Saturday, February 15, 2014
A Good Start
For the first time of thousands this spring …
“Chief! (Bullpen catcher Mark Salas) I need some baseballs!”
Physicals moved quickly and we were out on the field way ahead of schedule.
What They’re Saying on Day 1
@CST_soxvan: Reliever Mitchell Boggs, who said his deal is contingent on making 25-man, is confident: ‘My expectations are as high as they’ve ever been.’
@scottmerkin: John Danks told Herm Schneider that he feels like he’s 18 again. Ball coming out of his hand different than last year, per Danks.
@ESPNChiSox: Long shot closer candidate Daniel Webb says he just wants to make the roster. He’ll be happy with whatever role he earns.
@ChuckGarfien: Chris Sale: “I’ve got 8.6 body fat.”
Robin Ventura: “I’ve got some if you want some.”
Skipper Ventura, GM Hahn Quotes of the Day
Robin on the possibility of an 11-man pitching staff: “It’s not always easy to do, but the way we’re structured, we have to go that way every once in a while.”
Rick on Jose Abreu: “He wants to earn that money and show it was a damn good deal for the White Sox.”
Sox Spring Training Broadcast Schedule
The White Sox, Comcast SportsNet, WGN-TV and WSCR-AM 670 The Score have announced the team’s 2014 spring training broadcast schedule.
The White Sox will have 10 Cactus League games televised from Arizona (nine on Comcast SportsNet and one on WGN), and seven additional webcasts of spring training games free on whitesox.com. WSCR-AM, the club’s flagship radio station, will air nine games (including three interactive broadcasts).
Comcast SportsNet’s first spring training broadcast is scheduled for Friday, March 14 at 3:05 p.m. CDT when the White Sox face Cleveland at Camelback Ranch – Glendale (CBR). CSN will air the Sox-Cubs game at CBR on Friday, March 21. Along with airing seven home games, CSN will broadcast games at Colorado (Scottsdale) on March 23 and at Seattle (Peoria) on March 24. WGN will close out the spring broadcast schedule on Thursday, March 27 when the White Sox play the Cubs in Mesa at 2:05 p.m. CDT.
Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Steve Stone will work all 10 television games in their sixth season together as the White Sox broadcast team. Harrelson is set to begin his 30th season as the television voice of the White Sox, while Stone enters his sixth year in the Sox television booth.
WSCR-AM broadcasts the first of its nine games on Friday, February 28 at 2:05 p.m. CST when the White Sox open Cactus League play vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale. WSCR-AM features the on-air tandem of Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson. Three of the nine game broadcasts (March 2, 8 and 16) feature an “interactive” format, allowing listeners to interact with Farmer, Jackson, and pre and post-game host Chris Rongey during the broadcast.
In addition to television and radio broadcasts, the White Sox will present webcasts of seven spring training games, in their entirety, at whitesox.com. The spring training webcasts begin on February 28 vs. the Dodgers and are available free to all fans with internet access. Russ Langer will serve as the play-by-play announcer for all seven webcasts.
Additional information regarding spring training broadcasts and tickets at CBR can be found at whitesox.com/spring.
Sox Notes of Note
Reliever Nate Jones has a mild to moderate glute strain. He’ll be evaluated in a few days…Bullpen mate Ron Belisario is having visa issues and is not yet in camp.
Photos of the Day
Robin and Rick meet the media.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Former Sox Skipper Passes Away at 71
Jim Fregosi, a six-time All-Star as a player who managed four different major league teams including the White Sox from 1986-88, died early this morning at 71 after suffering multiple strokes. Fregosi, who most recently was a special assistant with the Braves, suffered the strokes while on a Major League Baseball alumni cruise.
We issued the following statement this morning:
“All of Jim’s friends at the White Sox were stunned and saddened at the news of his stroke and death. Jim was your classic baseball lifer, with the experiences and stories to match a career devoted to the game. He will be missed at the ballpark this spring and our thoughts go out to all of his friends and family.”
A Good Omen
Pitchers and catchers don’t officially report until tomorrow, but 25 players are already in camp working out, including Jose Abreu, who was out in the cages hitting early this morning. “He lives in the batting cage,” someone noted.
Photo of the Day
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Sox Make the Grade
With White Sox pitchers and catchers set to report on Saturday, the Sports Illustrated website gives big props to the moves we made over the Winter.
Strikeouts for Sale
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Chris Sale has struck out 417 batters in his 59 career starts. That’s the most for any pitcher in White Sox history in their first 59 career starts for the team. And only two active pitchers had more career K’s in their first 59 career starts than Sale.
Most Strikeouts, first 59 starts for White Sox: Sale (417), Juan Pizarro (354), Javier Vazquez (345), Jake Peavy (333), Gary Peters (320).
Most Strikeouts, first 59 career starts, active pitchers: Yu Darvish (481), Tim Lincecum (421), Sale (417), Stephen Strasberg (399), Yovani Gallardo (373).
Nate Jones Chosen as “White Sox of the Year”
White Sox reliever Nate Jones was honored Monday as “White Sox of the Year” at the 26th Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois benefiting the March of Dimes. Jones was honored for his outstanding work in the community as well as his play on the field.
White Sox, Birmingham Extend Agreement
The Sox and the Birmingham Barons, the club’s Class AA affliate, have agreed on a four-year extension that will run through the 2018 season, ensuring that the partnership will reach 32 consecutive seasons. The Barons won the Southern League championship in 2013.
