Results tagged ‘ Rick Hahn ’
Saturday, May 11, 2013
White Sox vs. Angels at U.S. Cellular Field (6:10 p.m., CT, WGN). Starters: Jose Quintana (2-0) for the Sox, Jerome Williams (1-1) for L.A.
Sox Starting Lineup: De Aza, CF; Ramirez, SS; Rios, RF; Konerko, DH; Dunn, 1B; Viciedo, LF; Keppinger, 3B; Flowers, C; Greene, 2B.
A victory tonight will give RV his 100th win as manager of the Sox.
Ron Kittle, the 1983 American League Rookie of the Year, will be the next member of the ’83 “Winning Ugly” Sox to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during our season-long Sunday tribute to the A.L. West championship team. Kitty will do the honors tomorrow night before the nationally televised game vs. the Angels on ESPN.
The White Sox Volunteer Corps along with Sox players Alex Rios and Matt Thornton, pitching coach Don Cooper and broadcaster Darrin Jackson were out in full force today at the Park Manor Elementary School in Chicago. Here’s Alex, Matt and two volunteers doing their part to beautify the school.
Quote of the Day
Sox GM Rick Hahn on the club’s early season performance. The bottom line? Keep the faith:
“We did feel going into the season that starting pitching was going to be one of our strengths and thus far it’s been tested, but it’s also been proven to be one of the strengths, which is nice…We have been disappointed the way things have started from an offensive standpoint and even defensively has been a little bit erratic and not up to the standards we set last year. That being said, we do have a fair amount of guys with some substantial track records behind them which gives you reason to believe that there will be some improvement back toward those career norms. We are talking about a team that last year was fourth in the league in runs scored and there’s no reason to believe that this permutation of that team with some improvements in some areas and a lot of the same personnel in others is going to wind up at the bottom of the league in runs scored. So we expect there to be a correction fairly soon, but thus far it’s been disappointing and it’s time to get going.
“…You always want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to try to push that magic button and make that move that’s going to solve whatever problem may be in front of you, whether it’s a health standpoint, or depth or the bench or as we just talked about, our offense. You do have to try to let things unfold and give guys the chance to show their true colors and their true performance levels over an extended period of time. Obviously you don’t wait for that indefinitely and you don’t spend the whole summer just waiting around and hoping that things are going to get better. But this early on there’s still the expectation that guys are going to return to their previous norms.”
Play of the Day
Dayan Viciedo’s two-run double in last night’s 7-5 loss to the Angels, his first game back since returning from the DL.
White Sox vs. Angels at U.S. Cellular Field (7:05 p.m., CT, ESPN). Chris Sale (3-2) for the Sox, C.J. Wilson (3-2) for the Halos.
Did You Know…
…that White Sox starters own a fine 2.78 ERA during the last 20 games?
Photo/Video of the Day
In last night’s game, Alejandro De Aza gave the Sox an early lead with his second consecutive leadoff home run and his seventh homer of the season.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Opening Day Highlights: Cause for Celebration
It was an exciting 1-0 victory over the Royals in front of a sellout crowd of 39,012…Chris Sale, who outdueled James Shields for the win, was sensational in 7 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out seven…Tyler Flowers fifth-inning solo homer was the difference…Gordon Beckham made a terrific stab in the seventh to quiet a K.C. rally…Matt Thornton struck out Mike Moustakas with two outs in the eighth with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on first…Addison Reed came on in the ninth and got the save…Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios each had a pair of hits.
And this is only the second time ever that the Sox have won 1-0 on Opening Day. The last time it happened was 2005.
I’m just saying…
Robin’s Postgame comments:
RV said Sale did a good job keeping his emotions in check and was efficient with his pitches. He commented on Flowers special day–catching a shutout and hitting a game-winning homer. The skipper added that it’s Flowers’ time.
Bo Jackson, who on Opening Day 20 years ago hit a home run in his first at bat since his hip surgery, threw out the ceremonial first pitch today. His catcher? Former teammate Ventura, who insisted on catching Bo’s first pitch: “The last time we did this (2005 World Series) it worked out pretty well,” Robin said.
When told that Bo threatened to bounce one in on him, Ventura replied: “He won’t. I know him better than that. But I did bring my good glove.”
