March 2012

18 Innings Of Baseball

Saturday, March 10, 2012

It was a long day of baseball for the White Sox and Camelback Ranch Glendale employees today with a split, day/night doubleheader.

I woke up at 6 am and headed into the ballpark kinda dreading the length of the coming day.

Then, Art of the Pale Hose stopped by and said excitedly, “This is great.  18 innings of baseball.  This is perfect.”

Put things in perspective, although a 7 am to 11 pm day still is a long one …

But …

Like they say about rain delays, doubleheaders and extra inning games, if you have to play it, you might as well win it.

And win it the White Sox did in the afternoon marquee as Ken Williams Jr.’s infield single scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the White Sox rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Texas Rangers, 3-2 in dramatic fashion.

Best Image

From yesterday, was seeing Paul Konerko’s dad bring Paulie’s son down to say hello to PK on the field before the game.

Trivia

I mentioned yesterday that former Coach Joe Nossek liked to stump PK with daily trivia questions.  Here was Joe’s from Saturday …

Name the only man to catch two Perfect Games …

Credit to bench coach Mark Parent, who nailed it.  PK was still thinking the last I saw him pregame today.  Answer later.

Speed of Play

I had time Friday morning to talk with minor league shortstop Tyler Saladino.

Saladino, who arrived in Glendale for minor league mini camp, has earned some time up with the big league club, joining the team for the last three days.

He talked about his view of the game from the dugout, how it differed from Class A ball and what he tried to learn during his time “up.”

“The game moves so fast,” he said.  “And while you see it and know it, you can’t really prepare for it until your brain processes it.  For example, at Texas the other day, a guy hit a routine ground ball to Esco (Escobar).  He charged it and made a strong throw across the diamond and just beat the runner.  To a fan watching, they might have thought that was a simple play, but I went ‘Wow.’”

Saladino explained that in A ball, there was only one or two guys you had to worry about on a play like that, that a shortstop could sit back and comfortably make the throw and record the out.  But not in the speed of the big league game.

“If you sit back on that ball and not charge it, he beats it out,” Saladino said.  “You can tell yourself that, but you need to see it and feel it.

“Even if I don’t play an inning in a game or get an at-bat, being at these major league games is a great opportunity to learn,” he said.  “I have to take advantage of it.  And the coaches up here, they may know that one small thing, one little piece of advice, that is the difference in a play, a game, even a season.”

He also offered a funny glimpse of minor league baseball from last season.  Saladino and his roommates pooled their money for a television set for the apartment.  There was a 90-day return policy on the TV, so by mid May, they had taken it back.

“After that we sat around and talked at night,” he laughed.  “One guy could play the guitar really well, and I went down to the music store and bought a lukelele.  We’d play music.  Pretty soon, we didn’t miss the television set.”

Answer

Ron Hassey

Message

So is it a bad sign when your boss – and I mean the big boss, Jerry Reinsdorf – remarks about your shoes?

Here’s how they look, see what you think ….

 

 

My response:  “At least they will be able to identify the body.”

 

Busy Day

 

 Friday, March 9, 2012

Anytime the Cubs and White Sox play, it means a hectic, busy day … at least for the PR folks.  Today was no different as the White Sox dropped a 5-1 decision to the Cubs at Glendale before a crowd of over 10,000 fans.

 Chris Sale started and was the loser for the White Sox.

“They’re all going to be hard on themselves when they give up runs,” Manager Robin Ventura said after the game.

The White Sox play two on Saturday with a 1:05 pm game against the Rangers and a 7:05 pm contest with the Dodgers.  The day game can been seen on whitesox.com and heard on WSCR SportsRadio 670 am.

Sir, Do You Have Any Curveballs?

The routine is the same each day.  Some poor, unsuspecting kid knocks on the door of the coaches locker room.

“Is Mr. Cooper here?”

“Yes?”

“Do you have the curveballs?” the kid asks innocently.  “AJ or Herm or fill-in-the-blank said you had them.”

Laughter all around.  Never fails, except once …

One of my proud moments as a dad came a few years ago in spring training when my son served as batboy.

Down in the dugout for the game, he wisely kept his head down.  Too easy a target if they knew he was my son.

The request for curveballs naturally came along to test him.  His reaction?  “What, you think I’m stupid?!?!”

