Thursday, March 17, 2011
Happy St. Patrick’s Day
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to White Sox fans everywhere!
Another gorgeous day in the Cactus League with a huge crowd in Scottsdale to see the Sox play the Colorado Rockies. The crowd for our game at Salt River fields on March 7 against the Dbacks featured a very pro White Sox crowd. While some Sox fans are here — you can hear them each time Lastings Milledge homers — today’s near capacity crowd is decked out largely in green and is very pro-Rockies.
Best line of the day from a beer vendor after the Sox had taken a 7-3 lead in the fifth:
“Rockies fans, better start drinking! Looks like it’s going to be a long day!”
Jake Peavy was sent home today to rest after suffering from a stomach virus. He received medicine and fluids at the complex, met with doctors, his vital signs were fine and then was sent home for the day. He is scheduled to pitch Saturday at Oakland.
Used Hats for a Good Cause
The White Sox will be auctionning game-worn, autographed caps from the starting lineup of yesterday’s game with the Giants on www.whitesox.com beginning on March 21 at 3 pm CT. Proceeds will go to “From The Heart,” a Glendale, Ariz.-based social service agency.
So if you want a sweaty hat, make sure to bid on Monday …
Taste of Chicago
Camelback Ranch-Glendale hosts its inaugural “Way Out West Chicago Fest” following tomorrow’s game vs. Oakland (note a 4 pm MT start). Admission for the postgame festival is free with a game ticket and will be staged in the Center Field Courtyard and on the right-field lawn of the ballpark. Among the scheduled events are a Blues Brothers tribute band, Q&A with Bill Melton, Don Cooper and Greg Walker and autographs from members of the team’s coaching staff.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Media Relations Director Bob Beghtol, Assistant Director Pat O’Connell and I spent the morning speaking to our minor leaguers about how best to deal with the media and the demands of a social media-driven world. Gordon Beckham and Ozzie Guillen were kind enough to stop in to both sessions — we meet with Class AAA and Class AA players in one group and Class A players in another — and nothing tops the opportunity for our young players to hear it from the very best sources, guys in a major league clubhouse.
As part of the presentation, we offer some of the worst oops cases of athletes damaging their careers on twitter or facebook. The examples drew a few laughs and quite a few winces from the crowd. And we talk about who does it best …
Later in the morning, Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met with beat reporters who travel with the team. To read Scott Merkin’s story at whitesox.com, click here.
Many of our club’s top amateur scouts were in town today for meetings and to take in the game with the Giants.
Former Sox star Aaron Rowand visited the Sox facility after the game for a chance to say hello to many friends.
The White Sox offer our heartfelt condolences to the family of Jim Tyree, who passed away today after a valiant battle with cancer. Jim and his wife, Eve, were devout fans of the Chicago White Sox. One of Jim’s short term goals, we were told, was to attend Opening Day at U.S. Cellular Field. As we all stand and observe a moment of silence on April 7 before the season officially begins, we will remember Jim and the many, many Sox fans lost over the winter.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Jake’s progress continued today as he threw 4.0 IP, allowing three earned runs in a 7-6 loss to the Padres at CBR.
After the game, the White Sox announced eight roster moves, meaning 38 players remain in camp. RHPs Anthony Carter and Freddy Dolsi, INF Eduardo Escobar and OF Stefan Gartrell were optioned to Class AAA Charlotte, RHPs Kyle Cofield and Nate Jones were optioned to Class AA Birmingham, while RHPs Brandon Hynick and Miguel Socolovich were reassigned to minor league camp.
A couple of weeks ago, I received an unsolicited LinkedIn message from Craig Ahearns, a self-avowed White Sox fan from SoCal. He was hoping to get in touch with former Sox players Ken Berry and Cisco Carlos to offer a long overdue thank you.