Bo was quite proud of his “92-mph cheese” first pitch, saying that Jerry Reinsdorf should sign him to pitch. But when he came off the field he called out to trainer Herm Schneider, “Hermie, I need some ice.” Herm, of course, was instrumental in Bo’s recovery.
Bo also had an interesting exchange with the Chairman. Jerry teasingly said, “Who can forget Opening Day 1993?” Bo, with tongue firmly in cheek, said, “What happened…”
Take a look at the “first pitch” video.
Bo was asked by the media if he had seen the recent ESPN 30-30 show focusing on him.
“I didn’t have to see it. I lived it.”
Bo later admitted ESPN sent him an advanced copy and he did watch it. “The only thing in there that wasn’t true was they said I jumped over a ditch 40 feet wide. It was more like 20-22 feet. Now, in more than 10 years, it might be 50 feet wide.”
Other Scenes from Opening Day
Here’s video of the White Sox pregame intros and photos of batting practice from the view in centerfield and the new addition honoring the club’s retired numbers.
The Sox have reacquired non-roster first baseman Lars Anderson from Toronto. Anderson is headed to Class AAA Charlotte.
Quote(s) of the Day
Robin on his expectations for this year’s White Sox:
“I want to get to the playoffs. (Beyond that) we’ll figure it out when we get there. That’s the first thing that has to happen.”
Rick Hahn on the fact the Sox were in first place 117 days last season and his outlook for 2013:
“This team’s focus right now is being in first place only one day and that’s at the end of the season.”
Play of the Day
With apologies to Chris and Tyler, who certainly deserve kudos as well, let’s go with Beckham’s brilliant rally-killing catch.
Off day. On Wednesday, White Sox vs. Royals at U.S. Cellular Field (1:10 p.m., CT, WGN). Probable starters are Jake Peavy for the Sox vs. Ervin Santana for the Royals.
Did You Know…
…that Paul Konerko needs one hit to tie Frank Thomas for third in White Sox history with 2,136…14 doubles for 400…54 games to tie Hall of Famer Nellie Fox for second in Sox annals with 2,115…and 33 homers to tie Thomas for first in Sox history with 448?
Photo of the Day
Sale and Flowers: Opening Day Heroes
Sunday, March 31, 2013
This morning’s workout at U.S. Cellular Field started with a clubhouse meeting followed by stretching, infield, pitcher fielding and then batting practice. It’s the day before Opening Day and Robin Ventura’s White Sox are still working on fundamentals.
Welcome to Chicago
New White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie got his first look at his new home ballpark today. If that weren’t special enough, he’s basking in the glow of his Wichita State Shockers advancing to the Final Four.
How dedicated is Paul Konerko? At the final Sox game in Glendale, most of the starters, including Paulie, came out early in the game to applause from the Sox fans in attendance. With the buses ready to roll to the airport and time to shower and pack for Chicago, where did PK go? Not to the showers, but out to the batting cages behind the Sox complex to get in a few more swings.
Win One for the Kids
Michigan grad and White Sox GM Rick Hahn couldn’t be happier about his Wolverines’ convincing win over Florida this afternoon and making it to the Final Four. “I have kids at the right age,” Hahn said. “If Michigan wins it all, they will be fans for life. I still remember those DePaul Blue Demons teams when I was a kid.”
Robin, Harold Baines, Mark Parent and several of the Sox staff and players are going to be taking in tonight’s 6:00 p.m. game between the Bulls and Pistons at the United Center as guests of Jerry Reinsdorf.
Quote(s) of the Day
Robin, commenting on the beginning of the season and many experts’ low expectations for the Sox:
“I think you always have optimism, Opening Day has that. For us, all that matters is what we do as a team rather than what expectations are and what someone picks you to do…It matters how you play, how guys do, what they feel like, how they come together. That’s part of the fun going through the season. There are a lot of teams that weren’t expected to do a whole lot that actually did.”
Chris Sale on the experts’ preseason predictions:
“I wouldn’t say we are trying to prove them wrong, but moreso prove ourselves right…We all believe in ourselves and each other. We are going to get this season going and get it going the right way.”
Play of the Day
As the White Sox took batting practice, Kansas City’s Jeff Francoeur walked past on his way to the batting cages behind the White Sox dugout. He was wearing K.C. Royals shorts and a teal-colored t-shirt (I couldn’t make out what was on it).
