White Sox news, Minor Leagues updates and more

June 29, 2012

White Sox play Shadow Ball

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ June 29, 2012 11:00 pm
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Cool stuff by Keith Olbermann

post: http://keitholbermann.mlblogs.com/2012/06/29/phantom-ball-with-video-and-monty/

video (0:20): http://videos.videopress.com/3q2qUZk2/img_9585_dvd.mp4

May 12, 2012

Gordon Beckham’s swing returns to its roots

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 12, 2012 3:30 am
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Daryl Van Schouwen:

White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto is satisfied with one of the most analyzed and scrutinized swings in Chicago — Gordon Beckham’s.General manager Ken Williams drew more attention to it last season, saying he longed for Beckham’s college and (successful) rookie swing.“He’s gotten that back to where he was in the minor leagues and when he first got here,’’ Manto said Monday. “That’s what the project has been, to get him to where he was.’’… “I feel like I’m doing what I thought I would do,’’ said Beckham, whose average was up to .217 after a 3-for-27 start.

“Where he was, I don’t think he could have sustained a major-league season, 600 plate appearances,’’ Manto said. “The bat path was a little off, and his shoulders were steep. Right now he’s square, head with the shoulders. He has way better balance, and he’s way more aggressive. In the position he is now, being taller, and the bat path a little better, he can sustain. I’m not saying he can hit .300 or .280, but he’s able to make adjustments throughout a season.’’

Other White Sox links:

May 11, 2012

On the rotation again

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 11, 2012 10:00 pm
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whitesox.com:

Chris Sale‘s return to relief pitching turned out to be short-lived indeed. The White Sox announced on Friday that Sale will return to the starting rotation and will take the mound on Saturday against the Royals. Sale will replace left-hander Eric Stults, who was originally scheduled to start Saturday’s middle game. “He’s back in [the rotation],” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Friday’s series opener.

… As it turns out, Sale was able to talk his way back into the rotation. “Let’s just say I really, really thought I could do this,” Sale said. “This is something that’s been a dream of mine and a passion of mine for very long, and at the end of the day, I felt that I could do this and felt poorly that I set a goal to do this and fell drastically short. I felt like I was letting my teammates down and felt like I was depending on other people to pick up my slack.”

… When the club returned to Chicago on Thursday, Sale underwent an MRI, which the left-hander said was identical to the MRI he underwent after being selected in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. “MRI is clean and pristine,” White Sox general manager Ken Williams said. “He’s going to pitch.”

Williams said the club prides itself on protecting its young pitchers and will continue to monitor Sale closely now that his one-week hiatus from the bullpen is over. “We are very conservative in our approach with regards to the care of particularly our pitchers,” Williams said. “I think our history, when you look at all the injury reports over the last dozen years, will show you that. “The course of action that we’ve taken with [Sale] has not been unlike the course of action we’ve taken with many of our Minor League guys in such situations.”

So what changed since last week? “The only thing that changed was that when the expression of general soreness turns into ‘I feel pain in my elbow’ and ‘I feel discomfort in my elbow,'” Williams said. “It’s beyond the general soreness that we’ve come to expect.” Williams said the 23-year-old Sale was unyielding in his desire to pitch out of the rotation when they spoke on the phone during the White Sox recent road trip.

“I’m really proud of him, because he stood up for himself,” Williams said. “The reason why this changed is that when Robin Ventura said he was going to the bullpen, that was a course of action. That was the game plan based on what [Sale] had communicated to our medical staff. “What changed is Chris Sale’s phone call to me, saying, ‘No, it’s not exactly described as pain. It’s more general soreness. It’s something that I’ve had and I can get through this. And he was adamant about it. He was adamant to the point where he almost crossed the line. And I like that.” …

What a relief! Seems the coaching staff heard ‘pain in the elbow’ and blacked out. Why they didn’t skip his start and have him undergo an MRI immediately I don’t understand.

Sale gets brownie points too:

“I truly felt this was something I could do,” Sale said of starting, and he made that clear to Williams in a phone call the day he worked out of the bullpen.

“He wants it badly, and I love that about him,” said Williams, whose conversation with Sale brought about the latest change. “I’m really proud because he stood up for himself. When Robin Ventura said he was going to the bullpen, what changed was a Chris Sale phone call to me.”

