Results tagged ‘ Spring Training ’
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.
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.
The big news in camp today was John Danks’ first performance of the spring, a bullpen session. Here is Danks’ reaction to his 2013 debut.
How it felt to throw again: “It felt real good. It’s encouraging to be able to go out there and throw all four pitches and feel good after. I feel good about my performance. It’s obviously the first one, but it felt good to get out there.”
The difference between today and his offseason throwing: “It’s a little different since it’s been just my buddy and me the whole time. To have everyone out here watching is a little different, but it was good to make all of the throws and get some life behind the ball and throw strikes for the most part.”
Is it more important how you feel or where your pitches are?: “Both, really, at this point. I’m just trying to get back to being healthy. The next step is to start worrying about pitches, but I think right now it’s still proving to everyone that I’m 100 percent healthy.”
On his schedule from this point on and the timetable to be ready for Opening Day: I think I throw another bullpen in a couple of days, some BP’s after that…I’m just trying to do what I’m told. I’m not going to push things. I think the one common goal is to be healthy and out on the field. I’m going to do everything in my power to be out there.”
Can he return to where he was two years ago?: “That’s the million dollar question, really. I’ve been dealing with the shoulder for so long now you kind of forget what it feels like to be healthy. You try to figure out if what you’re feeling is normal or something that comes along with an injury. I feel great, I really do. This is the best I’ve felt in a year or so, things are on the up.”
Here’s manager Robin Ventura’s take on Danks’ outing along with a few other interesting observations.
On his impression of Danks today: “He looked great. As far as the delivery, he looked pain free. It looked free and easy, and I think that’s the good news. We’ll see what he’s like in a couple of days when he goes back out there and does it again. As far as watching him, the last time seeing him throw, the look on his face and what he was going through is a lot different right now which is great news.”
On Jeff Keppinger hitting at the top of the lineup: “I would hope so. Again, we’ll see how that goes when we start moving guys around in spring training, but with his track record of what he does and what he’s capable of you’d like to have him up there as a high average contact guy who can move the ball around. He can hit the ball out of the ballpark too, but he’s just a professional hitter.”
On the possibility of playing Brent Morel at other positions besides third base: “We might. It could give him a lot more range too, as far as what he can do. I know he can play third base, that’s not the issue. It’s giving him a little more versatility, maybe sticking him at second base, I know he’s done that before…”
On Morel making the 25-man roster: “I don’t think it’s an uphill battle, he’s in there with everybody else. I’d like to see him healthy first and then we can go from there.”
On the defense being as good as last year, maybe better: “You always want it to be better. It’s important to stay consistent with your approach being that defense is a priority…you have to wait and see before you make assumptions like that, but I’d like to be better.”
Quote of the Day
“I used to think there were three kinds of arm actions,” pitching coach Don Cooper announced after observing coach Joe McEwing throw batting practice. “But you’ve shown me there are four. I forgot disco!”
Play of the Day
Without question, Danks’ pitching debut.
Player of the Day
Outfielder Alex Rios earned Ventura’s and coach Mark Parent’s nod as camp “Player of the Day” for his round of BP.
Did you know…
…that promising outfielder Jared Mitchell, along with LSU teammate Chad Jones, were the first two student-athletes to be part of a BCS championship football team (2007) and a College World Series winner (2009)? Mitchell also was named the Most Outstanding Player of that CWS.
Photo of the Day
Danks’ bullpen session “felt real good.”
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