April 2012

Opening Day Preparations

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

As the White Sox jump out to an early 4-0 lead in Cleveland this morning, work is underway around U.S. Cellular Field to prepare for Friday’s home opener.  Late yesterday, the White Sox released the following information for fans attending Friday’s game:

CHICAGO WHITE SOX OPENING HOME SERIES ADVISORY

The Chicago White Sox are making the following recommendations to fans attending Opening Series games against the Detroit Tigers:

  • First pitch of Opening Day, presented by U.S. Cellular, is Friday, April 13 at 1:10 p.m.; the second game of the series is Saturday, April 14 at 3:10 p.m.; and the series finale is Sunday, April 15 at 1:10 p.m.
  • There are a limited number of standing-room-only tickets available for Friday’s home opener and these are the only tickets remaining for the game.  Tickets for the remainder of the weekend are available at the White Sox ticket office at U.S. Cellular Field, online at whitesox.com, through Ticketmaster phone lines at (866) SOX-GAME.
  • Fans should only purchase tickets through authorized White Sox ticket agents.  There has been an increase in the amount of counterfeit tickets being sold on the secondary market both locally and nationally.  Purchasing tickets through the White Sox ticket office, whitesox.com, Ticketmaster or Stub Hub are the best ways to guarantee valid purchases.
  • The White Sox strongly recommend that fans utilize public transportation.  The CTA Red Line stops near the ballpark at 35th Street, and the Green Line is two blocks further east at 35th Street.
  • There also is a Metra stop at 35th Street, just east of the Dan Ryan Expressway, along the Rock Island line.  Metra will increase its service on game days to accommodate White Sox fans. For the most up-to-date game day service information including weekend inbound train schedules to meet the various scheduled first pitch start times, check metrarail.com.
  • Gates to the ballpark open two hours before the start time of the Opening Day game and Sunday’s game, and one and one half hours before Saturday’s game.
  • The Bacardi at the Park restaurant near Gate 5 of U.S. Cellular Field is again open this season.  The restaurant will be open to the public on Opening Day at 6 a.m., with media outlets broadcasting live from the venue. A breakfast buffet, coffee and soft drinks will be served until 9 a.m. when regular food and beverage service will commence.  Fans wishing to attend the broadcasts should park in Lot A.  Bacardi at the Park will open at 11 a.m. on the day of all home games the remainder of the season.
  • The Miller Lite Bullpen Sports Bar will open two and one half hours before first pitch of Thursday – Sunday games and one and one half hours before games on Monday – Wednesday (limited to the first 500 fans 21 and over).
  • Parking lots open three hours before the start time of the Opening Day game and Sunday’s game, while they will open two hours before the start of Saturday’s game.  Fans holding reserved parking coupons should display the coupons prominently as they approach the ballpark.
  • Prepaid red coupons are accepted in Lots A, B, C and G, and prepaid green coupons are accepted in Lots F and L only.  Cash parking will be very limited when lots open (Lots G, F and L; Lot A in the early morning only).  Fans seeking cash parking should follow directional signs to available lots.  Cash parking is $25 on weekdays and $23 on weekends.
  • Fans planning to park and take the CTA downtown to work in the morning can park in Lot A (cash parking) starting at 5 a.m.  This option is for fans returning to the ballpark for the game.  Lot A is accessible from Wentworth Avenue between 33rd and 35th Streets.  Tailgating will not be allowed in Lot A on Opening Day until three hours before the start of the game, when the rest of the parking lots open.
  • Free shuttle service will be available on Opening Day from parking lots at 31st Street and Moe Drive (ONLY if all cash lots are filled at the ballpark).
  • Fans holding tickets for the upper level will not be able to access other levels of the ballpark.  This policy ensures fans safely and comfortably enjoy the game with access to the areas of the ballpark where they bought tickets.
  • In accordance with the Illinois law, smoking is prohibited in all areas of U.S. Cellular Field.  There is a designated smoking area outside of Gate 2 and Gate 5.  Those fans wishing to smoke must proceed to the ground level at the base of the ramps at Gate 2 and Gate 5.
  • White Sox magnetic schedules will be given to all fans in attendance on Opening Day, courtesy of U.S. Cellular.  The first 20,000 fans at Saturday’s game will receive a White Sox knit bomber hat.  Sunday is a Kids Day and game tickets are available for kids 13 and under (with a fully paid adult) for just $1 at the ticket windows on the day of the game (subject to availability).
  • Lot B at Gate 5 of the ballpark is designated for cars displaying state-issued disability placards or license plates.  In addition, any guests in need of assistance will be allowed by ballpark personnel to be dropped off and/or picked up in Lot B.  Fans will have access to Lot B and Gate 5 (located north of the ballpark; across 35th Street) via 33rd Street.
  • Alcohol cannot be taken from the park or consumed on public ways, in observation of city regulations.
  • Finally, the White Sox ask fans to be respectful of the neighborhood and homes surrounding the ballpark before and after games.

Common Ground

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

 

Preparations are well underway to kick off another season of White Sox baseball at U.S. Cellular Field.  Staff are putting the finishing touches on the ballpark for what promises to be a fantastic home opener (weather permitting, of course).  Although the traditionally superstitious may take exception with the date, here we are looking forward to LUCKY Friday the 13th of April at 1:10 p.m.