Francoeur stopped to say hello to Adam Dunn. Some type of ribbing followed and Dunn proceeded to rip Francoeur’s t-shirt down the middle, leaving him bare-chested. The Royals’ outfielder trooped back to his clubhouse to change into his new t-shirt and then headed over to hit.
White Sox vs. Royals at U.S. Cellular Field (3:10 p.m., CT, CSN). Starting pitchers will be Chris Sale for the Sox and James Shields for the Royals.
SOX: De Aza, cf; Keppinger, 3b; Rios, rf; Dunn, dh; Konerko, 1b; Viciedo, lf; Ramirez, ss; Flowers, c; Beckham, 2b.
ROYALS: Gordon, lf; Escobar, ss; Butler, dh; Moustakas, 3b; Perez, c; Hosmer, lb; Cain, cf; Francoeur, rf; Getz, 2b.
Did You Know…
…that the Sox are 58-54 overall on Opening Day (3-3 vs. Kansas City) and 26-23 when opening at home (4-1 at U.S. Cellular Field)? Also, the Sox have won 10 of its last 16 openers and eight of its last 11 at home.
Photo of the Day
White Sox put on the finishing touches at today’s workout.
March 27, 2013
As someone noted today, the last day of spring training is a lot like the last day of finals in college. You are exhausted and a little fuzzy. There’s still one more hurdle to get through and then you are excited about what comes next.
For us here, the last day involves cleaning up, checking out of the condo or hotel room, turning in the rental car at the ballpark, loading your luggage onto the right truck (the one heading to the airport), sneaking in a quick workout and then boxing up the office.
After today’s game, we bus to Sky Harbor Airport and then get to Midway as quickly as we can. I can’t speak for everyone, but what I miss most (other than my wife and kids, of course!) is my car, my TV and my bed. Forty-five days is a long time to be away.
But I would love to bring some of this Phoenix weather with us for Opening Day.
Thursday is an off day for everyone and then the team will bus to Milwaukee for Friday and Saturday’s exhibition games with the Brewers at Miller Park. Sunday, the White Sox will work out at 10:00 a.m. at U.S. Cellular Field. Robin will meet with the media at 9:45 a.m. and our players will be available post workout. Being Easter, I am sure everyone–staff, players and media–will try to make the day as short as possible. The Royals are scheduled to work out later that day at 1:00 p.m. and then all focus will be on Monday’s Opening Day at 3:00 p.m.
Thanks for the Memories
White Sox starters left the game in the bottom of the sixth inning to cheers from the great Sox fans in Glendale. The faithful was rewarded as the Sox tied the game, 4-4, on an Angel Sanchez two-run homer in the eighth inning and won, 5-4, on a bases loaded walk to Steve Tolleson in the bottom of the ninth.
Life is Good
It is certainly going to be a special few days for Chris Sale.
On Friday night, his alma mater, upstart Florida Gulf Coast University, plays Florida in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament with the chance of reaching the Elite Eight on Sunday.
On Saturday, Sale will celebrate his 24th birthday and on Monday he starts for the Sox on Opening Day.
Quote(s) of the Day
Skipper Ventura on his Troops
On Opening Day Being Only Five Days Away:
“I’m excited. I know the guys are excited to get out of here and get going. These games are nice, they’re meaningful, but they don’t count so everyone just uses these to get ready for the season. We’re ready to go.”
On the Difference Between Opening Day This Year and Last Year, his First as Manager:
“They’re all fun. Guys are excited for the season. You don’t really know what’s going to happen, but even as a manager, it’s still exciting. You like seeing the smiles on the faces of not only the players, but the fans.”
On Chris Sale as the Opening Day Starter:
“Oh, he’s definitely excited. Again, part of the joy in the position I’m in now is you get to enjoy it through them, see their excitement and how they go about it.”
On the Starting Rotation:
“I feel confident in it. You have a kid like Chris Sale who is young and talented and backed up by Peavy, Floyd, Quintana and right now, Axelrod. We feel like we have depth and we have guys that come to play. For me, that’s what you ask for.”
On the Bullpen:
“In our division you’re going to have to be able to pitch and you’re not going to get through it with just starters the entire time. We do feel like we have a quality bullpen and a lot of guys who can mix and match with a lot of different scenarios.”
On the Versatility of the Lineup:
“You look at the left/right scenarios that come up and that’s one thing we’re going to have to do is to move guys around and be able to play different positions to get them all in the lineup. It’s a nice problem to have.”