 First Win Non-Celebration

“I was kinda expecting Gatorade or something,” Ventura joked after yesterday’s first ever spring training win.  Well, I did grab the lineup card out of the dugout for him …

Welcome Back

Longtime White Sox coach Joe Nossek is in camp this week and part of next to offer his insights to Ventura and the coaching staff.  He proudly sported a special White Sox cap.

“This is one Paulie gave me when he made his first All-Star team,” Nossek recalled, pointing to the special logo on the side.  “Paulie just had a few made.”

When Joe was with the club, he and Konerko had a daily baseball trivia question routine with each trying to stump the other.

Bad News

Bad news on the MRI on outfielder Brandon Short’s left shoulder.  He ran into the center field wall yesterday at Texas and suffered a separation, but the MRI showed damage to his labrum as well which will necessitate surgery and knock him out for the 2012 season.

Art of the Pale Hose

Friend, White Sox fan, PR practitioner extraordinaire and Art of the Pale Hose blogger Art Berke is out in Glendale this week for his annual White Sox spring training baseball mix.

I keep encouraging Art to write a book of his experiences, but at the very least, check out his blog .

Danks

As I walked into the clubhouse today before lunch, John Danks walked out, carrying a bat and a helmet.

What?

Sure enough, it was bunting time for Danks with special bunting instructor Bryan Little.

“What? You think you can hit?” Gordon Beckham hollered at Danks as he took his stance in the batter’s box.

“This is easy,” Danks responded as he laid down a perfect bunt.

“If it starts boring inside, just get out of the way,” Little accurately advised.  “And get the first one down.  After that, it just gets messier.”

Shoutout

Per her request, here is a shout out to my daughter who is spending the weekend in Champaign at a high school Model UN conference, representing Payton High School.  As a proud graduate of the University of Iowa, I told her there are very few places on this planet worse.  Sorry.

Friday, March 9, 2012

 

Busy Day

Anytime the Cubs and White Sox play, it means a hectic, busy day … at least for the PR folks.  Today was no different as the White Sox dropped a 5-1 decision to the Cubs at Glendale before a crowd of over 10,000 fans.

Chris Sale started and was the loser for the White Sox.

“They’re all going to be hard on themselves when they give up runs,” Manager Robin Ventura said after the game.

The White Sox play two on Saturday with a 1:05 pm game against the Rangers and a 7:05 pm contest with the Dodgers.  The day game can been seen on whitesox.com and heard on WSCR SportsRadio 670 am.

Sir, Do You Have Any Curveballs?

The routine is the same each day.  Some poor, unsuspecting kid knocks on the door of the coaches locker room.

“Is Mr. Cooper here?”

“Yes?”

“Do you have the curveballs?” the kid asks innocently.  “AJ or Herm or fill-in-the-blank said you had them.”

Laughter all around.  Never fails, except once …

One of my proud moments as a dad came a few years ago in spring training when my son served as batboy.

Down in the dugout for the game, he wisely kept his head down.  Too easy a target if they knew he was my son.

The request for curveballs naturally came along to test him.  His reaction?  “What, you think I’m stupid?!?!”

First Win Non-Celebration

 

“I was kinda expecting Gatorade or something,” Ventura joked after yesterday’s first ever spring training win.  Well, I did grab the lineup card out of the dugout for him …

Welcome Back

 

Longtime White Sox coach Joe Nossek is in camp this week and part of next to offer his insights to Ventura and the coaching staff.  He proudly sported a special White Sox cap.

“This is one Paulie gave me when he made his first All-Star team,” Nossek recalled, pointing to the special logo on the side.  “Paulie just had a few made.”

When Joe was with the club, he and Konerko had a daily baseball trivia question routine with each trying to stump the other.

Bad News

 

Bad news on the MRI on outfielder Brandon Short’s left shoulder.  He ran into the center field wall yesterday at Texas and suffered a separation, but the MRI showed damage to his labrum as well which will necessitate surgery and knock him out for the 2012 season.

Art of the Pale Hose

 

Friend, White Sox fan, PR practitioner extraordinaire and Art of the Pale Hose blogger Art Berke is out in Glendale this week for his annual White Sox spring training baseball mix.

