Happy Presidents Day
Just for fun, we looked up all the former White Sox who shared last names with U.S. Presidents. The list …
Bobby Adams 3B 1955
Doug Adams C 1969
Herb Adams OF 1948-1950
Jeff Carter P 1991
Gene Ford P 1938
Jimmy Grant 3B 1942-1943
Frankie Hayes C 1946
Jackie Hayes 2B 1932-1940
Bo Jackson DH 1991-1993
Charlie Jackson PH 1915
Darrin Jackson LF 1994, 1999
Edwin Jackson P 2010-2011
Joe Jackson OF 1915-1920
Mike Jackson P 2004
Ron Jackson 1B 1954-1959
Jesse Jefferson P 1975-1976
Bart Johnson P 1969-1977
Charles Johnson C 2000
Connie Johnson P 1953-1956
Dan Johnson 1B 2012
Dane Johnson P 1994
Darrell Johnson C 1952
Deron Johnson DH 1975
Don Johnson P 1954
Ernie Johnson SS 1912, 1921-1923
Johnny Johnson P 1945
Lamar Johnson 1B 1974-1981
Lance Johnson OF 1988-1995
Larry Johnson C 1978
Mark Johnson C 1998-2002
Randy Johnson DH 1980
Stan Johnson OF 1960
Bob Kennedy OF 1939-1948
Vern Kennedy P 1934-1937
Larry Monroe P 1976
Billy Pierce P 1949-1961
Leo Taylor PR 1923
Wiley Taylor P 1912
Claudell Washington OF 1978-1980
George Washington OF 1935-1936
Bill Wilson OF 1950-1954
Craig Wilson 3B 1998-2000
George Wilson OF 1952
Jim Wilson P 1956-1958
Red Wilson C 1951-1954
Roy Wilson P 1928
As a member of a Major League Baseball PR Committee, we developed an idea to help publicize MLB and the Cactus League by having all 15 GMs and managers come to Chase Field this afternoon to be available to the media. Of course, around camp this first-time event is now known as “Reifert-fest.”
“Great,” I told my supporters. “Now every GM and manager in Arizona will blame me.”
“That’s our goal,” they responded.
PECOTA & Us
A lot has been said and written about the recent 2013 projections by Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA system (projects 77 wins for the White Sox in 2013) and how – for whatever reason – the system consistently underestimates the White Sox. Here is an interesting take by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-white-sox-and-beating-projections/
Can you keep a secret?
So in the coaches’ workroom there is a big image of Harold Baines on the wall, just over a countertop where Mark Salas, our bullpen catcher, and others often map out the day ahead for the catching corps in camp.
“Hey Harold,” someone challenged today, trying to get a rise out of the soft-spoken one, “since this has become a catcher’s corner, is it OK if we put up a photo of Fisk?”
So guess what’s getting shipped down in tonight’s overnight? A big photo of Carlton Fisk and an 8 x 10 photo of one of this year’s “Racing Harold.”
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s action.
Quote of the Day
Nate Jones sitting alone in the dining hall eating his post-workout lunch. He didn’t even shower or change after coming off the field.
Play of the Day
Pitcher Chris Sale scalping fellow pitcher John Danks for a good cause. Danks sat down for his annual head shave to promote and support the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a childhood cancers charity funding the most promising research to help find cures for kids with cancer.
The annual Photo Day takes place tomorow with the well-coiffed White Sox posing for early morning photos and videos. It’s always a fun day!
Did you know…
…that skipper Robin Ventura and his wife Stephanie traveled to London in the offseason to visit their oldest daughter Rachel, who is studying abroad?
Photo of the Day
One lefty assists another.
With the full squad reporting tomorrow, the Sox hitters in camp took live BP for the first time…Sox fans will be happy to know that Adam Dunn is looking very trim as he enters his third spring training with the club…Many of the pitchers are beginning the process of signing baseballs, jerseys and other items that will be used for Chicago area charities during the season.