On Adding Jeff Keppinger to the Lineup:
“He can hit, he knows the angles and he’s a very smart hitter.”
On the Upcoming Season:
“It’s about effort all year long. You don’t get caught up looking towards the end because the effort has to be there every day for you to have a chance.”
GM Hahn on the State of the Sox
On Starting the Season:
“We’re real excited, we’re ready to get going. It’s been a a nice camp, albeit a long one, that has some of us chomping at the bit to start playing games that matter. There’s been a lot of positives. We’ve had not only some of our young position players that are going to be in Chicago take a nice step forward in terms of development–guys such as Beckham and Flowers–but we also had some of our young players in the minor leagues step up and have nice Springs. Guys like Jared Mitchell, Simon Castro and Erik Johnson, who could conceivably contribute this year–and if not this year certainly as soon as 2014.”
On the Team’s Versatility:
“That was important to us. We wanted to give Robin the opportunity to play matchups, whether it be based upon the opposing starting pitcher or even who we’re starting in trying to go with an even more defensive-oriented lineup based upon how our starter profiles…The more versatility you can have on that big league roster, the more insulated you are against injury or underperformance, which unfortunately happens over the course of the season. Frankly, from our standpoint, it’s not a finished product yet. It’s the kind of thing that we’re going to continue to look for upgrades over the course of the season…We’re going to be aggressive as we have in the past to go out and address those needs.”
On the Minor League System:
“The public and professional ratings don’t matter quite as much as our opinion. And our opinion of the minor leagues is based upon two things. One, are we providing impact guys for Chicago to help win us a championship? And, last year we saw Sale, Viciedo, Reed and Jones all come up through our system and contribute on what we felt was a very good team. The second part is: Is it providing assets for us that can allow us to go out and acquire players that help augment our roster? Last year we were able to do that with getting Youkilis, Myers and Liriano. From my talks with other clubs, I can assure you that we continue to have guys that other clubs covet. So, the farm system is working well. We think that next wave, although it’s certainly not going to hit on Opening Day in 2013, (has) some impact players near being ready for Chicago.”
On the Sox’s Positive Clubhouse Dynamics
“I think a lot of that credit goes to Robin and his staff. From the first day since they assembled 13 months ago, they’ve been able to keep the focus on winning that night’s game and the preparation, fundamentals, and focus on what needs to be done to make the team better. Any outside distractions have remained exactly that, outside of the clubhouse. It’s a very tightly bound group that fights for each other and is singularly focused on winning ball games. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
Play of the Day
Sanchez, whose second monster home run in as many days tied the game in the eighth inning.
Off Day. On Friday, White Sox vs. Milwaukee at Miller Park (7:05 p.m., CT). Hector Santiago will start for the Sox vs. the Brewers’ Wily Peralta.
Did You Know…
…that Sox minor leaguers Brandon Short, Josh Bell, Marcus Semien and Keenyn Walker combined to go 7-10 with two home runs, five RBI and four runs scored in yesterday’s 11-3 win vs. the Rangers?
Photo of the Day
The victorious Spring finale today in Glendale with Opening Day on the horizon.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Avoiding Sale is a Good Idea for Any Opponent
Former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, now with the Rangers, stopped in the visitor’s clubhouse this afternoon in Surprise to say hello to former teammates, coaches and staff. Among his first targets were visiting clubhouse manager Gabe Morell, strength coach Dale Torborg and today’s starting pitcher Chris Sale.
When asked by coach Harold Baines why he wasn’t playing against his former team, Pierzynski said “I have to pack. Plus Sale’s pitching, I don’t want to face that in March.”
A.J.’s teammates undoubtedly wish they hadn’t seen Chris today as the Sox’s Opening Day starter allowed just one hit (a solo home run to Geovany Soto) with no walks and five strikeouts in four innings as the Sox defeated Texas, 11-3, on 18 hits. Sale finished the spring with a perfect 4-0 record and a 3.86 ERA.
Two Decades Later…
Twenty years ago on Opening Day at then-New Comiskey Park, Bo Jackson dramatically returned from hip replacement surgery with a homer in his first at-bat against the Yankees in an 11-6 White Sox victory. He then proceeded to be a significant contributor for the Sox’s 1993 division champions and even hit a three-run homer in the 4-2 win over the Mariners in the division-clinching game in Chicago.