I keep encouraging Art to write a book of his experiences, but at the very least, check out his blog at http://artofthepalehose.mlblogs.com/.

Danks

 

As I walked into the clubhouse today before lunch, John Danks walked out, carrying a bat and a helmet.

What?

Sure enough, it was bunting time for Danks with special bunting instructor Bryan Little.

“What? You think you can hit?” Gordon Beckham hollered at Danks as he took his stance in the batter’s box.

“This is easy,” Danks responded as he laid down a perfect bunt.

“If it starts boring inside, just get out of the way,” Little accurately advised.  “And get the first one down.  After that, it just gets messier.”

Shoutout

 

Per her request, here is a shout out to my daughter who is spending the weekend in Champaign at a high school Model UN conference, representing Payton High School.  As a proud graduate of the University of Iowa, I told her there are very few places on this planet worse.  Sorry.

Congratulations

Thursday, March 8, 2012
 
Adam Dunn homered, doubled and drove in four runs as the White Sox gave manager Robin Ventura his first win of the Cactus League with a 6-3 victory at Texas this afternoon in Surprise.  After Gavin Floyd started the morning’s B Game against the Rangers, lefty Hector Santiago (0 ER/2.0 IP, 3 SO) started the marquee for the Sox.
 
“The kids got it done on the mound,” bullpen coach Juan Nieves said as the Sox left the field.
 
“He’s (Santiago) a bulldog when he goes in there,” said Ventura.  “He doesn’t back down.”
 
Brent Morel also had two hits for the Sox, one a line drive to right field, his second opposite field hit of the spring.
 
“Nice to see them swinging like that and piecing them together,” Ventura said postgame, pointing out the quality at bats by Morel, Dunn and Gordon Beckham.
 
Dunn’s double and home run drew praise.
 
“They were right on the barrel,” Ventura said.  “You can tell he’s seeing it and is confident at the plate, and that’s all I’m really looking for right now, positive Abs when he goes up there.  He’s in a great spot right now.”
 
With the victory, the Sox are now 1-3 on the spring.
 
“It’s good to get wins just for the psyche of guys,” Ventura said.  “It’s nice to walk off the field shaking hands, but most of the guys you want to see it are already driving home.”
 
When Ventura managed his first game on Monday, one jokester questioned how long it had been since the veteran player-turned manager had seen the ninth inning of a spring training game.  Probably 1989?
 
The Sox face the Chicago Cubs tomorrow in a 1:05 pm game in Glendale.  Chris Sale starts for the White Sox, and fans can see the game on WGN-TV or listen on WSCR 670 am.
 
Big Ouch
 
Outfielder Brandon Short suffered a slight separation of his left shoulder when he crashed into the center field fence trying to make the catch.  Trainer Herm Schneider was taking Short back to Glendale for an MRI as the game ended.  Pitcher Duente Heath avoided serious injury when a line drive back through the box ricocheted into center field but left him with only a contusion (still had to hurt, though).

Sox Drop Third and the Blue Crustacean

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The White Sox dropped a 10-6 decision to the Brewers Wednesday at CBR, falling to 0-3 in the Cactus League.  The White Sox play twice at Texas tomorrow, first playing a B Game at 10 am followed by the regularly scheduled game at 1 p.m.  Gavin Floyd will start in the B Game, while Hector Santiago starts on the big field.

The Sox lineup at the Rangers at 1 pm: DeAza 8, Morel 5, Viciedo 7, Dunn 3, Flowers 2, Fukudome 9, Beckham 4, Johnson dh, Escobar 6.

In the B Game, it will be: Kuhn 4, Short 7, Gallagher 3, Phegley 2, Mitchell dh, Danks 8, McPherson 5, Thompson 9, Olmedo 6.

For All The Right Reasons

The White Sox teamed up with the Pro vs. G.I. Joe folks last summer at U.S. Cellular Field, and the nonprofit organization that provides America’s heroes the opportunity to play against their favorite

professional athletes in online video game competitions made a trip out to Glendale for the next three days.  You can find them near the home plate entrance to the ballpark.

Prior to today’s game, Sox players Jesse Crain, John Danks, Chris Sale and Matt Thornton stopped by the Pro vs. G.I. Joe truck at home plate and competed against active military members currently

deployed overseas in Afghanistan.  The players and troops also will have the ability to speak with one another while they compete in various video games.

