re sending a SoxFest survey out on Monday to all attendees.  Do know we take that feedback very seriously and look forward to hearing from you.  On Monday, you can visit www.whitesox.com/survey to share your thoughts.

Photo: Ron Vesely

With tired feet, another festive Saturday SoxFest in the books. Keep following along on www.whitesox.com/soxfest, via @whitesox on Twitter and on the official Sox Facebook page (oh, and here, too!). Hope you’ve enjoyed the updates, videos and prizes so far. To those attending tonight’s Family Party at SoxFest – enjoy! More fun to come tomorrow…

SOXFEST SATURDAY

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Feels like Opening Day is right around the corner with so many Sox fans geared up and talking about the team and the season at SoxFest.  Nothing better than seeing the excitement in fans’ eyes when they get an autograph or a game-worn jersey or get to ask a player a question during a seminar.  Can’t beat SoxFest Saturday.

And speaking of seminars…

Batting leadoff today – 2012 White Sox with Robin, Coop, hitting coach Jeff Manto and bench coach Mark Parent.  Some quotes of note:

-COOP:

> “Still haven’t decided on the order of the starting rotation, but we expect them to do the bulk of the work.”

> “I like not being picked to win – like in ’05 – but we’re not coming in with low expectations.”

> On Peavy: “He’s been hampered by injuries, really, since we got him – and he’s still won some big games for us.  He’s past those injuries now, so we expect big things from him, like all our guys.”

-MANTO:

> “It’s a honor to follow “Walk” (Greg Walker).  He treated me great, have a lot of respect for him.”

> “The big thing is, each at-bat, have a plan.”

> “I may be the hitting coach, but fortunately, I’ll be surrounded by great hitting coaches too, like Robin and Bainesy.”

-PARENT:

> On his role: “Make sure what Robin wants to get done gets done.”

> “It’s important that the minor-league guys are on the same page with how we’re operating at the major-league level, doing the same things.”

Photo: Ron Vesely

-MORE ROBIN:

> “We need to prove that last year was an abherration.”

> On how the game has changed: “Video. In ’93, I think we were still using cassettes. Now you can see your whole career on one video.”

> On bringing in Parent as bench coach: “I know what I don’t know.  As a catcher, he saw the game from a different perspective.  He’ll make up for what I can’t do.”

> “I won’t treat everyone the same – you’re just not going to treat Paul Konerko the same way you would a rookie – but I will treat everyone fairly.”

Photo: Ron Vesely

> When a fan addressed him as “Coach Ventura,” he joked “That’s MANAGER Ventura!”

> Hawk mentioned that when Robin came up, he was a “shaky” 3B. Robin: “VERY shaky.” Hawk: “OK, he was bad.” Robin: “Not bad…shaky.”

> On the Nolan Ryan altercation: “It’s not like he derailed a promising UFC career.”

That and Pablo’s champagne quote from earlier are competing for best of the weekend so far…

2nd Saturday seminar: Arms Race w/Stone, Danks, Sale, Humber and Ohman.

ADVICE FOR KIDS

> Humber: Like my dad told me, ‘Never let anyone out-work you.’”

> Danks: I always remember what Nolan Ryan told me: ‘If you want to be good, throw a lot.  Practice.’”

> Sale: “Dude, have fun.  If you’re not having fun, why do it?”

> Ohman: “I’m so far removed from being a kid. Chris could be my son.”

-SALE ON CONVERTING TO A STARTER: “I’ve been doing more long toss, more long-distance running. And I actually started swimming this offseason…like Michael Phelps.”

-DANKS ON HOW TO AVOID A SLOW START: “If I knew, I wouldn’t have started 0-8 last season.”

-MORE FROM DANKS: “We were as surprised as anyone” about last season’s struggles. “I think Adam (Dunn) and Alex (Rios) are going to have huge years.”

-SALE ON HIS FIRST THOUGHT WHEN HE GOT TO THE MAJORS: “These guys hit the ball hard!”

-When a fan mentions that Stone won the Cy Young Award, Ohman deadpanned: “Let’s talk about current players.  Leave the past in the past!”

-When a little girl asked each guy about the toughest hitter they face, Danks said Michael Cuddyer. When someone said he moved from Minnesota to Colorado, Danks pumped his fist.

-Ohman’s answer: Kosuke Fukudome, “and I got a bruise on my forehead to prove it!”

-Sale couldn’t think of anyone – so Ohman grabbed the mic and answered for him: “No one can hit him.”

Next up: From Draft to MLB…

FRIDAY FINALE

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wrapped up the Friday seminars with a look back at the ride in ’05: Beltin’ Bill w/Neal Cotts, Cliff Politte, Pablo Ozuna and Joe Crede.

