Ballantini: Ozzie and that wacky outfield D

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Ballantini: Ozzie and that wacky outfield D

Wednesday, April 13, 2011Posted: 3:19 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

As much as White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has defended his defenseparticularly an outfield defense that has dropped five fly balls (four for errors) in Chicagos first 11 games, he knows that trend has to reverse course.

Its making an excuse when you are making a mistake and making errors, thats a no-no for me, Guillen said. You screw up, you screw upwell get them next time. It has been very windy here the last couple of days. We see a lot of guys were play against make mistakes, too. Just keep playing Hopefully we get better about it; I know we will. We know we need defense. Every time we make a mistake, we pay. And hopefully, we start making less mistakes.

Last year, the White Sox were an average defensive team overall, with a .983 fielding percentage that tied for 14th in the leaguethis year the White Sox are last in the AL with a .969 fielding percentage. This year, theyve sported a range factor per nine innings of 3.60 RF9 and 2.63 RFG, much poorer than last years 4.15 and 3.03, respectively. The clubs revised zone rating (RZR, the percentage of balls in each fielding zone a team coverts to outs) was .797 through the first 11 games (24th in the league) and .801 last year (29th), and the out-of-zone (OOZ) outs totaled 427 in 2010 (18th in baseball) and project to 368 this season (tied for 22nd).

So really, while five drops in the first 11 games of the season is a bit extreme, the White Sox defense is generally what it should be. Guillen is willing to put a positive spin on that.

We have played pretty good defense, he said. We dropped two balls that cost us runs. Overall, we play great defense. Rios just dropped one ball, and how many nice plays does he make? So does Juan. I not going to criticize the play because they make errors. I wish it would be better? We all do. They want to play good. They take a lot of pride playing defense. They take fly balls and ground balls, they take infield. Everything thats out there to get better, we do it. Execute during the game, we do it. We will make more mistakes because thats part of the game.

One thing that really gets Guillens goat, however, are the Bronx cheers that greeted half a dozen caught fly balls last night, something he said made him feel sad for his team.

The thing is that bugs me a little bit, if youre booing because we drop the ball, yes, please do. You boo because we make a bad pitch thats a double, yes. But dont think this is a little game where every time we catch fly balls you can be making fun of the team or embarrassing it, Guillen said. Everyone should be proud if youre a White Sox fan and you see Juan Pierre play every dayyou got your moneys worth. This kid plays very, very hard for us. He doesnt deserve Bronx cheers. I will be behind him and I dont care if people get mad at me Its just not fair, and Ill keep saying that. When the play happened, boo, but if every time teams hit a fly ball to us theyre going to do that, I dont think thats nice at all.

In the third inning of Wednesdays game vs. Oakland, Pierre made his third error of the young seasonthe fifth outfield error in 11-plus games for the White Soxon a single by Cliff Pennington in the third. Pierre had two singles early in the game, but was picked off of first base both times.

Having their backs

Guillen very quickly jumped to support his players during their defensive doldrums on the homestand, and thats just one reason why he is such a popular leader in the White Sox clubhouse.

He played the game. Hes got it in his blood, catcher Ramon Castro said. He knows what we go through and never hesitates to support us.

He doesnt throw us under the bus, centerfielder Alex Rios said. He runs a tight ship, but he absorbs a lot of the criticism for us, so we are protected.

Guillen constantly threatens to throw his players under the bus, but only a small percentage of the time does he follow through on those threatsand thats actually a big part of the circle of trust Guillen has with his team.

He establishes his rules and expects us to live up to them, shortstop Alexei Ramirez said. People think theres no method to how he works, but thats not true. We respond to his support and respect by respecting him right back, and working hard.

Rios, who says that a key to making the trust Ozzie has with his team work is the support that the players have for one another on the field and in the clubhouse, broke it down similarly.

Ozzies cool with us, he said. When you know someone is behind you, its good.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Preview: White Sox face the Mariners Thursday on CSN

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Preview: White Sox face the Mariners Thursday on CSN

The White Sox take on the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Anthony Ranaudo vs. James Paxton

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields allowed his fewest runs in a month on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a loss.

Shields yielded two more home runs in six innings and his offense couldn’t keep pace as the White Sox lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in front of 15,630 at U.S. Cellular Field. Shields gave up four earned runs and seven hits. Dioner Navarro homered in the loss, which snapped a three-game White Sox winning streak.

“We’ve seen better,” manager Robin Ventura said. “(Shields) got to two strikes, two outs and gave up a couple there and that’s tough. The homer to left, that’s just one you get in this ballpark. The biggest one, for him, mistake-wise was the homer to Joseph. I think that’s the one that he wants back. But as far as going out there and getting us to a point, he’s still got room to improve on. But he got through it.”

The six innings pitched marks the most by Shields since July 26.

In between, Shields allowed 28 runs (27 earned) and 33 hits in 14 innings over four turns, good for a 17.36 ERA.

He fell behind 3-0 by the third inning before he settled in and retired nine of 11 batters. The Phillies pieced together a two-out rally in the second inning to go up two runs as Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis doubled with an Aaron Altherr singled sandwiched in between.

Cesar Hernandez opened the third inning with a solo homer just inside the left-field foul pole.

Joseph also homered with two outs in the sixth inning to put Philadelphia ahead 4-0.

Shields has allowed 31 homers in 143 innings this season, including 22 in 75.2 innings for the White Sox. Eleven of those have come in his last four starts.

He walked none and struck out six.

“I think the only pitch I made a mistake on was that last one, the home run in the sixth inning there,” Shields said. “The ball kind of slipped out of my hand a little bit and kind of left it over the plate. Other than that I felt good with my location tonight. I was hitting my spots consistently. They were getting hits here and there. That’s part of it. One of the positives things, I didn’t walk anyone and I was getting some swings and misses. But we have to move on and move forward and build off that.”

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The White Sox didn’t have much success against Phillies starting pitcher Jerod Eickhoff, who retired the first nine batters he faced. Avisail Garcia led off the sixth inning with a single and Navarro belted a two-run homer to right to make it a 4-2 game.

Eickhoff limited the White Sox to two runs and four hits in six innings.

Garcia kept the White Sox alive with a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning. But Jeanmar Gomez retired Navarro with runners on the corners to end the threat.

“Until Dio hit the homer there wasn’t much going for us,” Ventura said. “We got one --- I think Adam was the one that breaks it up and gets it going. But (Eickoff) was tough on us. A great curveball. That’s the biggest thing that sticks out. When he got in trouble, that curveball was the pitch for us. After that, it just wasn’t a good night offensively. I don’t think we swung it that well.”

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

If all continues to go well, Miguel Gonzalez could pitch in a rehab start as soon as Friday.

On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, the White Sox starter said he felt good during a second bullpen session on Wednesday.

Gonzalez, who is 2-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), threw 30 pitches. He previously threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt some discomfort the following day. But Gonzalez said he has made progress since he received treatment on Saturday.

“A lot better,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t feel anything while I was throwing my bullpen, which is great. I’m happy with the results today and come back tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Gonzalez left an Aug. 11 start at Kansas City in the bottom of the second inning. Though he wasn’t yet sure if he’d head out on a rehab assignment, Gonzalez said he was on the third day of a five-day schedule in which he was supposed to start. But it’s also possible the White Sox could have Gonzalez first throw a simulated game.

“We're going to have him go back out there again and do a little bit more, that looks more like starting in a game where he's going to throw for a little while, sit down, get back up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Simulate some innings and hopefully after he does that a couple time he can go out for a rehab assignment.”