Manager Robin Ventura, bench coach Mark Parent, pitching coach Don Cooper and guest instructor Art Kusnyer also stopped by to thank troops and lend their support to the event.

Several dozen Arizona National Guard members also came by to play against their “teammates” on deployment.

“We’ll leave the video playing to the younger guys,” Ventura said, pointing at Sale.  “And we brought our ace.”

Sergeant Benjamin Moline of the Arizona National Guard will throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game. Moline, a lifelong White Sox fan, was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago.

Put That One on the Board

Two White Sox preseason television spots debuted today.  Let me know what you think (links are below) …

One takes me (and probably a lot of other White Sox fans) back to July 31, 1991 (I had been on the job for all of nine days).  Bases loaded, bottom of the ninth inning with the Sox down 8-6 to Texas.  Future Hall of Famer Rich Gossage was on the mound for the Rangers.  Robin Ventura, who already had homered earlier in the game, stepped to the plate.  Then this happened.

Still gives me chills and I still remember it vividly.  “One of many for him,” Harold Baines said this morning.

For the complete box score of the game (RV hit second and went 4-6 with five RBI), click here.

The second piece was shot in Chicago this January …

So I emailed both of these links to Robin and told him that while I know he didn’t care, I am sure his friends, family and kids would get a kick out of them airing.

His reaction:  the classic Ventura shrug.

… But You Can’t Take Country Out of the Man

So apparently, and allegedly, I was a topic of discussion in today’s staff meeting.

Nothing has been proven or confessed to and everything is alleged, but …

One to-be-unnamed, longtime, White Sox coach who may have been one of the best ever at his position, recently had his wife come to Phoenix for a visit.

“Where did you take her for dinner on her first night here,” an unnamed staff member asked him in the friendliest, most unassuming way possible.

“Blue Crustacean.” (names of the restaurant have been changed to protect the innocent)

“Blue Crustacean?” came the reply.  “You really pulled out all the stops.”

“I’m country,” came the alleged reply.  “Where I’m from, Blue Crustacean is big time.”

“She must really love you,” was the response.

So the next day comes along and the following alleged conversation happens:

“Where’d you go to eat last night?” the alleged staffer says to the alleged coach.

“Border Leapers.”

“Border Leapers?” is the staffer’s reply.  “Well, at least she got enough food.”

Of course, this type of “big league” treatment can’t go without some organizational response.

So at the end of today’s staff meeting of baseball operations personnel, managers, coaches, etc., general manager Ken Williams made a point to explain big league expectations to the group.  For example, he said, being careful to not name names, allegedly one member of our staff is taking his wife to Blue Crustacean and Border Leapers upon her arrival in the Valley.  We expect more (I guess you can insert a frozen lobster joke here if you really want) …

At that, Williams is loudly interrupted by an explosion from one of the coaches – the coach thereby indicting himself to the group – who jumps to an assumption and yells out, “Where is Reifert, that bald so and so …”

I, of course, learn of these inaccurate and vicious rumors after the fact.  So I go to confront the alleged coach on the field during stretching.

“You’re the only one who could know,” he claimed, discounting the chance that his wife or any of his other coaching mates might have thrown him under the bus.

“Seems you out-ted yourself,” I countered.

“I used some words no one had ever heard me say,” he laughed.

“I’m sure glad no one saw me eating at Tostada Cymbals last night,” another coach added.

“Hey, I’ve been known to put a hurt on Border Leapers myself,” added manager Robin Ventura.

“We’re eating at the Chinese buffet tonight,” the alleged tight-fisted coach added with misplaced pride. “$6.99.”

All unproven.  All alleged.  And just for the record, I think Harold Baines belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Tempe

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The White Sox dropped their first road contest of the Cactus League Tuesday afternoon, losing 6-2 to the Los Angeles Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.  All eight runs were scored in the game’s first three innings.

“Cave needs to work on his game,” manager Robin Ventura said in response to a joking question about Art Kusnyer’s impact on the club.

“Again, defensively, I like what’s going on,” Ventura said on a day when Gordon Beckham again ranged all over the field and threw a baserunner out at home.  “I like that we’re being aggressive, stealing some bags, and not sitting back.”