Sale insisted that what initially was thought to be “pain” in his elbow — Williams called it “a red flag” to the team — was more “general soreness.” Sale told Williams, “I can get through this.”

“He was adamant. He almost crossed the line,” Williams said. “But the forcefulness he had told us something. It told us he has something extra mentally.”

Also,

And the closer now according to Robin Ventura is “Whoever ends up in the ninth inning”.

BTW, here’s James’ take.

PS. Title is Willie. Contemplated Mick too.

May 9, 2012

Chris Sale to get MRI on his elbow [UPDATE]

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 9, 2012 2:00 pm
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UPDATE: Scott Merkin says Chris Sale will have an MRI on his elbow tomorrow when the Sox return to Chicago:

[Chris] Sale will have an MRI on his elbow Thursday afternoon when he returns to Chicago.

After the results are read from a move that is considered purely precautionary at this point, a decision will be made as to where Sale fits on the pitching staff. Sale still was in the bullpen for Wednesday, but probably not available for the series finale against the Indians, and manager Robin Ventura indicated the bullpen is where he presently envisions Sale staying put.

“That’s something we’ll go over when we get back home,” Ventura said. “This all happened pretty fast. Getting everybody in the room and expressing it face to face is probably the best thing to do. That’s when you get the most information and make the right decision.

“We’ll see when we get everybody in the room. Personally, I’m probably not making that decision. [Sale's return to the rotation] could happen. I’m not saying it can’t but I would be surprised if it did.”

… During this down time, Sale came to Cooper and told him that his tender elbow felt great. So, Cooper wanted to revisit starting.

“Nothing is out of the possibility,” Cooper said. “He missed a start, we gave him time and we quieted down the elbow that was barking a little bit. We backed off and took care of that situation. Now he’s back to pitching.”

“It’s not for me to make the call on,” said an upbeat Sale, when asked about the relieving/starting conundrum. “Those guys obviously, they run the team and they know what they’re doing with the team and if they have a decision, it’s not like I can say, ‘No.’ I’ve obviously talked with them and it’s one of those things that you go with what’s said and grind it out another day.”

… “Everything is swirling around him having pictures taken tomorrow,” Ventura said. “He’s not hurt. It’s more monitoring what’s going on and seeing where it’s at. It’s kind of precautionary stuff that happens all the time.”

“Chris Sale is going to be pitching in prime-time spots, whether it’s closing, eighth-inning big moments or if we decided, you know what, he’s good enough right now and we are going to send him back out starting,” Cooper said. “I don’t think anything is out of the question, but no matter what he’s doing, we are going to be watching him and taking care of him.”

Initial post:
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May 4, 2012

That’s not good. Not at all. In fact it sucks. A lot.

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 4, 2012 7:00 pm
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Scott Merkin:

Chris Sale’s time as a starting pitcher lasted one month and 32 innings.

But the White Sox view the left-hander’s move from the rotation to the team’s closer, as announced by manager Robin Ventura prior to Friday’s series opener in Detroit, not as a disappointment but more as a move to preserve Sale’s career.

The 23-year-old had been experiencing a mixture of soreness and tightness in his pitching elbow, according to Ventura. So Ventura met with Sale on Friday and the decision was made.

Sale left the meeting wearing a compression sleeve on his elbow. He elected not to comment pregame. Sale has said before that he enjoys the thrill of closing but has always felt more comfortable as a starter.

As Ventura pointed out, Sale is not hurt and still could probably go out and start. Ventura added that Sale is tough enough to handle the starting rigors, but Ventura would feel terrible if Sale got hurt in the process.

“It’s not disappointing to us,” said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper of the change. “It’s disappointing to him because this was something that he’s always wanted to do.”

In what could be his first and only year as a starter, Sale has a 3-1 record with a 2.89 ERA during five trips to the mound, with 29 strikeouts and eight walks over those 32 innings. He threw at least 100 pitches in each of his first four starts, before being pulled with 88 pitches after six innings against Cleveland on Tuesday.

… This Sale move obviously affects alignment for the rest of the staff. Hector Santiago, who recorded four saves as the White Sox closer, will move into a middle-relief role with the South Siders now having four left-handers in the bullpen. Dylan Axelrod gets the start in Sunday’s series finale against the Tigers and will have the first chance to hold on to that fifth spot.