For the home opener vs. Detroit, all fans in attendance will receive a 2012 White Sox magnet, presented by U.S. Cellular, as they enter the ballpark.   To avoid missing out on any pre-game ceremonies, we suggest fans arrive by 12:30 p.m.  The National Anthem will be performed by national recording artist and Academy of Country Music Award winner Jack Ingram.

Grammy award-winning rapper, actor and South Side native COMMON has this season’s honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the home opener.  COMMON, a lifelong Sox fan and former Bulls ball boy, is the founder of the Common Ground Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower underprivileged youth to be strong citizens and includes programs dedicated to leadership development & empowerment, educational development, creative expression, as well as a book club.  He is hosting the foundation’s annual Awards Gala and Fundraiser on Saturday night at the Ritz Carlton here in Chicago.  For making the South Side proud, the White Sox are honored to have you COMMON!

 

The fun continues on Saturday, April 14 at 3:10 p.m.  The first 20,000 fans in attendance will receive a White Sox knit bomber hat (see image below).

Also for Saturday’s game, Kierra Franklin, a Girl Scout Ambassador in troop 60823 of Chicago, will throw out the first pitch.  She is currently working on developing a career camp for middle school-aged girls for her Gold Award project.

The final game of the opening series is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. on Jackie Robinson Day, an extremely important day across all of Major League Baseball.

White Sox players, coaches and manager Robin Ventura will wear No. 42 to honor Robinson.  There also will be a very special ceremonial first pitch honoring four generations of African American contributions to baseball.  Additionally, April 15 is the first throwback Sunday, where the White Sox will wear red pinstriped throwback uniforms and red Sox caps to honor the 1972 team for their 40th anniversary.  The Sox will continue this at the remaining Sunday home games this season.

Finally, this Sunday is the first Kids Day of 2012. Tickets for kids 13 and under are available for only $1 (with a fully paid adult) at the ticket window on the day of the game. Before the game, players will sign autographs and the kids will be able to run the bases after the game (weather permitting).

We are all looking forward to a great season of White Sox baseball. If you can’t make it out to the ballpark this weekend, you can watch Friday and Saturday’s games on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Sunday’s game will be aired on WGN-TV.

Road Trip Notes

 PK currently is tied with Hall of Famer Luke Appling for second in franchise history with 3,528 total bases.  With his next hit, Konerko will move into sole possession of second, trailing only Frank Thomas (3,949).

  • Alejando DeAza’s lead off home run last night was the first lead-off shot of his career and first by a White Sox hitter since Scotty Pods did it on 10/2/09 at Detroit.
  • How did Robin Ventura celebrate his first career managerial victory on Saturday night, with tons of calls and texts from friends and a bottle of Dom Perignon from Adam Dunn.
  • When Ventura won his first game and Hector Santiago earned his first career save, it marked the first time in Major League history a manager netted his first victory and a rookie pitcher his first save in the same game.
  • Adam Dunn’s Opening Day home run in Texas was the eighth of his career, tying Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson for the most in baseball history.

Tigers Pitching

Friday: Max Scherzer vs. Jake Peavy

Saturday: Adam Wilk vs. Gavin Floyd

Sunday: Rick Procello vs. Chris Sale

Home Opener Notes of Interest

The White Sox have won nine of their last 10 home openers (2007 the exception) when they face the Tigers Friday at 1:10 p.m. (the only tickets remaining for the opener are standing room, available at www.whitesox.com.

The Sox are 12-9 at U.S. Cellular Field and 12-11 vs. the Tigers all-time in home openers.  Sox starters are 7-1 with a 3.62 ERA over the last 10 home openers as Jake Peavy becomes the sixth pitcher to start in the last 10 years (joining Mark Buehrle, Esteban Loaiza, Jose Contreras, Javier Vazquez and Edwin Jackson).

 

Media Tour: Inside Look at U.S. Cellular Field

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Today, Chicago White Sox media took a behind-the-scenes tour of what’s new at U.S. Cellular Field for the 2012 season.

The tour began in the Stadium Club, where members of the media could see, smell and taste new menu items, courtesy of Levy Restaurant.  Fans sitting in the Club Level will be able to enjoy these new items throughout the season.

The tour continued with a first look at the Dugout Shop presented by Nike, one of a few new stores open inside the ballpark, located at Section 123.  Here fans are able to purchase White Sox Nike apparel for men, women and children.

After this, members of the media ventured along the 100-level behind home plate to see a handful of giveaway items for the coming season, including a 1972 replica jersey like the ones the players will wear on Sunday home games.  Visit whitesox.com/promos for a complete listing of the 2012 promotional schedule.

Just in case there weren’t enough good eats earlier in the tour, Sportservice provided samples of dozens of new items that will be available in the 100-level and 500-level.  Hot dog and popcorn vendors walked around, voices booming, while organist Lori Moreland played familiar ballpark tunes.  Anticipation and excitement for Friday’s game was buzzing in the air.

Although they were still working on the finishing touches, media also were able to see the new Red Jacket Store located at Section 142, which will feature men’s and women’s vintage White Sox apparel.

