Danks swept away like a novacaine hurricane

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Danks swept away like a novacaine hurricane

Sunday, April 3, 2011
Posted: 2:36 p.m. Updated: 4:31 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
CLEVELAND With the way he pitched on Sunday, Chicago White Sox starter John Danks might be hoping that another root canal goes awry.

Danks, who spent an hour in a dentists chair during yesterdays game having an old root canal fixed, struck out the first four Cleveland hitters and punched out eight en route to six innings of mostly smooth sailing.

Dankss one rocky moment, while hurling under showering skies, came on a single pitch, a flaccid 89 mph, first-pitch fastball to Orlando Cabrera that the garrulous second sacker deposited deep to Quicken Arena.

I felt good, Danks said. I felt like I was in command pretty much the whole game and made a couple of mistakes that hurt us It was a 0-0 fastball, just trying to get ahead. For most of the game, I was able to do thatit was just a bad pitch, and OC hit it pretty well.

For White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, the momentum of the game changed in the fourth inning, when Alexei Ramirez popped out on a bunt attempt and Carlos Quentin and A.J. Pierzynski were tripled off of second and first, respectively.

The game changed, totally changed, with the bunt, Guillen said. If we put the ball down with the bunt, maybe it would have been a different ballgame. John made only one bad pitch. He pitched very well. He continues to pitch like that, he will win a lot of games.

The Indians added five insurance runs in both the seventh and eighth innings, upping the final to 7-1.

Cabrera improved to 3-6 in his career vs. Danks, with two home runs and five RBI.

Before OC cracked wise on Danks, things were looking sunny for a White Sox sweep of Cleveland. Chicago broke out to a 1-0 lead in the third when Omar Vizquel, starting in the finale in front of the fans who adored him for 11 seasons, stroked his 2,800th career hit. The 43-year-old scored two outs later, on a base tap by Paul Konerko.

The White Sox had designs on an opening-season sweep but had to settle for two of three. Now its on to Kansas City for a short two-game set in hopes of starting the campaign with wins in four of five.

We dont want to lose, Danks said. We want to win every game. But on a personal standpoint, I felt great out there. It felt like I had pretty good command. I was able to throw all of my pitches for strikes and really dictate most of the counts.

We dont have to regroup, it was just one bad game, Vizquel said. We just have to stay sharp and come out and play the right way in Kansas City.
Peavy Watch

Down in warmer, drier locales than sloggy-chilly Cleveland, rehabilitating starter Jake Peavy threw four innings of simulated baseball at Camelback Ranch, throwing 59 pitches and reporting no ill effects.

I do feel a lot better going through this process, he said. The throwing sessions and the treatments with anti-inflammatories have a lot to do with this recovery.

Peavy is recovering from latissimus dorsi surgery last July and has made a swift comeback from that surgery, which reattached a back muscle that had freed itself from the bone.

I did feel stronger, he said. Certainly I could tell I started fatiguing in the fourth, but I did feel better than I did on Tuesday during a 20-pitch side session.

Peavy said that his main aim in his first true action since an 83-pitch outing at the Oakland As on March 19 was commanding his fastball.

There are a lot of young guys swinging in the simulated game, and I could get a lot of swings and misses, he said. But pitching is about fastball command, and thats where it starts.

The confident ace pitched just the first inning from a windup, working from the stretch for his final three frames.

Pitching out of the stretch is where you make your biggest pitches, he explained. You want to feel comfortable in the stretch.

Peavy is next due to start on April 8, for AA Birmingham at Montgomery, where he will stretch himself out longer, with goals of 75 pitches and five innings.

I look forward to the rehab starts and having more adrenaline.

Toof-er

Danks pronounced his ailing tooth OK after the start, feeling no ill effects of root canal cleanup done just 24 hours earlier.

Its all rightIm staying on top of the medicine, said the affable lefty. Im fine. I didnt even notice it out there.
Oh man

The Indians scored five garbage runs late in the game, but the contest shifted from nailbiter to rout on the left arm of Will Ohman, who has struggled in two outings so far this season and will pack a 27.00 ERA for Kansas City tonight.

Theres No concern, he said. Bother? Definitely. I mean, it sounds clich, but Ive been doing this for a while, and its a bad stretch right now. It stinks. But its not something that carries over for the season.

We only have so many guys out of the bullpen. I expect him to do better.

