Garfien: Do South Siders need to go back in time?

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Garfien: Do South Siders need to go back in time?

Thursday, June 3, 201012:43 PM

By Chuck GarfienCSNChicago.com
Frank Thomas hasnt picked up a bat in 20 months. I learned this the other day when I half-jokingly asked him if he would join the Comcast SportsNet softball team.

Hows that for a ringer?

But the greatest hitter in White Sox history laughed at my idea, admitting Id probably break my back.

And yet, wherever the Big Hurt goes in Chicago, he hears the same plea from anxious, desperate White Sox fans.

Frank, we need you!

Unfortunately, this team doesnt need Frank. It needs something that has yet to be invented.

A time machine.

(If anyone sees Doc Brown roaming around a vacant shopping mall parkinglot with his 1985 DeLorean and furry dog Einstein, please have himreport to U.S. Cellular Field immediately)

The White Sox slow, baffling start has left many to long for those bright and sunny days of yesteryear when all seemed right in the world. Like April 5, 2010. Opening Day.

A lot has changed since then.

Two months into the season, this hasnt exactly been a Hollywood masterpiece. Kevin Costners 1995 flop "Waterworld" is probably more like it.

Doing whatever he can to prevent the Sox ship from sinking further, pitching coach Don Cooper offered these deep thoughts before Wednesdays second straight loss to the Rangers:

You swim in confidence, you drown in negativity.

But if the Sox struggles continue, there wont be enough life preservers to save everyone. Its a boat the Big Hurt has been on before.

At this point in the season, you need to be as positive as ever, because if not, the negativity is close, Thomas said Wednesday on White Sox Pregame Live, when I shared with him Coopers message.

Cooper feels it, Thomas said. He knows the media is going to be on everyone, he knows whats going to happen if they dont start winning ballgames.

And Frank, who has been one of the teams biggest supporters -- if not personal cheerleaders -- in 2010 could not ignore the reality if the Sox dont turn it around soon.

Something is going to happen with this ballclub.

Something as in big changes?

At this point in the season, you need to be as positive as ever, because if not, the negativity is close.-- Frank Thomas on the importance of positive thinking during team strugglesThats the only way I see it.

It is possible for the White Sox to save their season, with or without a Kenny Williams overhaul. History proves they can.

Remember 2005? On July 25, the Cleveland Indians trailed the first-place White Sox by 15 games in the Central Division, only to go on a blistering two-month hot streak to cut the lead to 1 12 games by late September. The Indians didnt end up catching the Sox, but it certainly makes the Twins' current 8 12-game advantage sound a lot more appealing.

But then again, that Indians team had C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, not to mention a healthy Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner.

The 2003 Florida Marlins (with Ozzie Guillen as their third-base coach) were 10 games under .500 on May 22. They went on to make the playoffs, and beat the Giants, Cubs and Yankees for the World Series title.

Helping the Marlins' cause that year was a 20-year-old phenom named Miguel Cabrera, who was called up midseason. Any chance the Tigers let us borrow Miguel for the next four months?

Both of those teams found magic midsummer. So far, the White Sox have been doing a disappearing act in the Central Division, watching their hopes gradually vanish.

Its left us pondering the same old questions.

Do these 2010 White Sox actually have a run in them? Can they play the kind of Ozzie Ball we thought they could on Opening Day? Will the starting rotation, projected to be one of the best in the game, finally start pitching like it?

I want to believe yes. But the Sox keep proving no.

When I asked Cooper to sum up the teams situation in one word, he said, Important. Not critical, but important.

Maybe. But if the Sox dont start winning soon, it will likely be anchors away for some big-time stars (you know the names).

Sink or swim.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana has been named the Opening Day starter — for the White Sox.

While many are surprised he still hasn't been traded, few should be shocked by the news manager Rick Renteria delivered on Friday, when he announced Quintana would pitch the April 3 opener.

With Chris Sale gone to Boston, Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016, has been the odds-on favorite to take over as the team's ace. The only question seemed to be whether or not he'd still be in a White Sox uniform when the season began. But the club made it clear Friday that Quintana is their guy and he'll face the Detroit Tigers in the first game of 2017. The only one who seemed a little taken aback about the news is Quintana.

"I was surprised," Quintana said. "I knew I may get the ball for that day, but they didn't say nothing, so you didn't know. I just kept going and doing my workouts and all my stuff. I'm really, really happy with this opportunity. It's huge for me. I can't wait for that day to come.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity. It's a huge honor for me to have the ball for Opening Day the first time in my life. And I think it's a once-in-a-life opportunity."

Asked about the announcement earlier in the week, Renteria said he needed more time. Many speculated that it meant the White Sox were continuing to listen to offers for Quintana, who has drawn constant interest since the team began its rebuild in December.

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Quintana, who went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings last season, has looked fantastic all spring. Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts on Thursday, Quintana made his first Cactus League appearance in a month and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander also put on a brilliant performance for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Team USA hitters he faced before allowing a hit.