At every game this season, fans will be able to purchase raffle tickets in hopes of winning the White Sox smart car (pictured below), donated by an Orland Park dealership.  All proceeds will benefit Chicago White Sox Charities.  Pretty “smart” idea, don’t you think?

The tour concluded at the Chicago Sports Depot across the street from the ballpark.  Media walked all around the two floors and more than 12,000 square feet, fully stocked with the very best selection in merchandise for the White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, Fire, Cubs and other local professional and college teams.

All in all, the day was a great success.  Brooks Boyer (White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing), Joey Nigro (Sportservice general manager) and Olegario Soto (Levy Restaurant executive chef) were available throughout the tour to provide inside scoop and answer any questions. Everyone enjoyed themselves, saw some new and exciting additions to U.S. Cellular Field, and all of us are that much closer to the first White Sox home game of the year.  Three days to go…

 

 

 

Opening Day

Friday, April 6, 2012

 Busy Morning

 Random notes …

Waking up to catch the 8:15 a.m. bus to the ballpark and having it be close to full … seeing Robin and his son heading toward the bus together and seeing how much they walked alike … hearing from Harold Baines that this is his 31st Opening Day in the big leagues … seeing Adam Dunn’s Opening Day haircut and hearing, “Hey, who’s the new guy?” … President George W. Bush stopping in the clubhouse pregame to meet our players, pose for photos and say hello … Pete Incaviglia saying hello to former OK State teammate Robin Ventura prior to the game …

RV on Opening Day

 How do you feel being finally here?

It’s great. I think guys are excited. You know you do all that work, and now you get to actually go play and it all counts. This is the fun part.

Are you nervous?

I mean yeah, you are, you’re excited. But it’s not like you play. When you play there are different things you go through; this is more mental and just thinking of different things that may come up. Trying to look ahead and how you’re going to react to things.

Dale Sveum said he didn’t sleep much because he was thinking about Opening Day…

I slept all right. I had the day off yesterday, so I slept fine.

Are you going to play Adam Dunn in the field at all this series?

I haven’t gotten that far. Right now that’s something, unless anything with Paul happens, probably not. Maybe in Cleveland.

Do you have a set plan for when you’ll play him?

Not necessarily. But I could see him doing something in Cleveland, maybe playing first base at some point in Cleveland.

Will you play him in the outfield as well?

Yeah, but we have enough outfield guys where I think we can keep him at first. We still have Lillibridge and Fukudome who can play the outfield, so I’d rather have them out there than have him go out there.

Will Lillibridge play the next few days against the lefties?

Yeah, he might get in there probably the third day. I can see that happening. We just have to get through today first.

Do the relievers know their roles? The closer?

Yes. They know. I’ve talked to them, and they understand where I’m coming from and what I’m thinking and why I’m doing things. We’re all on the same page.

Is there a reason why you didn’t announce the closer?

No, I just don’t see the need to have to announce it. I think at some point it’s not going to be the same guy all of the time. Not necessarily thinking ahead in terms of a committee bullpen, but the guy coming into the ninth will end up being different at certain points of the season.

So it will sometimes be determined by matchups?

Yeah, it could depend on how guys do against certain teams and matchups. If we had Mariano Rivera, I would be able to tell everybody that we have a closer.

Is part of that just wanting all your guys prepared all the time for any role?

Yeah. For them, they understand when they’re coming in and when they’re likely to be used, so that’s enough for them to know.

Was the decision based on shielding them from questions going into the season?

No, I think they’ve gotten more questions. They didn’t have any answers for them, but they probably got more questions. It’s more of just getting ready for today and not worrying about all of the other stuff.

Are you feeling comfortable with how you’ve progressed thus far?

For me it’s good to talk back-and-forth. That happened all spring, talking about different situations. Even though it looked like nothing was really going on because you’re moving a guy in at certain times for a full inning, during the course of the inning you’re talking back-and-forth about the likelihood of using somebody in a certain situation. So that was going on a lot during spring. This is different because now you’re cutting down to 25 guys instead of having to manage – we started out with 50-something and then even 30. So it’s different, but I feel like we’ve done that thinking and talking back-and-forth not only with Coop, but with Mark [Parent] and everybody else. I like asking questions to the coaches about what they’re seeing with the guys that they’re paying attention to.

Are you finding you’re asking less questions?

I feel more comfortable. I don’t know if I’m talking less or more, I’m just asking the questions that I want an answer from them on. To see if they’re seeing the same thing I’m seeing or thinking. I’m doing more of that. I feel comfortable, but until we get in it and do it, it’s different.

Do you think the media makes a bigger deal out of the job it takes to be a manager than what is reality?

No, it’s a big deal. It’s hard. I’m not saying it’s easy at all. It’s time consuming. I wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming but your plate gets full pretty quick. People have always said, and I’ve had a lot of friends that are managers say, that your staff is very important. And that’s probably the biggest truth out of all of it; you have to have trust in your staff and what they’re doing, and that they’re conveying the same message that you want. That’s what I take comfort in – that I have guys that I trust in.

 Do you have more of an AL mentality, NL mentality or just a baseball mentality?