Dream Comes True for White Sox Amateur City Elite Standout Darius Day
Having overcome early baseball struggles, Simeon’s Darius Day is headed to play for “the college of his dreams”–the University of Arizona.
Last August 24th during the 2013 Civil Rights Game festivities in Chicago, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon (pictured above), who grew up on the South Side, gave the keynote address at a luncheon the day of the game. He touched upon a variety of subjects including his youth, baseball in Chicago, the Negro Leagues and the Civil Rights movement. It seems appropriate, in light of Black History Month, to revisit his words with you here:
Good afternoon everybody…people always associate me with basketball because I cover a lot of basketball and talk about it a lot for ESPN. But baseball is my first love. I grew up here on the South Side. If nobody else knows that, my mother, who is here with me today, 87 years young and back in Chicago after a lot of years away, (does). I am thrilled she is here. She was my first catcher, so she knows my first love was baseball.
I am thrilled to be here. Anytime I am in a room with Henry Aaron and Frank Robinson, I get a little jittery and it just becomes a little bit overwhelming in addition to all the other great ballplayers, many of whom I have gotten to know over the years. I started out wanting to get in this business to be a baseball writer — that was the goal. Once I realized I wasn’t going to be Ferguson Jenkins, then I wanted to be a baseball writer and that’s how it started.
Memphis, Cincinnati, and Atlanta have given the Civil Rights Game a weekend, a wonderful foundation through six seasons for which I am sure Major League Baseball is thankful. But the event is now where it belongs, in Chicago. More specifically, on the South Side of Chicago, and even more specifically than that, 35th Street where Negro League Baseball thrived for decades–and just a few blocks from Bronzeville, which was the center of Chicago’s Civil Rights struggles.
It’s the South Side of Chicago and Comiskey Park that were home 27 times to what in my house was called the Negro League All-Star Game. I know that wasn’t the official name but that’s what it was called by my parents. It was home for most of his 102 years to Ted Double-Duty Radcliffe, who said his finest moment of a great many came in the 1944 game–and the White Sox honor Ted, of course, every year. It was even home to Rube Foster, the father of black baseball, who in 1920 finally got Negro League Baseball, essentially as we knew it, off the ground and really running. Before that began the league gave the South Side the Chicago American Giants. Just last week, the youngest player to ever play in the Negro Leagues, Marvin Price, passed away in Chicago. He was 14-years-old when he showed up for a tryout with the American Giants. The manager thought he was looking at the team’s new bat boy.
A lot of young men have played a lot of baseball in Chicago, but 99.9% of it nowhere near what Frank Thomas, Bo Jackson, Ferguson Jenkins, and so many other people that we associate with Chicago produced when they played here. I grew up playing baseball on the South Side. I was pretty unhittable at 14 or 15 years old, I thought. Until this tank of a kid, he was like 5’6, 200 pounds at 13,14-years-old. He crushed a pitch I threw about 370 feet. Again, he was like 14 and I asked after the inning, “Who the hell that kid was?” And somebody said, “You don’t know him? His name is Puckett, Kirby Puckett.” I said “So, okay let’s keep track of him.” When I was covering baseball for the Washington Post 10 years later, I walked into the Minnesota Twins locker room, and Puckett extends his hand and was like, “Don’t I know you? You look familiar.” And I was like, “Nah, that’s got to be somebody else. It can’t be me. We’ve never seen each other.”
I should probably detour a little bit to explain. I grew up on the South Side with a father who rooted exclusively for the White Sox. He vowed he would never set foot in Wrigley Field after being shooed away from the box office on the occasion of Jackie Robinson’s very first game in Chicago. Fairly early on I rooted for both teams, and I became a Cubs fan. Uh, this growing up on the South Side but rooting for the Cubs isn’t nearly as complex as most Chicagoans want to make it. A good chunk of my Little League in West Chatham Park, which is still there, was sponsored by Ernie Banks Ford. That in and of itself was a reason enough for me to root for Ernie Banks which also meant rooting for the Cubs. We had Ernie Banks Ford on the back of a lot of our uniforms.
In the segregated Chicago that I grew up in, in the 60s and 70s, black ballplayers regardless which of the teams they played for, lived primarily on the South Side. They were my neighbors and they came to neighborhood Little League parades on Opening Day. I have home movies to prove it. They bought our uniforms. They told us to get the hell off the corner well after dark and go home when they were done driving to their own homes after day games at the ballpark.
Baseball, not basketball, not football, was the first choice for children then. Yes, black children. We didn’t need back then the RBI program, Amateur City Elite Program, or the Urban Youth Academies. Those have been so wisely and necessarily conceived, and efficiently executed programs by Major League Baseball, which connect urban kids to all kinds of marvelous baseball opportunities now. It was a different time. Before African-American boys fell in love with basketball to the exclusion of virtually everything else. It was a time when we wanted to be the next Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson or, in my case, Ferguson Jenkins. Baseball just a few miles south of here, in my case, was a daily escape from the very adult news of marches, riots, of clashes between protestors and police, or lynch mobs. It felt with most of it happening in Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama to be somewhere else, but nothing was ever very far from the reach of Chicago, not ever. Certainly, not in any stew of sports, race, and conflict.
You could go all the way back to July 4th, 1910, to the great Jack Johnson, who lived in Chicago and was buried here in the Graceland Cemetery. He beat Jim Jeffries in the first and most important fight of the century. It was that important because it probably was the only time a prize fight caused race riots, which it did in approximately 50 cities, including this one, New York, Kansas City, Philly, Houston, and New Orleans.