As a youngster at an Angels game in 1968, Ahearns had caught a line drive off the bat of White Sox outfielder Ken Berry. In an attempt to get Berry to sign the ball as a momento, the young Ahearns stood by the Sox bus on getaway day. Finally, pitcher Cisco Carlos came by. Ahearns explained, as best he could, his goal of a Berry autograph.
Cisco took the ball on the bus. One minute passed, then two, then three, then four. Ahearns best friend chided him for stupidly giving up his major league baseball. He wasn’t going to get it back.
Then, Carlos re-emerged and tossed the ball to Ahearns. On it were the signature of the entire 1968 White Sox team, including Berry, Carlos, Aparicio, et al.
As he grew up, enjoyed his family and started his own business, Ahearns often told the motivational story about how Carlos’ kind act made a lasting impact on a young boy. It knawed at him that he didn’t ever have a chance to thank Berry or Carlos.
Through the magic of social media, Ahearns found me. Sure, I told him, send me letters and I will forward them along.
Then I started to think … where is Cisco Carlos?
A quick google turned him up … living and working in the Phoenix area. Ta-da.
I called Ahearns. Any chance you could come to Phoenix for a spring training game? I called Cisco. This is crazy but any chance you would want to meet a fan who remembers your kind act from 43 years ago?
Bang. Done deal.
This morning, Ahearns — who has remained a White Sox fan for life even though he has never watched a Sox game in Chicago — drove over from LA (“I think I slept 20 minutes last night,” he said) and Cisco ran over to our complex from his job.
“I wish I could say I remember the moment, but …” Cisco laughed.
And just like that, the two met with a Comcast Sports Net camera running. Ahearns showed off the ball to Cisco (“Looks like you’ve been taking some batting practice with it,” Carlos joked), the two told their version of the story, had lunch and then we surprised both with a chance to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
For Ahearns, it was a dream come true, four decades late.
For Cisco, it was a chance to remember when and to be honored for being such a stand up guy.
And as Cisco left the field after catching Ahearns ceremonial toss, he was greeted by shouts and calls from a family in the stands.
Turns out it was a teammate from a high school baseball team, a teammate and friend he hadn’t seen in over 50 years.
For me, this is yet another example of why baseball is such a great game, so very rich with stories, smiles, history and passion.
Tuesday is our one day off of the spring — except for Gavin Floyd who has to come in and throw to stay on rotation — and some of us are heading out for a morning of golf. Forecast is for 90 degree temps, snake weather around here … but you never see rattlesnakes in the middle of the fairway, do you?
Let’s see if Harold brings his A-Game.
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Diminutive White Sox shortstop Omar Vizquel homered Sunday in one of the biggest surprises in camp.
But for anyone in the Sox clubhouse at 8:30 am Sunday, Vizquel was just following instruction.
The White Sox held an emergency meeting Sunday morning, and with the team settled in, manager Ozzie Guillen qued the video tape.
A series of YouTube baseball instructional videos began to play featuring Domingo Ayala. Players were laughing at the videos and spoofs, one of which was a how-to when it came to hitting home runs.
In the video, Domingo explains that once you’ve hit a homer, you don’t begin to run until you’ve walked down the line 15 feet, reached into your shirt and pop your gold necklace out for all to see. The final step, Domingo explains, comes when you hit home plate and offer thanks to God by looking skyward and pointing toward heaven.
Guys were laughing and chuckling at the skits, so when Vizquel homered, you saw our dugout errupt in laughter. Everyone waited to see if he walked, popped his necklace and thanked God at home plate.
After the inning, Vizquel departed the game to a standing ovation from White Sox fans down the right field line.
He flexed his bicep in response.
Vizquel is a man of many talents, as he created a hand-painted pottery bowl to raise funds for a children’s charity in Glendale.
In a silent auction on March 24, bowls will be auctioned off to raise money for the St. Mary’s Food Bank’s Kids Cafe, whose mission is to alleviate childhood hunger in Arizona. Westgate City Center’s residents and local celebrities like Vizquel donated their time and talents to create special bowls for the auction.