 It’s just more baseball. The National League lends itself more to the whole team being part of it, because you have double switches and bench players that play. Certain teams will have guys on the bench in the American League that won’t see playing time for weeks at a time. In the National League that’s very rare. So for a team game, the National League is more conducive to that than the American League. But it’s still baseball; it’s just a little different with the DH.

Can you walk into this park without thinking about the two grand slams that you hit?

Yeah, I mean we’re just trying to play a game. I’m worried more about going out to BP and throwing strikes than I am about whatever happened here.

Ron Washington and some of the other veteran managers had spoken with you. What did you take away from those conversations?

They were good conversations, again just about the staff and different things about how you think, and when you go home how you rethink the game. You have to do what you believe is right, and that’s the most important thing. That’s what I’m sticking with. Whatever you’re thinking is in your gut, that’s what you’ve got to do. If you believe in that then you can sleep a lot easier at night. When you’re waffling back and forth on decisions you make, those are the ones that will keep you up.

Is it somewhat like a fraternity between the managers?

Yeah, I think having played third base in the past, you run through a lot of guys that have been third base coaches. Wash [Ron Washington] was in Oakland for a lot of years so you have a certain type of relationship with those guys. Throughout my career you see those guys and you get to talk to them, so it’s probably more than just if I came out of nowhere and became a manager.

Did you get a lot of calls from people in the last few days?

Yeah, there were a lot of calls. I had to turn the phone off so I could sleep.

Was it baseball people, family or friends?

It was everybody. It’s been good.

Is dealing with the media more than you expected?

I understand that this is part of it. I realize that I’m going to have to talk about what took place and kind of what’s going on. It’s not my favorite part, but I get it. I understand that I have to do it.

Shaking Hands, Wishing Well

Rangers President Nolan Ryan stopped by the White Sox clubhouse Friday pregame.  He and Ventura shook hands, congratulated one another and wished each other well for 2012.  It was the first time the two had talked since a certain day in Arlington a few years ago …

 Special Hello

To all the White Sox fans who attended our special Opening Day watch party at Bacardi at the Park in U.S. Cellular Field.  I heard the atmosphere was electric, and that #letsgosox was trending.  Thanks, White Sox fans!

 

Danks speaks with the media

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Below is the transcript of John Danks’ media session on the eve of his first Opening Day start.

On the honor of getting the Opening Day start:

“It’s a huge honor. I think every starting pitcher wants to throw on Opening Day. It’s exciting. We’ll see how it goes. I’m looking forward to it.”

On if he knows anyone he’ll be facing from his years in the minors with Texas:

“Not any more. I hardly know anyone over there anymore. There are a couple of guys I played with coming up but it isn’t the same as the first couple of years I came over here to play Texas. I’ve said it before; it could be against anyone it’ll still be exciting. I’m looking forward to it. I wish it was today, but I’ll try to get some sleep tonight and try to win a ballgame tomorrow.”

On if there’s added pressure being the No. 1 guy:

“No, it’s kind of cliché but whoever has the ball that day is kind of who we are counting on. We have five No. 1s the way I look at it. How much success we have is going to be strongly dictated on how well we throw the ball. I have full faith in the guys we have. We have five guys who give us a chance to win every time we go out and that’s the goal. We’ll try to take some of the pressure off the offense by keeping the other team in check and that will start tomorrow.”

On if the team’s ready for the season to start:

“Every time you get to this point you’re ready for the season to start. We were ready to get out of Arizona and now we’re ready to get the season going.”

On how he’d evaluate his spring:

“It got better as it went on. It was pretty bad at first, but I knew all along I was going to be where I needed to be. I had to put in some extra work this year because I was pretty bad at the beginning, but I feel ready. I feel ready to get the ball rolling.”

On if he ever dreamed of playing in the majors with the Rangers:

“Yeah, that’s the only team I knew at the time. I wanted to be a Ranger at that time and get to the big leagues. Never did I imagine being traded to Chicago, that’s just not something you think about, but I’ve been here five years now and I’m excited to be here another five.”

On how many family and friends will be in attendance:

“Oh who knows, a lot? Probably, if I had to guess, 20-ish. It’ll be exciting to see some people and hopefully I don’t embarrass them tomorrow.”

On Rangers Ballpark at Arlington:

“I love it. It was always exciting coming here as a kid. It’s been exciting coming here for me as a player because I’m so close to home that there are always people up here. I’m hoping to throw well tomorrow.”

On his career record vs. Texas:

“I’m always hoping for a big game. I don’t worry about my career numbers; it is what it is. They’re a good team; they’ve been a good team since I was in the big leagues. I’m playing against back-to-back American League Champs, couldn’t ask for a better stage. I want to get out there and have a good game to put myself on the map and put the White Sox on the map. People aren’t expecting much from us, but if we have a good series here people might start thinking twice about the White Sox.”

On if he roots for the Rangers when they’re in the playoffs:

“I was rooting more for players; I wasn’t rooting for a certain team. I wasn’t rooting for a certain team in the playoffs. I was rooting in the World Series for Edwin (Jackson) to do well and I have some buddies still over there, so it was more rooting for players rather than teams. When it comes down to it, I root for the American League I guess, so I was disappointed they didn’t win it, but I didn’t play real close attention.”

