Results tagged ‘ Camelback Ranch ’
Out of the corner of my eye, I sense someone in a Dodgers uniform walking into the dugout.
“Is Robin here yet?’ he asks.
I turn an immediately recognize that it is Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. Behind him, I see lots of autograph seekers and hear people calling his name.
“Not yet,” I say. “He’ll be here is a couple minutes.”
Mr. Koufax started to talk. Fine by me. (editor’s note: I did meet Mr. Koufax one spring in Vero Beach, Florida, when I was a kid. My dad and I were walking down a sidewalk in Dodgertown when here came Mr. Koufax walking toward us. He was very pleasant but, of course, he doesn’t remember me.)
So of course I start small talk with Sandy Koufax. I ask him how he’s doing (fine), where he’s staying down here (West Valley), where he lives (up and down the East Coast depending on the weather) and why in the world are “you guys” throwing Kershaw and Greinke at us this early in the spring … since there is a long way to go.
He laughed a little and then explained that he liked to go nine innings once or twice each spring so that he had dealt with the soreness issue before the season had even begun. “I didn’t care about the first start,” he said. “I was concerned with how I’d feel going into the second. Back then, we didn’t have playoffs.”
You either won the pennant or you went home, he explained, so every start mattered.
After about 10 minutes, Robin showed up to a big smile and hug from Koufax.
“Back when I was with the Dodgers,” RV said, “we used to sneak off and play basketball with Sandy.”
(Sandy, by the way, went to the Universithy of Cincinnati on a hoops scholarship).
Basketball? With Sandy Koufax? That would have made him about 65 back then (Sandy, not Robin).
“Guy could play.”
Another true story … maybe
Former White Sox pitcher Grady Hall was in camp on Saturday to say hello and he re-connected with former teammate Mark Parent.
“We played together in the Dominican one winter,” Hall said of the Sox bench coach. “His nickname down there was ‘Grande Lama.’”
“Grande Lama,” I laughed, almost choking on my lunch.
“Nothing to do with the Dali Lama,” Hall corrected. “It had to do with a sponsor and of course, he’s the Grande Lama.”
Quote of the Day
Coop on pitching: “Anytime you shut someone out, you’ve done something,” he said referring to yesterday’s win. “Every game no matter spring training or regular season, there are always going to be 10 balls hit hard. It’s what happens to those 10.”
Play of the Day
Dunn’s first homer of the spring.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
White Sox 9, Dodgers 0 In Spring Opener As Sox Pound Out 14 Hits
The Sox got on the board early and often in today’s victory over the Dodgers, scoring five times in the first four innings including a pair of runs off of L.A. starter and 2011 Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. Alejandro De Aza led off the game with a single and scored on a two-base hit by Alex Rios, who went 2 for 2 with a pair of doubles. Tyler Flowers smashed a solo homer (Gordon Beckham called it the hardest hit ball he’s ever seen), minor leaguer Seth Loman hit a two-run shot, Dayan Viciedo drove in a pair of runs, Gordon Beckham doubled in a run and Andy Wilkins and Angel Sanchez added RBI singles. On the pitching side, starter and winning pitcher Dylan Axelrod hurled three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out four. Axelrod, Leyson Septimo (1.0 IP), Zach Stewart (2.0), Santos Rodriguez (1.0), Brian Omogrosso (1.0) and Deunte Heath (1.0) blanked the Dodgers on three hits.
It is believed that the White Sox scoring a run today in the top of the first inning is the first time the Sox have led a spring training game that early since moving to Arizona in the mid 1990s (not really, but it just seems that way).
Sox Notes of Note
Here are a few notes of interest as the Sox began Cactus League play today:
* The White Sox play 16 games as the home team in Glendale and 17 as the road team this spring, including two exhibition games vs. Milwaukee at Miller Park from 3/29-30.
* Chicago currently has 61 players in camp: 30 pitchers, six catchers, 15 infielders and 10 outfielders … the oldest player in camp is Paul Konerko (36), and the youngest is 20-year old infielder Carlos Sanchez.
* The spring roster features 22 draftees, 22 players acquired as free agents or through the Rule 5 draft, 12 acquired via trade and five claimed off waivers.
