Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 4:30 pm
Final Day Before Games
Today’s weather, sunny, highs in the low to mid 80s. Spectacular.
The White Sox open Cactus League play tomorrow against the Colorado Rockies in a 1:05 (MT) game at TEP.
The game will be broadcast on WSCR Sports Radio with Ed Farmer and Chris Singleton teamming up for the very first time.
Ozzie’s lineup for tomorrow:
Today’s final workout focused on fundamentals.
"Today we stressed not being selfish," Guillen said. "That we need to help each other and take advantage of RBI situations.
"I told them that we will make mistakes on the basepaths because we will be aggressive. I want our team to play that way from the very first day of spring training.
"I told them ‘don’t be afraid to take the extra base.’ We want the opposition to think, ‘here comes the White Sox. They are going to run, take every advantage and do the little things to win games."
Guillen was asked which players would be given "green lights" on the basepaths this spring.
"Everyone is on their own," he answered. "Just to see what we have and just to stay aggressive. The worst thing that can happen (if you run into outs in a spring training game) is that the game will get over quicker."
They made me pose for a photo today, sitting in a golf cart next to Ken Williams with a laptop balanced on my knees. Bad image. Needless to say, I took a fair amount of ribbing from my "friends" in the front office and my "friends" in the media, who complain that all I do on my blog is bash them. I tried to point out that I think I compliment media as often as I criticize, but they didn’t want to hear it.
What a shame that Minnie did not get into the Hall of Fame. How sad for he and his family. I must confess annoyance that Minnie and Buck O’Neil did not merit induction, yet 17 others did.
I really struggle with how anyone can look at Minnie Minoso’s career (and the fact that had he been a white American born in the 1920s he would have been in the big leagues much, much earlier) and argue he is not a Hall of Famer.
Sunday, February 26, 2006, 1:30 pm
Parting Shots, Part Two
Former White Sox star Frank Thomas sat down and spoke with Phil Arvia of the Daily Southtown for an interview published today. While there doesn’t appear to be anything overly new among Frank’s comments, they did touch a few nerves in White Sox camp today, including those of general manager Ken Williams. You certainly will read Kenny’s response in the newspapers on Monday, but they amounted to … "Idiot. How can he make those comments after all the White Sox organization and Jerry Reinsdorf have done for him over the past 15 years … he needs to worry about the Oakland Athletics."
As you can imagine (at least those of you who know him fairly well), nothing I can print here will match the intensity with which Kenny spoke. You had to be here to see it.
Ozzie Guillen and several others spent the rest of the day egging Kenny on and giving him a hard time.
"Maybe you just need to say ‘No comment’ more often," Guillen said joking. Of course, Kenny had said the same thing to Ozzie about his ARod comments from earlier this month.
For the record, we never advise players or staff to say "no comment" because people generally assume you are guilty. You always should comment in some manner or form.
By noontime, the Thomas/Williams fireworks were over and the biggest bang in camp came from a television crew from Total Nonstop Action.
In camp to film a followup to A.J. Pierzynski and Dale Torborg’s (aka Demon) winter pro wrestling appearance, today’s skit featured Simon Diamond appearing at White Sox camp to challenge the two to the legitimacy of their title belt.
Ozzie Guillen plays a key role in the skit, and the White Sox manager was a bit concerned about hurting someone (or himself) in the role. Many Sox players, media and staff watched and cheered the taping, which will air on TNA in coming weeks.
"That’s the most solid contact Ozzie ever made," said hitting coach Greg Walker.
I can’t give away too many details, but the episode is funny, as was Guillen’s reaction.
My bad. I failed to list our pitchers for Thursday’s split squad game at Colorado … in order, our pitching will be: Vazquez, Redding, Jenks, Randolph, Almanza, Tracey and Montero.
To avoid bothering players during the season, our Community Relations staff brings down hundereds of photos, jerseys, baseballs and bats for our players to sign during spring training. Guys sit in our lunch room and sign following their workouts. These items are used throughout the year as donations to Chicagoland charities and great causes. We truly appreciate the players’ willingness to contribute in this way.