On if the team needs to get off to a fast start:

“We’d definitely like to have a better start than we’ve had the past few years. You can dig a hole that might be too deep this early in the season. Obviously it’s a long season and anything can happen, but definitely, we don’t want to start in a hole too early this season and then have to work our way out of it. We want to try to stay up near the top of the division all year and it starts tomorrow.”

On if he’s worried about getting off to a slow start and not being able to come back:

“Not at all – I haven’t even thought about it. I’m going about it like we’re going to get off to a great start and just trying to think like that. We’re all 0-0 at this point so I’m just going to try to go out there and try to win a ballgame tomorrow.”

On Robin Ventura and Nolan Ryan’s past:

“It isn’t something you see a ton outside of here. It was a long time ago. I don’t know if I was even born yet when that happened. It’s exciting for Robin just like it is for me because it’s a first; it doesn’t matter where it is. There’s a little extra back story to it but I don’t think it’s something that’s mentioned too much. I don’t think that’s going to be something that’s mentioned too much but we might take a couple of stabs at Robin if we win a couple of games here, but until then we’re not saying anything.”

On if they’ve taken stabs at him about Nolan Ryan yet:

“I haven’t joked with him about it. I need to learn him first to see if I can. He might beat me up if I do joke about it.”

On the Rangers’ lineup:

“Without a doubt they’re a good lineup up and down. They got guys off the bench that don’t miss a beat when they come in the game. You just got to stay focused, stay aggressive and see what happens.”

On the team’s tough April:

“Regardless of who we’re playing we have to play well. There really isn’t an easy game in the American League. We have to play well. We’re talented enough and capable of winning a lot of ballgames, but we have to play, that’s just the facts. We have to play well, limit our mistakes and take advantage of other teams’ mistakes and see what happens.”

The Eve

Thursday, April 5, 2012

If you’re a White Sox fan, you can’t help but feel like a kid on Christmas Eve with the excitement of Opening Day less than 24 hours away.  Everyone, from the players to the front office staff, is ready to get the 2012 season underway.

John Danks is certainly pumped up about taking the mound tomorrow.

“You couldn’t ask for a better stage,” said Danks.  “If you go out and throw well, you put yourself on the map and the Sox on the map.”

The Texas-native also touched on the prognostications that do not have the White Sox in the running for the division.

“If everything goes as we plan it, there’s going to be a lot of people backpedaling on where they have us right now.”

Robin Ventura also met with the media during the workout day and here’s a transcript of what he had to say:

How do you feel before Opening Day?

It’s good to get here. Guys are excited and ready to go. It’s been a lot of work going into it, but now you get here it’s fun.

About the process so far…

I think once you start going and leave Arizona, get into these Big League parks, it changes. Not only in the way I feel or the way I’m looking at it, but the players; you can just feel their energy and focus pick up once you leave Arizona and get to a Big League park.

Do you have your lineup set for tomorrow?

Yeah. It’s in there somewhere, I don’t know if it’s posted yet but I wrote it out. I do know what it is.

So we’re going to find out tomorrow?

No, it should be in there today.

Was it something you thought a lot about?

You know, you do it all during spring and kind of kick it around with different things, but the way guys have either performed, or their history, you kind of go by that. You go with what you think will give you the best shot.

Do you break the season up into segments?

No, I mean right now we’re just worried about playing tomorrow. I can’t think too far ahead. It’s Opening Day, you’re just more excited about that than you are getting these guys out there. I’m just happy we got here fairly healthy. That’s a big part of getting through spring training is getting everybody here feeling pretty good.

Do you feel much different now compared to when you got hired?

When I took it [the job] it was the whole offseason, so you weren’t really doing baseball stuff on the field. Most of it was reports and a lot of paperwork and different things. Now it’s spring training; you get in uniform, get on the field and get to talk to guys face-to-face and see them play. That’s just a different feeling. It’s been a comfortable month as far as from where it started to where we’re at now. They understand me, I understand them a lot better. We’re just ready to go.

What comes to mind when you come to Texas?

Well I mean I’m not playing, so to me they can get all hyped up on it all they want. I’ve played here in the past, it’s not like I never came back here. So they can get riled up all they want; it’s happened before. I’m concerned more about what my guys are doing and how we play than I’m worrying about if I get booed.

Looking back, what we’re you thinking when you charged Nolan Ryan?

I’ve been asked that plenty of times. It’s more of kind of what the teams were going through at the time, just what was going on with those teams. It wasn’t a-me-against-him thing; it was more of what the teams were going through.

How do you recall that moment now?

Again, it was more of what the teams were going through. Everybody’s made a lot of it, and they can if they want, but when you play a team game and you’re in a locker room with 25 guys sometimes you’re asked to do things that probably aren’t in your comfort zone. But for me, that was me. I needed to kind of be that person at that point and it is what it is.

Any thought on the Rangers decision not to play the video in the ballpark.

No. I mean I’ve seen it, it’s not like I haven’t seen it. It’s up to them. They can play it if they want, it’s not going to change any decision I make or anything else I do. So it’s up to them.

Have you ever talked to Nolan about it?

