Chicago White Sox

Guillen's sound and fury signifies a BS-L

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Guillen's sound and fury signifies a BS-L

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Posted: 4:34 p.m Updated: 6:14 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGOGames like these, they challenge a managers soul.

This afternoon, Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was full of sound and fury, and in a rare case of wheel-spinning and foundation-collapsing, he was signifying nothing.

In truth, Guillen doled out one notion with crystal clarity in a brief postgame session that was scarred by ferocity and found him linguistically leaping like a leopard from a bush before physically standing up and storming out of his own press conference, swearing and toppling his chair.

The message to take from the White Soxs dastardly 7-4, fall-from-ahead loss to the Oakland As on Wednesday, wherein Guillen lit the match of a full-blown closer conundrum that threatens to hang over Chicago all season? Its simple.

This aint on me.

Guillen tackled a first, tenuous question about bullpen dj vu, and set off on a rant: When you have a bad bullpen, thats what happens. Thats what happens. Thats the third time a big blown lead has happened. I wish I knew who I could bring in the ninth. I mean, today we tried everyone in one inning. No more excuses.

Guillen then proceeded to throw 21-year-old reliever Chris Sale under the bus, accepting no responsibility for running the lefthander right back out after having thrown 34 pitches in two innings just half a day earlier.

We had a three-run lead, and he said he could go, was Guillens explanation for plugging Sale right back into action.

While on the surface Guillen appeared to be enraged by his media session and furious at his cowardly lion of a bullpen, it was clear he was growing increasingly angry at himself for precipitating the situation.

Asked for his opinion on his wheezing pen, Guillen took a seat in the stands, or press row, rather than the dugout, where he was tossing cups full of water as his team melted before him: I see what you guys see. Next. What the hell am I going to see? I see the same sh-- you guys see.

Drunkenly descending into a spate of postgame madness, Guillen became increasingly blinded by rage, hopping from excusing Sergio Santos from the debacle (ignoring the fact that the righty threw just 24 pitches yesterday vs. Sales 34) to an offhand joke about calling in ex-Sox closing ace Bobby Thigpen now Single-A Winston-Salem pitching coach to help out before a final, ranting meltdown against his own pitchers, a scene almost frightening to witness.

When we play good, they send those guys to this g-damn table and talk to them like heroes, Guillen spat. When we f--- it up, Im the one who has to go-damn sit here and talk to you guys.

With that, Ozzie flew the coop.

Team security offered a pat on the back during the death march back through the tunnel, which Guillen pulled away from, too sensitive to touch.

The White Sox headmaster too often spins vitriol into poetry, keeping the 24-hour sports media industry awash in cash. Today, his daggers were better disguised, surprisingly turning inward.

An off-day, and a trip to Miami to visit youngest son Ozney, await. The timing could not possibly be better.

The dirty details

In truth, it had been a nice run for Guillen early in the season, navigating the Chicago White Sox to a 7-4 record in spite of dealing with a struggling bullpen, Adam Dunns cranky appendix and some chronically-leaky outfield D.

Dropping to 7-5 has never seemed so precipitous.

John Danks threw eight sparkling innings, notching seven strikeouts against five hits and two walks. After a solid first start and a throwaway second, Danks tossed a gem to put himself in line for his first win of the season, giving the White Sox four well above-average starts in their last five.

But in the ninth, Sale came on to relieve Danks after having thrown 34 pitches a half a day earlier, and the rookie lefty threw gasoline on embers, surrendering a double, single, and single to pull Oakland within two. Jesse Crains attempt to rescue Sale was mixed, walking the bases full before striking out Kurt Suzuki.

Closer Matt Thornton came on and quickly Ks Ryan Sweeney, but surrendered a two-run single to Cliff Pennington tie the game. The Pale Hose, surely the most booed and mocked 7-5 team as the 2011 season gets underway, again had to open the umbrellas on a storm of boos.
John Danks left with a 4-1 lead after eight innings of work, but is still in search of his first win this season. (US PRESSWIRE)
Unfortunately for the embattled Thornton, Guillen has already burned two relievers, meaning hed have to ascend the bump for the 10th. Once there, the towering lefty retired Mark Ellis but successively walked Conor Jackson and Josh Willingham, setting the table for safeties from Coco Crisp and Daric Barton. In a sneeze, the As were up for good, 7-4.

It was a first-pitch fastball. I just dropped it in, Thornton said with a muted laugh. After that, I didnt do anything right. I walked two guys. Oh, man. Theres no way to even describe it right now, frustration is pretty high. Just keep on working and battling and get back to what I do best, going out and attacking hitters and making pitches. Right now, Im not making good enough pitches.

Confidence isnt the problem. Its frustration right now. This is the most frustrated Ive been in a long time. I cant remember a run of games like this where I havent gotten the job done this many times in a row. So, Ill get out of here for a day, clear my head and come back strong on Friday, ready to go.

Similarly Danks, despite all he lost in the gameand yeah, this marks three lost opportunities to stack winsstood tall, wearing beard scruff and John Wayne swagger.

Obviously these are games we should win, and we feel like were gonna win, Danks said. With that said, we know were gonna win these games over the course of the season. Were gonna win these games. It sucks now, butWere gonna win these games.

Better days

Before this worst ninth inning of the season, the first eight featured all the hallmarks of an ideal Guillen game: terrific starting pitching, solid infield defense, and smallball aggressiveness.

Danks was simply delicious, dancing through eight innings and 108 seemingly effortless pitches.

I felt good, I really did, the lefty said. I made a couple of bad 0-2 pitches early in the game that fortunately B-mo Brent Morel over there at 3rd base made some good plays on and Carlos Quentin made a helluva play in right field in the fourth. But once I got settled into the game, I felt real good.