Saturday, February 25, 2006, 12:20 pm
Absolutely beautiful. Sunny with a few thin clouds (not enough to impact our sun tans), high in the mid to high 70s.
Congrats to the Polittes on the birth of their second son, Michael, this morning. Rumor has it that Michael weighed in at over eight pounds prompting manager Ozzie Guillen to quip: "I sent a text message to Politte telling him that in two days his son is going to be bigger than he is." Cliff is listed at a liberal 5-10, 200 pounds.
GM Ken Williams and Ozzie were all over minor league instructor Nick Capra. "Cappy can’t be a hitting coach because he can’t see over the crossbar of the cage," Williams joked. "We need to do a budget revision to buy him a step stool or something."
Tucson native and White Sox rookie Brian Anderson is a bit of a lightning rod for good natured ribbing. Today, a MLB Productions TV crew in camp put a microphone on Anderson during the workout. Williams took note.
"We have all kinds of World Champions walking around here and they put a microphone on you?" he kidded Anderson. "Did you have the mic on when you collided with (Ryan) Sweeney in the pop up drill?"
"No, he didn’t," said the loquacious Harold Baines.
"Don’t hurt the prospect (Sweeney)," Guillen chided Anderson (who is one of the club’s top prospects. "We can replace you, but don’t hurt the prospect."
Everyone walked away laughing, including Anderson.
From the desk of Don Cooper …
Monday’s intrasquad game will feature: Mark Buehrle, Brandon McCarthy, Lance Broadway, Ray Liotta, Bobby Jenks and Neal Cotts.
March 1 vs. Colo: Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, Charlie Haeger, Javier Lopez and Arnie Munoz.
March 2 vs. Ariz: Freddy Garcia, Jeff Bajenaru, Chad Bentz, Rusty Tucker, Paulino Reynoso, Cotts and Corwin Malone.
March 3 at Ariz: Buehrle, Dustin Hermanson, Liotta, Broadway, Cliff Politte.
March 4 vs. Ariz: McCarthy, Lopez, Munoz, Haeger, Tucker, Bentz.
A Different Color of Pinstripes
I saw El Duque yesterday and told him he just didn’t look right in purple pinstripes and purple socks.
Shortstop Juan Uribe arrived today and took part in workouts. When told that Uribe assured reporters that he had been working out in the Dominican and was in shape, Guillen let out a loud, long laugh.
"I don’t worry about Uribe," Guillen said. "He can pick up a glove and go get it. Guys like Juan are gifted by God with the talent they have."
Frustrated with trying to say Rob Mackowiak’s name, Guillen has taken to calling him "that guy, the kid from Pittsburgh."
Friday, February 24, 2006, 2:15 pm MT
My dear friends and co-workers in Chicago have requested that I post the weather at the start of each blog … so, today’s Tucson weather was sunny skies and a high of 72. Makes their day thinking of us down here.
One of the great things about Tucson is the Old West flavor the town still features. For example, the annual rodeo is huge here. How big? Well, all the schools in Tucson close Thursday and Friday so that kids can attend the rodeo. Thursday, the weekend’s events began with a parade. It was front page news here, but one carriage bolted out of line when it’s horses got spooked (it just so happened it was a local news station’s carriage). It raced up the parade route and slammed into the back of a carriage pulling the mayor and his wife, sending both to the hospital with minor injuries. Sounds a lot like the South Side Irish parade.
A Good Day
"Today was a good day, a very good day," said White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. Sox staffers were joking that a pitcher with the stuff of Javier Vazquez is now the team’s "fifth" starter after years of searching desperately in vain for someone to fill the fifth hole.
Cliff Politte left camp today to return to his wife Jennifer in St. Louis. Jennifer is expecting the couple’s second child this weekend. "See you Tuesday," Cliff said as he headed for the airport.
"Gosh," Ozzie Guillen said this morning, "Gosh, Gosh, Gosh." Then he bounced into a hysterical, jerking dance. Ozzie has been watching "one of my favorite" movies, Napoleon Dynamite.