No, I’ve actually never run into him. I think when we went to Surprise they had a, I think it was a owner’s breakfast or luncheon, so I didn’t run into him.

What is Opening Day like for you?

It’s exciting. You get to actually run a club, and Opening Days are always exciting. This is different because you’re not a player and you don’t get to actually go out and get a hit, or throw somebody out or anything like that. So it is different. Mentally, your mind’s on other people besides just if you’re ready.

Do you think you’ll have the ‘jitters’ like when you were a player?

Yeah, I mean with the excitement, you should have that. You have that with games in the middle of a season. I don’t see that changing just because you’re the manager. I expect, I would I hope that I care enough that it happens. Otherwise something’s wrong with me.

Nothing’s changed about your decision to wait until tomorrow to reveal the closer?

Nothing’s changed.

It is still a decision that you’re processing?

No, I have an idea.

Has that idea crystallized in the last week?

Yeah, I think you go with what you think is going to give your team the best opportunity. And that’s the decision. I think you look at who you’ve got, and what’s best for the team, and that’s my job. My job is to decide what I think is best. And I’ve come to that conclusion.

Why are you waiting for Opening Day to announce it?

I just don’t see a reason to have to do it [now]. They’ll know. They’ll know before the game. It’s not like I’m asking them to go hit or catch. They’re just going to pitch, so I think they’ll be fine.

Is everybody (Don Cooper) on the same page?

Yeah. That’s one of the comforts I have in dealing with Coop; he knows these guys. In the first year you don’t want to do something totally crazy, but when you come up with ideas that move people around and do different things you want to make sure it’s a sound decision. And you want to get their take on it. So we’re all comfortable with it.

Closing In

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Major League Baseball’s season begins tonight with the Marlins vs. the Cardinals, so official Opening Day rosters are due later today.

After today’s final exhibition game against the Astros in Houston, the White Sox travel up to Dallas/Ft. Worth/Arlington to prepare for Friday’s Opening Day of the Robin Ventura era.  The team works out tomorrow from 11 am- 1 pm with media availability in the clubhouse after the workout.

There is a rumor that at least one foursome of Sox staffers is going to tackle the TPC golf course following the workout.

Yelled At

I got yelled at by ballpark security today when I wandered down the left field line to take a picture of the spot where Juan Uribe made his great ninth-inning catch in Game 4 of the 2005 World Series.  “We don’t allow people to come down past the photo box,” he said to me.  “I just want to take a picture of where Juan made his catch,” I tried to explain but then let it drop.  After all, we won.

Just For Fun

A group of 10 guys decided to have some fun with the Master’s Golf Tournament by selecting a pick to follow this weekend, so now I am rooting for Luke Donald (a pretty good option given I had the seventh pick in the “draft.”)  The first three … Tiger, Phil and then McElroy.

Confession

I’m sure I mentioned this before, but I happened to grow up a Houston Astros fan circa 1980-86 (it was my first Little League team).  So it was fun last night to see Jose Cruz around the batting cage.  On the wall entering the press box are team photos of all the Astros teams from 1962 to today.  Brings back memories of those playoff teams from the 1980s.  I may have been the only Terry Puhl fan in all of Iowa.

Apologies

Apparently, at least one reader “affiliated” with both the White Sox and the Kansas Jayhawks was upset that I did not mention the connection.  Sorry, Jacqueline Buzard, for not writing about your ties to KU, and sorry as well for the result of the game.

Nice to See

Former White Sox pitcher Kip Wells and current Astros radio broadcaster, Brett Dolan.  Kip stopped by and laughed at how the faces change and get younger.  Brett, who helped the Sox out while we were in Tucson and he was working there, is in his seventh season of broadcasting Astros games.  Time flies.

Happy Birthday

To Herm Schneider, literally the best trainer in the game today.  My guess is he will celebrate with a plate full of vegetables.

The Return

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

So strange to return to Houston and Minute Maid Park.

 

Lots of memories here, “Oh, yeah,” said Paul Konerko, one of just two members from that 2005 World Series winning team still active with the Sox (AJ is the other).

In some ways, 2005 seems like yesterday – especially when you are here – and in others it seems a long time ago.

I still remember the last two plays of the game, both sparking gems by Juan Uribe.  The on-field reaction.  The dash with Jerry Reinsdorf, Eddie Einhorn and others down the suite hallway to the elevator.  The ride down that seemed interminable.  Being escorted into the weight room adjacent to our clubhouse for the presentation of the Commissioner’s trophy.  That was the moment, surrounded by co-workers with Jerry, Kenny and Ozzie on the stage with Bud Selig.

The White Sox were World Series Champions!

Random Items From BP

Ranch seemed to be the favorite sunflower seed flavor.

A few White Sox fans turned out to cheer on the South Siders.

“This is going to be a fun BP,” said one Sox who watched and listened to the Astros hitting session.

Tyler Flowers crushed a ball in BP high off the left field façade.

Familiar faces in Carlos Lee, Lucas Harrell and Mike Barnett.

Reliever Jesse Crain resides in Houston, while Adam Dunn lives nearby in The Woodlands.

A Few Stats

Paul Konerko is 15-24 (.625) with four runs and three RBI over his last seven games and is hitting .406 (26-64) with six RBI in 20 contests overall.

