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.

After wild seventh, Carson Fulmer wants another big-time opportunity for White Sox

After wild seventh, Carson Fulmer wants another big-time opportunity for White Sox

The White Sox called up Carson Fulmer from Double-A Birmingham a week ago with the expectation he could add a strong, powerful arm to the back end of a bullpen that’s been taxed quite a bit this season. 

After he struggled in his first high-leverage appearance in the majors, though, the White Sox remain confident their 2015 first-round pick will be an important part of the team’s bullpen down the stretch this summer. 

Fulmer only threw 12 of 30 pitches for strikes and allowed three game-deciding runs in seventh inning of the White Sox 7-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers in front of 22,611 at U.S. Cellular Field Friday night. The leverage indexes of Fulmer’s first two appearances on the West Coast — which spanned 2 2/3 scoreless innings — were .01 and .05 (a leverage index of 1 is average), with those coming in a 8-1 loss and a 6-1 win. On Friday, Fulmer’s leverage index was 2.98. 

Fulmer said nerves weren’t behind his erratic outing, in which plenty of those 18 balls weren’t close to the strike zone. 

“I want to be in those situations,” the 22-year-old Fulmer said. “When you go out there and don’t do your job, it’s obviously frustrating. But you have to have a quick memory and throw it over your shoulder and prepare yourself for tomorrow.”

Fulmer’s electric mid-90’s fastball and wipeout curveball were rendered ineffective by his inability to command them in his two-thirds of an inning. He walked Justin Upton, gave up a single to Tyler Collins and walked Jarrod Saltalamacchia to load the bases with nobody out, and after a pair of groundouts brought a run in, he walked Cameron Maybin to re-load the bases.

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After that walk, Fulmer was pulled in favor of Nate Jones, who surrendered a go-ahead, ultimately game-winning two-run single to Tigers All-Star first baseman Miguel Cabrera. 

At some point, the White Sox were going to have to test Fulmer. With starter Jacob Turner only lasting 3 1/3 innings, and Fulmer looking comfortable in his first two appearances in the majors, manager Robin Ventura calculated that the seventh inning Friday was a prime opportunity. 

“He’s going to have to have it sooner or later,” Ventura said. “From the way the first (two) went, we felt comfortable he was going to come in there and be able to do that. But tonight, that doesn’t happen. But you have the confidence he can come back from this and be very effective in that spot.”

Morneau, who’s provided offense for bullpens over 14 major league seasons, agreed with his manager’s confidence in Fulmer. 

“We see a lot of good things in him,” Morneau said. “It’s obviously not up to me, but hopefully we get him back out there quick and let him settle back down and get comfortable, because he can really help this team.” 

White Sox relievers entered Friday with the fifth-highest leverage index in baseball, a product of the high volume of one-, two- and three-run games this team has found itself in this season. All those stressful innings — as well as Jake Petricka’s season-ending injury and Zach Putnam’s elbow issue from which he isn’t likely to return anytime soon — have put a considerable strain on Jones, Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and David Robertson.

Fulmer, by virtue of being in the White Sox bullpen, will get another opportunity at a high-leverage inning. And while his first foray into a pressure-packed relief appearance didn’t go well, he hopes to quickly get a chance to put Friday in the rearview mirror. 

“I can’t ever use the excuse of it being my first big-time experience, especially for me being put in that situation,” Fulmer said. “Hopefully I get the opportunity to do it again. I’ll continue to stay prepared, just like I was tonight, and hopefully the odds turn in my favor. That’s all I can control.” 

Preview: Sale, White Sox continue series with Tigers tonight on CSN

Preview: Sale, White Sox continue series with Tigers tonight on CSN

Chris Sale takes the mound as the White Sox continue their four-game series against the Detroit Tigers tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Matt Boyd (1-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. Chris Sale (14-3, 3.18 ERA)

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Report: Rangers making ‘serious effort’ to trade for White Sox ace Chris Sale

Report: Rangers making ‘serious effort’ to trade for White Sox ace Chris Sale

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday he’s been fielding more calls about trades as he team has slid to six losses in seven games after the All-Star break. 

According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, one of those calls has been from a Texas Rangers front office that’s pushing hard to acquire All-Star left-hander Chris Sale. 

Sullivan reports the White Sox want power-hitting 22-year-old prospect Joey Gallo as well as former top prospect infielder Jurickson Profar. 

The 23-year-old Profar is hitting .304/.351/.435 in 42 games with the Rangers this season. Profar missed the entire 2014 season due to a muscle strain in his right shoulder, and underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in the same shoulder prior to the 2015 season, in which he only appeared in 32 games in the Rangers’ minor league system. 

Gallo, who homered in his first career at-bat off then-White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija in June of 2015, has 17 home runs with a .254/.394/.561 slash line and 85 strikeouts in 228 plate appearances for Triple-A Round Rock this season. 

While Hahn said Thursday it “might be extreme” for the White Sox to undergo a full rebuild with Sale and Jose Quintana under control on team-friendly deals through 2019 and 2020, respectively, he did say the organization is considering all of its options as it languishes in both the American League wild card and Central Division races.

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday that the White Sox were offered a "king's ransom" for Sale and turned that team down.