(Pitchout, first)

He do a lot of things. He pitch out twice. First base, he couldnt get there on time.

In his typically wry fashion, Ohman had a good bead on what he was doing wrong on the mound.

Yeah, when you throw the ball over the middle of the plate, guys hit it, and thats what it was, Ohman said. When I left the ball up, they hit it, and when I left the ball over the middle, they hit it Im completely healthy, on the same page with the catcher, just not executing.

As much as White Sox fans may be cringing over the possibility, Ohman is eager to get back on the field and chip away at his four-digit ERA.

Absolutely I want to get back on the horse, he said. It stinks because its early, and you dont want to start off like this. I had a chance to keep us in the ballgame today, thats what I wanted to do. But if this was two bad games in a row in August, it would be exactly the same: Frustrating, but not worrisome.

I did get him right back out there after a tough Opening Day outing, Guillen said. Thats the reason he went back out today. Hopefully, we get him straightened out I worry about players losing confidence, and thats the worst thing that can happen. We are only carrying 11 pitchers. We cant have somebody up every time he pitches. We dont have that luxury.

Doubly troubling for Ohman is the fact that hes one of the new arms in the bullpen, having signed a two-year, 4 million deal with Chicago this winter.

Any time you change teams you want to come in and start off right, he said. Nobody ever wants to be the guy thats not getting the job done.

Triple-play trouble
Guillen joked that he had never hit into a triple play because whenever he came up with two men on base and nobody out, he left the game for a pinch-hitter. But he wasnt joking about how badly Alexei Ramirezs popout on a sacrifice bunt, leading to a triple play, hurt his team.

We are 0-2 bunting, and thats not good, Guillen said. We are going to hit with this lineup, but those little things, we have to do. Its impossible to go perfect, but I expect better things. Our little game has to be better.

Guillen argued the call initially, thinking the ball might have hit the ground before first baseman Carlos Santana snagged it. But upon replay, the manager thought the right call was made.

I thought it bounced first, he said. It was a very close play, so I had to go out there and check it out.

The jefe did sympathize with Pierzynski and Quentin, who were caught standing on second and third as the diving play was made.

I dont know, nobody knows what to do, Guillen said. I was screaming from the bench, and I dont know what I was saying: Stay thereno, come here. But I think that triple play changed the game.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Miguel Gonzalez throws six perfect innings as White Sox take series against Tigers

Miguel Gonzalez throws six perfect innings as White Sox take series against Tigers

For six innings Sunday, Miguel Gonzalez was perfect.

The White Sox right-hander put the baseball world on perfect-game alert and conjured memories of Mark Buehrle and Philip Humber with his dazzling work through six innings. Gonzalez lost his bids for a perfect game, no hitter and shutout in the span of three batters to lead off the seventh inning, but that didn’t take away much from how good he was in a 7-3 win for the South Siders at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He was dominant,” shortstop Tim Anderson said, providing an accurate if brief summation of the day’s proceedings.

Gonzalez, who entered with a 3-5 record and a 4.55 ERA in nine previous starts this season, set down the first 18 hitters he faced in order, with the visiting Detroit Tigers rarely even coming close to reaching base. That streak of 18 straight hitters retired to start the game was the longest by a White Sox starter since Chris Sale sat down the first 19 he faced back in May 2013.

Of course, whenever a performance nears no-hitter territory, players know it and stay away from the pitcher in the dugout, afraid of jinxing things. And the White Sox weren’t immune to that baseball tradition on Sunday.

“It was getting quiet,” Gonzalez said. “I was just trying to do my thing. Just go out there and make pitches, let them make the plays and that’s how things went.”

The Tigers — who trailed big after the White Sox gave Gonzalez a 7-0 lead — finally broke through to start the seventh. Austin Romine reached on an infield single, Alex Avila singled through the right side of the infield, and Miguel Cabrera dumped an RBI base hit into right field.

Detroit added two more runs on three extra-base hits in the eighth, but Gonzalez still finished with a great line, yielding just three runs on six hits in 7.2 innings of work.

Gonzalez’s gem snapped a streak of rough outings that started, coincidentally enough, against this Tigers team, when he was crushed for seven runs on 14 hits in an April 30 loss in Detroit. Entering Sunday’s game, Gonzalez was a nasty 0-5 with a 6.99 ERA in his previous five starts. He hadn’t made it out of the sixth inning in any of his previous three starts.