Next Monday during Opening Day fesitivities at U.S. Cellular Field, Bo will have the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Sox and Royals get down to business. Game time is 3:10 p.m., CT.
The Ponce family–Chicago Tonight‘s Phil and his sons Anthony (NBC Chicago) and Dan (WGN-TV and the popular vocal group Straight No Chaser)–will sing the national anthem.
Opening Day Seats No Longer Available
Seats for next Monday’s opener have been sold out. A very limited number of standing-room only tickets to the game are available at the U.S. Cellular Field Ticket Office. Tickets do remain available for the remainder of the homestand (vs. Kansas City and Seattle, April 3-7).
Rios Not Concerned
Alex Rios said tests revealed no structural back issues, just muscular. He said he still feels a little pinch, but is much better today and he anticipates playing in the Milwaukee exhibition games Friday and Saturday and being ready for Opening Day. He stressed several times that there is nothing to worry about and that he’s not concerned.
The White Sox made the following moves prior to today’s game against the Rangers:
* Placed LHP John Danks on the 15-day disabled list (retro to March 22) to continue his recovery from left shoulder surgery.
* Placed LHP Leyson Septimo on the 15-day disabled list (retro to March 22) with a left shoulder strain.
* Reassigned LHP David Purcey to minor-league camp.
Thoughtful pitcher Gavin Floyd certainly brightened the mood in the coaches’ locker room this morning when he popped in the door with a box of a dozen donuts.
No one was hurt in the ensuing melee, and one unnamed bench coach happily ate two Boston Crème-filled donuts.
“Boy, that’s an easy group to buy for,” I said to Gavin as we walked out of the room.
“He’s a Sports Star, But He’s Also Your Friend”
A look at the remarkable impact being made by Sox pitcher Dylan Axelrod:
Quote of the Day
Rick Hahn on Jeff Keppinger’s ability to fall out of bed and hit: “As he puts it, his favorite position is the batter’s box.”
Play(s) of the Day
Right fielder Brandon Short had to corral a blown-away umbrella in the third inning of today’s game. The umbrella flew down onto the field from the main concourse, interrupting play before Short grabbed the invader to loud cheers from the crowd. The very next inning, Short got more applause from the Sox fans in the stands when he hit a three-run homer to give the Sox a lead they never relinquished–and in the ninth Angel Sanchez and Short hit back-to-back roundtrippers. Dayan Viciedo hit a three-run shot of his own in the Sox’s five-run sixth.
White Sox vs. Indians at Camelback Ranch-Glendale in the Sox’s final Cactus League game of the Spring (2:05 p.m., Chicago time). Matt Zaleski will start for the Sox, Carlos Carrasco for the Tribe.
Did You Know…
…that ESPN’s Sport Science named Jackson, who was a Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn and an All-Pro with the NFL’s Los Angeles Raiders in addition being an MLB All-Star, the Greatest Athlete of All Time.
Photo of the Day
Brandon Short: What a Day!
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.”
The first day of pitchers and catchers is always special–even though the day began with 30-degree temperatures and frost covering the infield grass.
Here’s some White Sox baseball talk from the opening day of camp to warm you up after the long winter:
GENERAL MANAGER RICK HAHN ON:
John Danks’ Recovery
“The thing about Danks, which we talked about a little at SoxFest, the biggest challenge with him right now is slowing him down. When you have a guy coming back from injury, if you’re going to have some sort of hurdle or obstacle, that’s a good one to have. But, it’s going to be on [Don] Cooper and Robin [Ventura] as we go forward to make sure he’s not biting off more than he can chew. He feels strong, he looks great, he’s eager, and that’s all wonderful but we still need to put a little bit of a governor on him so that we’re going to be able to get him through hopefully seven months.”
The A.L. Central
“Our division is going to be tough. I think, obviously, Cleveland’s improved over the 68-win team they were last year and Kansas City has improved over the 72-win team they were last year, as well. I think it’s going to be tough for any one team to run away with it in the Central this year, and I think it’s going to be a fun summer…From our standpoint, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re going to compete and plan to compete with our pitching, although they’re a stronger offensive club then they (the Indians) were the day before. We still feel that we can measure up with anyone in the division one through twelve in our staff, and that’s going to be a key to our success going forward this year.”