Jeffries, the first real great white hope, had lost to Johnson and all hell broke loose. People were shooting and stabbing folks for walking down the street and being the wrong color. Johnson stalked then champion Tommy Burns around the world, literally, and down to Australia for two years; he wasn’t just ahead of his time, Johnson was in a time warp. This was 1908, when lynching a black man was so common. It helped drive 6.5 million black people out of the South over the next 60 years in a phenomenon called “The Great Migration” and into places like the South Side of Chicago. Jack Johnson, of course, couldn’t have cared less or feared any of it. He was ahead of his time.
Likewise, sports were almost always ahead of its time, too, when it came to race relations. As sad as it was that black ballplayers, talented men, had been driven from professional baseball and football early in the 20th century. The fact is that Jackie Robinson desegregated baseball a year before President Truman ordered the desegregation of U.S. Military as Commissioner Selig reminded us earlier. Five years before the first black character Louise Beavers as “Beulah” starred in a television series. Seven years before the Supreme Court declared the segregation in public school unconstitutional. Eight years before Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus. Ten years before nine black students, under the watch of Federal Troops, integrated Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. Seventeen years before President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 24 years before the U.S. Supreme Court got rid of laws banning interracial marriages. That’s how ahead of its time Jackie Robinson’s desegregation of baseball was. Ballparks had turned out to be the first public places where blacks and whites could, without much effort, sit together and eat popcorn and root for the home team, whether it was the American League White Sox or the Negro League American Giants.
While finding out in the process that neither black ballplayers nor black fans were demons. Nobody would make that case aloud that desegregating baseball was as important as desegregating public schools. Except that athletic progress just about always preceded progress anywhere and everywhere else in our culture. And then, there was a matter of winning and losing that suddenly — as the former became lucrative — trumped everything else.
As a Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist wrote about then Redskins owner George Preston Marshall refusing to have a black player in the early 1960s, quote, “Drafting blacks is not an argument for social equality. It’s a matter of practical football policy. The Redskins were spotting their rivals the tremendous advantage of exclusive rights to a whole race containing excellent football players.” It’s impossible to argue with that. Still, the Redskins owner would not relent until the Kennedy Administration threatened to kick the Redskins out of their taxpayer supported stadium. Very, very fortunately that sort of inhumane thing never played out here in Chicago, though, plenty else did.
Not talked about nearly enough was the role sports columnist Wendell Smith played in baseball desegregation. His agitation in favor of Jackie Robinson and his subsequent move to the Chicago Herald American, then the Chicago Sun-Times, and ultimately WGN-TV, as one of, if not the first black sports anchor in America. I didn’t realize it at the time when I was watching him on Channel 9 every night, but he would impact my professional life more than that of anybody I grew up idolizing. Smith was on the front line of civil rights movements in sports. More than a half dozen years before Jackie Robinson was allowed to join the Dodgers, it was Wendell Smith who was agitating behind the scenes, whenever possible, for Jackie to lead the “great experiment” as it was called at one point.
I had the privilege during a recent trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, of seeing the letters he and Jackie wrote each other at the end of that historic, dramatic, stressful season of 1947. I wish Wendell Smith had lived long enough to cover not just Jerry Reinsdorf’s selecting Kenny Williams to be general manager of the White Sox without any outside agitation, but Kenny Williams doing exactly what Jackie Robinson did when given the opportunity – win. The only baseball winner in this town that’s been seen in nearly a 100 years was built by a man, for who the first 120 years of this game’s existence would never been given a chance, and ultimately that is what the Civil Rights movement is about.
My five-year-old son, Matthew, asked me the other night, “Dad, what’s Civil Rights?” He’s too young at this point to understand it’s the long, non-violent struggle to achieve cultural and racial equality under the law. So, I told him the struggle for Civil Rights is about inclusion. That’s all it’s really about. Inclusion on fields, in dugouts, front offices, sidelines, press boxes, training rooms, and roles that are large and small in any and all areas of our national life. It’s appropriate also that we are commemorating Dr. King’s speech here in Chicago, which is one of several cities where he used the “I Have a Dream” theme in a speech. Dr. King actually used it here, two weeks before he arrived in DC for the march on Washington. During the first decade of his public life, he visited Chicago all the time, seeking support for his agendas, which thankfully turned into national priorities. To annually celebrate that effort, to which so many people devoted their lives, is one of the noblest things Major League Baseball, the City of Chicago, and all of us could possibly do.
And for that, again, and for having me, I’d like to thank you, Commissioner Selig, and I want to thank Jerry Reinsdorf and Kenny Williams. It’s an honor and really a prideful day no matter where you’re from, but I think particularly if you’re from Chicago and you know the struggles of both Civil Rights and how far baseball has come, as (the Commissioner) reminds us all the time as a social institution.
Here’s Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Sox President Ken Williams at the 2013 Civil Rights Game celebration.
Next Stop: Glendale, AZ and Spring Training
The annual three-day celebration of White Sox Baseball concluded today at the Palmer House HIlton with a flurry of activity. Lively seminars covering a variety of subjects, long lines of autograph and photo seekers and the opportunity to buy memorabilia and merchandise were once again the order of the day in the land of Sox fans.
This is the last SoxFest Paul Konerko will participate in as an active player and the fans certainly took advantage of it. It seems like everybody in downtown Chicago was in line today to get PK’s autograph.
