Buehrle bounces back; last Sox start up next?

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Buehrle bounces back; last Sox start up next?

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011
Posted: 9:01 p.m. Updated: 10:25 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
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VIDEO: Ozzie hopes Buehrle isn't at the end

CLEVELAND When it comes to playing the Cleveland Indians, for much of 2011 the darlings of the American League, the Chicago White Sox didnt get the memo about being scared of em.

Another comeback victory and another heavy dose of runs in the late innings to pair with Tuesday nights nightcap triumph have made it 11 wins in 17 games so far this season, including six of eight in Cleveland.

Mark Buehrle came within five outs of becoming the first pitcher since Mickey Lolich to record at least 200 innings in 11 straight seasons. The veteran earned the win after six innings, as the White Sox started their rally in the seventh.

Buehrle threw greathe needed that, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. The last couple of games, maybe three, it was very rough for him. Having that type of game he had today, he bounced back very well. He had a little bit of team support out there, but thats the Buehrle we see every time.

I felt good, Buehrle said of leaving after six. Knowing the situation in the game, the pitch count around 100 97, it was a long inning, we scored some runs and turned it over to the bullpen, and theyve done a good job all year. I was kind of walking out to go back there for the seventh and I was asking if they want me out. They were saying hold on to make sure Jesse Crain was ready.

Indeed, the win almost didnt happen. Heading into the seventh, Chicago trailed 2-1, but a seven-run eruption in the next two frames turned squeaker into laugher. The lead turned on three runs, one on a Brent Morel double, two more on a two-out Alejandro De Aza single.

A big hit, two-out base hit was huge, Guillen said. It meant I didnt worry about bringing Buehrle back to earn the win or going to the bullpen. It was kind of a crazy mood in the dugoutafter De Aza got that hit, everybody felt a little better, because we wanted Buehrle to win that game. This kid De Aza, whew, right now hes the best player we have overall, fielding, running, big hits for us, stealing basses. Hes been doing everything for us. Hes been outstanding.

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De Aza, reticient to take much credit-certainly not as team MVP, was typically modest: Im just trying to put the ball in play, and hopefully something could happen I feel good, because Im helping the team with the little things that I can but its never enough. Im just trying to keep grinding and taking what they give me.

And with a 4-2 lead in the eighth, the White Sox clubbed three homerssolo shots from Alexei Ramirez and Alex Rios, a two-run blast from Morel (his seventh of September), pushing the lead to 8-2.

The Wahoos extended the game with two tallies in their eighth, as neither Jason Frasor nor Will Ohman seemed content to hurl with a large lead. Sergio Santos entered and executed a perfect ninth to close out the win.

The win, and Buehrles impending milestone, was cause for reflection.

We looked pretty good on Opening Day winning at Progressive Field, 15-10, Buehrle said. I thought wed win every game, but thats why you play 162 games. Guys get injured, go through struggles, guys get hot. Look at the way Cleveland startedthey looked like they were going to win the World Series and they kind of struggled. Thats why you play every game and cant go off just the first couple of weeks.

These guys right now are having good at-bats, Guillen said of the recent offensive rallies. Rios is swinging the bat good. Even Adam Dunn is swinging the bat better. Thats what I expected all season long, to have those games, and unfortunately it didnt happen. At least theyve shown they continue to play hard. Thats something you like from the players, to go out there for nine innings and play your best.

A sort of homecoming

With the nearness of his milestone of 10 wins, 30 starts and 200 innings pitched for 11 straight seasons, Buehrle took time to contemplate the possible finale to his White Sox career, his start next Tuesday vs. the Toronto Blue Jays.
Mark Buehrle says he will try not getting too emotional, but his start Tuesday night vs. the Toronto Blue Jays could be his last as a White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. (US PRESSWIRE)
Im trying to tell myself not to get too emotional, Buehrle said. When the day gets here, it might be a little harder, but this is all Ive known for 12-13 years of my life. So going into it, I still think Ill come back because, again, every spring training Ive gone to the same spot, youre ready to go with the same team. Deep down inside, thats all Im looking at. You try to tell yourself not to be emotional or, Hey, theres a chance youre coming back, but theres the chance youre not coming back, either.

Buehrle was fired up about righting his recent slump, but wasnt upset over falling short of the 7 23 innings he needed to reach 200.

Even if I had done it here, Im still making that start at home, Buehrle said. That said hopefully I dont go out there for 1 23 innings and take a line drive off my head and have to come out. Id like to get to 200 but if something happens and I dont, its not the end of the world.

Although hes steering himself away from getting too emotional, Buehrle has already envisioned the type of reception White Sox fans will give him, having witnessed the faithful seeing off Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski received a year ago.

Coop said go out there and go five, possibly, then pull me and do the whole fan thing, he said. Im not looking at it as my last start. Even though theres the possibility of it being my last start is really good, Im going out there like Im coming back next year and not trying to make a big deal of it.

It happened to us last year with PK and A.J., and we got them back, Guillen said. I dont know whats the difference. I will treat it like its the last game for the White Sox, the same way I did it for A.J. and the same way I did it for PK, I will treat it the same way. If he comes back, good. It will be special. White Sox fans should go out there and support him and get behind him the way they always did.

Regardless of what happens, coming back or not, this kid he means a lot to the White Sox organization. This guy, when you talk about pitching in a White Sox uniform, the first name that comes out is this one. A lot of people forget about Billy Pierce and all those guys in the past, even Billy is still with us all the time, the first name that comes up is Mark Buehrle. I think the least they can do for him is to show up and the ballpark and support him.

Without a doubt, Buehrle feels that the best place for him is in Chicago. Hes just not sure if the White Sox feel the same way.

It all depends on what the White Sox want to do, Buerhle said. They spent a lot of money this year and we didnt do a good job of getting where we wanted to get. It all depends on what they want to do. If they want to go young and got some guys in the bullpen they want to start, then theyll go that route. But its on them.

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

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.

But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.

“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens. 

“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”

The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.

In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.

"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."

[MORE: Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right]

Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.

"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."

His struggles continued when he got to The Show.

In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.

"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."

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Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.

"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.

"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.

Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who MLB.com has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again. 

"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."

The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.

The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.

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While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality. 

Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.

"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."

"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."

In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.

When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse. 

Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.