Garfien: Where there's a will, there's a Williams

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Garfien: Where there's a will, there's a Williams

Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010
11:51 AM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

As Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome, J.J. Hardy and Michael Cuddyer were doing their home run trots on Tuesday night, tilting the U.S. Cellular Field scoreboard like a pinball machine that had seen way too many quarters, I thought of Kenny Williams and the anger that was likely detonating inside his brain, the uber-competitive White Sox general manager forced to watch helplessly as his team was knocked out of first place in the Central Division for the first time since July 11.

Thats what the Minnesota Twins do. They dont just beat you. They evict you from your home, dance in your front yard and do it with a smile on their face.

Quite simply: the Twins cannot be trusted.

Except for getting scorching hot in the second half of the season, which they are doing again. Since the break: 18-7. Oh, and winning games in the Central Division. Theyre 30-16, compared to the Sox who are 20-22.

Considering those two facts alone, its a shock that the Sox are only a game out of first.

Maybe thats why Williams was able to find his happy place before Tuesdays thrashing, appearing as a guest on Chicago Tribune Live. He was calm, relaxed, even jovial as he was peppered with all sorts of questions from host David Kaplan and Trib columnist David Haugh.

Williams acknowledged that the four-game series in Baltimore was a bad weekend, but wasnt that concerned about his team because if they have shown me one thing, its their ability to bounce back and their ability to focus when they need to focus.

That didnt happen Tuesday. Maybe Wednesday.

In his first two starts with the White Sox, Edwin Jackson has clearly changed his focus, not to mention his mechanics. Hes given up just two earned runs in 13 innings, recording 13 strikeouts and just two walks.

Whats the reason for his rejuvenation?

No. 1, Edwin is excited to here," Williams said. "Were pitching in games that matter. You tend to amp it up a little bit and you come with it a little bit more. Also, he and Don Cooper have been working on a couple of little things that get him focused on the target. And it also helps that the hitters dont know whats coming. Now they dont know whats coming because hes not tipping his pitches.

Interesting.

Williams is still searching for another power bat. That likely means claiming a player off waivers. Its a tricky process that often has more to do with luck than anything else. Having Alex Rios fall into your lap like last year is a rarity, and Williams gave us an inside-look at whats going on behind the scenes.

The waiver process is such that most teams put all of their players through, so hitters and pitchers are popping up all the time, Williams said. The problem is, do they get to the first-place teams or does someone else put a claim on them and block them? So more often than not, players are going to be blocked.

"But every now and then, a guy with a salary that a team is more interested in getting rid of versus getting a player back will slip through and the other teams are afraid to grab that player. Thats how we got Alex Rios last year. But we were so confident in his abilities that we wanted that to happen where we didnt have to give up a player to get him.

One player that Williams went after right before the trade deadline is the Dodgers' Manny Ramirez. The Sox GM recently said that he wont acquire a player who could potentially disrupt the chemistry of the team. Considering Mannys controversial me-first past, he brings with him a scientific formula that could be utterly explosive (both good and bad).

But if Ramirez recovers from his calf injury, and Williams is still looking for a dangerous bat for his lineup, the possibility of Manny coming to the South Side cannot be overlooked.

Why? Well, if you read between the lines, heres what Williams said when asked about giving players second chances.

Who amongst us hasnt made mistakes, hasnt said something, particularly when youre younger, or done something that agitated people or got on peoples nerves, or just said the wrong thing," he said. "All you can do is pick yourself up and strive to be a better person. We give people that opportunity because we see the fallacies in ourselves.

Sound like someone you know?

After giving up six runs in 2 13 innings, maybe this isnt the best time to be writing about re-signing Freddy Garcia, but other than the occasional hiccup, the 35-year-old pitcher has been a rock in the back-end of the Sox rotation.

However, Garcia expressed concern on Sunday that a numbers game might cost him a spot on the starting staff next season.

Now theyve got Jackson, another pitcher with a lot of money, Garcia said. So they want to get Peavy back next year, who knows? They got Danks, Buehrle and Floyd. I dont know what the situation is for me.

Tuesday, Williams addressed it and opened the door for Garcia to return.