* Jesse Crain (Canada), Alejandro De Aza (Dominican Republic), Andre Rienzo (Brazil) and Alex Rios (Puerto Rico) will represent the White Sox in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
* Eight players on the White Sox spring roster have made it to the majors after being drafted or signed by the club since 2007 … the players are: Nate Jones (2007), Gordon Beckham (2008), Jordan Danks (2008), Brent Morel (2008), Alexei Ramirez (2008), Dayan Viciedo (2008), Addison Reed (2010) and Chris Sale (2010).
* Twenty-two of the 61 players invited to spring training are products of the White Sox farm system, including five first-round draft picks (Beckham – 2008, Jared Mitchell – 2009, Josh Phegley – 2009, Chris Sale – 2010 and Keenyn Walker – 2011).
* Courtney Hawkins enters the season ranked by Baseball America as the No.1 Prospect in the organization … since 2009, three of Chicago’s top-rated prospects have reached the majors and are on the current roster (Gordon Beckham, Chris Sale and Addison Reed).
Mr. Koufax and The Chairman
Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax visited with Robin today (See the Photo of the Day).
Koufax asked if Jerry Reinsdorf was here, and I told him yes.
“I want to say hello,” Mr. Koufax said.
“If you want, I can call him and ask him to walk in on the field to see you,” I said.
“Oh, no. I don’t want to bother him. Just tell him I said hello.”
I told Mr. Koufax that Jerry has a signed jersey of his hanging in his office in Chicago.
“Brooklyn kid,” he said, smiling.
Later I told Jerry that Koufax said hello but that he didn’t want to bother him by asking him to come down to the dugout.
“For Sandy!?!?” Jerry responded. You got the sense he would have gone anywhere to say hi.
The White Sox didn’t waste any time welcoming third baseman Conor Gillaspie to camp.
Gillaspie, who was acquired yesterday, actually drove over to Glendale from Scottsdale Friday afternoon to check in and set up his locker.
This morning, he took part in live batting practice before the game. And which pitchers did the left-handed hitting Gillaspie get to face?
Just John Danks and Chris Sale.
“Maybe we can find a way to get him a couple of at-bats against Kershaw,” someone quipped.
Quote of the Day
“As a player, I don’t have superstar tools…I’ll definitely work for you. I’ll definitely play hard, I’ll practice hard, I’ll run everything out and try to play the game the right way.” — Conor Gillaspie, who went 0-1 today in his Sox debut.
Play of the Day
There are many candidates, but let’s give it to Axelrod for his stellar performance.
White Sox vs. Dodgers at Camelback Ranch-Glendale (2:05 p.m., Chicago time). Starters are the Sox’s Erik Johnson and the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke. Also scheduled to pitch for the Sox are: Scott Snodgress, Jhan Marinez, Daniel Moskos, Jacob Petricka, Ramon Troncoso and Simon Castro.
Did You Know…
…that new Sox reliever Matt Lindstrom served on a Mormon misson in Sweden?
Photo of the Day
Robin shares a laugh with Dodgers’ Hall of Fame great Sandy Koufax in the dugout before today’s game. That’s bench coach Mark Parent on the right.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Here are the highlights from today’s first Sox intrasquad game at Camelback Ranch: Team 1 (major league starters) nipped Team 2 (mostly minor leaguers), 4-3, in a 5 1/2 inning contest. Team 1 was paced by Brent Morel (double, RBI, run scored) and Blake Tekotte (triple, RBI). Simon Castro gave up a lone run in two innings of work. Josh Bell (single, RBI) and Jared Mitchell (RBI, HBP) collected RBIs for Team 2, while Leyson Septimo pitched one scoreless inning. Here was the scene at today’s game:
Assistant GM Buddy Bell Reviews Sox Prospects
On 2012 No. 1 draft pick Courtney Hawkins: “One of the reasons we sent Courtney up to (Class A) Kannapolis is that we wanted to get him in an environment that was faster than (Advanced Rookie) Bristol. The (high Class A) Winston-Salem thing tricked us because he did so well. As it turns out, no matter what level we sent him to he actually kept getting better and better and that’s a testament to how talented he is. It also showed us the kind of makeup he has and that he’s a tough kid who gets better as the lights get brighter, which is great for moving up the ladder and eventually getting to Chicago. We’d like to get him to Double A (Birmingham) by the end of the year. In saying that, if he doesn’t get to Double-A it’s not that big of a deal.”