… There wasn’t a complete feeling of permanence with this Sale move, as both Cooper and Ventura espoused a “never say never” attitude. But the 13th pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, who had a 2.58 ERA over 79 career relief appearances coming into the 2012 campaign, not to mention 12 saves, will be the White Sox closer for the foreseeable future.

“He is much more important to the White Sox organization with a uniform on and pitching,” Cooper said. “And we are not going to put that at a greater risk, or jeopardize that.”

Here’s Don Cooper:

“It’s not disappointing to us, it’s disappointing to him because this was something he’s always wanted to do,” pitching coach Don Cooper said before the Sox’ game at Detroit Friday. “We’re not making this decision based on what’s best for the team because obviously he’s starting and doing well and that would be a wonderful thing to keep him in. We feel we’re doing what’s best for him, his career and his health. It’s the best way to keep him healthy and strong.”

“It’s easier to maintain that and keeping tabs on this in the bullpen than it is as a starter,” Cooper said. “We already know he’s a good left-handed reliever. That’s been proven over the past 1 ½ years. Now we’ll be trying to make him one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball, not just in the American League. That’s all we’re at with it. Chris is going to be fine. He was upset. He wanted to continue to do this. But sometimes we have to make decisions based upon what we feel is best for that individual, and that’s what we did.” …

When I first saw the headline I said ‘dammit, don’t these knuckleheads understand that he’s more valuable as a starter?’ After reading the whole article though I’m convinced this is no ‘we’re desperate for a closer’ move and I’m scared beyond words. Merkin’s article sounds horrible. Cooper’s quote is as scary as it gets.

May 2, 2012

Robin Ventura puts Gordon Beckham, Brent Morel on notice

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ May 2, 2012 4:00 am
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Scott Merkin:

Support for struggling White Sox infielders Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel continued to come in Tuesday from manager Robin Ventura.

But as the calendar turns from April to May and with Morel (.182) and Beckham (.190) sitting a few games of consistent hitting below the Mendoza line, even following Beckham’s three-hit effort in Tuesday’s 7-2 victory over the Indians, that unconditional support from Ventura soon might be slightly altered.”Eventually you probably have to do something,” said Ventura before the series opener with the Indians. “Right now I’m believing what I see and talking to them.

“I want to know what they’re thinking, too. I’m still confident they’re going to perform. Eventually it gets to the point where you would have to make a move if it would stay like that, but right now I’m not going to do that.” …

I don’t think Ventura has good replacements available though.

Other White Sox links:

April 27, 2012

What does the future hold for Gordon Beckham?

Chris Cwik:

Gordon Beckham has not lived up to expectations. After being selected eighth overall by the Chicago White Sox in 2008, Beckham was expected to be one of the team’s future stars. And after a strong rookie season, it looked like Beckham might achieve that goal. Since then, however, Beckham was struggled mightily. For the 25-year-old, 2012 is a make-or-break year. The early signs do not look encouraging. …

Other White Sox links:

April 8, 2012

Addison Reed’s cutter is a success

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ April 8, 2012 12:00 am
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Scott Merkin:

Addison Reed didn’t start throwing a cutter until about a month ago, when White Sox bullpen coach Juan Nieves was playing around with his pitch grips and had him throw it. The rookie right-hander broke out about three or four during his scoreless seventh in Friday’s 3-2 loss and liked the results.

“I’ve liked it ever since I threw it for the first time in the ‘pen,” said Reed. “It’s a pitch that is still developing, but I feel pretty good about it. It’s not that much different from my slider, grip-wise and the way you throw it.”

Reed had been focusing on refining his changeup during the early portion of Spring Training. But he stuck to fastballs and cutters in retiring the Rangers’ Yorvit Torrealba and Ian Kinsler on fly balls and catching David Murphy looking. Reed does plan to work the changeup back into rotation this season.

“Once I start seeing teams more often,” Reed said. “That way they aren’t just sitting on the two pitches. They see I have that third pitch and I can throw it for a strike.”

Other White Sox links:

April 6, 2012

Closer by matchup?

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ April 6, 2012 3:30 pm
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JJ Stankevitz:

Robin Ventura hasn’t named a closer, although that may just be a formality — it looks like the White Sox manager will use multiple pitchers in the ninth inning based on matchups:

Given the Sox don’t have anyone with extensive closer experience at the MLB level, this is a refreshing strategy. It’ll allow Ventura to ease Addison Reed into save situations by using him in low or medium-leverage save spots (like a two or three-run lead). And it’ll allow Ventura to pick and choose when to use Matt Thornton, hopefully in the highest-leverage situation (be it the seventh, eighth or ninth inning).

