First Strike: White Sox bring Vizquel back

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First Strike: White Sox bring Vizquel back

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010
Updated at 9:17 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO Who saved the Chicago White Sox season in 2010? If you ask one very important judge, it was the oldest player on the team.

Omar has impressed me so much, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of 43-year-old Omar Vizquel after Chicago had stormed from 9 games down to take over the Central Division lead before the All-Star break. His defense, his leadership, hes had some key hitseverything started to turn around for us when he started playing regularly.

Vizquel was pressed into action after incumbent third sacker Mark Teahen broke his finger in May, but played so well Teahen was unable to regain the hot corner upon his return. Surely, Vizquel wont be depended on to play 108 games in 2011, a fact he seemed resigned to upon re-signing.

Im clear about my situation, Vizquel said during a conference call on Monday. I know my job is going to be as a backup player. Whatever happens this year, I will take it in and enjoy it like its going to be my last year again.

Vizquel was acknowledging the fact that he had all but announced hed be embarking on his farewell tour or major league parks during 2010, but his surprising productionpotent offense and acceptable defense at three infield positionspersuaded him to play another year.

Guillen, who had a respectful--but at times testy--relationship with the player just three years his junior, went so far as to say Vizquel could play at least another couple of yearsthrough 2012if he chose.

Ozzies a different guy, Vizquel said in reference to the 180 degrees of temperament difference between the two Venezuelans. You dont know what to expect from him sometimes. But he just finds a way to get you going and press your buttons. Thats the way a manager has to be sometimes.

The manager made a number of joking comments in reference to protecting Vizquel given his advanced age but overall was in awe of his veteran infielder.

There wasnt any extra wear and tear, Vizquel said of his condition after 108 games in 2010. My body responded awesome. The challenge was great, and the way I prepared myself in the offseason, I was up to the challenge.

Vizquel hit .276 with 11 doubles, two home runs and 30 RBI and logged an on-base percentage of .341, better than his career average. He made 62 starts at third base, 19 at second, eight at shortstop and one as designated hitter.

He achieved a major career milestone at the Detroit Tigers in September, playing his 2,832nd game, the most of any player born outside of the United States. The all-time record stood at 2,850 as of the end of the 2010 season.

Vizquel is generally considered the greatest fielding shortstop ever, a fact thats supported by the archaic but prevalent fielding percentage statistic (.985 all-time). As such, the native of Caracas, Venezuela won 11 Gold Gloves as a shortstop (1993-2001, 2005-06).

Vizquel originally signed with the White Sox as a free agent on November 23, 2009. He had been targeted by GM Ken Williams as early as 2004, when the veteran was close to inking a deal with the White Sox before the San Francisco Giants swooped in, offering a third year to their offer.

The veteran has made no secret of his desire to one day manage in the majors, and soon.

Im really preparing myself to manage, Vizquel said. I would like to manage as soon as possible. I have the experience and the knowledgeThe experience from my playing days will translate into good enthusiasm and a positive way to manage.

Vizquel was re-signed within 24 hours of the end of the World Series. This year marks the debut of a shorter window that teams have to re-sign their own free agents, reduced from 15 days to five. That gives Chicago four more days to re-up Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, J.J. Putz, Mark Kotsay, Freddy Garcia, Manny Ramirez or Andruw Jones without outside competition.

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

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tommy Kahnle has been one of the White Sox brightest bright spots, but fell victim to some tough luck that could ding on his under-the-radar All-Star bid.

Kahnle allowed the tying and go-ahead runs in the White Sox 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics Sunday in front of 28,089 at Guaranteed Rate Field, marking only the sixth time in 31 games the 27-year-old right-hander has allowed a run in 2017.

In the eighth inning, Kahnle allowed a broken bat single to Franklin Barreto, then Ryon Healy reached on a Todd Frazier error. Khris Davis tied the game with a single to left, knocking Kahnle out of the game, and Oakland took the lead when Yonder Alonso blooped a single off David Robertson that plopped into left field out of the reach of Melky Cabrera. Consider the hit probabilities, according to Statcast, of those three hits and the error:

Barreto: 78 percent
Healy: 5 percent
Davis: 62 percent
Alonso: 2 percent

That Kahnle coughed up the lead was surprising given his stealthy success leading a strong back end of the White Sox bullpen this year. The White Sox, prior to Sunday's defeat, were 28-0 when leading after seven innings. 

"Our bullpen's doing a great (job), it really is," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think you can't take away from what they've been doing for us all year long. We've been going to them a lot."

On that improbable Alonso bloop single, Cabrera was shifted more toward center field. 

"He was actually playing a little more to the pull side than he was to the line," Renteria said. "I don't think he was going to be able to get to it, regardless of the effort he might have given us. These guys are all a little fatigued, they're a little tired right now. They're giving you what they've got right now."

Entering Sunday’s game, Kahnle’s 1.2 WAR was sixth-best American League relievers, behind Boston’s Craig Kimbrel (2.2), Houston’s Chris Devenski (1.6), Cleveland’s Andrew Miller (1.6), Los Angeles’ Blake Parker (1.4) and Toronto’s Roberto Osuna (1.3). His 44.8 strikeout percentage is among the five best in baseball along with Kimbrel, New York’s Dellin Betances, Los Angeles’ Kenley Jansen and Milwaukee’s Corey Knebel.

Kahnle has been undoubtedly spectacular this year even with Sunday’s hiccup, though with Garcia seeming likely to be on the American League All-Star roster, Terry Francona wouldn’t have to take him to fill the game’s requirement. That this year’s All-Star Game doesn’t count — it’s the first since 2002 that won’t dictate home-field advantage in the World Series — could alter Francona’s roster construction to reward more starters and closers, and the Cleveland Indians manager would certainly be justified if he wanted to take his own setup guy in Miller.

The White Sox handed Kahnle the lead on Adam Engel’s first career home run (a solo shot in the third) and Jose Abreu’s dash home on a passed ball in the fourth. Starter Derek Holland was solid, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings. Melky Cabrera added a solo home run in the ninth inning, his eighth of the season.

Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce homered off Robertson and Chris Beck, respectively, in the ninth inning to give the A’s a comfortable ending to their three-game sweep of the White Sox. Beck was hit by a comebacker after allowing that home run and left the game with a bruised left hamstring, and is considered day-to-day.