Ozzie on managing Z: "Yes, I can"

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Ozzie on managing Z: "Yes, I can"

June 25, 2010 was the beginning of the end for Carlos Zambrano's tenure with the Cubs. The pitcher allowed four runs in the first inning against the White Sox, and following that crooked number he angrily confronted first baseman Derrek Lee in the dugout.

But that game also served as the beginning of rumors predicting a union between Zambrano and then-White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. After the game, Guillen had this to say about whether he could manage Zambrano:

"Yes, I can. Why not?"

Guillen then went through with his plans to go out to dinner that night with Zambrano, although he said he didn't discuss the tirade with him.

It was just the beginning of a quasi-courtship that finally came to an end Wednesday.

Road Ahead: White Sox return home after seven-game road trip

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Road Ahead: White Sox return home after seven-game road trip

CSN's Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton talk about what's next for the White Sox, which host the Red Sox and Twins, in this week's Honda Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana Honda dealers.

After playing 19 games in 19 days the White Sox finally had an off day on Monday. The busy stretch ended in a seven-game road trip, which the Sox went 5-2 in.

Garfien and Melton talked about the success the White Sox have had on the road as the team returns home to face the Red Sox and Twins in a pair of three-game series this week. The Red Sox lead the AL East with a 15-10 record while the Twins have the worst record in the American League.

The White Sox entered Monday with more wins than any other team in the majors.

Tested White Sox get some well-earned rest

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Tested White Sox get some well-earned rest

They’re pretty darn accomplished and they’re finally off.

As they relax and unwind Monday, their first day off since April 12 and only second scheduled one since the season began, the White Sox have to feel a sense of satisfaction.

Not only do they boast a major-league best 18 wins and they’ve already spent spent 22 days in first place in the American League Central, but the team also conducted itself extremely well during one of its most grueling stretches of the season. 

Courtesy of a 7-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, the White Sox finished off a run of 19 games in 19 days, including a dozen on the road, with a 13-6 mark. Given the rash of injuries suffered late in the span, manager Robin Ventura might describe Monday’s brief respite as well earned.

“Everybody’s ready for the off day,” Ventura said. “We knew it was there all along, and I thought the guys have handled it great, just taking care of each day as it comes, and we’ve got some guys who are banged up a little bit, some guys who are going on the (disabled list), and it’s been a pretty active stretch as far as playing games, winning games, losing guys to the DL, guys stepping it up for those guys, and so far it’s been pretty good.”

The schedule has been unrelenting for the White Sox (but more on that in a bit). 

What has raised the degree of difficulty is the way players began to drop like flies toward the end of April. 

It began April 24 with the hamstring strain that landed catcher Alex Avila on the 15-day DL.

His replacement, Kevan Smith, joined the team and suffered back spasms in pregame stretch on April 26, which not only removed him from making his major league debut, it also put him on the DL. 

Closer David Robertson returned to the club Sunday after he missed three of four games in Baltimore to attend the funeral of his father-in-law. The White Sox promoted Daniel Webb to pick up the slack in Robertson’s absence and the right-hander struck out the side in a scoreless inning on Thursday before he went on the DL with right elbow flexor inflammation.

Then on Friday, designated hitter Avisail Garcia tweaked his hamstring running to first on the final play of the game. As of Sunday morning, Ventura said Garcia’s availability for Tuesday might still be in question as Garcia wasn’t going to test the hamstring on Sunday. Garcia briefly tested it Saturday afternoon and said it’s not a serious enough injury to go on the DL, but also ruled himself out of action until at least Tuesday.

And on Sunday, Todd Frazier appeared to be in pain for several minutes after an Ubaldo Jimenez pitch hit him on his hand, though the third baseman wound up staying in the game.

Yet the White Sox endured through all of these speed bumps and closed out a seven-game road trip through Toronto and Baltimore with a win and a 5-2 record.

“We come here (Sunday), we do a job and we’re able to go back home with a lot of positivity and have a nice off day and relax,” second baseman Brett Lawrie said. 

The schedule has been anything but kind to the White Sox.

Had it not been for an April 10 rainout, the White Sox would be tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the most games played in the majors. To boot, 17 of their first 26 games have taken place on the road, where the White Sox are off to a 12-5 start, having won three of five series and splitting another.

Their strength of schedule also increased as the month wore on. So far, the White Sox played six teams that finished the 2015 season with a winning record, including two division-winners. 

Over their last 10 games, the White Sox played 2015 AL West champs Texas and AL East champs Toronto. They finished off the run with four in Baltimore, a place that has never been friendly, and went 8-2 in the process. 