On 2009 No. 1 pick Jared Mitchell: “As (last) season went on, he got healthier…He, for me, probably looks better than anybody in camp right now in terms of body and progress. We had him in the instructional league last year for about 10 days and he kind of tweaked his hitting approach a little bit. His balance is really good right now and I’m really anxious to see what he does in a game. He’s probably one of our top five guys in the organization when it comes to competing. This kid competes like crazy, right now he’s as impressive as anyone we have in camp. He’ll start the season at (AAA) Charlotte.”
On who is the one prospect to have the kind of year Carlos Sanchez had in 2012: ” (Infielder) Joey DeMichele. “We drafted him out of Arizona State and he’s a really interesting guy. We’d like to think of him kind of like (Jason) Kipnis of Cleveland, because he can run a little bit, has some pop in his bat and is a high-energy kid…We’re kind of on the fence whether he starts at (A) Winston-Salem or (AA) Birmingham. We’re also looking for (Tyler) Saladino to have a (good) year as well. He’ll start at Birmingham.”
On promising prospect Trayce Thompson: “He’s going to start in (AA) Birmingham. We expect really good things from him. He’s another guy who looks really good, he’s always had a terrific body but he’s starting to get his man strength in his shoulders and legs. Obviously, he’s had two really good years and we want to be careful with him because kids with power, they seem to come a little later, especially outfielders.”
Kenny Williams on CNBC
Kenny, who was named to the annual list of 100 influential African-American leaders by thegrio.com, appeared on CNBC discussing the business of Major League Baseball and building a championship team. Click on the link to see the interview.
Behind the Scenes with Coop and Herm
Here’s an interesting conversation among CSN’s Dan Hayes, Sox pitching coach Don Cooper and head trainer Herm Schneider. Click the link below.
Sox Notes of Note
Dan Plesac and Ken Rosenthal from the MLB Network are onsite today as part of the net’s tour through team spring training sites. Check out the coverage tonight on MLBN.
Jake Peavy, the Padres’ Chase Headley, the Reds’ Brandon Phillips and the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier took part in a photo shoot for GQ Magazine last night at the Camelback Ranch – Glendale ballpark. The photo spread is scheduled to run in the May issue of GQ. “At least I wasn’t alone,” Peavy joked this morning. I told him it would be a little tough in May to run all around the state of Alabama buying all the copies of GQ … then again, maybe not!
Chris Sale Q&A Conference Call With Sox Fans, Part II (First Part Appeared in Wednesday’s Post)
Would you ever want to learn how to throw a knuckleball “I don’t think I quite have an arm slot to throw a knuckleball. I’ve always messed around with it growing up. It’s funny you mention this because I play catch in the off-season with my dad who can throw a pretty good one, and he always gives me crap about it because he has a better pitch than I do. I don’t see it in my future, but if it comes down to it I wouldn’t be opposed to learning it.”
Going into next season, is there added pressure in the American League Central Division with the recent additions among teams? “I wouldn’t say it’s added pressure. I think it’s added motivation to be honest with you. It motivates us to live up to who we are and what we do. This is a team effort, but it takes a group of 25 individuals putting everything they have into one collective group. We have guys in here that put it on the line and we all play for each other. That’s the main thing and that’s what we did last year and it worked well. I don’t think we’re going to sit here and say we have more pressure on ourselves, I think we have more determination going into this year. It’s not going to get any easier from this day forward. We all know that and we expected that. We’re ready for it.”
What do you believe you or the team can do to improve upon last year’s performance? “You set out every year to be the best you can be. For myself, personally, I don’t like to set goals or a bar for myself because sometimes you don’t reach that bar and you get down on yourself and get disappointed. Also, say you reach that bar, you kind of give up. You say ‘I’ve met my goal so I can cruise in from here on out’. For me, I want to be as consistent as I possibly can and do everything I can to help the team win. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m going to rattle out this many wins and this is going to be my ERA, but obviously I’m going to take into account what happened last year and work on things I didn’t do so well and sharpen the things that I did do well and see where it takes me.”