"The first time I watched this movie, I thought it was the dumbest movie I’d ever seen," Guillen said. "And my kids were laughing hysterically. ‘Dad, you don’t know enough English to like this movie,’ they told me. The next time I watched it, I thought it was pretty good. The third time, I thought it was great."
Guillen likes the movie so much he went to a local Best Buy to pick up his own DVD for Tucson.
Vote for Pedro. (or Vote for Scott … not me, Podsednik)
Thanks to some last minute work by Grace Zwit in our baseball operations department, Juan Uribe was expected to arrive in Tucson tonight and be at tomorrow’s workout.
With nine left-handed relievers in camp competing, in a sense, for one open spot in the bullpen, a lot of attention is being paid to the battle. But Ozzie Guillen is waiting a while to pick any favorites.
"Not yet, it’s too early," the Sox manager said. "It looks easy sometimes when you are facing guys with the same uniforms on. I want to wait until we start facing the enemy before I start picking favorites."
But Guillen also stressed that he wanted a pitcher who could get guys out no matter if he is left-handed or right-handed.
To Janet Schneider, who I understand is a frequent reader of this blog (an amazing admission by anyone). Janet, Hermie says hello and sends his love from sunny, dry Tucson.
Thursday, February 23, 2006, 4:24 pm MT
First Full Squad Workout
In some ways spring training started today with our first full squad workout. Position players went through physicals this morning and then Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen held their annual staff meeting in the closed clubhouse at 9:15 a.m.
Exactly what is said in this meeting needs to stay in this meeting, but suffice it to say that it is a mixture of motivational speed, rules we operate by, introductions and stand-up comedy in several languages at once. It is a meeting like no other. After its conclusion, I leaned over to Jim Thome and said, "Welcome to the White Sox" as we both smiled.
Juan Uribe was the only player not in camp as he tries to get his paperwork corrected in his native Dominican. Ozzie said today his arrival may be as late as Tuesday if he can’t get it done tomorrow.
With Tadahito Iguchi in camp, the number of media doubled with the arrival of the Japanese contingent. It turns our Tadahito is good friends with former teammate and new Mariners catcher, Kenji Johjima. Evidently, Tad gave Kenji pointers on MLB baseball and living in the states.
It Couldn’t Happen to a Better Guy …
Let’s all cross our fingers on behalf of Minnie Minoso this Sunday/Monday as a special Negro Leagues committee considers "The Cuban Comet" for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This 12-member committee is considering 39 Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues players for induction. Nine "yes" votes means a player is in. The announcement comes Monday afternoon. See whitesox.com for a press release and mlb.com for a good story by Scott Merkin.
Live from Tucson
Each spring, we provide a television video feed from Tucson to all the television stations in Chicago (and the nation, for that matter). Beginning this year, we are able to provide those feeds (or parts) on whitesox.com, so you may enjoy checking out the action and comments from Tucson. Let me know if you want us to ask the players anything specific. These feeds make sure White Sox interviews and game action (once games start) are shown in Chicago even if Chicago television stations don’t have crews down here at that time.
We have an intrasquad game scheduled for 11 am on Monday, Feb. 27 on the back field if anyone is in Tucson and wants to check it out.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006, 3:45 pm MT
I missed posting the past two days because I was on the golf course (collective pause for everybody who is sarcasticly saying, "We’re sorry for you.").
Sunday afternoon, 14 Sox players and staff took part in the annual White Sox/Diamondbacks Charity Golf Outing/Pro-Am at Tucson National Golf Course. The PGA is in town this week, and our tourney kicks off the festivities.
Pitcher Charlie Haeger’s team won the entire competition with a 53, while Scott Podsednik’s name finished second. Other Sox players to donate time included Freddy Garcia, Jermaine Dye, Sean Tracey, Tim Redding, Brandon McCarthy and Chris Widger, and staff members Ozzie Guillen, Joey Cora, Harold Baines, Ken Williams and Greg Walker also took part.
Matt Hansen was the pro in our group and it truly is amazing what those guys can do. Golf for a PGA player is a much different game than for the rest of us.