Add Private Eye to the many talents of my colleague Christine O’Reilly. Christine, whose day job with the Sox is Senior Director of Community Relations and Executive Director of Chicago White Sox Charities, passed along a note that appeared in yesterday’s post about the Nebraska family who got in line at 2:00 a.m. Saturday to make sure they got Bobby Jenks’ autograph.
Thanks to more sleuth work by Christine, here’s the scoop. For the record, it’s the Churchich family from Omaha: Dad Nick, son Joey and daughter Jessica. So how did the Churchiches become Sox fans? Joey saw a film about Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Sox and the rest, as they say, is history.
What we learned today from top prospects Marcus Semien, Erik Johnson, Micah Johnson and Josh Phegley.
Favorite TV show: SportsCenter
Favorite pigout food: Mexican
Favorite athlete growing up: Michael Jordan
Favorite music and artist: Hip-hop and R&B, Drake
Impressions of Chicago: “The city is nice and clean and the people are great.”
Goal: “Being part of his club. It’s an awesome place to play. They treat you great here, like a king. You always want to finish the season in the big leagues and make your family proud.”
On SoxFest: “This is really awesome for me. I really appreciate the respect that everybody has shown me. A lot of people have come up to me like I was here the whole year. Makes me feel great.”
Favorite TV shows: Comedies
Favorite pigout food: Omelets, pancakes and waffles
Favorite athletes growing up: Pitchers like Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens
Favorite music and artist: Country, George Strait
Goal: “Build and learn from each start. Playing in the big leagues, playing the game you love, has been my goal since childhood. It’s a dream come true.”
On SoxFest: “This is my first one. When you sit at autograph tables, the interaction with the fans is intriguing. I can talk to you as an old friend and somebody I can relate to. This was a tremendous opportunity for all of us and I’ve had a great time.”
Favorite TV show: X Factor
Favorite pigout food: Oreos
Impressions of Chicago: “It’s easy to get a taxi. I’m from Indianapolis and it’s hard to get one there.”
Favorite music: Rap, hip-hop and classical to relax
On playing baseball: “Great work hours, you’re outside all day, it’s really fun. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
Secret admission: In the context of how catching is hard to find, “I’d be a catcher, if it meant making it to the big leagues.”
Philosophy: “Focus on yourself. Do your work every day. You can only do what you can do.”
On SoxFest: “I’ve never been part of something like this before. Can’t imagine if I get up here to the White Sox. I hope I can keep my batting average high so I can keep coming to these seminars.”
Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad
Favorite pigout food: Pizza
Favorite music: Rock, guitar solo
Impressions of Chicago: Great restaurants all over town
Favorite actor: Leonardo DiCaprio
Goal: “I want to win the catcher’s job and play a bit in October. The thought of being a better hitter is on my mind every day of my life.”
Philosophy: “You want to play at the highest level. To say you faced the best is what we play for. Calling yourself a big leaguer, nobody can take that away from you. It’s special.”
On SoxFest: “To show up at SoxFest and see all the support, it makes me more excited and proud to be a White Sox. We appreciate all the support.
Words of Wisdom from Bo Jackson, Harold Baines and Jim Thome.
On his role model: “I looked up to my Mom, who raised 10 kids all by herself. My hero, the person I admired, was my Mom.
On his success against knuckleball pitchers: “(Legendary Negro League player and manager) Buck O’Neil told me that when you’re facing knuckleballers, use the heaviest bat that you can.” Bo actually had his most hits off of knuckleballer Charlie Hough.
On his confidence: “One thing an athlete can’t do is doubt himself. I never got to the point where where I felt I couldn’t do something. It may take me a while, but I’ll get it done.”
On one of his philosophies: “(Don’t) allow everything negative on the field that happens to you affect the rest of the day. Just say, I’ll get him next time.”
On how he acquired the skill to famously run up the side of the outfield fence, a secret he learned in high school: “There was a place in our school called the ‘smoking pit’ where certain kids hung out. It was outdoors in the center of the school and had three walls with one way in and out. Sometimes when we did something we shouldn’t have, the principal would chase us down the halls. We’d split up so the principal had to chase one of us and I’d go out to the ‘smoking pit.’ The principal would think he had me but when he got out there, I’d be gone.”
Bo used his athleticism to scale the wall, scamper across the school’s roof and then down the front of the school. So compared to an angry principal chasing an 18-year-old into the ‘smoking pit,’ running up the side of a major league outfield fence was a piece of cake for the world’s greatest athlete.
His reaction after host Chuck Garfien read a long list of players, including many Hall of Famers, who had less home runs than Harold: “OK,” he said, in his typical quiet demeanor.
On why he accepted failure: “If I failed, I wouldn’t have to talk to you guys (the media).”
On the 2014 season: “We need to play better fundamental baseball. That was the big difference in the last two years. We have to get back to that.”
The pitcher he most liked to face: “Whoever wanted to give me two hits, that’s the pitcher I liked to face.”
On his hitting philosophy: “My goal was to hit .300, make contact and have good at bats. If you have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark, making contact will help you do that.”
On the 2008 blackout game, which sent the Sox to the 2008 playoffs: “That was one of the most memorable in my career. The game was well-pitched, there were a lot of good plays, I hit the home run to win the game. I have a picture of the crowd in my home. It looks so cool.”
On 2014: “It’s going to be an exciting spring. We have a lot of good, young players.”