Can’t get enough info on your favorite baseball team? Here’s a tip. Follow the White Sox account and these Sox beat writers on Twitter:
White Sox — @whitesox
Scott Merkin, whitesox.com — @scottmerkin
Mark Gonzales, Tribune — @MDGonzales
Daryl Van Shouwen, Sun-Times — @CST_soxvan
Dan Hayes, Comcast Sports — @DanHayesCSN
Doug Padilla, ESPN — @ESPNChiSox
Quote(s) of the Day
General Manager Rick Hahn, during an interview today with ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago, explained that the White Sox view their farm system as a resource for the big league club and pay little attention to annual rankings that rate the Sox system among the lowest in baseball.
“Would we prefer to be ranked higher?” Hahn asked and answered. “Yes. But from our perspective the farm system functioned extremely well in 2012.”
Hahn also pointed out that the Sox system contributed a front line starting pitcher (Chris Sale), a 25-home run outfielder (Dayan Viciedo) and a back of the bullpen arm (Addison Reed).
“And we set a major league record by using eight rookies in one game–a game we won,” Hahn added.
Something must be going right.
Hahn also discussed the bullpen roles for 2013 and the flexibility Robin Ventura will have in creating the very best matchups:
“Robin has the flexibility to use the best guy to get the most important out on any given night. Sometimes that’s not the ninth inning.”
Play of the Day
Heads up: Jared Mitchell lined a shot off the pitcher’s screen during batting practice only to have it ricochet back over the batting cage and hit the on-deck hitter right where it shouldn’t. After some laughter, the victim appeared to be OK and is day-to-day.
Full squad will be in the house. Team meeting is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. in the clubhouse with Rick and Robin.
“Mine’s not long enough to be scripted,” RV said of his team speech tomorrow. “I know they like the short part.”
Did you know…
…that promising Sox outfield prospect Trayce Thompson is the brother of Klay (Golden State Warriors) and Mychel (ex-Cleveland Cavalier now in the D-League) and the son of Mychal, who played in the NBA for 14 seasons?
Photo of the Day
Jake Peavy under the watchful eye of pitching coach Don Cooper
Tomorrow is the last “short” day of camp as the full squad reports on Sunday when GM Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura will meet with the entire club and pitchers will throw BP to hitters for the first time. One of those hitters, of course, will be slugger Adam Dunn who stopped by Camelback Ranch today.
Catcher Hector Gimenez arrived in camp and took part in workouts.
Enjoy this revealing Q&A with Courtney Hawkins, the Sox’s No. 1 draft pick in 2012:
Quote of the Day
Ventura on the importance of John Danks, who had his first bullpen session of the spring yesterday: “It’s a big one. He was our Opening Day starter last year so not having him around was a big blow. (Danks) getting healthy and being able to do the things you would expect him to do are big for us.”
With tomorrow being the last day before the full squad reports, bullpen sessions and catchers BP will be the order of the day.
Did you know…
...that Gordon Beckham’s father was a quarterback at the University of South Carolina?
Photo of the Day
Another day of bullpens in Sox camp.
The big news in camp today was John Danks’ first performance of the spring, a bullpen session. Here is Danks’ reaction to his 2013 debut.
How it felt to throw again: “It felt real good. It’s encouraging to be able to go out there and throw all four pitches and feel good after. I feel good about my performance. It’s obviously the first one, but it felt good to get out there.”
The difference between today and his offseason throwing: “It’s a little different since it’s been just my buddy and me the whole time. To have everyone out here watching is a little different, but it was good to make all of the throws and get some life behind the ball and throw strikes for the most part.”
Is it more important how you feel or where your pitches are?: “Both, really, at this point. I’m just trying to get back to being healthy. The next step is to start worrying about pitches, but I think right now it’s still proving to everyone that I’m 100 percent healthy.”
On his schedule from this point on and the timetable to be ready for Opening Day: I think I throw another bullpen in a couple of days, some BP’s after that…I’m just trying to do what I’m told. I’m not going to push things. I think the one common goal is to be healthy and out on the field. I’m going to do everything in my power to be out there.”