As Danks alluded, Morel provided outstanding defense, and Chicagos infield turned in two double plays to keep Danks on cruise control late.

After the fans base howled that Mark Buehrle should have been allowed to finish the game on Tuesday night, thereby rendering Alexei Ramirezs heroics unnecessary, the thought that Danks should finish what he started has been raised.

Danks dismissed that without undue delay.

No, no, no, I was done, he said. If I hadnt have gotten the double play in the eighth, I might not have finished the inning. So there wasnt even a thought of me going back out in the ninth.

Another positive for Chicago was its abundant smallball, most significantly in the form of multiple bunt hits and sacrifices, including Morels safety squeeze to plate Chicagos third run. And Juan Pierre committed his third error of the young season on a base hit to left, but reached base all five times in the game with his usual assortment of scrappy, scratchy play.

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

White Sox see pitcher Reynaldo Lopez's injury as 'temporary thing'

White Sox see pitcher Reynaldo Lopez's injury as 'temporary thing'

The White Sox are fairly encouraged about Reynaldo Lopez’s progress and hopeful he returns soon to the mound.

Manager Rick Renteria said before Monday’s doubleheader that Lopez, who is on the 10-day disabled list with a strained back, said he has increasingly felt better. Lopez went on the DL on Saturday, two days after he made his second start since being promoted to the majors. The right-hander played catch in the outfield on Monday. Renteria also noted that Yoan Moncada would play in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader but he would sit out the second contest to rest his shin splints.

“He’s doing very, very well,” Renteria said of Lopez. “I ask him every day. (Sunday) night before we got off (the plane) he said he’s feeling much, much better. Now it’s a matter of where he’s at, and what we start doing with him activity wise before we he gets back in the rotation.

“This is a temporary thing.”

Similar to Moncada in July, Lopez is the first heralded prospect on the pitching side to appear in the majors. He had a strong debut against the Kansas City Royals on Aug. 11, allowing two earned runs and striking out six in six innings. Lopez struggled in his second start, allowing six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against Texas before he exited. He struck out six and walked four batters before complaining of soreness on his side.

“There’s nothing that’s going to hold this young man back,” Renteria said. “The disappointment is more that he can’t get back out there every five days right, not in terms of his performance. He’s done pretty well. It’s just that he can’t be out there right now. Once he’s healed up he’s going to be fine and be out there every five days.”

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

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USA TODAY

How Nicky Delmonico's ability to bunt for a hit has played a role in his hot start

Put the shift on against Nicky Delmonico and he’s going to drop down a bunt to beat you.

The White Sox rookie has tried his solution for shift-happy defenses already three times this season and it’s worked in each instance.

And while its undoubtedly the long ball -- he’s hit five home runs -- that has caught everyone’s attention during the White Sox rookie’s unbelievable start, don’t overlook the little things, especially Delmonico’s ability to bunt for a hit and the impact it’s had on opposing defenses.

Whenever opponents try to employ a shift, and they’ve done it more often this season, Delmonico has shown no fear in trying to beat them with a bunt down the third-base line.

He bunted for a single in Sunday’s win when he reached base three times to bring his on-base percentage to .451 through 71 plate appearances. There’s no question that forcing defenses to play him straight up is partly responsible for Delmonico reaching base safely in 15 of 17 games to start his major league career.

“It opens up a hole,” Delmonico said. “There’s been a lot of times in Charlotte where you hit a hard ground ball through the four hole and think it’s a hit, but then there’s a guy deep in right field. You want those (to be hits). Any time you can take advantage of bunting and show you can bunt they’ll move out of the shift.”

Take a look at Delmonico’s spray chart and it’ll tell you he’s pull-happy. He’s pulled 47.9 percent of all balls put in play since reaching the majors, according to Fangraphs.com. Were he to be qualified for a batting title, Delmonico would currently be 15th in pull percentage in baseball, easily within range of leader Salvador Perez’s 54.6 percent.

Either way, Delmonico’s spray chart is the type that often leads defenses to load up three gloves on the right side of the infield no matter the count (teams tend to shift to a hitter’s pull side most often with two strikes).

But Delmonico has made them think twice --- at least early in the count.

“Any time I see them all over that’s when it’s the best time to lay one down,” Delmonico said. “You’ve just got to get it past the pitcher and fair.”

You also have to catch the attention of advance scouts. Based on the way he’s been defended so far, hitting coach Todd Steverson thinks opponents have taken notice of Delmonico’s skills.

“It’s got to be in their notes,” Steverson said. “It’s got to be in their data: “This guy will bunt.” Even just the words “he will bunt” keeps somebody close for a minute before they move to another spot. If you have none, then they don’t have to do nothing.

“They want to play him in the full shift. That’s what they did to him from the get-go. He dropped two bunts down on them and said ‘Ok.’ ”

Delmonico said he’s seen an increased number of shifts since reached Triple-A two years ago.

“But it was all different kinds of shifts,” Delmonico said. “Very rarely I would see them all over until two strikes.”

Delmonico works on bunting the same as anyone else. There’s the round he takes each day at the start of batting practice each day. And every few weeks or so, Charlotte brought out the pitching machine.

But what may make him standout are his confidence and conviction. While Delmonico realizes he may be taking the potential for extra bases out of his hands for one at-bat, he’s knows he’s still giving himself a chance to jumpstart a rally and he’s creating a world of opportunities for the rest of his trips to the plate.

“I feel like they’re pretty good,” Delmonico said. “I’ve worked a lot on it the last two years because I know eventually they will shift and to get that hole open you’ve got to prove to them that you will bunt.

“Overall it helps you out and two, it gives you a chance to get on base and get going. That’s the biggest thing for me.”