The event at Westgate’s WaterDance Plaza is free and open to the public.
While backing up his golf cart on a back field today, pitching coach Don Cooper backed right into a light pole, drawing a loud “oooohhh” from the crowd.
“Workman’s comp,” Coop called out, rubbing his neck.
Prior to today’s game, the White Sox and Dodgers observed a moment of silence out of respect for Japan’s victims of the earthquake and Tsunami.
When news of the terrible natural events reached Arizona earlier this week, Sox GM Ken Williams reached out through an intermediary to check on former Sox players Shingo Takatsu and Tadahito Iguchi.
Everyone in Japan is in our thoughts and prayers.
B Game Info
The White Sox and Indians played a Sunday morning B Game today, with the Sox winning 11-8 behind two home runs and five RBI by Stephen Gartrell and a home run and four RBI by Jordan Danks. (All info courtesy of Pat O’Connell, who sat through the entire contest):
? Pitching Lines:
? Brandon Hynick (2.0 IP, 3 BB, K)
? Kyle Cofield (2.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R/5 ER, BB, SO, 2 HR)
? Shane Lindsay (2.0 IP, BB, 2 K)
? Miguel Socolovich (1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R/2 ER, BB, 3 K)
? Nate Jones (2.0 IP, H, BB, 2 SO)
? Hitting Highlights:
? Stefan Gartrell (2-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, HBP)
? Eduardo Escobar (2-5, 2 2B, RBI, 2 R)
? Jordan Danks (2-5, HR, 4 RBI [grand slam], R)
? Alejandro De Aza (3-5, 2B, R)
? Brent Lillibridge (3-5, RBI)
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Odds & Ends
This weekend’s games with the Cubs and Rangers also comprise our “investor and sponsor” weekend with many folks in town from Chicago, including Frank Thomas, Moose Skowron and Ron Kittle, among many others. Postgame today is a picnic for investors and later tonight is a special event at the Wrigley Mansion.
You could tell Chicagoans were in the crowd today as Alex Rios earned a semi-sarcastic standing ovation for his check swing RBI late in the game.
Postgame yesterday, manager Ozzie Guillen opened mail before he spoke to the media. In his correspondence for the day was a hand-written note from former Cubs GM Dallas Green thanking Guillen and the White Sox for coming to Tucson to play a charity game in honor of his granddaughter, Christine-Taylor Green, who was so tragically murdered in the shootings two months ago.
Guillen was touched by the note and shared it with media. He explained that his meeting with Christina’s dad (Dallas Green’s son) was difficult for everyone.
“I hoped he couldn’t understand what I was saying,” Guillen said, noting he was choked up during pregame ceremonies in Tucson. “Because I couldn’t understand what I was saying.”
Today was minor-league photo day, meaning our photographer, Ron Vesely, needed to snap off and then edit a few hundred images by 7 am. Thanks to Ron, who leaves for home tomorrow but had provided all of us with great images from spring training again this spring.
Postgame today Ozzie was asked about the roster, particularly the third base battle between Brent Morel and Mark Teahen. He was non-commital at this point of the spring.
“When we feel good about the ballclub we have, then that’s the one we’re going to take,” he said.
He was asked whether he worried about offensive consistency during spring training.
Based on past struggles in April, Guillen said, he felt we hadn’t played our regulars together enough near the end of spring training. Look for that to begin happening in a week or so as we head into the final 7-10 games of the spring.
I was explaining to pitching coach Don Cooper that I thought the “Access With Coop” video our crew shot came out quite well.
“We edited a few things out,” I told him, “because we wanted to make sure you look as good as possible. After all, that’s my job.”