Can he return to where he was two years ago?: “That’s the million dollar question, really. I’ve been dealing with the shoulder for so long now you kind of forget what it feels like to be healthy. You try to figure out if what you’re feeling is normal or something that comes along with an injury. I feel great, I really do. This is the best I’ve felt in a year or so, things are on the up.”
Here’s manager Robin Ventura’s take on Danks’ outing along with a few other interesting observations.
On his impression of Danks today: “He looked great. As far as the delivery, he looked pain free. It looked free and easy, and I think that’s the good news. We’ll see what he’s like in a couple of days when he goes back out there and does it again. As far as watching him, the last time seeing him throw, the look on his face and what he was going through is a lot different right now which is great news.”
On Jeff Keppinger hitting at the top of the lineup: “I would hope so. Again, we’ll see how that goes when we start moving guys around in spring training, but with his track record of what he does and what he’s capable of you’d like to have him up there as a high average contact guy who can move the ball around. He can hit the ball out of the ballpark too, but he’s just a professional hitter.”
On the possibility of playing Brent Morel at other positions besides third base: “We might. It could give him a lot more range too, as far as what he can do. I know he can play third base, that’s not the issue. It’s giving him a little more versatility, maybe sticking him at second base, I know he’s done that before…”
On Morel making the 25-man roster: “I don’t think it’s an uphill battle, he’s in there with everybody else. I’d like to see him healthy first and then we can go from there.”
On the defense being as good as last year, maybe better: “You always want it to be better. It’s important to stay consistent with your approach being that defense is a priority…you have to wait and see before you make assumptions like that, but I’d like to be better.”
Quote of the Day
“I used to think there were three kinds of arm actions,” pitching coach Don Cooper announced after observing coach Joe McEwing throw batting practice. “But you’ve shown me there are four. I forgot disco!”
Play of the Day
Without question, Danks’ pitching debut.
Player of the Day
Outfielder Alex Rios earned Ventura’s and coach Mark Parent’s nod as camp “Player of the Day” for his round of BP.
Did you know…
…that promising outfielder Jared Mitchell, along with LSU teammate Chad Jones, were the first two student-athletes to be part of a BCS championship football team (2007) and a College World Series winner (2009)? Mitchell also was named the Most Outstanding Player of that CWS.
Photo of the Day
Danks’ bullpen session “felt real good.”
General Manager Rick Hahn and Manager Robin Ventura both confirmed a report by Comcast Sports Net Chicago’s Chuck Garfien yesterday that Ventura turned down a November offer to extend his contract through the 2015 season. Ventura, who led the Sox to an 85-77 record in his first season as manager in 2012, is signed through 2014.
“In talking to Rick, we have two more years to do this. We have good communication and everything is fine,” Ventura said. “This is my contract. I was the same way as a player … I’ll worry about it at the end of it. I want the White Sox to think in two years that I’m still the right guy for the job. I’m not holding out for anything or disappointed and not wanting to stay here. I think at the end of the contract is when you talk about it. I’m more worried about what we are doing right now with this team and this spring training more than 2015.”
“I love what I’m doing,” Ventura told Garfien about managing the White Sox. Read the complete story HERE.
More from the skipper:
Quote of the Day
“His focus isn’t on 2015 at this time,” Hahn said of Ventura. “His focus is on now. It’s really a testament to him. He’s the exception and not the rule in this game.”
Play of the Day
Newly signed free agent Jeff Keppinger and a group of position players took batting practice.
John Danks will take the mound for the first time this spring.
Did you know…
..that the White Sox spent their first two spring trainings (1901-02) in Excelsior Springs, MO?
Photo of the Day
The first day of pitchers and catchers is always special–even though the day began with 30-degree temperatures and frost covering the infield grass.
Here’s some White Sox baseball talk from the opening day of camp to warm you up after the long winter:
GENERAL MANAGER RICK HAHN ON:
John Danks’ Recovery
“The thing about Danks, which we talked about a little at SoxFest, the biggest challenge with him right now is slowing him down. When you have a guy coming back from injury, if you’re going to have some sort of hurdle or obstacle, that’s a good one to have. But, it’s going to be on [Don] Cooper and Robin [Ventura] as we go forward to make sure he’s not biting off more than he can chew. He feels strong, he looks great, he’s eager, and that’s all wonderful but we still need to put a little bit of a governor on him so that we’re going to be able to get him through hopefully seven months.”