A View from the Dugout
Thoughts and observations from manager Robin Ventura, pitching coach Don Cooper and new hitting coach Todd Steverson.
On the hiring of Steverson: “Very early there were a few things that stuck out to me that he was on the right track personally, with his beliefs and his delivery. He fits great with where we’re going with the guys we have.”
On putting together the roster in spring training: “The thing about spring training is that (the players) will let you know. The players will show you if they belong at the end.”
On John Danks: “My goal is to get 200 innings out of John. He’s an important piece and hopefully he’ll get back to where he was before the injury.”
On newly-acquired Felipe Paulino, a candidate for the starting rotation: “He has a big arm. It’s up to us to try to put a package together, with the arm strength he’s got, to help him win.”
On slugger Jose Abreu: “He has a nice routine. My first impression is that he’s a large human being with a lot of pop in his bat. We didn’t sign him to steal bases. He needs to get acclimated to the major leagues and that’s where spring training comes in.”
On his professional career: “I was injured at the end of my career and starting coaching at 26 and I’ve been doing it for 16 years–first in the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization and then with Oakland. I played with great players and coaches and learned from them–Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson, George Kissell and Mitchell Page. You teach because you want to learn. I try to explain the why.”
From the Draft to the Big Leagues
Sox VP Buddy Bell on Micker Zapata, the highly-touted teenage outfielder signed out of the Dominican Republic: “He’s 17 now and he’s got incredible talent, a great arm, can run and he’s 6’4″ or 6’5″. We’re looking forward to (his development). One thing you have to be careful about, you have to be patient. He hasn’t grown up to play in games. They’ve been bred to showcase. We have some time with him, but we’re expecting big things.”
Amateur Scouting Director Doug Laumann on the decision to draft a high school or college player:
“It’s an organizational philosophy whether you want to get a guy to fit into a core of players a little quicker. The year we took Chris Sale, the Astros took a great high school prospect, who will probably pitch a long time in the big leagues. Two years later, I saw him in person at Class A. That night, Sale was pitching in the big league All-Star Game. Again, it’s the philosophy of the organization as to which way you go.”
Laumann on the uncertainty of the MLB draft as opposed to the NFL and NBA: “It shows you the gap between the level (baseball) players are playing now and playing in the major leagues. The competition level in college baseball and football is much closer to the level of the pros in those sports. There are so many things to learn in baseball, that’s why it’s so inexact. So many variables enter into it.”
Big League Laughs
Comedy Central has nothing on this seminar, the last one at SoxFest 2014. Comedian Pat McGann, fresh off of an appearance on David Letterman, was the host and provided the laughs with Sox players Gordon Beckham, Nate Jones and Adam Eaton and former Sox player and broadcaster Tom “Wimpy” Paciorek.
Perhaps the funniest back and forth was between Gordon and Adam. Gordon got on Adam for his love of rap and R&B music (“Konerko will never let you come out swinging with a rap song”) and being star-struck with the celebrities at Dodger games. When Adam was asked who he’d stand in line for to get an autograph, Gordon answered for him: “Lady Gaga.” Nate’s choices were Frank Thomas and Bo Jackson and Beckham was adamant in naming Derek Jeter.
Other tidbits of note: Nate said the funniest guys on the Sox are Adam Dunn, Chris Sale and Gordon with his impressions, especially of former teammate Jake Peavy…Eaton’s favorite player growing up was Kenny Lofton and he has patterned himself after Lofton’s style…Beckham said he doesn’t argue with umpires because “I’m a choir boy, I don’t argue”…Gordon also related a conversation he had with Prince Fielder at first base last year. Beckham said that Prince commented that there weren’t a lot of people in the stands to which Gordon replied that the rain may have subdued them. “Subdued, great word, man.” “I was thinking, alright,” Gordon admitted. “I made Prince smile and laugh.”
Wimpy had several funny lines. Among them:
“I was traded for a player to be named later, who turned out to be me.”
“I once told an umpire that if he had one more eye, he’d be a cyclops.”
“An umpire once told me that he needed to get his mask. I said, ‘With your face, you don’t need a mask.’ He kicked me out of the game.”
“I came up to bat late in the game once against the Yankees. (Catcher) Thurman Munson looked at me and said, ‘What, are you guys giving up?’
On a serious note, Beckham weighed in on Robin as the Sox skipper:
“Robin is one of the classiest, best human beings on earth. The way he goes about his game is inspirational for me and guys like Adam and Nate. We see what he’s done. He’s the same way every day. There were times he got on us last year, but he knows how to get a player to play hard for him. People respect him when he walks in a room. You want to play and win for this guy.”
Photo of the Day
Spring Training is right around the corner. Pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch in Glendale on February 15.
January 25, 2014
Talk About Dedication
You can’t make this up. Every year a family of Sox fans from Nebraska–a Dad, daughter and son–fly in for SoxFest. This year, however, they went above and beyond. They got in line at 2:00 a.m. this morning to make sure they were among the first to get Bobby Jenks’ autograph. Here’s Bobby during today’s autograph session, which began at 9:00 a.m.
A Must-See For Sox Fans
The SoxSocial Lounge is a “must” destination while at SoxFest. Even GM Rick Hahn got into spirit by playing a game of Heads Up with a Sox fan.
