Buehrle in the dark but anticipating Opening Day start

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Buehrle in the dark but anticipating Opening Day start

Friday, February 25, 2011
Posted 11:23 a.m. Updated 9:21 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. While sure to mention he hasnt been told anything about a potential Opening Day start, Chicago White Sox starter Mark Buehrle early Friday had the conversation hes undoubtedly anticipated since the start of camp.

In fact, the lefty was so prepared to discuss an Opening Day start that he had prepared both a happy statement in reaction to getting his ninth opener assignment and an angry one in case he was bypassed.

The way its lined up, it looks like Ill start Opening Day, Buehrle said. I havent been told a word yet. Its a great honor. Hopefully, I stay healthy down here and get out there and hopefully do better than I did the last time we started in Cleveland. Because that was 1 23 innings, and that was rough.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen loves the drama of naming an Opening Day starter, even when its a no-brainer in picking Buehrle. Still, Guillen could draw the storyline out no longer, caving in and naming Buehrle on just the fourth day of full camp.

You can put it this way: Yeah, hes going to be our starting guy, Guillen said. I dont think GM Kenny Williams is going to say anything It was in the paper this morning and on whatever TV, and Kenny didnt say anything, so thats the guy.

Of course, Buehrles one prior Opening Day game at the Cleveland Indians was also his worst opener ever, giving up seven earned runs to start 2008 but escaping with a no-decision, as the White Sox drove Indians starter C.C. Sabathia out of the box early in an eventual 10-8 loss.

The last time he started Opening Day in Cleveland, oh, it was an ugly one, Guillen said. Ill ask Mark: Please dont do that again.

Hopefully Ill do better than I did the last time we started in Cleveland, Buerhle smiled. Because that was 1 23 innings, and that was rough.

Buehrle is 3-1 lifetime with a 3.39 ERA in eight Opening Day starts. Remove 2008 from his opener resume, and the lefthanders Opening Day ERA falls to 2.08.

The normally droll veteran still does get excited about getting the nod to open the season. If manager Ozzie Guillen hands him the ball for the April Fools opener, it will extend Buehrles franchise record of season kickoffs to nine.

Its like an All-Star appearance, he said. A lot of people say it gets old, but I dont know how it can get old. Its a buildup from the offseason with all the offseason moves you make. Its the one game thats sold out. Its sort of like a playoff game Its going to be a great atmosphere, and Ill try to get us off on the right foot.

Buehrle had humbly admitted at the start of camp that if consulted, hed endorse fellow lefty John Danks as the Opening Day starter, an endorsement he jokingly pulled back when I reminded him.

No, screw him, Buehrle said, before the two started quibbling (like arguing with my wife, in Buerhles eyes). Ill take the Opening Day start.
Teahen Leaves

Infielder-outfielder Mark Teahen was excused from camp to attend to a family issue. The veteran, who struggled throughout 2010, his first season with the White Sox, looked good in his early drills and apparently was overcoming his hot corner fielding and throwing yips of a year ago.

I always say family is first, Guillen said, anticipating Teahens absence as just a couple of days. You take care of your stuff back home and you come back here and youre more than welcome back.

While rookie Brent Morel is the presumed starter at third base, a righted Teahen is invaluable to the White Sox as a superutility player. Any worries the 29-year-old might have had about his role shrinking while away was quickly allayed by Guillen.

I said to him, What are you going to miss, a game? Dont worry about it, Guillen said. Besides that, when youre on the field and thinking about something else, you might bring it on the field, and that wont help you. Make sure you take care of what you need to take care of, come back here, and well help you.

American League Dominates

White Sox assistant director of media relations Pat OConnell not only spurred the inaugural games, but clocked a deep-drive, ground-rule double as part of a 1-4 effort in Chicagos doubleheader sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers interleague office games.

You can read more about the games in Scott Reiferts Inside the White Sox blog, but one notable oddity (Reifert drew it out first, not me) was public relations coordinator Marty Maloneys two bases-loaded, ground outs to the pitcher in the same inning.

Its pretty clear that for such a unique achievement, it was Maloney and not winning pitchers Jeff Szynal and Stacy Tsihlopoulos, taking MVP honors.

Better luck next year, Dodgers.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White 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.