The A.L. Central
“Our division is going to be tough. I think, obviously, Cleveland’s improved over the 68-win team they were last year and Kansas City has improved over the 72-win team they were last year, as well. I think it’s going to be tough for any one team to run away with it in the Central this year, and I think it’s going to be a fun summer…From our standpoint, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re going to compete and plan to compete with our pitching, although they’re a stronger offensive club then they (the Indians) were the day before. We still feel that we can measure up with anyone in the division one through twelve in our staff, and that’s going to be a key to our success going forward this year.”
The balance of pitching, offense and defense:
“I hope my imprint is that we lead the league in runs scored and (the least) runs allowed. But, I think it’s going to be based upon what personnel we have on hand, what’s available on the open market, the trade market and what’s available in our system before we decide on an annual basis what will be priority. My personal preference would be to emphasize pitching and defense on any given year. We’ve talked about this before, in our ballpark, being a hitter’s park, the differences between a good offense and a bad offense tend to blur a little bit. Bad offenses get picked up and good offenses can only go so far on the upside. So, the differences in the pitching staff become more important. But, if based on the talent we have in house or the talent that’s available in the market place, if it makes more sense to go more on the offensive side then we will adapt when that time comes.”
Making acquisitions to help the club:
“We’re continuing to talk to other clubs. There’s sort of an inclination when you get to camp to let everyone settle in and assess where you are, especially from a health standpoint, before you go out and make a move. But, since I’ve been here, we’ve acquired Damaso Marte and Matt Thornton in March in Spring Training deals and those are obviously players that can help a championship club. We’re going to continue to be diligent and stay in contact with clubs about some previous targets that haven’t changed hands yet as well as potentially some new ones over the coming weeks.”
Addison Reed in the closer’s role:
“Obviously he established himself last year. At the same time, I feel like we’ve got some options, if need be. Based on a given situation, if it’s Donnie Veal that needs to come in and get a tough lefty or even (Matt) Lindstrom on a certain day given the amount of usage in the last several games. I feel that Robin should have, knock on wood, the depth and alternatives to play the best matchup. I try not to get too hung up on “this guy’s the closer or this guy’s the setup man.” I know it makes guys a little more comfortable to know when they need to get ready, at the same time given the communication that I expect Cooper and [Bobby Thigpen] and Robin will have with our guys, they’ll know that we’re going to go to the best guy to get the most important out when it arises. A lot of times that’s going to be Addison in the ninth and sometimes, perhaps it might not be.”
Pushing Chris Sale more this year and what the front office learned about him from last season:
“Obviously [we felt] last year was a success in terms of building up [his] innings and being able to respond and communicate with the player in terms of what he’s feeling and adjusting our plan. We learned a few things. One, how to handle Chris, and we improved and got that relationship to the point where there’s a level of trust and honestly that should help all of us going forward in terms of responding to how he feels. Secondly, I hope that it set a nice example for other guys. Whether it’s (Jose) Quintana or another young player who’s taking an innings jump like we saw Chris do last year, we have some experience going through this. Actually, whether it’s a young guy making an innings jump or a guy coming back from an injury that you need to monitor a little bit and adjust your schedule on the fly, we’ve got a little experience with that. In terms of the first part of the question: pushing Chris…we enter this year that he’s like any other starter. Obviously, with any guy we’ll adjust the plan if he’s not able to meet certain hurdles as they arise. Our intention is to send him out there without restriction.”