Garcia has to be a factor in our offseason discussions. Ultimately, hes a free agent and how that factors in with what we have coming back and what we want to do in terms of moving some pieces around that has to come into play. But you have to talk about him because he just goes out and wins.

Williams prefers his wins one way, and not the kind that end with a dramatic walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth.

I like blowouts," he said. "Whether in an individual game or for the season. I dont like excitement. Hell no. I want the blowout every time. I dont need a close exciting game. For what?

I dont know ... better TV ratings?

Maybe the Sox can help their GM relax by torching Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday, but we all know better.

The Twins cannot be trusted.

Put it on a T-shirt. Slap it on a bumper sticker. Hopefully the Sox wont be sitting behind them for long, choking on their fumes.

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.

Dioner Navarro earns his day off, helps White Sox outlast Twins in 10 innings

Dioner Navarro earns his day off, helps White Sox outlast Twins in 10 innings

MINNEAPOLIS -- Dioner Navarro has big plans for his first day off since July 17.

“Sleep -- a lot,” he said.

The catcher ended a stretch of 13 games in 13 days with a one-out RBI double to send the White Sox to a 6-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins in 10 innings in front of 27,914 at Target Field. Navarro, who has started 12 of 13 games and finished the July 22nd contest, doubled in Avisail Garcia with one out after the outfielder started the 10th inning with his second double in five trips. David Robertson pitched a perfect 10th to convert his 25th save and snap a three-game losing streak for the White Sox, who are 51-53.

“Dio has had a long run too of games in a row,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s nice to see him get after it. He knew he wasn’t going to be in there (Sunday), so I don’t know if that’s motivation or not. He earned it.”

The White Sox had to overcome a number of mistakes to win for the first time since Tuesday. They committed three errors over two plays in the third inning, blew to a two-run lead when Eduardo Escobar hit a three-run homer off Matt Albers in the eighth inning and survived rookie pitcher Michael Ynoa’s bases-loaded jam with two outs in the ninth.

Pitching for the first time since July 17, Ynoa induced a pop out off Brian Dozier’s bat to end the threat. He earned his first major league victory after Cabrera doubled to left off Fernando Abad. The White Sox tied it at 5 in the top of the ninth on Melky Cabrera’s two-out RBI single off Brandon Kintzler. Tim Anderson, who went 3-for-5, scored the tying run after he doubled with one out.

Justin Morneau doubled, homered and drove in two while Cabrera went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Todd Frazier missed a second straight game with flu-like symptoms and Adam Eaton was held out of the starting lineup to rest several bumps and bruises. Eaton entered the game as a defensive replacement in the 10th inning.

“It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it,” Navarro said about Ynoa, although it could easily have been about the entire team. “He did a great job. He made pitches when he needed it. He got out of the inning, and he kept us in the game.”

[MORE: Chris Sale 'got it all squared' away with White Sox teammates]

Same as he has all month, starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez put the White Sox in prime position to win.

Gonzalez finished an outstanding July by limiting Minnesota to two runs (one earned) and six hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He had a 2.50 ERA in six July starts.

With the bullpen still in need of rest, Gonzalez pitched into the seventh inning. Byron Buxton’s RBI groundout made it a 4-2 game. But Gonzalez, who threw 114 pitches, struck out Robbie Grossman with a man on second to end the seventh.

White Sox starting pitchers have a 1.71 ER in the team’s last seven games.

The bullpen hasn’t had as much success.

A day after he took the loss, Dan Jennings, issued a leadoff walk to Joe Mauer in the eighth and recorded an out before he gave way to Albers. Albers walked Dozier before Kurt Suzuki lined out to center.

Escobar ripped the first pitch he saw from Albers, a 93-mph sinker, out to deep right to put the Twins ahead 5-4.

“We have a good squad, things haven’t been going our way but we have to keep grinding,” Gonzalez said. “Some things we can’t control. Our bullpen has been struggling, but it’s part of the game. Alberts made a really good pitch down and sometimes it doesn’t go our way and it’s tough to understand. But that is the way baseball is.”