UPDATE: Scott Merkin:

On Thursday’s workout day, pitching coach Don Cooper said there would be no closer by committee. But before Friday’s setback, Ventura said that matchups could determine who actually pitches the ninth.

“At some point, it’s not going to be the same guy all the time,” Ventura said. “And not necessarily you think ahead as a bullpen committee, but a guy coming in the ninth, it will end up being different at some points of the season. Yeah, depending on how guys do versus certain teams and matchups. If we had Mariano Rivera, I’d be able to tell everyone I have a closer.”

That’s awesome! I love it!

April 2, 2012

Robin Ventura says Adam Dunn’s high walk percentage is a good thing

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ April 2, 2012 11:30 pm
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Owen Perkins:

Tuesday’s lineup features Alejandro De Aza leading off and playing center, followed by third baseman Brent Morel in the two-hole. Adam Dunn bats third as the DH in front of first baseman Paul Konerko and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Right fielder Alex Rios bats sixth, with Alexei Ramirez playing short and batting seventh, followed by left fielder Dayan Viciedo and second baseman Gordon Beckham rounding out the order.”It’s not guaranteed to be the Opening Day one,” Ventura said of the lineup. “That’s one of the things that I’ve messed with throughout the spring, is putting guys in different spots.”

While Dunn might be a bit of a surprise after hitting .159 in 2011, his .255 (13-for-51) pace in the Cactus League, with five homers and 14 RBIs, has him looking like a middle-of-the-lineup man again. Dunn also posted a .415 on-base percentage this spring.

“He gets on base a lot,” Ventura said. “Even though he might strike out a little bit, he does walk a lot. To me that’s a good thing right in front of Paul.”

Good to hear a White Sox manager not dismissing walking.

Other White Sox links:

March 11, 2012

In which Robin Ventura has Adam Dunn’s respect

Scott Merkin:

MLB.com surveyed a handful of White Sox players over the past few days, looking for one sentence to describe Ventura’s managerial start. Most players went deeper than the required basic statement, but through the first quarter of Spring Training, there seems to be nothing but strong support for Ventura’s debut camp.

“I mean, it’s almost, I don’t want to sound corny, but he’s almost like it’s too good to be true,” said White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn. “He’s unbelievable. I’m not just saying that. I feel like he’s still a player but yet he’ll get on you, he’ll jump on you.

“He’s got that fine line down really well early. He has a lot of respect coming toward him and I think he realizes it, too. He’s in a tough position, but I respect him from, I still remember him as a player, how good of a player he was playing against him. He has all my respect.”

Other White Sox links:

March 8, 2012

Adam Dunn gives Robin Ventura his first managerial win

Adam Dunn went 2-3 with a 3-run home run against Naftali Feliz and a double against a lefty, Gordon Beckham added a 2-run home run, Dayan Viciedo and Kosuke Fukudome added a double each, and Hector Santiago struck-out three and walked 1 in the 2 scoreless innings he pitched. The Sox won 6-3 and Ventura got his 1st win as a manager. Boxscore | Gameday | Recap

J.J. has the strikezone plot of Dunn’s home run at-bat from Brooks Baseball (Pitch F/X for Dunn’s home run at-bat).

And here’s the lineup card from today’s win:

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March 7, 2012

Alexei Ramirez, RHP?

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ March 7, 2012 10:30 pm
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Other White Sox links:

A couple new 2012 Sox ads

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ March 7, 2012 8:30 pm
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Robin Ventura’s Opening Day starts early:

Robin Ventura wants to teach his team the right way:

March 3, 2012

Robin Ventura’s batting order thoughts

Ventura wants:

Chris Sale had a good start in today’s intrasquad game:

Sale said he was mindful during warmups and at the start of the game to not go hard from the onset.“

Just taking it nice and easy and really loosening it up because you have time,” he said. “You’re in no rush. That was nice to go out there and flip some in and start stretching it out and pick it up as it goes.”

Shingo Takatsu, aka Mr. Zero, made an appearance!

And a photo from today’s game. Chris Sale pitches to Alex Rios:

More pictures here.

Other White Sox links:

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