AJ Pierzynski is 9-21 (.429) with three home runs and eight RBI in his last seven games.

Eduardo Escobar is hitting .370 (20-54) with six RBI in 21 games.

Nate Jones has made seven consecutive scoreless appearances (6.2 IP) with 15 strikeouts.  Hector Santiago has allowed just one earned run over 9.0 IP, and seven of his eight appearances have been scoreless.  Addison Reed has made seven scoreless appearances this spring.

Robin On Opening Day

Before tonight’s game, manager Robin Ventura projected Friday’s Opening Day lineup … DeAza, Morel, Dunn, PK, AJ, Rios, Alexei, Dayan and Beckham.

New Food at the Ballpark

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Food at the Ballpark

Get your taste buds ready! Lots of new and unique food items are coming to U.S. Cellular Field for the 2012 season. The White Sox are adding to an already great ballpark menu by bringing an even larger variety of fresh and exciting foods to the ballpark. Don’t worry – your signature favorites will still be there.

Here are a few of the new menu items fans can enjoy at the 100- and 500-level, courtesy of Sportservice:

The Balkan Dog. A favorite in Eastern Europe, this combination of pork, beef and lamb (Cevapcici) will be serviced with diced white onions and a zesty red pepper and eggplant sauce on pita bread. A great alternative to the traditional ballpark dog.

DaBurger Double Play. Offered at the Burger Barn and topped with cheddar, bacon, BBQ sauce and caramelized onions, or for a different spin topped with produce and your choice of condiments. Either way, it is guaranteed to be delicious. The Burger Barn also offers the “Juicy Lucy” stuffed with bacon and cheddar or jalapeno and cream cheese.

Fans sitting in the Club Level can look forward to even more mouth-watering options thanks to Levy Restaurants. Check out Meatball Mania, a new spin on an old favorite. A skewer of six meatballs styled in traditional beef with marinara, chicken meatballs with green chile verde, or thai pork with ginger-soy barbecue. There’s no wrong way to go.

Dozens of other new menu items include a Vienna hot dog with pastrami bacon, a kelly green souvenir helmet full of French fries covered in delicious toppings, a vegan sloppy joe dubbed the “Sloppy Jane” and many more.

And for those folks concerned about nutritional values, we have plenty of healthy options as well.  There are turkey burgers, veggie dogs, garden burgers, vegetarian taco salads, corn off the cob and fresh fruit cups.

Check out the rest of the new menu items on deck this season here at whitesox.com (NEWS tab).

I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.

New Fan-Produced Television Commercial – “Moments”

The newest White Sox television commercial, “Moments,” was created by a duo of native Chicagoans and lifelong White Sox fans Matt Dahl and Derek Smith.  The spot was selected by the White Sox as one of four winning submissions, from nearly 300 spots, for the team’s 2012 advertising campaign.

Fans were asked to create 30-second TV spots supporting the White Sox campaign, “White Sox Baseball. Appreciate the Game.”  These commercials were submitted through Poptent, an online community of thousands of creative video producers looking to have their ideas and work adopted by major brands and high-profile organizations.

The three remaining chosen submissions will be announced later this spring, after the much-anticipated home opener vs. Detroit on Friday, April 13.

Dahl and Smith, along with the creators of the three other selected spots, will each receive $7,500 for their efforts.

If you have not seen the new spot, here you go, MOMENTS.

Moving Day

Monday, April 2, 2012

As much as you love arriving in Arizona in February, you are equally pleased when the day arrives to depart and get the season underway.

“As much as I love this place,” one veteran of the clubhouse said, “I’m still happy to leave.”

It’s time, and everyone is excited to get the season going.

One Last Time With RV in Glendale

Manager Robin Ventura met with the media prior to the game for one last time in Glendale.  The exchange:

What’s your overall evaluation of spring training?

I’m happy with it. I mean where you start, when guys come in they’re getting to know me; I’m getting to know them and the staff, everything else. They’ve done everything that we’ve asked of them. Most importantly, nobody’s seeing Herm [Schneider] a lot, so that’s the most important part. You kind of go through spring and see guys that are trying to find their swing and just get into that and be ready for the season. So I’m happy with it.

Do the guys that are looking for ‘bounce-back years’ (Dunn, Rios, Beckham) look ready?

Yeah, you know for me it was more mental in them than it is the physical and the ability. I think the ability is there. Every season is different, so to see them come in, the way that they’re motivated when they came in was important. I’m happy, and they just need to keep that going.

Is the batting order you’ve used the one that you like?

Yeah, for right now it is. That’s not guaranteed to be the Opening Day one. That’s one of the things I’ve messed with all throughout spring is putting guys in different spots; not necessarily how that game goes but just how we like it and the way it goes through the lineup.

What about Adam Dunn do you like in the No. 3 spot?

He gets on base a lot. Even though he might strike out a little bit, he does walk a lot. To me that’s a good thing right in front of Paul [Konerko].

Are you excited about Opening Day being just four days away?

Yeah, I think everybody’s really ready to get out of here and get going. You can only play games that don’t mean something for so long, and guys are pretty happy to be getting out of here today and getting closer to when everything counts.