“That’s your job?” he asked in response. “We’ve been wondering about that for a few years now …”
Friday, March 11, 2011
Early kickoff to the season back in Chicago today: more than 100 Sox fans/tweeters (and bloggers and Facebookers, too) as well as front-office staff “tweeted up” at Bull and Bear in River North to watch Sox/Cubs on Comcast SportsNet. Special guest appearances by Southpaw and Minnie Minoso. Comcast camera crew filmed the action – even got a shout-out from Hawk on the telecast. Prize giveaways every inning, like Opening Day tickets, autographed AJ jersey and @whitesox Twitter shirts signed by Beckham, Santos and Sale.
Great vibe throughout the game, and lots of excitement for the team this season. Some comments along the way:
“This is great…have way more of these this year.”
“When’s the next one?”
“Get more players on Twitter!”
And, of course, “We love Minnie!”
A fan who won a Frank Thomas bobblehead actually went to the game last year when they were given away but didn’t get one. So, sweet justice in the end.
Many, many thanks to everyone at Bull and Bear for their hospitality and all the Sox fans who came out and filled up the place for the Friday afternoon festivities. Follow @whitesox to see all the tweets and photos. More “tweetups” to come when the games count.
To view pictures from today’s tweetup, click here.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Salt River Fields
Wow. Walking into the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Salt River Fields is literally like stepping into a big league park. Definitely add it to the must-see Cactus League stops …
Congratulations to the Dbacks and Colorado Rockies on such a magnificent ballpark and complex. You can see that many of the architectural touches of Camleback Ranch Glendale show up here as well. Nice to see.
Earlier today, at Surprise, the White Sox seemed to be playing a home game based on the crowd, and after Gordon Beckham’s first-inning homer tonight, it sounds like lots of White Sox fans in attendance here in Scottsdale.
Win and A Loss
The Sox scored three times in the ninth inning today at Texas to beat the Rangers, 7-6, but the win came with a steep loss.
Dayan Viciedo, who on Wednesday was named by manager Ozzie Guillen as the best surprise thus far in camp, was lost for 3-4 weeks with a fractured right thumb suffered when he was hit by a pitch … and just when he was swinging the bat well and looking great in the outfield.
“He needs to play,” Guillen said Wednesday. “Whether here or there (minors), he needs to play.”
Now, he needs to heal.
Veteran shortstop Omar Vizquel tripled in his first at-bat today, showing he remains forever young. Watching Vizquel catch a pop up remains one of those special moments you anticipate and savor. I remember when he was with Cleveland, he would, at times, flip around and catch popups with his back to the infield.
Funny, Scary Moment
As Mark Teahen’s home run ball sailed into the White Sox bullpen in left field, Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry ran into the bullpen gate in pursuit. The gate flew open, hitting Donny Lucy, who was catching in the bullpen, and Gentry tumbled into the unsuspecting Lucy. Everyone was fine and a bad accident was avoided.
Cooper All Access
I previewed an upcoming Sox video of pitching coach Don Cooper during today’s game (with Kenny Williams looking over my shoulder and laughing). Among the Coop insights:
To Mark Buerhle as he warmed up in the bullpen before a ST start: “Perfect. Way to follow my instructions.”
And to former Sox OF Mark Kotsay, who started that day for the Brewers: “Talk to Buehrle. He’d let you drop a bunt base hit down if you let him pick you off!”
Keep an eye out for this and other videos at whitesox.com.
To Steve Stone who reportedly shot a 73 today.
Going to School
Hawk Harrelson joined me and Kenny Williams in the booth Wednesday at Scottsdale Stadium as Jake Peavy pitched for the second time this spring.
Among the banter … Rocky Marciano, tipping pitches, Peavy’s performance and how to watch a baseball game from the bench.
“If it wasn’t for Galen Cisco and Cito Gaston, I wouldn’t be sitting where I am today,” said Williams. “And you can add Pat Gillick and Paul Beeston to that list. They took the time to answer my questions, and I’m not sure why they made time for just another player. But I learned so much during my time in Toronto.”
“When we played,” Hawk said. “You watched the game. You looked for guys tipping pitches, how pitchers attacked hitters, things like that.”