Matt Thornton (1.0 IP), Nate Jones (2.0), Donnie Veal (1.0) and Anthony Carter (1.0) combined for five shutout innings.

John Danks (3 ER/2.0 IP) suffered the loss.

“It wasn’t fun,” the left-hander said.  “But better now than April.  The ball was doing what I wanted, but it wasn’t going where I wanted it.”

After the game, Ventura stopped just short of naming Danks the Sox Opening Day starter.

Right now,” Ventura said.  “He is going to be that guy.  I like him as that guy right now.  I’m not making it official, (but) it could schedule that way.”

Beckham went 2-2, Tyler Flowers 1-2 with a run and Brent Lillibridge added a double to lead the Sox offense.

Wednesday

With temperatures forecast to dip into the 60s here in the Valley, the White Sox take on the Milwaukee Brewers in a 1:05 p.m. game at Glendale.  Jake Peavy takes the hill for the Sox.

Sox Drop Opener

Monday, March 5, 2012

A five-run sixth inning propelled the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox in the Cactus League opener/spring training managerial debut of Sox skipper Robin Ventura.

“I don’t like losing,” Ventura said postgame.  “I wish we won, but it’s good to get going and get guys out there.  It’s never fun to lose games, but it’s spring training.”

Alexei Ramirez was 2-2 with an RBI and Dan Johnson added a two-run homer for the Sox.  Philip Humber started and allowed one run in 2.0 IP.  Ventura made his first trip to the mound in the sixth inning when he relieved pitcher Nestor Molina (L, 5 ER/1.1 IP).

“Lexei had a great day,” Ventura said.  “Humber gave up the double — but he was locating, his velocity was fine – other than that, he was great.”

The coaching staff had to cheer in the Dodgers fourth inning when Kosuke Fukodome fielded a double off the wall, turned and fired a strike to cut-off man Gordon Beckham, whose throw nailed the runner at the plate to end the inning.

“Defensively, I liked what happened,” Ventura said.  “You work on certain stuff.  You see it happen out on the field, and you’re happy about it.  The play from Kusuke to Gordon – stuff you work on that you’re happy to see they are getting it.”

Morning B Game

The White Sox beat the Indians, 5-2, in a 10 am “B” game at Goodyear.

The Sox scored three times in the fifth and two in the sixth … Ray Olmedo grounded into a RBI fielder’s choice in the fifth and Ozzie Martinez had a RBI groundout in the sixth … the other three runs scored via a wild pitch, passed ball and dropped third strike … Delwyn Young and Trayce Thompson each recorded doubles.

Sox Starter Jose Quintana allowed two runs on three hits with two strikeouts over 2.0 IP … the “bullpen” combined to work 7.0 scoreless IP with eight strikeouts … Jhan Marinez went 1.0 IP with three strikeouts … Simon Castro threw 2.0 scoreless IP with a strikeout and Deunte Heath struck out two in 1.0 IP.

OF Jose Martinez ended the game by throwing out a Cleveland runner at home plate from right field (double play).

Tuesday

The White Sox hit the road with a 1:05 p.m. game at Tempe against the Los Angeles Angels.  John Danks takes the mound.  The White Sox plan to take batting practice in Glendale before heading over to Tempe for the contest.

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.”

More Pitching

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.

Signings

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.

Cave

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.”

M-V-P, M-V-P

Saturday, March 3, 2012
 

This Dayan Viciedo switch to left-field sure is paying dividends, isn’t it?

“He’s hot playing left field,” laughed manager Robin Ventura.
 
Viciedo’s first-inning grand slam to left field led Team Dunn to an 8-4 victory over Team Konerko In the first intrasquad game of the Robin Ventura era (although Ventura was quick to point out he did not manage either team, so his career record is not 1-1).
As part of its pregame preparation, Team Dunn circled new acquisition Kosuke Fokudome in short left field as he led a rousing pregame pep talk Japanese baseball style.
 
“That’s the stuff you look for,” Ventura said, “besides the on field stuff, the comraderie.  It’s good to see already.”
 
Viciedo was one of the last players off the field after the game, and we all explained he could pick up his MVP Award inside the clubhouse.  Catcher A.J. Pierzynski added to the 4-0 Dunn lead with a RBI single in the second inning before Team Konerko rallied for four runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by consecutive RBI hits from Jared Mitchell and Brandon Short (a bases loaded double). But Team Dunn added four more runs in the fifth to seal the 8-4 victory and bragging rights.
 
