On The Eve of The Opener …
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Cactus League baseball starts Monday for the White Sox, and the game will be webcast on whitesox.com and heard over the radio on WSCR Sports Radio 670 am. White Sox baseball actually starts a bit earlier in the day with a “B” game at Cleveland at 10 am. Nothing like starting out with a doubleheader.
The Sox lineup for the B Game: Olmedo 6, Short 7, Gallagher 3, McPherson 5, Young 9, Danks dh, Thompson 8, Phegley 2, Kuhn 4 and Molina.
For the A Game vs. the Dodgers: De Aza 8, AJ2, Rios 9, PK 3, Dunn dh, Alexei 6, Viciedo 7, Morel 5, Beckham 4, Humber 1. Also scheduled to pitch vs. LAD are Will Ohman, Jesse Crain, Addison Reed, Hector Santiago, Pedro Hernandez, Charlie Leesman and Deunte Heath.
Is this the Opening Day lineup for the White Sox, manager Robin Ventura was asked?
“It could. For us, starting right now, I like it. It can change, but the way I look at it, I like it.”
Focus fell on Rios hitting third with Morel and Beckham eighth and ninth. Ventura reminded the media that everyone entered the spring with a clean slate.
“I like Alex three,” Ventura said. “He has been swinging it great. You look at everything he has, he would be that guy that fits that spot. I trust him right there.”
As for Morel and Beckham, Ventura said they are flexible.
“They are guys who have the ability to move around the lineup for me,” he said, pointing out the mix may be different for lefties than righties. “It can change.”
Will exhibition games help Ventura prepare for the regular season?
“These will,” he said. “You get guys in and out and still can do stuff defensively and offensively.”
Other Sox starters this week: Tues at Anaheim: John Danks; Wed vs. Milwaukee: Jake Peavy; and Thursday at Texas: Hector Santiago. The Sox also have a B Game scheduled for Thursday morning.
Off To The Races
Proud members of the clubhouse’s RedNeck Row were heading out to today’s NASCAR race in Phoenix. We will try to collect some photos, etc. from the race and share them tomorrow.
24 White Sox players signed contracts today in our annual parade up to see Nancy Nesnidal prior to the start of games. All members of the White Sox 40-man roster are signed for 2012.
Manager Robin Ventura invited former Sox coach Art Kusnyer arrived in camp as a special instructor.
“I’m very happy Cave’s here,” Ventura said. “Everybody’s happy when Cave’s here. He’s just that good a person and a coach. The mood was better today with Cave around.”
Always entertaining, Cave joined several other coaches this morning in telling stories. The topic of El Duque, Orlando Hernandez, came up.
The game being discussed … Game 3 of the 2005 American League Division Playoffs at Boston’s Fenway Park. With the White Sox up, 4-3, in the sixth inning, El Duque was summoned into the game with the bases loaded to face Jason Varitek. Tough to find a more tense moment.
As he left the bullpen, El Duque said to his relief mates, “Remember, it is just a game.”
He proceeded to retire Varitek and Tony Graffanino on pop ups before striking out Johnny Damon to end the threat.
“People forget he threw 3.0 scoreless IP,” pitching coach Don Cooper reminded the group. And El Duque struck out four over that stint.
El Duque always told me, one coach said, that baseball isn’t pressure. “Sitting down to dinner and not having food on the table, that’s pressure.”
That relief appearance by El Duque was one of the key moments of the 2005 World Series drive, and it is commemorated on the bronze and granite sculpture outside Gate 4 U.S. Cellular Field on Champions Plaza.
“Hey Coop,” El Duque said after the game. “You can bring me in with one man on base, maybe two, but no more three, OK?”
Classy competitor. Proud. A Champion.
Joke of the Day
For whatever reason, I often listen to an XM comedy station on the morning drive in to the ballpark. Today, one joke stuck with me (perhaps because it was 6:23 a.m. on a Sunday):
“I used to compete in sports all the time,” the comedian explained. “Then I learned you could buy trophies. Now, I’m good at everything.”