Something For Everybody at SoxFest
Here’s a mini-tour of the Exhibitor Hall/Gift Shop/Garage Sale:
Count Hawk In
It’s been many years now since Hawk Harrelson anointed Frank Thomas with the nickname, The Big Hurt, after witnessing Frank’s prodigious talents on a daily basis. You could say that Hawk will be coming full circle with his connection with the new Hall of Fame electee this Summer when Harrelson will likely be part of the Sox traveling party to Cooperstown to witness Hurt’s induction first-hand.
“I tried to be there for Cal Ripken, George Brett and Robin Yount, guys I really respected,” Hawk said at SoxFest. ‘But I think I’m going to make it this time.”
SoxFest Notes of Note
During this morning’s seminar featuring Rick and Robin, a fan asked about newly acquired third baseman Matt Davidson. Robin gave an answer that pleased the packed ballroom: “Joe Crede is a good comparison. That’s exciting. (You’re impressed) by (Matt’s) sheer size and how the ball comes off his bat.”
The Cuban Connection seminar featured Sox icon Minnie Minoso and current Sox stars Alexei Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo and Jose Abreu. The fans showed their love for Minnie with a lengthy standing ovation and some heartfelt comments. Alexei made a point of thanking Minoso for paving the way for Cuban players to play in the major leagues…One fan certainly did his homework and wished Jose a Happy Birthday (this Wednesday). Abreu, who said he has high expectations and wants to be thought of as a player who leaves everything on the field to help his team win, was asked if he had a nickname. He said he’s known in Cuba as Pito. What about dealing with cold weather, Jose was asked. He said this is the third time he’s been to Chicago and it’s very different this time–referring to the frigid temperatures. “I’ll have to talk to my teammates to get mentally prepared for the cold,” he added.
Sox VP Buddy Bell, Director of Amateur Scouting Doug Laumann and Director of Player Development Nick Capra had some interesting insights in today’s From the Draft to the Big Leagues seminar…Laumann on the Sox having the third pick in this June’s amateur draft: “There’s a certain degree of pressure and a challenge to get an impact type of player. It allows us to narrow the field to five or six potential candidates. It’s a very important pick for us. We’d like to think we’ll get it right. We’ve already talked to four of six potential candidates already. Our philosophy is to take the most impactful player available”…Bell on Sox prospect Micah Johnson: He’s a real interesting kid–a very good baseball mind and a real catalyst. He has the best range of any second baseman I’ve ever seen, but he can play just about anywhere but shortstop. He’s a very good player”…Capra acknowledged that outfield prospect Trayce Thompson may have taken a step back offensively last season, but still has the potential to be a superstar because he does so many things.
Laurence Holmes sat down with with Matt Lindstrom, Adam Eaton and Erik Johnson in the Movies, Music and More! seminar. Hilarity ensued. Among the tidbits we learned: The two main things Eaton takes on the road are his wife and his iPad, his favorite movies are Tommy Boy and Happy Gilmore and the player in history he’d most like to room with is Yogi Berra–”or just spend 10 minutes with him”…Matt Lindstrom loves to play Zombies Xbox 360, Forrest Gump is his favorite movie and his celebrity crush is Kate Beckinsale because she looks like his wife…Movie-wise, Erik Johnson is partial to Indiana Jones and Star Wars and is a huge San Francisco 49ers fan. And according to Lindstrom, Chris Sale is by far the best video game player on the Sox and excels in everything he does. Perhaps the funniest line of the seminar came when Eaton was asked about his celebrity crush. He answered, “Paul Konerko.”
Two of the greatest lefthanded pitchers in Sox history, Billy Pierce and Gary Peters, were the focus of the final seminar of Day 2. Billy talked about getting his first glove and ball as a prize for getting his tonsils out and the day he met Babe Ruth and had him sign a baseball that he still holds dear…Peters recalled having lunch with his father before making a start against the Yankees on a Saturday. He asked his dad, an avid Yankee fan, who he would be rooting for. After hesitating a moment, the elder Peters said he’d root for his son, but the Yankees on Sunday.
Tomorrow’s Schedule: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Autographs and photos will continue on the final day of SoxFest. Here are the scheduled seminars: Prized Prospects (10:00-11:00 a.m.) with Erik Johnson, Marcus Semien, Josh Phegley and Micah Johnson; A Sluggers Roundtable (11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.) with Adam Dunn, Bo Jackson, Jim Thome and Harold Baines; A View from the Dugout (12:00-1:00 p.m.) with Robin Ventura, Don Cooper and Todd Steverson; From the Draft to the Big Leagues (1:00-2:00 p.m.) with Nick Capra, Buddy Bell, Doug Laumann and Dan Fabian; and Big League Laughs (2:00-3:00 p.m.) with Pat McGann, Adam Eaton, Nate Jones, Gordon Beckham and Tom Paciorek.
Photo of the Day
Bo Jackson’s in the house.
January 24, 2014
It was all White Sox all the time at the first day of SoxFest 2014 at the Palmer House Hilton. From the packed opening ceremony and the introduction of players past and present to the throng of reporters at the media reception to the long lines for autographs and photos to the SoxSocial Lounge, it was a celebration of high hopes and expectations.