“I started off really good. I was struggling for a couple outings, and all you can do is keep working hard and things are going to happen,” Gonzalez said. “I think if you work hard in between your starts you have a pretty good chance of getting back on track and that’s how I felt today.”

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That seventh-inning blip by the Tigers ended the day’s only drama, as the White Sox offense put the result of the game out of question earlier, tagging opposing starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann for seven runs in his five innings of work.

Zimmermann entered the day struggling on the 2017 campaign, and that didn’t change Sunday. Willy Garcia tripled in Omar Narvaez for the game’s first run in the third and scored on the same play thanks to a throwing error. Two hitters later, Melky Cabrera hit a solo home run to make it 3-0.

Matt Davidson led off the bottom of the fourth with his 10th home run of the season, and Narvaez drove in Yolmer Sanchez to make it 5-0. Todd Frazier tacked on two more in the fifth with a two-run shot that also scored Jose Abreu.

“As an offense, we’re trying to give that (big cushion) every night. That’d be nice,” Davidson said. “And it really relaxes them. And you can see what happens when they’ve got a lead and you let them do their thing.”

The White Sox took three of four from the Tigers in this weekend series that featured a doubleheader split Saturday. It’s a positive start to this home stand — which continues with a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox — after going 3-7 on a recent 10-game road trip.

“I'm very happy with it, but again I'm not surprised by it, simply because I think they come out every single day to try to play good baseball and do what they need to help each other out and win ballgames,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It's just their character, the way they're put together. They keep battling.”

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Call it the White Sox latest Cuban connection.

When news came out of the team pursuing 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, it was pretty easy to guess that Jose Abreu, the franchise’s previous big-time, free-agent signing from Cuba, would be involved.

But not only was Abreu involved in the White Sox courting of Robert, sending a personalized message as part of the team’s video pitch, he’s been a willing participant. And now that Robert is officially signed after Saturday’s much-hyped introduction, Abreu is ready to take on a mentorship role, much like he has with another one of the organization’s Cuban prospects, Yoan Moncada.

In the lead up to Saturday’s press conference, it was Abreu touring Robert around Guaranteed Rate Field, chatting with him in the dugout and taking pictures on the infield.

“I was very excited to have him here, and I’m very happy right now because he’s signing with the team,” Abreu said through a translator ahead of Sunday’s series finale with the visiting Detroit Tigers. “He’s a very good player. I just told him that he has to keep working hard and keep doing the things to get here as soon as he can. He’s a nice guy.

“I’m excited to have that opportunity (to be a mentor). That’s something that I like to do. I like to advise the guys and tell them what to do for their best like I am doing right now with Moncada. I’m just waiting for that opportunity to happen with (Robert).”

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While Abreu arrived on the South Side an older, more experienced player who was ready for the big leagues, Robert’s journey to the majors will be a much different, much longer one. Abreu recognizes that and talked about how tough the transition will be. He also has confidence Robert, who has received glowing scouting reports comparing him to perennial All Stars, can succeed.

“It’s not an easy thing to do to come here straight to play in the majors because this is a very high level and a tough one to play,” Abreu said. “I think the best for him is the decision that he’s making for him, to have some games in the minors and let him develop there. He’s had a long time without playing baseball. Baseball in Cuba is good, but it’s not as good as baseball here in the U.S. and you have to adjust. I think that process for him is going to be perfect in the minors.”

Saturday, Robert talked about the White Sox tradition of Cuban players, mentioning how it helped motivate him to sign with the team. Abreu has been one of the franchise’s most successful Cuban players, a list that includes the legendary Minnie Minoso as well as more recent players like Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo and Moncada in the minor leagues.

While that tradition might not be the entire or even main reason Robert is now a part of the organization, general manager Rick Hahn talked about how it’s created an environment that will help Robert develop. Banners featuring Minoso, Abreu, Ramirez and Moncada flanked the table where Robert signed his contract.

Abreu said it’s a tradition he’s very proud to be a part of.

“That made me feel happy and proud. Not just for this organization that I’m a part of, but also for my heritage because I know that this is a very good organization and they are trying to take care of the Cuban players,” Abreu said. “I also feel a huge respect for Minnie Minoso because he was the first one who opened this door here with the White Sox.”

Through his mentoring, Abreu could keep that tradition going into the future. Robert and Moncada are huge pieces of the White Sox rebuilding puzzle, and Abreu is helping put those pieces together for the White Sox.