5 Questions with...Tribune's Mark Gonzales


5 Questions with...Tribune's Mark Gonzales

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

March 3, 2010

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeka man currently hanging out in Arizona for the next several weeks before he really starts to get busyhes the White Sox beat writer for the Chicago Tribune who hopes to one day attain as many Twitter followers as Ozzie Guillen garnered in just 24 hourshere are 5 Questions withMARK GONZALES!

BIO: Mark Gonzales is entering his sixth season as the White Sox beat writer for the Chicago Tribune. Prior to that, he served as the Diamondbacks' beat writer for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix from 2000 to 2003 and served as the newspaper's national baseball writer in 2004. Prior to that, served as the San Francisco Giants' beat writer for the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News for eight seasons. Covered two World Series title teams (Arizona in 2001, White Sox in 2005), in addition to covering Stanford's 1988 College World Series title team for the Peninsula Times Tribune in Palo Alto, CA. Hes also old enough to have covered Kenny Williams' final high school football game at San Jose's Mount Pleasant High School and lucky enough to have played (and failed) against the likes of future major leaguers Mark Langston and Mark Davis.

1) CSNChicago.com: Mark, White Sox fans are thrilled manager Ozzie Guillen has entered the world of social media with the recent announcement that he now has his very own Twitter account. His tweets will no doubt be entertaining (he did state they will be focused on his personal life and not on the team). In your opinion, is there any way this can be a distraction to the team going forward in case something he tweets is taken out of context?

Gonzales: There have been a few times in which, after a tough loss, a player or two will come up to me and ask, "what did Ozzie say? I'll tell them, and they'll usually nod - which means he didn't tell us anything different than what he told them.

I believe Ozzie when he said he was going to limit his tweets to his personal life and not the team. I also think it actually helped that there was such a fuss over Twittergate because it brought further scrutiny to this matter. I don't think Ozzie would spill the beans on any trade that Kenny Williams would be working on, but it's important for him to know that there are thousands of people watching every word he writes.

I found it amusing that he asked for suggestions last week on where to eat dinner, and he immediately got a recommendation from a restaurant in Venezuela and then had to clarify that he was looking for eateries in Phoenix.

I don't go crazy over following other managers, coaches and athletes on Twitter. But I find that Joe Madden and Pete Carroll's are very supportive and positive as it relates to their teams and everyday life. Mark Teahen told me shortly after Twittergate that he had to be more careful about his tweets since gaining more followers after joining the Sox.

So the bottom line is that there will be more scrutiny, but I think Ozzie realizes that every word is being analyzed.

Good thing you didn't ask about his son Oney's tweets.
2) CSNChicago.com: Youre down in Arizona right now and spring training games are FINALLY about to begin. From your observances so far, name the players that have impressed you the most in the following four categories: hitting, pitching, fielding and running.

Gonzales: I really think Carlos Quentin is going to have a big year offensively. The guy hit 21 homers in 99 games on one leg. I just think he got out of whack with the plantar fasciitis and got impatient. Look at his on-base percentage the past two years. He went from a .394 OBP in 2008 to a .323 OBP in 2009. He was hurt and impatient. And the plan to rotate designated hitters will help him.

I covered Randy Johnson for four years in Arizona, and I love the way Jake Peavy gets after it on the mound the same way Randy did - yelling at himself, walking around the mound with aggressive body language, without losing focus. I know his ERA will be put to the test pitching in the American League, but this guy wanted a challenge and should quell the thoughts of those who believed he was too scared to pitch in the AL. As a fly ball pitcher, he might have some ugly games, but he brings an aggressive mentality to this staff that I like.

Covering the National League for most of my life, I didn't get a chance to see Omar Vizquel very much. But his agility and instincts are pretty scary. This guy is 42 years old, and he's got the body of an Olympic gymnast. Its great to see a guy who gets it at this stage of his career. There's a saying that some players say hello when they should be saying goodbye. But Vizquel looks like he's got a lot left in the tank, and he's an upgrade over what the Sox have had for at least the past four years as a utility player.