Bragging rights … allow me a moment because I came as close as I ever have to a hole in one on No. 12. My six iron into the wind rolled past the cup and finished just outside the closest to the pin marker. I would have loved to beat El Duque’s shot. Of course, I three putted from two feet away.
After walking the 18 holes, I always have a better appreciation for pro golfers. By the way, I think it was 10 degrees in Chicago on Sunday. Sorry.
Yesterday, we headed out to Starr Pass Golf Course after the workout ended to tape an episode for the Big Break’s All-Star Challenge. A four-man players team took on a four-person coaches team with big time bragging rights on the line. I can’t tell you who won, but the afternoon included some horrendous shots, a few great ones, a hole out from the fairway and the worst putting performance in Big Break history. You definitely need to see the show, which will air sometime this summer.
I’ve said before that during spring training one day seems just like another. You very easily lose track of the day of the week.
A few noteworthy items:
During bullpen sessions, seven pitchers throw at the same time to seven catchers, all in a row. Today, we had seven left-handers, all battling for one job, throwing at the same time. You don’t see that very often.
Like everyone, we practice sliding each spring … even the pitchers. It was painful watching (and it looked like participating). At least no one was hurt.
Charlie Haeger (world’s greatest golfer … see above) is a knuckleball pitcher. Yesterday, Man Soo Lee tried to catch him as everyone stood, watched and laughed.
More position players arrived in camp, including Rob Mackowiak and Tadahito Iguchi. Jim Thome has been here every day and looks great.
A few days ago, AJ Pierzynski handed out t-shirts from his professional wrestling event this winter. You know you’ve arrived when you have your own t-shirt.
We continue to size our players for their World Series rings … what a great feeling.
Saturday, Feb. 18, 2006, 1:45 pm
Day 2 of Spring Training …
Dawned bright and sunny. Physicals for pitchers and catchers (and staff) started at 7 am and ran through about 10. No major issues, unless you want to count my exceedingly high blood pressure and triglyceride issue (which my wife and kids do).
I think it was two years ago that Ozzie went over to the local hospital for tests and didn’t come back for a day as they made sure an issue with his heart was not a risk. A former coach and scout of ours, Ed Brinkman, once went through his tests and ended up with bypass surgery.
Anyway, today’s seemed uneventful.
No Freddy Garcia in camp. His stolen car contained his papers. There is a chance he will arrive tomorrow.
Jim Thome did a live segment for ESPN News, and Ozzie Guillen entertained two dozen members of the media for about an hour today.
The White Sox and Diamondbacks take part in our annual charity golf tournament at Tucson National Golf Course tomorrow in advance of next week’s PGA Tucson Open. Fourteen White Sox players and coaches volunteered their time to take part and help raise funds for the Tucson Conquistadores, a local group. The annual tourney is a blast, as you play with a PGA professional, use a caddie and walk the same course the pros do.
Monday, four Sox players and four coaches are going to match golf skills as The All-Star Big Break comes to town. AJ Pierzynski, Scott Podsednik, Jermaine Dye and Jon Garland take on Ozzie, Tim Raines, Harold Baines and Greg Walker in a number of skill challenges.
I received a great card in the mail today from the Kamholz family. They are hosting a party on February 25th where their friends (sorry, invite required) can re-live the 2005 season before the 2006 season begins. I thought this was a great idea and wondered how many other Sox fans would be joining together in February and March to re-live October. Let me know if others like the idea …
Spring Training Routine
Because a few people have asked, the general routine in early spring is for us to be on the field at 9:15 am. Workouts generally begin as early as 8:15 am with … you guessed it, "early work." The team meets together at 9 am and the main workout then starts with stretching, then throwing, PFP (pitcher fielding practice … there is a reason why Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland deserve Gold Gloves), bullpens (half of the pitchers throw one day and then skip a day while the other half throws), catcher hitting and conditioning. Workout, which are open on our back fields (parking is just west of the ballpark off Ajo Way) generally end about noon or 12:30. Conditioning can go on for guys for quite some time after the workout ends.
Position players who are here early often hit on one field mid morning. Early arrivals include Thome, Pods and Crede.