Postgame, captain Konerko could just shake his head at the defeat (Don’t worry, he won’t hear much about it over the next day or so).  Prior to the game, Konerko was one of the final players to arrive in the dugout, and he was greeted with a smart-aleck: “All rise!”  The captain immediately kicked a trash can in his dugout in jest to inspire his troops (didn’t work so well).
 
Chris Sale and Brian Omogrosso each worked 2.0 scoreless IP for Team Dunn. Team Konerko starter Gavin Floyd surrendered five runs over 2.0 IP.
 
“Sale looked great,” Ventura said.
 
Saturday News
 
After the game, Ventura broke a little lineup news, telling reporters that he hoped to bat A.J. second – like he did today – and PK fourth in the order, like Konerko will on Monday.
 
“Right now, I’d like to have AJ in there,” Ventura said.  “He handles the bat great and is always a tough out.  I like him there, and I’d like to bat Paulie fourth.  It’s a good spot for him.”
 
Shingo-san
 
Former White Sox closer and all-around good guy Shingo Takatsu visited camp today with a Japanese television crew.  Shingo greeted general manager Ken Williams with a big hug and after saying hello headed into the White Sox clubhouse to find A.J. and PK.  Shingo is still pitching for an independent league team in Japan, and in fact, serves as the team’s player/manager.  Has to be interesting to see him bring himself in to close the ninth inning.
Williams also told Shingo to check out the signed poster Williams has hanging in his Glendale office.
 
Here it is …
 
Photo Day and FanFest
 
It was a beautiful day in the desert and more than one thousand White Sox and Dodgers fans came out for the first FanFest at CBR.  After a 9 am workout on the stadium field, White Sox players – Team Dunn, actually – signed autographs for 30 minutes.
 
The day started at 7 am today with the annual Photo Day as White Sox players and staff posed for national and local rightsholders.
“This is the worst day of the year,” said reliever Will Ohman.  “It’s when they prove you’re ugly.”
 
Quote of the Day
 
Pitcher Dylan Axelrod, who had already finished his work for the day, was banished from the Team Dunn dugout because he wasn’t wearing pinstriped white pants.  Instead he sported road greys a la Team Konerko.
 
“Just go home,” Axelrod was told by several coaches.  “But don’t let Dunn know.”
 
“He left to get white pants and never was seen again,” Axelrod laughed.
 
True Story
 
An unnamed pitching coach arrived early at camp yesterday, around 6 am, and immediately headed into the clubhouse.  And I mean immediately.  As in he left his car running.
 
About an hour later, someone noticed the vacant car, engine purring, in the parking lot.
 
“I knew I needed to leave in a hurry,” was the response.

Blustery

Friday, March 2, 2012

It was so windy today in Glendale that I swear at one point I saw piglet fly past holding an umbrella.  And the wind meant cut-through-you cold that had staff and players heading back to the clubhouse for more layers (it also cancelled rounds of afternoon golf for some, but sadly, that is a story to be told another day).

Today was also a very busy day around camp with two early-morning advertising shoots for Major League Baseball featuring Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez, several meetings and a visit to camp by an ESPN television crew.

The weather impacted practice, a practice that featured focus on fundamentals.

“It’s a good day to do it when it’s windy like that,” said manager Robin Ventura.  “April will be like that for us.  It wasn’t quite as cold as it would be in April, but you get more done when it’s breezy and not just nice and easy.

“That’s just the right way to play baseball,” Ventura said of the team’s continual focus on fundamentals.  “It’s just what we believe, and that’s how we’re going to play this year. We want guys to understand their responsibilities and what we expect. Every team goes over it, so we’ll revisit at certain times, too.”

Ventura did confirm to the media after practice that the White Sox would open the season with 12 pitchers on the 25-man roster.  Tomorrow, the White Sox open the day with the annual Photo Day from 7-9 a.m. before some of the team works out inside CB-R in an open workout for fans from 9-10:30.  At 10:30, Sox players will sign autographs until 11 am, when the Dodgers will take over.  The Sox then split into two teams – Team Konerko and Team Dunn – for an 11:30 a.m. game on the back fields.  Chris Sale will start for one team in the game, which likely will go six or seven innings depending on pitching.