I've admired the way the Los Angeles Angels go from first to third base, and the Sox have a chance to do this with more speed. They don't have to rely on A.J. trying to stretch singles into doubles any more. If Alex Rios can hit, we'll see more of his speed. When he's on his game, he makes everything look effortless. I bet many of those doubles he hit in 2007 and 2008 with Toronto were generated by his speed, and he can help his teammates just by getting on base and forcing the opposing pitcher to get in the stretch position.

3) CSNChicago.com: Theres no doubt the White Sox have arguably the best starting four in all of baseball in Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, John Danks and Gavin Floyd. However, there is a wild card out there in the fifth spot with Freddy Garcia. Hows he looked so far and is there anyone youve seen who may take that fifth spot away from him?

Gonzales: It's Freddy's job to lose. I like the way Freddy pitched dating back to that makeup game against the Sox in 2008 while pitching for Detroit. I don't see him as the same pitcher who threw heavy sinkers in 2005 with the Sox. I always liked him but became more impressed with the way he's recognized that he doesn't throw 93 mph any more and has learned to change speeds and throw that big off-speed breaking ball.

Keep in mind that Daniel Hudson, despite advancing through four levels last year, might need a little more seasoning. It's smart to prepare him as a starting pitcher in case someone gets injured. There's no harm with starting him at Triple-A Charlotte because he's got plenty of potential and there's no need to rush him.

And you never know with Kenny Williams. He might think he needs Hudson to trade as part of a bigger trade.

4) CSNChicago.com: Life on the road for a baseball beat writer is not all fun and games as most people think. Most notably, the traveling aspect has to take a toll as the season goes on. Pertaining to being on the road, name the top 3 best things about traveling and the 3 things that make you cringe to even think about right now?

Gonzales: Obviously, the best thing about traveling is seeing different parts of the country. Some cities are better than others, but I don't take this country's cities and cultures for granted. I'm looking forward to going to Washington, D.C., for the first time since 1988.

I love food, as you probably noticed. So seafood in Baltimore and Boston is a staple, as is Stroud's pan-fried chicken in Kansas City.

The other thing I like about travel are the modes of transportation other than airplane. Taking the train from Boston to New York last year was a blast. I hadn't done that since 2002. I'll take public transit when it's available and more affordable. But having grown up in California and driving from the Bay Area to Southern California very frequently, I love to drive and think I'm one of the few who believe Los Angeles traffic isn't that bad. My family lives in the Bay Area, so I get to see them every time the White Sox play Oakland.

I could get in big trouble if I tell you what the worst aspect of traveling is. Let's just say that I don't think it's hard to give a passenger a tray to put their computer in. And since when can someone throw out a three-ounce bottle of aftershave balm?

I don't care for travelers who don't follow the rules when boarding a plane by jamming their two carry-on pieces in overhead storage before everyone has boarded a full flight. Is it that tough to follow the rules?

I used to sleep on planes easily, but that has changed. Red-eye flights usually wipe me out for a few days.

5) CSNChicago.com: After the long MLB season finally comes to an end (not that it ever really ends for you), whats your favorite get-away destination during the off-season?

Gonzales: My wife and I take one one-week trip every year in January. This year it was Aruba, which was about as good as it gets. We try to go where we're assured of very warm weather. Recently, we've been to Maui, Puerto Rico (our honeymoon), the Virgin Islands and Puerto Vallarta. But I can't pass up telling you the following story.

My wife and I were in Grand Cayman sitting by the hotel swimming pool when I saw this man with a New York accent with his wife and two young kids. It was Don Cooper, who was conducting a series of baseball clinics for kids. Go figure.

Gonzales LINKS:

Mark Gonzales White Sox coverageChicago Tribune

Mark Gonzales on Facebook

Mark Gonzales on Twitter

Preview: Cubs continue series with Nationals tonight on CSN

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The Cubs continue their series with the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night in the nation's capital, and you can catch all the action on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com and via the NBC Sports app.

Coverage from the District of Columbia with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies begins at 6 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the game for reaction and analysis on Cubs Postgame Live.

Tonight's starting pitching matchup: John Lackey (5-8, 4.74 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (8-2, 3.57 ERA)

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Carlos Rodon makes his season debut as the White Sox take on the New York Yankees tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN Plus and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (5-7, 5.74 ERA)

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— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.