Chicago White Sox

First Pitch: Softballer Pierre is Ozzie's hero

First Pitch: Softballer Pierre is Ozzie's hero

Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010
8:09 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO There were many factors in the Chicago White Sox turnaround, most significantly the teams resurgent starting pitching.

But one player who spurred the White Sox offensively and hasnt seemed to slack even as the starters have sputtered is leadoff man Juan Pierre, who Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen took time out to herald before their final game of the season at Minnesotas Target Field on Thursday.

I dont know how he does it, Guillen said. From the first day of spring training, he never changed. Hes played his best when we need him, but hes been the same guy when he struggled and when he was hitting.

Pierres first-inning single extended his hitting streak to eight games, right on the heels of a 16-game streak. The left-fielder, customarily adorned in his baggy pants and high socks, took a 16-inch softball slap at a Carl Pavano offering and deposited it oppositely, in left field, coming around to score on Alex Rios groundout to third. In the second, Pierre singled again, then stole second. Despite getting spiked by shortstop J.J. Hardy on the attempt, and with blood trickling down his arm broke for third on a steal attempt on the very next pitch.

Its not amazingits just the way he plays the game, Guillen said. We need a guy like that to make us go, and hes been doing it. Thats the reason we got him.

Pierre has upped his on-base percentage in every month this season, topping out at .405 heading into action tonight, with an OPS of .828.

To his credit, Pierre has simply kept digging all through the season, seemingly indefatigable. Hes on pace for his biggest base-stealing month yet this season, with nine already in August putting him just two short of his seasons best.

I hope top Chicago outfield prospect Jared Mitchell next year runs to Juan and learn to play baseball, how to go about his business, to prepare for the game every day, to not take anything for granted, Guillen said. Juan went from very good to oh-my-God not playinghe went through every scenario in baseball to do what hes doing. When you have the type of game like Juan does, even your teammates know hes a great pro and very into his game, takes a lot of pride in his game, always talking baseball. And thats something you appreciate as a manager and a coach, people like him.

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

On night when James Shields gets knocked around by Cubs, future White Sox starters shine

On night when James Shields gets knocked around by Cubs, future White Sox starters shine

Though the quest for a quality start continues in the majors, the White Sox have plenty going on in the minors.

While the Cubs knocked James Shields out of Wednesday’s game in the fifth inning, three White Sox minor leaguers dominated. Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning all starred for the White Sox.

Kopech led the way with 12 strikeouts in six innings with a run and two hits allowed with two walks at Double-A Birmingham. Dunning struck out six and allowed six hits in seven scoreless innings at Single-A Winston-Salem. Meanwhile, Lopez, who is making it hard for the White Sox to not promote him, struck out 10 while he allowed two earned runs and four hits at Triple-A Charlotte.

“(Lopez is) forcing the issue,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He’s had several starts in a row that have been very impressive. Lucas Giolito, as well, has been impressive in his recent starts, and at some point here they’re likely going to force our hand to get them here to Chicago and give them the opportunity to show what they can do at the big league level.”

Shields allowed five runs (three earned) and five hits in four-plus innings for the White Sox against the Cubs. He walked three and struck out four.

White Sox starting pitchers have made just 12 quality starts in their past 56 games, posting a 5.73 ERA in that span.

Hawk Harrelson believes John Lackey is 'full of shit'

Hawk Harrelson believes John Lackey is 'full of shit'

Hawk Harrelson isn't buying John Lackey's explanation of innocence.

The Cubs right-hander plunked four White Sox batters in Tuesday's Crosstown throwdown at Wrigley Field, earning the on-air ire of the White Sox longtime broadcaster. Lackey said after the game that he did it on accident but understood the White Sox later retaliation.

Wednesday, a day after all those HBPs, Harrelson stuck to his guns, not believing the veteran pitcher for a second.

"He's full of shit, and you can print that," Harrerlson told the Tribune's Colleen Kane. "He's full of it. He always has been."

OK then.

"I was hoping that they would drill his ass big time because he's an idiot," Harrelson told Kane. "At that point, the game was not the issue. It was Lackey. He's in the pennant race. This is a big-boy game. There's no bullshit here. He's putting (Kris) Bryant and (Anthony) Rizzo in jeopardy."

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Harrelson, of course, is known for getting heated in the booth and historically has had little issue with expressing his anger on air. You'll remember past rants directed at umpires Mark Wegner and Joe West.

Lackey stirred up plenty of controversy with his four hit batsmen in Tuesday's White Sox loss, plunking Jose Abreu twice as well as Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada. Harrelson made his displeasure known during the broadcast and implied there would be retaliation. Chris Beck hit Ian Happ with a pitch after Lackey pegged three White Sox in the fifth inning.

Lackey's an old-school type himself, much like Harrelson, so it makes sense the two would be right in the middle of such a situation involving baseball's unwritten rules.