As Peavy walked from the mound after allowing just an Aubrey Huff homer, Hawk exited on his own, saying, “I’ve seen what I came here for. See you Friday.”
To Luis Salazar, who was injured in a freak foul-ball incident Wednesday.
This morning, as I worked out (P90X Plyometrics for those of you who care … like my wife), White Sox trainer Herm Schneider explained how Salazar was one of the first players to ever undergo an MRI when he injured his knee playing for the Sox, and that together, Schneider and Salazar developed one of the first protocols for coming back from an ACL tear.
“He was a hard, hard worker,” said Schneider.
Crosstown Tweetup (Spring Training Edition)!
Editor’s Note: Key components of my crack staff are back in Chicago planning for Opening Day and tomorrow, they will host our first annual Spring Training Tweetup (details below). So I asked Lou Hernandez, our PR director, to put together info about the tweetup in case fans in Chicago want to attend. He wrote the info below, but note my personal comments, inserted in bold.
This is one of my favorite times of the year in Chicago. Which, admittedly, is a stretch since in 21 years, I have NEVER actually been in Chicago on March 11. Sarasota? Yes. Tucson? Yes. Phoenix? Yes. But I honestly have no idea what it is like in Chicago in March The mercury is slowly and steadily on the rise (sometimes too slowly), the river will be dyed green this Saturday as revelers all boast about their “Irish” roots and baseball is just around the bend. Imagine St. Patrick’s Day in the desert. Not the same as Chicago. In honor of all of those – particularly the baseball part – it is tweetup time again White Sox fans.
Hundreds of Sox fans This is True, so if you plan to attend, sign up now already have signed up for our first tweet up of the year at Bull & Bear (431 N. Wells St, Chicago) this Friday afternoon (2 p.m. CT) to watch the White Sox square off against Cubs at Camelback Ranch-Glendale in Arizona on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
So go to www.whitesox.com to sign up and join Southpaw, legendary club ambassador Minnie Minoso and White Sox front office staff, along with other Sox fans. Signup now because space is limited.
There will be prizes throughout the game – including a player-autographed bat, jersey, Twitter t-shirts I have heard some are autographed, even one by Gordon Beckham and bobbleheads, along with the grand prize: two tickets to White Sox home opener on April 7.
Don’t forget to follow the White Sox official Twitter feed – @whitesox.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Second Start for Peavy
Today’s news centered on the second spring start by right-hander Jake Peavy, who allowed only a fourth-inning homer by Audrey Huff in 3.2 IP, walking one and striking out one. Peavy threw 49 pitches, 30 for strikes.
“It was certainly a lot of work to get ready, but my body did all we asked it to do,” said Peavy, who starts again on Monday vs. San Diego in a game televised on Comcast Sports Net Chicago. “I wasn’t very sharp but I had pretty decent stuff. I suspect my velocity was down because the adrenaline just wasn’t there like it was the first time out against Anaheim.
“All in all it was a good day. I got up and down four times, which was good. It was just a good step in the right direction, another hurdle to clear and moving toward our ultimate goal, and that’s to break camp with the team.”
Talk about one of the best spring training atmospheres in the Cactus League! Great crowd today — a lot of Sox fans — and a must is a pregame meal out on the outfield berm. Too bad we play here just once a spring.
Pitching Coach Don Cooper was the first member of the White Sox to arrive today, ambling in through the open gate in center field.
Former Giant Omar Vizquel was surrounded by SF media before the game, while former Sox star Aaron Rowand took batting practice with the Giants.
Starting pitcher Jake Peavy walked in from the bus in center field wearing his Sox uniform and a camo baseball cap. Classic.
Ozzie’s pregame session with the media focused on Peavy’s start and Dayan Viciedo, who the manager termed the biggest surprise of camp thus far.
“Everybody else is doing what I expected,” Guillen offered. He cited Viciedo’s play in the outfield, his conditioning and the way he has swung the bat as positives.
