Manto knows there's a lot of work to be done

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Manto knows there's a lot of work to be done

By Jim Owczarski
CSNChicago.com

Playing nine years of major league baseball for eight teams, along with a stint in Japan, followed by two years as a hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates and four years in the Chicago White Sox organization, Jeff Manto has seen pretty much everything in the game.

Yet on Oct. 31, 2011, Manto was put in a position he never quite imagined. It wasnt being named the Chicago White Sox hitting coach thats old hat.

It was being named to an assistant coaching position in a city where fans not only know who you are, but want to hear from you. They cheer and jeer you, and sometimes you have to bear an undue brunt of frustration if things go poorly and receive perhaps too much credit when things go well.

Its something the 47-year-old has had to acclimate himself to rather quickly.

Ive seen that you pick up the papers and see quotes from the pitching coach and the hitting coach and the infield coach and I thought that was unusual, he said following a coaching seminar Saturday afternoon at SoxFest. I like to stay out of the way. Its (manager) Robin (Venturas) team. Id rather him give all the answers. But, I also know the dynamic of the city and they want to hear from me, Ill give them answers.

He smiled.

They might get a better answer from Robin.

Manto steps into the role vacated by Greg Walker, a coach beloved by his players but one the fans turned on quickly and often during his eight year tenure.

Though Manto paid Walker tribute for his hard work and the players shouldered all the blame for a season in which the team hit .252 with 154 home runs, the man affectionately known as Walk resigned on the last day of the season.

Enter Manto, who walks into a situation where multiple players are coming off disastrous offensive seasons. Brent Morel hit .245. Gordon Beckham hit .230. Alex Rios hit .227 and Adam Dunn hit .159.

The pressure is already on.

"Bottom line, if we hit, we're competing in the division, general manager Kenny Williams said. If we don't, we won't. Period."

Manto brings some experience with many of the current regulars after spending the past four seasons in the organization as its minor league hitting coordinator. He worked with Beckham, Morel, Alejandro De Aza, Dayan Viciedo and backup catcher Tyler Flowers. He also is familiar Brent Lillibridge from their time in the Pirates organization.

I do have a real sense of what they do and what theyre trying to do, Manto said. With Rios and Dunn, they might be different hitters but its just talking to them, seeing where they are. I want them to give me information. I dont want to give them the information because I want to see what they have to say.

You just trust the track record. Thats the simple thing. A lot of people are saying this is going to be a real tough job but I dont look at that way. My experience doesnt accept that. You understand a track record is a track record and these guys are great. The job I have (is) to get them back a spot theyre comfortable.

To his credit, Manto is embracing the role as much as he can. He opened a hitting seminar on Saturday alongside Lillibridge and Dunn by making a joke as to how important he is to everyone. But in the end, he hopes to spend more time away from the camera lights and tape recorders.

Hopefully people understand that its Robins team, its Robins hitters and Im just an extension of what hes trying to do, he said.

Miguel Gonzalez can't stop two-out rallies as White Sox fall to Oakland

Miguel Gonzalez can't stop two-out rallies as White Sox fall to Oakland

GLENDALE, Ariz. — His split-fingered fastball could use a little work, but Miguel Gonzalez is ready for the regular season.

The White Sox pitcher allowed four earned runs, all with two outs, in his penultimate Cactus League start on Wednesday. Gonzalez also gave up nine hits as the White Sox lost to the Oakland A’s 5-3 at Camelback Ranch.

"I'm pretty excited for (the regular season)," Gonzalez said. "We all know that spring can be a little long sometimes. But we are here, we are here to work and keep doing what we are doing. We are going to be OK."

Gonzalez allowed two runs each in the first and second innings. Both rallies came with two outs and were a bit of a surprise to the right-hander, who left after 4 1/3 innings. Gonzalez wonders if his split-fingered fastball might not be as sharp as normal because of the dry desert air in Arizona that affects many pitchers.

"It wasn't there today," Gonzalez said. "Not quite as good as I thought it would be. Bullpen I felt really good. Falling behind hitters first two innings. That doesn't really help you, especially a team like this that's very aggressive.

"I'm working on (the splitter). It's fine. I mean it's a little different then it is in Florida. It's not as humid. But you can't think that way. You have to go out there and keep working."

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Melky Cabrera went 1-for-3 with two RBIs for the White Sox. Yolmer Sanchez tripled and homered in the loss. Former White Sox farmhand Frankie Montas struck out four over two scoreless innings to earn the save for Oakland.

The White Sox sent four more players to minor league camp before the game, including reliever Tommy Kahnle. The team sent five players to the minors on Tuesday, including pitcher Carson Fulmer. While Fulmer would love to start the season in the majors, he said it won't hinder him from taking advantage of his time at Triple-A Charlotte.

"Obviously last year getting a taste, it's that dream you've had since you were a kid," Fulmer said. "You want more of it. It's not an addiction in a way. But once you get a taste of it you want more of it. All of us young guys are trying to get back to where we've been. I think time will tell, but I think we'll get a chance here soon and get a chance to create something special."

Team USA captures first World Baseball Classic championship

Team USA captures first World Baseball Classic championship

For the first time in the history of the World Baseball Classic, the United States of America walked away champions.

Team USA bested Puerto Rico in blowout fashion on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, winning the championship game by an 8-0 score at Dodger Stadium.

White Sox relief pitchers David Robertson and Nate Jones were part of the championship-winning American roster. Robertson pitched in Wednesday's game, closing things out with a scoreless ninth inning.

Cubs infielder Javy Baez came up short as a member of the Puerto Rican team. Baez went 0-for-3 with a strikeout on Wednesday.

Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman dominated the Puerto Rican lineup, pitching six no-hit innings before surrendering the first hit in the seventh inning.

The Americans crossed home plate eight times on the night, getting a two-run home run from Tigers infielder Ian Kinsler and two-run hits from Christian Yelich and Brandon Crawford. Andrew McCutchen also drove in two, and Kinsler and Nolan Arenado scored two runs apiece.

The Puerto Ricans mustered just three hits.

This was the first time the United States even advanced to the championship game in the four times the event has been staged. It's just the second top-four finish for the Americans. They finished fourth in 2009.