So perhaps the White Sox will give themselves a pat on the back on Monday, or order a hot fudge sundae, or maybe even upgrade from a compact to a mid-size rental. 

They’ve handled themselves well through their first real test. And starting pitcher Chris Sale, baseball’s first six-game winner, said Sunday they’ll be ready for the next one, too.

“We’re playing great baseball against good teams,” Sale said. “We had some tough teams to face early on and the way we’ve handled it and the way we’ve played has been great. We go back to Chicago, enjoy the off day and keep it rolling.”

Energetic Brett Lawrie powers White Sox to win over Orioles

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Energetic Brett Lawrie powers White Sox to win over Orioles

BALTIMORE — When it comes to energy, Brett Lawrie always has plenty extra left in the tank.

The second baseman’s lively spirit came in handy on Sunday afternoon for a club that played its 19th game in 19 days.

The White Sox tapped into Lawrie’s fuel cell early and took off as they backed Chris Sale in a 7-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in front of 28,803 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Lawrie homered in a third straight game and reached base five times for the White Sox, who knocked Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez out with a five-run, fifth-inning rally. With the effort, the White Sox completed their grueling stretch with a 13-6 mark.

“I’m just being myself, coming here every day with a good, positive attitude, putting music on, getting the boys rolling and having fun,” Lawrie said. “We’re here too much to go through it like it’s a suit-and-tie job.”

Through 26 games, the White Sox have rarely resembled a team that looks as if it’s going through the motions. A bundle of energy who was acquired from the Oakland A’s in December, Lawrie deserves plenty of credit for the team’s never-quit approach.

Whether he’s playing team DJ, attempting trick shots with a soccer ball or keeping the dugout lively, Lawrie has delivered his energy in a variety of ways.

“It’s daily,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “What you see is what you get. It’s full throttle all the way. He’s just been a good influence over here.

“He’s prepared and ready to go every day and enjoys playing.”

Lawrie’s bat jumpstarted the offense again on Sunday with a fourth-inning homer off Jimenez two innings after the White Sox didn’t score with the bases loaded and no outs.

With two outs and no score, Lawrie ripped 1-2 fastball from Jimenez 404 feet to center field for his fourth home run. He has now homered in three straight games for the first time in his career after hitting solo shots on Friday and Saturday.

Suddenly, the White Sox came to life, and the group dinked and dunked Jimenez to death in the fifth inning.

Carlos Sanchez had an RBI groundout with the bases loaded and no outs, and Jose Abreu singled in another to make it 3-0. Melky Cabrera singled in a run with a bloop single, and Jerry Sands parachuted a two-run single into center to knock out Jimenez.

Lawrie walked twice, singled and doubled and reached base in 12 of 31 plate appearances on the road trip.

“He’s kind of a spark, really,” Sale said. “He got it going for us today. Ubaldo is a tough guy, he’s a tough pitcher out there and he was cruising, and a 1-2 count, a homer dead center. The ball really wasn’t flying today either. He’s the guy who gets it started, he’s the guy who keeps the energy going, and hopefully we can maintain that throughout the whole year.”

The White Sox would love for their offense to produce as consistently as it did on the road trip.

The White Sox, who averaged 3.2 runs over their first 19 games, scored at least four runs in five of seven games and averaged 5.86 per contest during that span.

A day after he twice singled in runs, Abreu singled twice more and drew a first-inning walk. He finished the road trip 11-for-29 with six RBIs and four walks.

The outpouring made a laborious day easier for Sale, who needed 107 pitches to complete five innings. Baltimore’s loaded lineup ran a bunch of deep counts against Sale but didn’t accomplish much else.

He stranded at least one runner in each of his first five frames and two each in the first, third and fifth innings. His biggest escape came in the fifth inning, when Sale walked two with one out, including a 12-pitch free pass to Manny Machado. But Sale struck out Mark Trumbo and induced a fly ball out from Adam Jones.

Sale (6-0) struck out six as he allowed a run, six hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings.

“You see how many guys they left on base, and it just seemed like he wasn’t as sharp as he’s been. But even then, he didn’t give up anything,” Ventura said.

Now the team is headed home for its first day of relaxation since April 12.

Lawrie is pleased with the team’s effort over the span, which included a dozen road games, and is ready to deliver more energy against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

“It’s a long stretch, especially when you only have one off day in the month,” Lawrie said. “It calls for a full-group effort, and when you can do that, it’s a good opportunity for the boys to come out every single day and give it our all.”