“He’s got to play,” Guillen said. “Either here or down there. He’s got to play.”
I’ve been meaning to write this for a day or two, but in all the praise and compliments of Matt Thornton’s new contract, I was mildly surprised at one person who did not get many accolades.
Matt certainly deserved the deal — no AL lefty is better and no one works harder or is a nicer guy — and Don Cooper deservedly earned props for helping a wild former first round pick find the strike zone consistently, but no one pointed out (at least that I read) that it was Kenny Williams’ deal for Thornton (in exchange for our own first rounder Joe Borchard) that brought Thornton to this organization. Think the Mariners regret that one?
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ever had a day where you are so busy living the moment that you don’t have time to send a tweet or post a blog? Frustrating in some ways because time and time again today I caught myself thinking, what a great moment, I should tweet that.
So as I am sure you know by now, Muhammad Ali visited our camp today as part of a presentation by Athletes for Hope.
Brett Ballantini wrote a great story about the visit, pointing out the White Sox “brush with greatness.”
Ali, his wife Lonnie and his sister-in-law, arrived at 10:30 am. It is very rare that anyone can grab and hold the attention of a clubhouse full of baseball players, coaches, trainers and staff. Ali and the staff from Athletes for Hope did just that during the 45-minute plus presentation. All eyes were on Ali. The program focused on the power and opportunity for professional athletes to give back to their communities and to support others. The players engaged in a very interesting conversation with some pointing out that it wasn’t just the obligation of a professional athlete to give back, it truly was the obligation of a human being and citizen to give back in any way they can.
Jake Peavy offered the line of the day when explaining how the status of a player or athlete might (or might not) impact their ability to help others.
“There’s someone like Muhammad Ali,” Peavy said. “And then there’s someone like Paul Konerko …”
“Hey!” his teammates interrupted to laughter throughout the room as Konerko mockingly reacted.
Ali posed for photos with the entire White Sox team and staff and then patiently posed for photos with every single person in the room. A television crew from MLB Network and our own White Sox crew shot footage of the visit and talk. Within minutes, our White Sox footage was airing on ESPN SportsCenter and on ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
White Sox general manager Ken Williams presented Ali with a White Sox jersey with the name “Champ” inscribed on the back and the number 40, a little jab at today being the 40th anniversary of Ali’s first fight with Joe Frazier in NYC’s Madison Square Garden … a brutal fight for both men that Ali lost.
At the mention of Frazier’s name, Ali flinched and close his hand as if to throw the next punch.
The champ still has it.
To view video from today’s visit with Muhammad Ali, click here
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Only In Spring Training
Dressed like a tourist in shorts, t-shirt, sun glasses and baseball cap, former White Sox shortstop and World Series star Juan Uribe stopped by today’s game to visit with Ozzie Guillen and his friends in the Sox dugout.
Uribe walked down the aisle to the dugout and we greeted warmly.
White Sox general manager Ken Williams saw Uribe and offered a shout of “Uhh-reee-bay” in welcome.
Pitcher Mark Buehrle spotted Uribe from the mound. He asked the umpire for a change of baseballs and threw a ball to Uribe in the stands. He handled the chance flawlessly.
Brings to mind another classic Uribe story.
When the Sox celebrated a game in 2009 with a Nick Swisher bobblehead, the outfielder showed it off in the clubhouse to his teammates.
Uribe, you ever have a bobblehead? Swisher supposedly asked.
Without missing a beat, Uribe is said to have responded … Did you see that monument out front? I don’t need a bobblehead.
Uribe, as any Sox fan knows, turned the final two outs of Game 4 of the World Series with dramatic plays, first going into the stands to make a catch and then charging in and firing across the diamond to record the last out of the World Series.
That second out of the inning is recorded forever in bronze as part of the Championship Moments sculpture in front of U.S. Cellular Field.
(Note: these quotes are certainly paraphrased)