What the club learned from losing the A.L. Central lead at the end of the season:
“It leaves you with a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach. It’s not just me or the guys in the baseball department; it’s everyone in uniform, player, coach and scouts alike. Initially it takes you a little time to get over that. You don’t want to watch the playoffs and see other teams succeed when you feel that you should be there. In terms of going forward, you eventually get over that and I think you turn that into a positive that it becomes a challenge to finish things off. Again, Robin and his staff did a great job last year with the focus on any given day being winning that night’s ballgame, not fast forwarding ahead. We’re not going to push out and say, “Come September 15th, or whenever it is, this is how we’re going to finish strong,” we have to win Opening Day and after that the next day. I expect that focus is going to continue in the same tenor that it did last year.”
Paul Konerko, whose contract ends at the end of this season:
“We like to keep any communication with the player about his contract private. We’ve had more success doing that than setting out deadlines. I will say, two previous times, two years ago and seven years ago, we’ve entered this phase of the last year of Paul’s contract and there’s been suspicion that perhaps this could be his last in a White Sox uniform. I think we even played the commemorative video during a last at-bat at some point, if not twice, during those stretches. We’ve been able to work things out by keeping things private and respecting the player-team relationship. I don’t have any public expectations for how this is going to play out. I do expect internally it’s going to follow the same open dialogue and tenor that we’ve had in the last couple times that we’ve been through this with Paul.”
MANAGER ROBIN VENTURA ON:
Being a first year manager
“Not to pinpoint, but you go through periods, where I think for me looking at it, a guy like Walt Weiss this year I can’t give him any advice that will solve everything, but I realize he’ll be fine. Any advice someone would have given you, it wouldn’t of helped, because there’s certain things that happen throughout a season that you can’t account for.”
The helplessness of the coaching staff the last two weeks of the 2012 season
“I think that’s part of sports. That’s what makes it frustrating, exhilarating and all those things in between. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen, but that’s the way it goes. You get to that point where you’re trying to do a lot of different things and it doesn’t work. In the end, for me, the effort was there but it just didn’t happen.”
If there is a clear-cut 25-man roster
“You seem to think so. (But) until you see everybody out there and how it goes … you’d like to think it’s clear-cut and nothing’s going to change, but you just never know when you come to spring training.”
The AL Central being better now than it was at the end of 2012
“I would think so, yea. I think everyone has added, it’s going to be a good division. You also have the team that went to the World Series in our division from our league. It doesn’t get easy, I know that.”
The response to 2012 criticisms of letting Jake Peavy work into the 7th, 8th and 9th innings
“I still think he can do that. Those are decisions that you make and if it works great and if it doesn’t you get criticized. That’s just part of being in the position I’m in and it doesn’t just go with him. I think any move you make that doesn’t work it’s pretty easy to criticize. I feel for me, I’m doing what I think is necessary at the time. You can’t be right all the time, but knowing who I’m dealing with and knowing the people that we have, I’m going to make the best decision that we can at that time.”
Thoughts regarding Tyler Flowers showing up early–and replacing A.J.
“I think it’s big. He’s been here early working out and kind of setting the example for everybody else. He feels he’s ready, we feel he’s ready, and to give him that support. I like the fact that he’s come in here early and set the tone already and that he’s willing to go out and earn it, not just getting handed off to him. It’s tough when you have to come in after anybody like A.J., but he can only do what he’s going to do. He can’t worry about any of the peripheral stuff of being judged by somebody else. That’s just for me and the rest of the coaching staff to handle as far as keeping him focused on what he can control and what he can do.”
Working on situational hitting with runners in scoring position in spring training
“We always like to do that. I think we’ll probably have drills that add that. Again, last year you see it at a point where it didn’t happen. I think here in spring training you can set up drills to get that going, but there’s always an emphasis on getting those guys in and it starts here with little drills that we’re going to do. You hope that carries over.”
If there will be drastic changes to some of players approach at the plate:
“I don’t know if it’s drastic, but (we’ll) at least plant the seed. For me, home runs are great, but you also have to knock in a run from second base without hitting a home run and that’s one of the things I’d like to see us do a little better this year.”
How long will it be until naming the opening day starter
“We’ll wait a little while.”