Who is the toughest challenge you had in the batter’s box last season? “I have to go with Billy Butler from Kansas City. It seemed like every time I faced that team, if I gave up five runs, he had three RBIs. He, for the most part last year, owned me. I’m very disappointed to say that. He’s just a good hitter and he hits the fast ball well, and it seemed like he had a little bit better eye than he had in the past. He took me deep a few times last year and in previous years. He seems to be the one guy that gives me the most trouble at the plate.”
As White Sox fans, are we ready to say that we have one of the best starting rotations? “Well, I’m hoping you guys are saying that. We’re all definitely excited to see where this goes and how it plays out. Not only do we have an unbelievable group of guys, but we have some great talented athletes. I think getting Johnny (John Danks) back and having him healthy is huge. I was throwing in the cage next to him today and I’ve been throwing bullpens next to him for the last couple times and he’s looking really good. He’s very confident. You can tell he’s got that step back and is happy to be here. He’s working hard and he’s doing everything he can. That’s going to be fun to see. As a group, we’re all excited. We all pull for each other and we push each other; we have friendly rivalries. We all sit down and talk about pitching. We might be good on paper, but we’re a tight knit group as well, both in the clubhouse and off the field. We’re all pulling for each other and that’s the best part. We don’t get jealous. We’re all rooting for each other and have each other’s back. There’s an open line of communication between us and we’re bouncing ideas off of each other. I hope you’re as excited as we are because we’re thrilled to get this year started.”
Do you know when your first live appearance will be on the mound in Spring Training? “Our first game is coming up on Saturday, but I’m not 100 percent what day I’ll be throwing. I’m still talking with Coop about that. I don’t think I’m going to throw in February or start a game in February. We’re bouncing ideas off each other and we’ll see where it goes.”
Quote of the Day
From the Sox clubhouse: “If I tell you it’s Christmas in July, hang the stocking.”
Play of the Day
GM Rick Hahn interrupted a conversation today by saying, “wait until (Blake Tekotte) triples.”
On the very next pitch, you guessed it, Tekotte tripled to right field.
I told him to save them for when they count.
White Sox players will go through a media session tomorrow morning with Kevin Sullivan, former White House Communications Director (and huge Sox fan, by the way).
Did You Know…
…Jeff Keppinger led his University of Georgia team to the College World Series in his junior season with a .389 BA, 18 homers and 73 RBIs? He hit .444 in the CWS, including a triple and a two-run homer off of former major leaguer Mark Prior, then pitching at USC.
Photo of the Day
Sox GM Rick Hahn is shown here taping a segment with CSN’s Dave Kaplan for tonight’s “Chicago Tribune Live.”
Weather Gets in the Way of Baseball in Glendale, Chris Sale Talks to the Fans and Ron Kittle Finds a Sox Fan in the Strangest of Places
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Rain, wind and cold abbreviated today’s workout, but John Danks was able to throw under the covered batting cage–his third throwing session of the spring.
Several Sox players took part in a commercial shoot today and it went without a hitch. Details will follow in the coming weeks.
Sale Answers Sox Fans’ Questions on a Variety of Subjects
Chris Sale spent part of his day today interacting with Sox fans. So much good info came out of the Q&A session that I’ll be posting in two parts. Part I is below, Part II tomorrow. Here are the first six questions and Sale’s responses:
How have you adjusted to pitching to Tyler Flowers instead of A.J. Pierzynski? “There really is no adjustment. With catchers you just kind of throw to the mitt; it just might be on a different hand. Tyler has been great and I’ve already thrown to him a couple of times out here. We’ve communicated back and forth quite a bit, whether it’s pitches, movement, what he sees I’m doing differently, stuff like that. He kind of helps me out in a coaching standpoint too because he’s looking straight at me with my mechanics and my hand and my delivery.”
How do you calm yourself during stressful moments on the mound? “When things start happening and moments start to build up and you find yourself at the peak of the game, the best thing you can do is just slow it all down. Step off, take a couple of deep breaths, and flush any of the negativity out that could possibly happen instead of going into that situation saying, ‘I hope I don’t get hit, or I hope this, or I don’t want this to happen.’ You kind of talk yourself into ‘Hey I’m going to make this pitch; I’m going to get out of this.’ You have to self-motivate, but at the same time don’t hype yourself up too much because this game can get fast on you in a hurry and can unravel pretty quickly. The more you can slow it down and pace yourself the better off you are.”
