First Pitch: Mannywood still resides in California

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First Pitch: Mannywood still resides in California

Friday, Aug. 27, 2010
9:00 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Manny Ramirez has been cleared for landing with the Chicago White Sox. But there still are a number of details to work out before the uberslugger can suit up in baggy black pinstripes.

Chicagos waiver claim on the Los Angeles outfielder was awarded on Friday afternoon, which means the White Sox and Dodgers have until Tuesday to work out a trade.

Several factors could stand in the way of Ramirezs return to the American League. First, obviously, the two clubs could fail to agree on adequate compensation. Second, Ramirezbelieved to have already OKd a deal to the White Soxcould choose to invoke his no-trade rights and remain in Los Angeles. Third, the Dodgers could win their series this weekend at the Colorado Rockies, find themselves back in the thick of the playoff race and decide to keep Ramirez for themselves.

All that said, it would seem that the chances are better than 50-50 that Ramirez, braided locks and all, will play in Chicago before years end.

That notwithstanding, the White Sox arent holding their breaths waiting for the braids to fly at U.S. Cellular Field.

When he walks in the clubhouse, thats when its time to talk about it, Chicago captain Paul Konerko said. As far as him being a teammate, Manny can hit, everybody knows that. The guy is a Hall-of-Famer. Hes going to help any team hes on, at any time. The guy can drive in a tough run. Hes one of the best right-handed hitters to play this game, ever.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was equally wary of hopping on the bus to Mannywood.

I havent seen Manny play in years, he said. He played a couple of at-bats against us in Scottsdale. I havent seen him at all. I have to see him.

Even after it was announced that the White Sox had succeeded in its claim on Ramirez, cagey GM Ken Williams would not acknowledge that hed claimed him.

Its a gamble if you step out thereas we often dobecause in a two- or three-day period, you could be farther back or closer and you wonder whether or not you did the right thing, Williams said, varying from the duplicate waiver script he promised to deliver on Thursday.

Then theres the matter of not just whether Ramirez can play for the White Sox, but where he would play.

He can DH, hopefully he can play a little but in the outfield but Manny only plays left field and Ive got a good one playing right now, Guillen said. Im not going to take any at-bats or playing time from Juan Pierre to give to Manny. Mannys going to be DHing. I dont know. I might get in trouble talking about whether hes here or not. Well see what happens.

Hes going to help any team, but its still not done, cautioned Konerko, while adding that despite his captaincy he was not consulted on a possible Ramirez acquisition. Im sure Chicago and Los Angeles have to talk about things and details have to be worked out. And if theyre not worked out, the Dodgers can just pull him back and it doesnt get done. He cant help us tonight, I know that. Thats all Im thinking about.

Said Williams, pushing right past his customary cryptic and into downright enigmatic: It will be an interesting weekend, in more ways than one.

Or, Guillens take: At least well be talking about Manny and not about Ozzie.

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

Slumping White Sox get huge boost after Miguel Gonzalez 'defended his ground'

Slumping White Sox get huge boost after Miguel Gonzalez 'defended his ground'

Every factor but one suggested there was no way Rick Renteria would remove Miguel Gonzalez in the seventh inning on Monday afternoon.

Of course, Gonzalez didn’t know that.

But even as he walked to the mound with two on and no outs in the seventh and Wrigley Field roaring, Renteria didn’t have any intention of pulling Gonzalez.

Trades and injuries have given the White Sox manager even less wiggle room with which to work than the one-run lead Gonzalez was trying to protect. As long he was convinced his pitcher was game, Renteria would stay with Gonzalez. Gonzalez acquiesced and soon thereafter the White Sox were on their way to their first victory since July 8. The White Sox topped the Cubs 3-1 and in doing so snapped a nine-game losing streak.

“I just went in there to reaffirm that we were thinking the same way,” Renteria said. “He was thinking the same way. It was kind of easy.

“He said ‘I got this.’ He defended his ground.”

[Such a mighty wallop: How does Matt Davidson's mammoth home run stack up?]

Even though he had a front-row seat for the conversation, catcher Kevan Smith had little understanding of what transpired. The rookie said Renteria and Gonzalez spoke entirely in Spanish after Jon Jay and Javier Baez singled to open the bottom of the seventh inning. Smith heard Renteria mention to Gonzalez that lefty David Holmberg was ready to face switch hitter Ian Happ. Beyond that, all Smith heard from Gonzalez was ‘bueno’ and ‘listo,’ and Renteria was headed back to the visiting dugout.

But you don’t have to be a linguist to decipher what issues the White Sox pitching staff faces after a trying month.

Prior to Gonzalez pitching into the eighth, the White Sox hadn’t had a starter complete seven innings since June 16. An already overworked bullpen has also had to deal with season-ending injuries to Zach Putnam, Nate Jones and top relief prospect Zack Burdi. And those issues have been even further compounded by the trades of Jose Quintana, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in the past 12 days.

So even though Gonzalez was on the verge of facing the top of the Cubs order a fourth time, Renteria had to stick with him so he could save top relievers Dan Jennings and Anthony Swarzak for later.

“I said ‘Just give me the ball,’ ” Gonzalez said. “ ’I’m OK. I’m fine. I’m feeling OK.’ Just walked away and I was able to get out of that jam. That was a big one.”

Smith was also happy with the decision. He liked how Gonzalez — who threw strikes on 73 of 105 pitches — had competed. Smith thought Gonzalez had great stuff and heard positive reviews from opposing hitters.

“(Gonzalez) had it,” Smith said. “The guys were coming up to the plate saying this guy has got some stuff today. It was a big moment to kind of prove that he can be a long guy, especially late in the game like that. Big pressure situation. Obviously it was getting pretty rowdy, but he stayed composed and pitched his way out of it.”

First was a five-pitch strikeout of Happ that ended with a swinging strike on a curveball. Jason Heyward then popped out to shallow center for the second out. Kris Bryant worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases. But Gonzalez jumped ahead of Anthony Rizzo in the count 1-2 before he got the star first baseman to fly out deep to center to strand the bases loaded.

Gonzalez returned in the eighth and retired one more hitter before he exited after a Kyle Schwarber single. The effort was plenty for Renteria and the White Sox, who also wiggled out of jams in the eighth and ninth inning.

“Sometimes you just don't have any other option,” Renteria said. “You just have to do what you have to do. They had a really good idea of how they wanted to attack those guys. …

“Miggy did a really nice job.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Sox win game one of Crosstown Series

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Sox win game one of Crosstown Series

Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun Times), David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Ben Finfer (ESPN Radio) join Kap to go over the exciting first game between the White Sox and the Cubs.

Plus, the latest on trade rumors linking Justin Verlander and Alex Avila to the Cubs. Do the Cubs really need to make another move?

Finally, the guys discuss whether Kyrie Irving asking for a trade out of Cleveland is the dumbest career choice, ever.