"He's very happy about it," Renteria said. "He has obviously earned it.

"I don't know if he was surprised as much as he was elated and proud to be given the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter. It's a privilege."

Quintana's resume of consistency made him a clear-cut choice for the nod. He heads into 2017 having pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. In that span, he's produced a 3.32 ERA and 18.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. That figure represents the seventh-highest WAR total among all big league pitchers in that span.

Even though he's viewed as the staff ace, Quintana — who potentially has four years and $36.85 million left on his current contract — said he was surprised by the news because the club hadn't yet informed him of the honor.

"It means a lot for me, especially after last year when you make the All-Star team and this year the opportunity to play in the WBC and now you have the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day," Quintana said. "That's a lot of things happening for me now and I'm happy. And really blessed. You just try to do all my things every time.

"Maybe they don't know what it means for me, but it's a big thing."

Carlos Rodon slated for MRI, could start season on disabled list with bicep tightness

Carlos Rodon slated for MRI, could start season on disabled list with bicep tightness

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carlos Rodon has been scratched from Friday’s start with tightness in his upper left bicep and it could land him on the disabled list to start the 2017 season.

Though the development came as a surprise, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said that the team’s initial exam of their third-year starter was “positive” because they don’t believe he has any structural damage. But the White Sox intend to be extremely cautious with Rodon, who was headed for an MRI on Friday instead of the mound and is also likely to receive a second opinion early next week.

Rodon had been scheduled to face the Oakland A’s at Mesa, Ariz.

“We’re going to err on the side of caution here, even if it winds up costing him his first couple starts because we’re slowing down the schedule now by scratching him,” Hahn said.

“It’s too early to speculate how long we’re going to be without Carlos. I hate to speculate, but since we are slowing down his schedule by having him miss the start today, the odds are probably that he starts the season on the DL. But again we’ll know more after he takes his further exams.”

Both Hahn and White Sox manager Rick Renteria admit they’ve been caught off-guard by the sequence of events. Rodon informed the White Sox he felt some tightness in his bicep on Thursday, which led to an internal examination. But it was only Wednesday when Rodon said he felt great following a Tuesday bullpen session and asked about the possibility of his first regular season start being moved up. Rodon, who had been online to make his first start on April 8, had also responded well in the aftermath of striking out five batters over four scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut at Tempe, Ariz. on Sunday.

“As far as we know right now he’s OK,” Renteria said. “From the physical, clinical tests it seems like he’s fine, but obviously he’s going to get checked up. He still wanted to pitch. I think that even talking to him yesterday or two days ago, he was feeling great. For all of us it’s a little bit of a surprise.”

Rodon requested to make his start against Oakland after the initial exam, but the team declined and opted for an MRI.

With the intent of helping him avoid the fatigue he experienced last summer and also reaching the 200-inning mark this season, the White Sox took a slow approach with Rodon this spring. Similar to how they handled Chris Sale last spring, much of Rodon’s work this February and March on back fields and in simulated games.

Rodon -- who went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA in 28 starts last season, striking out 168 batters in 165 innings -- finally debuted in the Cactus League on Sunday and flourished. Though his slow start drew some suspicion along the way as to whether or not Rodon was healthy, Hahn said his bicep issue is a total coincidence.

“I don't know if ironic is the right word, but we obviously tried to come up with a plan to keep him healthy for the long term and toward the end of this plan he expressed this discomfort yesterday,” Hahn said. “Again, he was feeling great, he was saying, with how he was coming along, with the program we had set up. Sometimes you make plans and the baseball gods laugh.”

While it’s too early to know how the length of Rodon’s absence, the White Sox have begun to develop contingency plans. The team has a few days off in April that could help them navigate through the issue, primarily on April 4 and April 10. Rodon originally was scheduled to pitch in the team’s fifth game, an April 8 home contest against Minnesota.

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Hahn suggested that despite the uncertainty he knows one tactic he won’t use is call upon one of the team’s top prospects. Reynaldo Lopez is close to major league ready and Lucas Giolito and Carson Fulmer have also already each accrued service time. But Hahn wants to avoid a taxi situation with frequent trips back and forth to the minor leagues.

He listed Saturday’s starter Dylan Covey and minor leaguers David Holmberg and Tyler Danish as among the possible replacements for Rodon.

“Our intention is to not have any player in Chicago simply because there’s a need in Chicago,” Hahn said. “It’s because they’ve answered all the questions that they have to answer developmentally at the minor league level and are ready for further development in Chicago. This is particularly true in the situation where it could just be a spot start or a few starts. None of us are inclined to potentially derail anyone’s development by moving them up and down, up and down. Our young pitchers, when the time comes for them to come to Chicago, will be guaranteed to get the ball every fifth day. We don’t have a specific plan for where it goes with Carlos, we need further examination and studies. And we don’t have a plan for how we’ll fill the void if one is created.”