A Who’s Who
The long line of intros at the opening ceremony included a virtual encyclopedia of White Sox. In order, Sox public address announcer Gene Honda introduced them. Radio announcers Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson; TV’s Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone; former GM Roland Hemond; Sox HR champ Bill Melton; ’83 A.L. Rookie of the Year Ron KIttle; Sox legend and current coach Harold Baines; All-Star Carlos May; Sox icon Minnie Minoso; former player and broadcaster Tom “Wimpy” Paciorek; one-time pitching ace Gary Peters; 2005 World Series hero Bobby Jenks; new hitting coach Todd Steverson; pitching coach Don Cooper (greeted with a long Coooooop); skipper Robin Ventura; Club President Kenny Williams, GM Rick Hahn and current day players Micah Johnson, Erik Johnson, Marcus Semien, Josh Phegley, Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom, Dayan Viciedo, Adam Dunn, Adam Eaton, Alexei Ramirez, Jose Abreu, Avi Garcia, Gordon Beckham and last but certrainly not least, Paul Konerko and newly minted Hall Of Famer Frank Thomas, who both received standing ovations.
A New Deal
When Rick Hahn and Robin stepped up to opposite podiums on the stage at the media reception to talk about Ventura’s newly signed multi-year contract to remain the Sox skipper, Rick kiddingly said, “Welcome to the Hahn-Ventura” debates. It may have looked like a debate format, but it was far from it. Both were delighted that the relationship between GM and Manager will continue.
“We have announced a multi-year extension with Robin and we’re very happy with this turn of events,” Hahn said. “Robin, Kenny (Williams), Jerry (Reinsdorf) and I had numerous conversations about where we want to get to as an organization. In all those conversations, Robin was enthusiastic about where we were headed. We’re thrilled to have his leadership. We saw in 2012 and 13 two extremes. Through each of those extremes, Robin was unwavering, dealing with both the highs and lows.”
Robin added: “We’ve had a lot of conversations, a lot of communication. Nothing really changed where I want to be, what I want to do. I just wanted Rick to have the ability to go through a season with us working together.”
Hahn also addressed the ’14 season. “We are not going to write off any season, but we also have to be realistic coming off 99 losses. What we envision is a young core, coalescing and growing together. We enter 2014 wanting to win the whole thing, but we also want to see progress, steps forward.”
Robin summed up 2013 and looked ahead to 2014: “I don’t like to lose. We were focused on the right things, but the wins just weren’t there. Are people going to pick us to win this year, probably not. Does that mean we can’t win, no.”
PK also met the media.
He was asked about his new role. “It’ll be primarily in against lefty pitching, but I’m preparing to be ready for anything. There’s nothing you can ask me that I’m above. I can go a week without playing, or play three days in a row. When I’m not in there, I’ll help guys. Every team has older guys in this role, it’s just that I’m staying here as opposed to changing teams. I could have gone somewhere else, but it wasn’t what I was after. If I can help the team go in the right direction this year and they succeed down the road, I’ll feel good about that.”
Avi is Ready to Go
Avisail Garcia, who joined the Sox in the Jake Peavy trade last summer, is one of the new core of exciting players with a wealth of potential.
“It’s good to be part of the White Sox,” Garcia said today, saying that he needs to work on his consistency both at bat and in the field. “I feel great, I’ve been working hard. I can’t wait for Opening Day. I’m excited about all of our talent. We’re going to get a lot of chances to win a lot of games.”
The Sox are also looking forward to the high energy of centerfielder Adam Eaton, who came to Chicago from the Diamondbacks in the trade that sent Hector Santiago to the Angels.
He shared some thoughts with reporters:
“My goal is to have a good year. Day 1, bring it. That’s something you should do every single day. Trying to win every pitch every single day.”
“I’m 5’8″, everybody in Chicago is taller than I am. I feel like little kids graviate to me because I’m on the same level. I want to be the blue collar player that they say, ‘If he can do it, why can’t I?”
The Hall of Famer
In one of the most entertaining seminars of the night, Hawk and Wimpy interviewed the Sox’s newest Baseball Hall of Famer, The Big Hurt, who was greeted with a loud standing ovation.
Here’s a sampling from the seminar, which also included questions from the fans:
“It was a big dream for me to be in the Hall of Fame. I was nervous about the voting and honored to get in on the first ballot. I’m so glad I’m going in as a Chicago White Sox player and make you guys proud.”
Toughest pitcher he faced: “Jeff Nelson.”
Advice he got from Hall of Famer and former teammate Carlton Fisk, when Thomas first reached the major leagues: “Rookies should be seen and not heard. Go out and perform, don’t run your mouth.”
Pitcher he had his way with: “Mike Mussina, for some reason I saw everything come out of his glove.”
Most influential managers: “Gene Lamont and Ozzie Guillen.”
“Was there ever a doubt?” Harrelson asked the crowd about Frank’s election to the Hall of Fame.
“Watching Frank for 16 years in a White Sox uniform was one of my biggest thrills. For a period of time there he was the greatest righthanded hitter I every saw. He busted his butt, I never saw him dog it. And played hurt.”
“The ascent of the White Sox came with Frank. From 1990 to 1998, the Sox had the most wins in the majors.”
“Frank was the best breaking ball hitter I ever saw.”
“Frank could play in any era, any time.”
“I had the honor of watching Frank every day. Watching him play was one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever had in baseball.”
The Cuban Connection
Tomorrow’s Schedule, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Autographs, Photos and a variety of seminars: Recharged and Remade: Your 2014 White Sox with Hawk Harrelson, Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura; El Beisbol, Con Orgullo: The Cuban Connection with Minnie Minoso, Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo; From the Draft to the Big Leagues with Buddy Bell, Nick Capra and Doug Laumann; Movies, Music and More with Laurence Holmes, Adam Dunn, Adam Eaton and Matt Lindstrom; and Sox Southpaw Stories with Billy Pierce and Gary Peters.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
It was an exciting day in White Sox history yesterday as Frank Thomas was elected into the Hall of Fame. After the announcement, he stopped by U.S. Cellular Field to make his rounds and hold a press conference. Below are some of the pictures from the day.