What’s been the biggest difference for you from when you first started until now?

It’s just been a process. Everybody’s trying to feel each other out as far as personality and what you see, and the work we’ve asked them to do. So that part’s different. They understand what we’re asking them to do, the accountability and what’s expected. It’s nice to get to this point.

When will you make the decision on the closer?

Hopefully when we’re winning in the ninth [inning] in the first game. I hope to do that.

Does it matter to you whether he’s left handed or right handed?

No. I will know, and they will know. I just don’t feel the need to tell everybody and make a statement about it.

Even in Houston?

No. I just don’t see a need to do it.

Is there something to be gained by holding that announcement back?

Maybe. Maybe not. When we go into the game they’ll at least know who’s going, the guys will.

Do you know now who that is?

No.

Is that because you have several choices?

I have choices. I think we have an idea, it’s just I don’t want to say it right now.

Are you afraid to go with a young guy?

No. I mean he’s definitely a possibility. So are Addison and Matt and Jesse.

Is it nice to have so many choices?

Yeah, I feel good with the way our back-end of the bullpen is.

Have there been any surprises for you this spring?

Yeah, you see a guy like Nate Jones who’s kind of come through, didn’t necessarily have a spot when you visualized it and then all of a sudden you go through spring and see how he’s progressed and done things. Those are the good surprises.

How impressed have you been with Hector Santiago?

I’ve been impressed. You hear things about certain guys, but to witness it – and it’s not just his ability, it’s how he carries himself, his personality- he’s been fun to watch.

Going into the season with a healthy Jake Peavy has got to be good?

Yeah, it is. That’s the most important part for me yesterday was him getting through that and feeling good and coming in here today and feeling good.

How’d you enjoy your first spring in this role?

It was fun. It’s busy, I can tell you that. There’s a lot of work to it.

Rock Chalk or UK

We are scheduled to arrive in Houston around 9 pm, so hopes are that we will catch the second half of tonight’s NCAA Championship game.

Assistant Trainer Brian Ball (a UK grad) and Nate Jones (a Kentucky native) are strongly rooting for the Wildcats, while third base coach Joe McEwing is cheering loudly for Kansas.

“Kentucky Basketball and Kentucky bourbon,” Ball said.  “Two of the best things in life.”

To prove it, he went back in his office and showed off two bottles he intends to use to celebrate tonight’s Kentucky win (or perhaps nurse a loss).

We spent some time researching White Sox ties to UK and KU and to the states they represent.  The results were a little sparse.

Twenty White Sox alumns came from Kansas, while 20 more from the state of Kentucky.  Notables from the state of Kansas included Fred McMullin, Ron Schueler, and Neil Allen, with Allen being the most recent.  From Kentucky came Lee Tannehill, Chris Snopek, Marv Foley, Brian Drahman, Joe Cowley, Joe Hall, Jon Rauch, Josh Stewart.

Three Sox also went to the University of Kentucky — Marv Foley, Rod Bolton and Jeff Abbott, while none attended Kansas (that we could find).

The best story of all belonged to former Sox outfielder Joe Hall (1994).  Hall  actually was named for longtime Kentucky basketball coach, Joe B. Hall.

Someone Cares

You cannot find a nicer, more considerate person than Nancy Nesnidal, who has worked with Sox general managers back to Larry Himes.  She truly makes this office run each spring, and no one is a better packer.

To give you an idea of how thoughtful Nancy is, she came to my earlier this spring with a concern.  Our ballpark is right next to a small airfield.  For the first three years, a stunt plane would often fly about, doing loops and flying all around the complex.  The plane was gone this spring.

“Do you think the pilot is OK,” Nancy asked me with legitimate concern one day.

“Sure,  I heard him early one morning before you got here,” I told her … which was not really true but I didn’t want Nancy to spend the spring worrying about some unknown flier.

Anyway, Nancy is constantly on me to recycle.  I get notes on my desk.  She goes through my trash looking for plastic bottles and aluminum cans, and she singlehandedly had a recycling bin placed in our dining room.

Today’s note left on my desk said simply: “Please Recycle.”

“Did you see my note,” Nancy asked, smiling.

Sure did, Nancy, sure did.

Early Start

My day started by taking a photo of manager Robin Ventura and his son, Jack, as they came into the clubhouse today, both dressed in suites for today’s trip.

“Want me to take a photo,” I asked.  “My guess is mom is going to want that.”

Quote of the Week

On seeing coach Joe McEwing bouncing around the clubhouse at 7 am recently …

“Who dropped a quarter in Joe today?”

Opening Day Tweet-Up

With excitement swelling as Opening Day nears, we decided that the best way to celebrate Opening Day away was by throwing a Tweet-Up at Bacardi at the Park!

This free event includes complimentary food and soda, as well as discounted drinks. Prizes will be awarded throughout the game via the hashtag #letsgosox! Special guests will also be making appearances throughout the game.

Our Opening Day celebration starts at noon with the White Sox, the Score, Bacardi at the Park and of course, White Sox fans.

There’s a catch–to be admitted to the event, you’ll have to pay close attention to our Twitter account @whitesox and our Facebook page in the coming days for details. That’s all I can say for now, but we hope to see you there!

 

 

 

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