If he’s played around with lineups in your head now with Keppinger in the mix
“We’ve done a little bit of it, but again I think having the ability to start so early down here we’ll see when everybody gets here because there’s so much time that I didn’t feel the need to write them out just to come down here and change them.”
Play of the Day
Lefty Chris Sale threw the first pitch of the spring as part of throwing Group A from the six-pack mounds.
Sporting Change: Uniform category
Fans will notice new spring training hats for the Sox with the S-O-X logo outlined in raised black piping.
Sporting Change: Facial hair category
Matt Thornton shaved off his lumberjack-like beard he had at SoxFest. “We liked you better with the beard,” someone shouted at the now-clean-shaven reliever.
PK in the House
Veteran Paul Konerko came in today to undergo his physical with the pitchers and catchers, getting it out of the way before position players report.
Catcher Hector Gimenez is not expected into camp until Friday or so due to VISA issues, and our condolences to White Sox conditioning director Allen Thomas, who lost his father over the weekend. He is expected to re-join the team at the end of the week.
A few uniform number changes to note: pitching coach Don Cooper is switching to #99 in memory of batting practice pitcher Kevin Hickey, who passed away last season; catcher Tyler Flowers moves to #21; while new coaches Bobby Thigpen (#58) and Daryl Boston (#17) slide into open spots.
There is a rumor (actually much more than a rumor) of afternoon golf with two foursomes of staff and coaches. Details to follow tomorrow.
Day 2 starts earlier on Wednesday, with the team dressed and scheduled to meet at 9:45 a.m. Group B pitchers will throw and the workout should end around noon.
Did you Know?…that John and Jordan Danks’ sister, Emily, was a starter on the Ohio State women’s volleyball team?
Photo of the Day
One of Baseball Prospectus’s signature projects is its annual PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) analysis, which evaluates players and forecasts team success through a formula that includes past performance in major statistical categories.
Although PECOTA (named after former major league infielder Bill Pecota) has become a staple in the baseball community, it doesn’t mean BP gets it right all the time — not by a long shot.
Take, for instance, BP’s White Sox projections since 2005. As you see in the chart below, the projection has gotten it wrong and short-changed the Sox in six of the eight seasons, including twice by double digits (in the ’05 world championship season and in 2008 when the Sox won the thrilling tiebreaker to win the A.L. Central). In all, BP shorted the Sox an average of seven-plus wins, including the ’08 tiebreaker victory.
So, how about the upcoming season? Baseball Prospectus predicts the White Sox will finish 77-85 and third in the A.L. Central behind the Tigers and Indians. Based on BP’s past evaluations, it’s logical to assume that Sox fans can expect good things to happen on the South Side in 2013.
Year Prediction Actual Difference in Wins
2005 80-82 99-63 +19
2006 82-80 90-72 + 8
2007 73-89 72-90 – 1
2008 77-85 *89-74 +12
2009 73-89 79-83 + 6
2010 79-83 88-74 + 9
2011 82-80 79-83 – 3
2012 78-84 85-77 + 7
*actual 2008 record includes the tiebreaker game
With the temperature hovering around 47 degrees (feels like 41), any outdoor activity by early arriving White Sox players was brief. A few pitchers played catch, but most players already in Glendale for tomorrow’s official opening wisely decided to limit their activities to workouts in the weight room.
Tuesday morning, workouts for pitchers and catchers begin for real. After 6 am physicals for staff and 8 am physicals for players, everyone will meet in the clubhouse at 11:45 to begin the day. Monday’s first workout will include stretching, throwing, defensive work for catchers, half of the pitching staff will throw bullpens from the mounds (called “six packs”) and then the always popular PFP or “pitchers fielding practice.” Practice ends with catcher’s BP and catcher’s conditioning (one of the reasons I always feel sorry for catchers is that they are the last ones off the field nearly every day of the spring).
While official practice is going on, all of the early-arriving positions players will be working out on a nearby field.
You wait all off season for tomorrow to arrive. When it does, you can’t wait for position players to show up. Then, you can’t wait for the first game to arrive. When it does, you immediately start counting down for Opening Day. Welcome to baseball’s spring training.