How has the arm held up after throwing so many innings last year? “So far, so good. I actually took a little more time off this off-season from throwing. I probably took an extra three weeks to a month off from throwing, moreso than I usually do, because I wanted to give it a rest. Last year was a long year and obviously that was the most innings I’ve ever thrown. There at the end I might have fizzled out a little bit because I had been throwing a lot and was still learning how to get back out there every fifth day. Now that I’ve gone through that and know how I’ve felt the beginning, middle, and end and all the way in between I can kind of adjust accordingly. This year, I can help myself, not really beat what I did last year, but get through the year a little bit more complete than I did last year.”
How did you gain the weight this off-season? By eating a lot of pizza? “Obviously I ate my fair share of pizzas; I won’t sit here and lie to you. The biggest thing for me this off-season is I got a trainer and saw him five days a week. He got me in a program that helped me build leg strength, core strength, etc. I actually just started eating better, eating a bit healthier too. I learned how to grill this off-season, so I was whipping up steaks, pork chops, chicken and ribs. I feel like eating those types of things is better than going to McDonalds and grabbing two Big Macs and a large fry.”
How is the team chemistry so far compared to last year? “Honestly, it’s about the same. We have pretty much the same core group of guys back, and the guys we’ve brought in have meshed awesome. It’s the same feel, same vibe from last year. We’re laid back, everyone is friends with each other and we all have a good time. We all hang out together while we’re here, and then we’ll leave and go grab lunch or hang out at one of our houses. We’re a bunch of grown up men who are friends and play baseball and hang out off the field too so that’s the good thing about what we have going here. I can truly say every day I come in I have a good time and enjoy the people that I work with. Not everyone in the world can say that, but it’s nice to have that here.”
What are your thoughts on Peavy saying you should pitch on opening day? “Everyone knows what my standpoint on that is. It would be a tremendous honor to me and that’s obviously something you dream about. I would appreciate it more than anything, but where I’m sitting I feel like that’s (Jake Peavy’s) role. He’s not only a leader on our pitching staff, but a leader of our team. With what he’s gone through and what he’s done and how he’s gone about his business throughout his career it’s hard to sit here and say I think I deserve to pitch over someone I look up to. It’s kind of like saying you’re the man of the house when you’re still living in the house with your dad. I have all the respect in the world for him and that’s why I truly believe he’s our leader to go out there, but it makes me feel a lot more confident to hear him say those things about me.”
Quote of the Day
From former Sox slugger Ron Kittle, weighing in from Mexico: “I found a lone Mayan Sox fan at the ruins of Chichen Itza at Mayan Temple.”
The Sox will play an intrasquad game tomorrow morning.
Did You Know…
…that popular White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider, entering his 35th season with the Sox, was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands?
Photo of the Day
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Annual Rite of Spring
Today was Photo Day at White Sox camp, the one day each spring when photographers from Major League Baseball, the team and all the various licensees (think baseball cards, products, etc.) snap early morning photos of our staff and players.
Setup begins the day before and folks, including many from my staff, arrive veeeerrry early in the morning. We have an early-to-rise camp, so while we say Photo Day starts at 7:00 a.m., guys started going through our line closer to 6:20 a.m. By 8:40 a.m., the dust had settled.
Here is an image from the day …
While we maybe had 8-10 different stations today, you can imagine what Photo Day was like when Michael Jordan was in camp, something like 40 stops by my recollection. And Jordan’s response to photographers was always classic: “If I only get two free throws, then you only get two shots too.” And after two clicks of the camera, he moved on …
Robin on Matt Thornton Being Slowed Down by Elbow Soreness
“He just said it (the elbow) didn’t feel right. We have so much time down here, I think it’s safer to slow him down and get him out of drills and make sure he’s comfortable with it before he continues on…You’re concerned every time a guy has that. I don’t know what level it’s at right now. Again, the beauty of being down here so early is you can give him this time off and he can catch back up if there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Rain, wind and cold weather predicted for Glendale.
Did You Know…
…that Sox reliever Donnie Veal is a cousin of former NBA All-Star and current Sacramento, CA mayor, Kevin Johnson?
Photo of the Day
The Sodfather: Only with the White Sox would our world famous groundskeeper Roger Bossard sneak into line on Photo Day with his trusty rake. I told him he needed a new pullover.
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.