WHEN THEY KNEW THEY HAD A CHANCE TO ACTUALLY IN THE WORLD SERIES

> Cliff: Going up 2-0 on Boston in the ALDS, “we knew after that, with our pitching, we’d take our chances in a seven-game series.”

> Joe: same – “I saw Boston win the World Series the year before, and they were good.  So to play them the next season and win on their turf was huge.”

WHEN THE DIVISON LEAD WHITTLED DOWN IN AUG/SEPT

> Joe: “We didn’t panic.  We felt OK because of our pitching.”

> Cliff: “When it was going bad, the bullpen phone was ringing all the time.  I was like ‘Stop ringing!’”

ON THE CAMARADERIE OF THAT TEAM

> Cliff: “I keep in touch with Neal, Paul, Buehrle.  I haven’t seen Joe in six years, but it’s like I saw him yesterday.”

> Pablo: “I still talk with Uribe, Timo Perez, Damaso Marte, Freddy Garcia, Contreras.” (To which Melton replied, “So all the Irish guys.”)

Photo: Ron Vesely

WHAT THEY REMEMBER MOST ABOUT WINNING THE WORLD SERIES

> Joe: “I didn’t realize the impact when we were in Houston,  But when we got to Midway and saw all those people…and then the parade.  I mean, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  Then I go to my hometown, which has like 300 people, for a parade - and 2,000 people showed up. “

> Cliff: “It was surreal, and you guys were awesome. I remember thinking, ‘This kind of thing doesn’t happen to me.’  And we couldn’t have asked for a better place to do it.”

> Neal: “Living in Chicago full-time, that offseason I got to see how much it meant to White Sox fans. And the parade, that crowd, that moment, pretty special.”

> Pablo: “A lot of champagne, making me crazy.”

                                                 Photo: Ron Vesely

And somewhere in between, a fan got Joe to hug his wife because his wife always said “Crede’s my sweetie.” (And after the hug, Joe said, “Well, now my back feels better.”) Only at SoxFest, indeed.

Plenty more SoxFest 2012 highlights to come; looking forward to seeing more of you throughout the weekend, and keeping the rest of you updated on all the happenings.  Make sure to keep track as well at www.whitesox.com/soxfest, on Twitter (@whitesox) and on the White Sox official Facebook page – lots of cool prizes, videos and updates all weekend long.

Until tomorrow…

VIEW FROM THE INFIELD

Friday, January 27, 2012

Highlights from the 4th Friday seminar w/DJ, Paulie, Gordon Beckham and Alexei:

-Gordon on his struggles at the plate last season: “My struggles last year fall solely one me. I took a step back this offseason and really had to check myself. I feel like myself again, and I’ve done a lot of work on how I get prepared to hit the ball.”

-Alexei on trying to convince Cuban players to play for the White Sox:”My role is to let them know what a great organization this is. But I just give advice.” (Also said he got a lot of great advice on how to handle the big leagues and the US when he first came here from Jose Contreras.)

-Paul on Spring Training: “The main thing for us, start with day one of spring training. Pitch by pitch, inning by inning, to get back”

Photo: Ron Vesely

CHILDHOOD IDOLS

> Paul: “I grew up on the east coast, so Don Mattingly.”

> Alexei: “In my country, the first person you think about in baseball is Ozzie Smith.”

> Gordon: “Derek Jeter. (Then he added, “Also, when I was five, Paul started playing pro ball.”)

INFIELDING

-Gordon: “You’ve got to be ready for every play. I always think I’m about to make the greatest play in the world. It’s all about repetition.”

-Paul: “Always be ready. The second you think the ball isn’t coming your way, it always does.” (Followed by, “I’ve got the easiest job. I just go to the bag and catch it.”

-And finally, Paul on plans after he retires: “When I’m doing playing,the jig is up. I gotta go home and be a dad for awhile.”

Next up: Final Friday seminar with the ’05 guys…

COMEDY HOUR

Friday, January 27, 2012

Two-drink minimum for the “On the Mound” seminar with Farmer, Coop, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton, Gavin Floyd, Will Ohman and Chris Sale.

-Ohman on what Coop says when he comes to the mound: “The manager usually comes out for me.  I have a five-minute rule.”

-Coop was asked about acquiring Thornton prior to the ’06 season: “I told Kenny, “If you can get Thornton, we can help him.” To which Thornton replied, “What was wrong with me?”

-Thornton on the Tigers: “They have question marks, too. No doubt about it.  You know what, screw ‘em!”

-Chris Sale when asked if his wife can cook: “Are you saying I’m thin?”  (For the record: he’s at “178 pounds today.”)

-Thornton while looking at Gavin’s v-neck sweater: “Did you get that sweater for your birthday?”

-Coop on his plans for Gavin this season: “He’ll be a starter.”

Only at SoxFest…

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