The balance of pitching, offense and defense:
“I hope my imprint is that we lead the league in runs scored and (the least) runs allowed. But, I think it’s going to be based upon what personnel we have on hand, what’s available on the open market, the trade market and what’s available in our system before we decide on an annual basis what will be priority. My personal preference would be to emphasize pitching and defense on any given year. We’ve talked about this before, in our ballpark, being a hitter’s park, the differences between a good offense and a bad offense tend to blur a little bit. Bad offenses get picked up and good offenses can only go so far on the upside. So, the differences in the pitching staff become more important. But, if based on the talent we have in house or the talent that’s available in the market place, if it makes more sense to go more on the offensive side then we will adapt when that time comes.”
Making acquisitions to help the club:
“We’re continuing to talk to other clubs. There’s sort of an inclination when you get to camp to let everyone settle in and assess where you are, especially from a health standpoint, before you go out and make a move. But, since I’ve been here, we’ve acquired Damaso Marte and Matt Thornton in March in Spring Training deals and those are obviously players that can help a championship club. We’re going to continue to be diligent and stay in contact with clubs about some previous targets that haven’t changed hands yet as well as potentially some new ones over the coming weeks.”
Addison Reed in the closer’s role:
“Obviously he established himself last year. At the same time, I feel like we’ve got some options, if need be. Based on a given situation, if it’s Donnie Veal that needs to come in and get a tough lefty or even (Matt) Lindstrom on a certain day given the amount of usage in the last several games. I feel that Robin should have, knock on wood, the depth and alternatives to play the best matchup. I try not to get too hung up on “this guy’s the closer or this guy’s the setup man.” I know it makes guys a little more comfortable to know when they need to get ready, at the same time given the communication that I expect Cooper and [Bobby Thigpen] and Robin will have with our guys, they’ll know that we’re going to go to the best guy to get the most important out when it arises. A lot of times that’s going to be Addison in the ninth and sometimes, perhaps it might not be.”
Pushing Chris Sale more this year and what the front office learned about him from last season:
“Obviously [we felt] last year was a success in terms of building up [his] innings and being able to respond and communicate with the player in terms of what he’s feeling and adjusting our plan. We learned a few things. One, how to handle Chris, and we improved and got that relationship to the point where there’s a level of trust and honestly that should help all of us going forward in terms of responding to how he feels. Secondly, I hope that it set a nice example for other guys. Whether it’s (Jose) Quintana or another young player who’s taking an innings jump like we saw Chris do last year, we have some experience going through this. Actually, whether it’s a young guy making an innings jump or a guy coming back from an injury that you need to monitor a little bit and adjust your schedule on the fly, we’ve got a little experience with that. In terms of the first part of the question: pushing Chris…we enter this year that he’s like any other starter. Obviously, with any guy we’ll adjust the plan if he’s not able to meet certain hurdles as they arise. Our intention is to send him out there without restriction.”
What the club learned from losing the A.L. Central lead at the end of the season:
“It leaves you with a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach. It’s not just me or the guys in the baseball department; it’s everyone in uniform, player, coach and scouts alike. Initially it takes you a little time to get over that. You don’t want to watch the playoffs and see other teams succeed when you feel that you should be there. In terms of going forward, you eventually get over that and I think you turn that into a positive that it becomes a challenge to finish things off. Again, Robin and his staff did a great job last year with the focus on any given day being winning that night’s ballgame, not fast forwarding ahead. We’re not going to push out and say, “Come September 15th, or whenever it is, this is how we’re going to finish strong,” we have to win Opening Day and after that the next day. I expect that focus is going to continue in the same tenor that it did last year.”
Paul Konerko, whose contract ends at the end of this season:
“We like to keep any communication with the player about his contract private. We’ve had more success doing that than setting out deadlines. I will say, two previous times, two years ago and seven years ago, we’ve entered this phase of the last year of Paul’s contract and there’s been suspicion that perhaps this could be his last in a White Sox uniform. I think we even played the commemorative video during a last at-bat at some point, if not twice, during those stretches. We’ve been able to work things out by keeping things private and respecting the player-team relationship. I don’t have any public expectations for how this is going to play out. I do expect internally it’s going to follow the same open dialogue and tenor that we’ve had in the last couple times that we’ve been through this with Paul.”
MANAGER ROBIN VENTURA ON:
Being a first year manager
“Not to pinpoint, but you go through periods, where I think for me looking at it, a guy like Walt Weiss this year I can’t give him any advice that will solve everything, but I realize he’ll be fine. Any advice someone would have given you, it wouldn’t of helped, because there’s certain things that happen throughout a season that you can’t account for.”
