Muhammad Ali to visit White Sox camp

Muhammad Ali to visit White Sox camp

Monday, March 7, 2011
4:53 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago White Sox are making service an early theme of their 2011 Cactus League season. On Monday, they played a game in Tucson vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund, while Tuesday morning will find them in the presence of The Greatest.

Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali visits with the team tomorrow, addressing his Athletes for Hope foundation, which asks that players give their time rather than money.

Its a great inspiration for a lot of people, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said after the White Soxs 12-1 win over Arizona. I met him before, a few times. A lot of kids are in camp and they will have a chance to meet, I dont want to say one of the greatest boxers in history, but one of the greatest men ever born in this country. Those kids should be proud to meet him, and to the White Sox organization, its an honor to have him in camp.

It will be an honor to have him in our clubhouse, said Scott Reifert, White Sox vice president of communications. In a major-league clubhouse, you always have different cultures and nationalities, but when you tell players Muhammad Ali is coming, you get the same reaction from everybody: lots of respect, lots of excitement. It will be exciting for the guys to meet him tomorrow.

As a result of the extra travel to Tucson for Mondays game and the visit from Ali, the White Sox wont work out before their afternoon game hosting the Rockies. Tuesdays game vs. Colorado is what Guillen had circled as a starting point for real competition from and performance by his club.

Today is the last day of our vacation, Guillen said. Its time to start playing the game right. From tomorrow on, we are going to put more emphasis on the ballclub.

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

Fast Break Morning Update: White Sox, Cubs both drop series openers

Fast Break Morning Update: White Sox, Cubs both drop series openers

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MMQB's Peter King's thoughts on Trubisky, Howard, White and the Bears offense

White Sox fall to Diamondbacks in series opener

White Sox fall to Diamondbacks in series opener

PHOENIX -- The red-hot White Sox ran into Zack Greinke on Monday night.

He cooled them off in a hurry.

Greinke struck out 12 hitters and Daniel Descalso blasted a three-run home run off Miguel Gonzalez as the Arizona Diamondbacks sent the White Sox to a 5-1 loss in front of 18,333 at Chase Field. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the White Sox, who had scored 24 runs in their final two games against the Seattle Mariners.

“(Greinke) keeps the ball down out of the zone a lot,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s kind of enticing. He keeps the ball in the hitter’s area and it ends up falling out. It’s one of those things that you’ve got to try to get him up. Our approach was to try to make him throw a lot of strikes. He ended up hammering the strike zone early and then finally he just came into a groove.”

Descalso’s three-run shot off Gonzalez was one of two pitches the White Sox right-hander would have liked back. After Gonzalez walked Chris Owings with two outs in the fourth inning, his only free pass of the night, he left the curveball over the middle and Descalso deposited it in the right-center field stands to break a scoreless tie.

He also left a pitch up to Paul Goldschmidt in the sixth inning and the All-Star first baseman ripped it for a solo shot.

But overall Gonzalez rebounded from his previous two starts when he walked nine batters. He was sharp for three innings as he faced one over the minimum. He just missed to Owings in the fourth, which brought up Descalso.

Gonzalez allowed five runs (four earned) and seven hits in five innings.

“You see what happens when you walk guys,” Gonzalez said. “That wasn’t in a good situation to walk the guy. You have to keep grinding, keep making my pitches. Really two pitches were the ones that hurt me tonight. A lot of positives. Nothing to worry about. Keep working hard and things are going to go my way.

“Sometimes things don’t go your way. Those two pitches, if I take those back, you never know. It’s a different ballgame.”

Not only did Greinke strike out a dozen hitters, he limited the White Sox to four hits in 8 2/3 innings.

Omar Narvaez had two hits, the first coming after Greinke opened the game by retiring seven straight batters. Leury Garcia homered off Greinke with one out in the fifth inning to break up his bid for a shutout.

It was quite the turnaround from when the White Sox bashed Yovani Gallardo and Chris Heston on consecutive days in Seattle. The White Sox scored a combined nine first-inning runs in winning three of four against the Mariners.