“Everybody is antsy,” Ventura said with spring training games on the horizon.  “Tomorrow will be fun having an intra-squad game. Those are usually kind of fun for guys to let loose and play a game and really get ready for when you start playing some other teams. It could be fun for us.”

The White Sox open official 2012 Cactus League play on Monday vs. the Dodgers in a 1:05 mt game with Philip Humber on the mound.  They also play a B Game Monday morning at 10 am at Cleveland’s camp in Goodyear.

On Tuesday, the Sox head to Tempe for an early spring visit to the Angels.

MLB on the Ranch

Our friends from Major League Baseball’s marketing department were at Camelback Ranch early this morning to film Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez for baseball’s 2012 advertising campaign.  As always, PK was flawless in his delivery, and The Missile had fun delivering lines in both English and Spanish.

The campaign provides a glimpse into the passion players have for the game and their commitment to their teams and fans.

Keep an eye out for the spots that will run early this summer.

On the Mound
Alexei has been in a fun mood the past couple of days…as he has provided his best Jose Contreras impersonation in between infield drills. Although our starting shortstop has a great arm, there is probably no chance he will be tossing it from the mound during a game any time soon, but here is some video of Alexei Ramirez, Spring Training Pitcher.

Cool Story

Chuck Garfien of CSN Chicago provides an interesting angle to the Ventura vs. Ryan fight in 1993.  Check it out, here.

I actually was at that game … although I didn’t pay for a ticket!  I had left the press box that day to take a signed baseball to a kid in the crowd (not something that happened very often but in this case I think the young man was ill and somehow we became aware).  About 12 rows up from the field, I find the kid just as this incredible roar went up in the stadium.  I see Ventura charge the mound.

“Uh-oh,” was my reaction, vivid to this day, and I sprinted back up to the press box (which for anyone who ever road on the one story elevator at that old ballpark … the one that seemed to take five minutes each ride) which seemed to take forever.

Another Day Closer to Games

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Today was another groundhog day in White Sox camp as we head toward our first intrasquad game on Saturday, but manager Robin Ventura did announce that right-hander Philip Humber would start the team’s first exhibition game on Monday.

The most unique aspect of the day was the annual St. Baldrick’s preparation with FOX 32’s Pat Elwood, John Danks and Jake Peavy.

When I learned that Danks and Peavy were taking part in the annual head-shaving experience to raise money for fighting cancer, it raised an eyebrow.  Danks?  Ok, he participates every year, and since he typically sports a beaten up Texas Longhorns baseball cap, no one ever really sees his bald head.  But Peavy?  No way I can imagine Jake succumbing to the clippers.

Sure enough, turns out Jake was simply there for the joy and fulfillment of shaving a teammates’ head.  In this case, it was Danks, who wanted to keep his beard through Saturday’s photo day (I guess he wants to look tough in his photos).  The result, is a clean-shaven head, making JD look like a convict, and a beard that makes him look like Grizzly Adams (well, maybe not that bad, but close).  Not a great look for John.

After the workout, media asked Ventura about the close shave.

“I missed it,” he said. “Is it shaved? Did he get his face? No? It would be nice to clean it up.”

Ventura fielded quite a few questions about pitcher Nestor Molina today.  At one point Molina faced Paul Konerko during live BP.

“He looks great.  You can always tell how guys are doing when they are hitting live, how they react to certain things and what they see,” Ventura said.  “He has a split-finger, slider and guys are nodding their head and you can hear them reacting to it.  That’s great; he’s also got great velocity in the pitches I’ve seen. He’s got great control of it, too.”

Ventura stressed that game results will go a long way to determining who earns open spots in the bullpen.

“Yeah there are some spots in the bullpen. You go out here and see what you see now; it could be different when you get into games.  As far as ability and talent and those things, there are some spots open and some guys with a lot of talent that we’re going to be able to pick from to fill them.

“Distinguishing themselves will  happen in the games. You see them react to different situations, and then we put them in different situations, and then it’s how they do. That’s what spring is for.”

Top Gun

 White Sox reliever Addison Reed was ranked as the No. 66 prospect by Baseball America magazine.

 

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