The helplessness of the coaching staff the last two weeks of the 2012 season
“I think that’s part of sports. That’s what makes it frustrating, exhilarating and all those things in between. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen, but that’s the way it goes. You get to that point where you’re trying to do a lot of different things and it doesn’t work. In the end, for me, the effort was there but it just didn’t happen.”
If there is a clear-cut 25-man roster
“You seem to think so. (But) until you see everybody out there and how it goes … you’d like to think it’s clear-cut and nothing’s going to change, but you just never know when you come to spring training.”
The AL Central being better now than it was at the end of 2012
“I would think so, yea. I think everyone has added, it’s going to be a good division. You also have the team that went to the World Series in our division from our league. It doesn’t get easy, I know that.”
The response to 2012 criticisms of letting Jake Peavy work into the 7th, 8th and 9th innings
“I still think he can do that. Those are decisions that you make and if it works great and if it doesn’t you get criticized. That’s just part of being in the position I’m in and it doesn’t just go with him. I think any move you make that doesn’t work it’s pretty easy to criticize. I feel for me, I’m doing what I think is necessary at the time. You can’t be right all the time, but knowing who I’m dealing with and knowing the people that we have, I’m going to make the best decision that we can at that time.”
Thoughts regarding Tyler Flowers showing up early–and replacing A.J.
“I think it’s big. He’s been here early working out and kind of setting the example for everybody else. He feels he’s ready, we feel he’s ready, and to give him that support. I like the fact that he’s come in here early and set the tone already and that he’s willing to go out and earn it, not just getting handed off to him. It’s tough when you have to come in after anybody like A.J., but he can only do what he’s going to do. He can’t worry about any of the peripheral stuff of being judged by somebody else. That’s just for me and the rest of the coaching staff to handle as far as keeping him focused on what he can control and what he can do.”
Working on situational hitting with runners in scoring position in spring training
“We always like to do that. I think we’ll probably have drills that add that. Again, last year you see it at a point where it didn’t happen. I think here in spring training you can set up drills to get that going, but there’s always an emphasis on getting those guys in and it starts here with little drills that we’re going to do. You hope that carries over.”
If there will be drastic changes to some of players approach at the plate:
“I don’t know if it’s drastic, but (we’ll) at least plant the seed. For me, home runs are great, but you also have to knock in a run from second base without hitting a home run and that’s one of the things I’d like to see us do a little better this year.”
How long will it be until naming the opening day starter
“We’ll wait a little while.”
If he’s played around with lineups in your head now with Keppinger in the mix
“We’ve done a little bit of it, but again I think having the ability to start so early down here we’ll see when everybody gets here because there’s so much time that I didn’t feel the need to write them out just to come down here and change them.”
Play of the Day
Lefty Chris Sale threw the first pitch of the spring as part of throwing Group A from the six-pack mounds.
Sporting Change: Uniform category
Fans will notice new spring training hats for the Sox with the S-O-X logo outlined in raised black piping.
Sporting Change: Facial hair category
Matt Thornton shaved off his lumberjack-like beard he had at SoxFest. “We liked you better with the beard,” someone shouted at the now-clean-shaven reliever.
PK in the House
Veteran Paul Konerko came in today to undergo his physical with the pitchers and catchers, getting it out of the way before position players report.
Catcher Hector Gimenez is not expected into camp until Friday or so due to VISA issues, and our condolences to White Sox conditioning director Allen Thomas, who lost his father over the weekend. He is expected to re-join the team at the end of the week.
A few uniform number changes to note: pitching coach Don Cooper is switching to #99 in memory of batting practice pitcher Kevin Hickey, who passed away last season; catcher Tyler Flowers moves to #21; while new coaches Bobby Thigpen (#58) and Daryl Boston (#17) slide into open spots.
There is a rumor (actually much more than a rumor) of afternoon golf with two foursomes of staff and coaches. Details to follow tomorrow.
Day 2 starts earlier on Wednesday, with the team dressed and scheduled to meet at 9:45 a.m. Group B pitchers will throw and the workout should end around noon.
Did you Know?…that John and Jordan Danks’ sister, Emily, was a starter on the Ohio State women’s volleyball team?
Photo of the Day