Wednesday, December 18. 2013
Earlier Wednesday, Paul Konerko took part in a special conference call exclusively for White Sox season ticket holders. Here are a few of his answers to questions directly from Sox fans:
On adjusting to late-game pinch hitting: “I will learn on the job as I go. I’ve had a lot of situations to draw from over my career. Your energy is there and your bat speed is there so you will try to use that to your advantage.”
On his role with Robin Ventura: “I want to be ready at all moments for what Robin wants me to do. I want to be on call for Robin for whatever he needs and not have to worry about what I am thinking.”
On whether he would ever consider coming back in 2015: “This is going to be it. Hopefully this goes well and would love nothing more than to do well when I play and whatever is asked of me. I would love to help some of these younger guys that have talent and be there for those guys. I’m hoping that with the lack of playing this year, there are moments where I have the energy to teach guys things they don’t know.”
On young Sox players Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia: “Eaton is the guy that can make things go if he hits his stride. A guy like Eaton can be a someone who is a complete steal because of the tools he has. He can be a real mainstay. Garcia has as much power as anyone I’ve seen in the last 10 years. If he really gets it, he can be a monster. He could be a big-time threat.”
On celebrating the Christmas season: “When you have three kids, you have to get into Christmas. Being in Arizona, I wish we could have cold weather for one week to feel more like Christmas.”
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Late yesterday afternoon, newly acquired third baseman Matt Davidson spent some time talking to Chicago media about his reaction to Monday’s trade. Here are some of Matt’s comments …
On being traded for Addison Reed:
“It’s pretty unreal. It would have been awesome if we were working out at the same time when we both got the call. I haven’t touched base with him yet, but I’m sure we will touch base soon.”
On being in the White Sox long-term plans:
“I’m just extremely glad and blessed to have the opportunity to actually be in the plans like that. That’s what any player wants and just to know that the White Sox organization wanted me so much that they made the trade. I mean Addison is a great closer, he had 40 saves last year. It helps a lot with confidence as they believe in me.”
On the White Sox and Chicago:
“Well, I’ve never been there and the closest I’ve been I played in South Bend. I really don’t know too much. I’ve picked up a Sox hat last night and been wearing in all day. I like the colors and the uniforms are cool. I’ve just been trying to check everything out. I’ve played in high school with Trayce Thompson and actually went to the same high school with Scott Snodgress, who’s in the organization as well. Mark Teahen went to the same high school, he played for the Sox for a couple of years. One of my mom’s good friends is Aaron Rowand’s brother. I’m excited to give them a call and see want the vibe is.”
On changing anything in his game this offseason because of the trade:
“No, not at all. The bottom line is that I just want to become the most complete player I can be. Whatever that entails I always work on everything and trying to get better. There’s definitely a lot more excitement going it spring training with a new team, to a new facility and new city. It’s the first time I’ve been traded so it’s a new feeling, but definitely excited to get going and start a good year with the Sox.”
On being blocked by players in Arizona:
“It’s awesome, just the mindset where you are just waiting for an injury or whenever you get in you are trying to put a little too much pressure on yourself when you are trying to prove too much with the handful of at-bats you have.“
On the goal of being the starting third baseman:
“Yea definitely, that’s the goal. I just got to take care of what I need to take care of and hopefully everything goes well. Whether is staring in Triple A, I trust whatever decision they make. The long term goal is obviously to be there starting Opening Day or June or even if it takes a whole year. I just know that when I get there I want to stick in the big leagues. I don’t want to be just up and down. Whenever that timetable is just as long the long term is sticking there.”
On U.S. Cellular Field:
“What I’ve learned as a hitter over my career is that where I do have the power, where I do start focusing on that, that’s when I start getting those strikeouts and my approach changes. When I have that nice line drive approach that’s when the all the home runs start getting out. That’s just the part of developing as a young hitter and just maturing. If I can just stay in that positive approach then those home runs start coming, but when I try to do too much just like any other hitter your swing gets long and you start to strikeout. The fact that it is a hitter’s park you get more relaxed and just know that when you hit one good it will go.”
On Adam Eaton being on the team:
“We played together in High A and Double A. Obviously it’s going to be a brand new experience and brand new guys, which hopefully is an easy transition. It’s really cool to have a guy that I was with a couple months ago. That will definitely ease the transition a bit.”
On his defense:
“I don’t think any type of player with any type of tool is going to be happy with where they are at. I think nobody wants to quit working. I feel confidence with my defensive game. Obviously is always a work in process, you can always get better. Even Gold Gloves are always working on something to get better. Obviously having Robin there is going to be a huge help. I had a lot of people over at the Diamondbacks once I got called up teach me a lot of things in that month with Chavez and Prado and Matt Williams. I have improved every single year. When I was coming out of the draft I barely knew how to dive because I was kind of just a pitcher. Maybe I was totally gifted right away and haven’t been playing shortstop or third base growing up because I was a pitcher. I had to learn all that at the pro level. So it has been hard and it has been something that I’ve been working out and I take pride in working on it. I will never stop working on that. I know that I have to get better and that I need to get better and that is my goal.”