Adam Eaton: Players at fault if White Sox become sellers at trade deadline

Adam Eaton: Players at fault if White Sox become sellers at trade deadline

MINNEAPOLIS — If the White Sox trade away assets over the next two days, Adam Eaton said the blame is all on the players.

The right fielder, who was held out of Saturday’s game to rest bumps and bruises, said the White Sox have enough talent to be successful in spite of their injuries. Even with an improved roster, the White Sox entered Saturday with 50-53 mark as they’ve been inconsistent all season. While Eaton doesn’t want to see any of his teammates dealt before Monday’s 3 p.m. CST nonwaiver trade deadline, he could understand if they are.

“Oh yeah, and it’s our own fault,” Eaton said. “It’s the players’ fault. We play up to what we’re capable of playing, and it’s not even a discussion. Rick has gotta do what he’s gotta do to put us in the best position to be good now and later. Whatever he has to do, we’ve got to accept it as players because we put ourselves in this position.”

Eaton admitted he wasn’t in a very good mood before Saturday’s contest. He said the team’s losing ways haven’t been enjoyable — “losing sucks, man.” Disappointed with the team’s play since their 23-10 start, Eaton pointed at consistency as the club’s biggest issue. He didn’t cite injuries to a number of key players, including center fielder Austin Jackson and relievers Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam.

“(Injuries are) part of the game,” Eaton said. “It’s no excuse on our end. When one guy goes down the next guy’s gotta pick it up, gotta fall in the line and find a way to get it done in some way, shape or form. I don’t think we lean on that at all as a crutch. We’ve got the talent here in to win, and at the end of the day it’s being consistent and finding a way to get it done day in and day out. Anybody can do it for a month. You’ve got to be consistent. You can’t be too high or be too low or the game will find you and show those inconsistencies.”

Chris Sale 'got it all squared' away with White Sox teammates, coaches

Chris Sale 'got it all squared' away with White Sox teammates, coaches

MINNEAPOLIS — He hasn’t yet made any inroads on the charitable end of the throwback jersey ordeal, but Chris Sale has addressed his teammates and coaches.

The White Sox pitcher said Saturday afternoon he’d look more into a potential charity benefit involving the destroyed 1976 throwback jerseys from a week ago in the near future. As for the more prominent topic, Sale, who is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday in Detroit, said he spoke to the White Sox after Thursday night’s game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"Got it all squared away," Sale said. "Got on the same page. We are back to where we were before, trying to win games. Putting that in the forefront.

"I got my point across. I said the things I wanted to say, and you move forward."

Both Sale and White Sox manager Robin Ventura described the discussion as good and stressed they’re ready to move forward. Sale told MLB.com on Monday he thought Ventura needed to do a better job supporting his players. Asked if they have a good relationship, Ventura said yes but didn’t go into detail about what the two discussed.

"I had a long talk with him," Ventura said. "We continue to move on, and it’s about baseball. That’s part of the professional part of it.

"It was good. I’m not going to get into what we talked about, but we had a long talk and it was good."

Sale said he spoke to everyone individually, including Ventura. He also reiterated he thinks the story has been blown out of proportion.

"I talked to everybody involved personally one on one," Sale said. "Cleared the air, had some good talks. Learned some things. Talked about some things we already knew. It was good. It was very productive.

"I think everyone is making a little bit bigger deal of this. Ten or 15 years ago, this wouldn’t have been a story. There was no such thing as Twitter, and I don’t think as much information leaked out as it does nowadays. It’s just something that people gravitate to. It’s the nature of the beast — I understand that.

"As much as I don’t like it, I can’t be mad it. It is what it is. You move forward and keep a positive mind frame and come in every day with the same mindset."

As for the jerseys and their future, Sale said he plans to determine the best way to proceed forward when the team returns home from this eight-game road trip. He credits his wife, Brianne, for the suggestion that some good come from an incident that resulted in his five-game suspension.

"She’s the smart one in the house apparently," Sale said. "She brought it up, and it came to my attention it could be possible. So any time something bad happens like what happened, you always try to find something positive. If we can make a positive out of negative, it’s perfect. Works out well."