Friday, February 17, 2006, 3:30 pm
Just Another Camp …
Well, not really. Let’s see what today’s report day includes:
It rained. Which really isn’t big news except that it hasn’t rained in Arizona in something like four-plus months. It seems like every other February here is cold, drizzly and rainy. I understand no one in Chicago (where it is -2 at the lake tonight and -10 in the suburbs) really cares for our plight.
No Frank Thomas. Generally, our first day of camp is focused on FT, his foot, his contract, etc. Today, it was all about Ozzie (surprise).
First event of the day, Kenny Williams spoke to the media about Ozzie, basically, saying A-Rod’s WBC situation was not something Ozzie should be commenting about publicly.
A few hours later came Ozzie, who called us early in the morning (6:30 am) asking to organize a meeting with the media.
He apologized to A-Rod. He was contrite and said he made a mistake. "I always sleep well and last night, I couldn’t sleep at all."
I had left a message for Ozzie while he was flying to Tucson, telling him of the reaction to the Sports Illustrated piece. He did not get it until he landed.
"I was walking through the airport last night, and I heard the TV say, ‘wait until you hear what Ozzie Guillen had to say about Alex Rodriguez,’ and I thought to myself, ‘what did I say about Alex Rodriguez?’"
You can read Ozzie’s comments today for yourself and make your own judgments. He did sincerely apologize.
One of the national reporters, from a network that was, at times, not too kind to us last year, was in camp today and asked a couple of questions of Ozzie about A-Rod. She was the same reporter who asked Ozzie late last summer if he thought his team would be known as "losers" or "chokers." Ozzie bit his tongue today, which is probably something a great many people — even Ozzie — wished he had done at times recently.
After several minutes of questions for Kenny, all about Ozzie, A-Rod, etc, a smiling Kenny began to answer any and every question (regardless of topic) with comments about the team, our additions, the fact we are World Champions, etc. There wasn’t a lot of focus on the baseball side today … which was one of the questions Ozzie faced.
"Is all this a distraction to your team?" someone asked.
"That’s why I made sure we got together today and talked about it when no players were really here," Guillen said. "Tomorrow, it is all baseball. My guys have one more day to enjoy being World Champions, because tomorrow, when we put the uniforms on, we are no longer World Champions. It is a new season."
Freddy Garcia is expected to be late to camp after having his car stolen in Miami.
Bobby Jenks was in camp today and told about his car accident in Seattle before driving his family down to spring training.
So we are not real lucky with cars right now …
Many compliments on the new decor of the complex. World Champion signs greeted the players as they climbed out of their cars. A Grinder Rule sign is attached to the front of the building, as is a "Chicago White Sox … 2005 World Champions" sign above the front entrance. But the really neat improvement came in the form of dozens of images from the 2005 Postseason, the World Series and the downtown parade that covered the inside of the building.
The favorite seemed to be a shot of the first bus in the parade — hosting Paul Konerko and his family, the Guillens and the Williams family among others — surrounded by thousands of fans with the air full of ticker tape.
"It sends chills through my body," Williams said.
Nothing is sacred. Ozzie was greeted by a special gift on his office desk today. A snow globe of The White House was sitting in the middle of his desk with an enhanced picture of Ozzie, President Bush and Paul Konerko at the recent White House event.
Guillen’s head had been placed on Jermaine’s body in the photo, which was orchestrated by a few front office pranksters.
"See, I guess you really were there," chairman Jerry Reinsdorf joked to Guillen.
We couldn’t let Ozzie get away without taking some heat.
Condolences … to Nancy Nesnidal, who has worked for many years with the White Sox as assistant to the general manager. Nancy, who as everyone knows, is one of the kindest and sweetest women you can know, lost her mother yesterday morning after a long battle. Nothing like arriving at work in Tucson at 7:30 am to learn your mother in Chicago has died. Nancy caught the first plane back home. Our thoughts are with her and her family.
Sadly, Nancy’s dad passed away this summer. If you remember, Kenny Williams said at the time how much her dad’s funeral moved him to think this man was born, lived and then died in Chicago without seeing a White Sox World Series title. Well, Nancy, your mom lived to see a Sox Championship.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Nesnidals.