Chicago White Sox

Opposites attract: Vizquel, Sale set marks in win

Opposites attract: Vizquel, Sale set marks in win

Monday, Sept. 6, 2010
7:40 PM
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT Chris Sale was born on March 30, 1989. Four days later, Omar Vizquel made his major-league debut at shortstop for the Seattle Mariners.

Both players, now members of the Chicago White Sox, set distinctive marks in Mondays 10-inning, 5-4 win in Detroit over the Tigers.

Vizquel played in his 2,832nd game, breaking a tie with Rafael Palmeiro for most games played among players born outside of the United Statesthe rest of the top five are Tony Perez (2,777), Luis Aparicio (2,601) and Julio Franco (2,527).

Its hard to believe through all these years and talking about playing so many games, I look back on my career and it feels like I just started playing five years ago, Vizquel said. All of a sudden you find yourself with a lot of games on you, a lot of hits, a lot of records. Im feeling very proud because I never thought Id be in the big leagues for this long. And its been a very great road for me. Each year was a different challenge.

I take pride because you never know what could happen to you, an injury where you cant rebound and play again. It takes a lot of hours and experience to know your body to be in the place that I am today.

And to think that before the game, no one knew that Vizquelnot even the 43-year-old himselfwas on the verge of such a major milestone.

Well, thats not quite trueit was surprise baseball historian Miguel Cabrera (moonlighting as Detroits first baseman) who approached White Sox first-base coach Omer Munoz with the news. Munoz told Vizquel in the dugout before the game, whereupon Vizquel, surprised, put the record out of his mind for the rest of the game.

But the record that no Chicagoan knew of could have been meant to be broken on Monday. How else can it be explained that Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop who had started just five games there this season, got the call to spell starter Alexei Ramirez?

Theres not many shortstops that get to play that position at 43, Vizquel said. Im happy that Im still able to do that. Even though I have two knee surgeries, Im still able to come back out of that and keep myself in shape to play this year.

All the talk about the record postgame didnt mean that Vizquel still wasnt somewhat surprised by it.

Omer told me when I was sitting on the bench, Vizquel said. I didnt really have an idea and I said, Really, whos the leader? He said he thought Palmeiro was. I never thought Palmeiro played in that many games. People also think the same way about me, which is kind of weird.

Sale, just 21, has flown up the White Soxs depth chart to the extent that he is now spelling 2010 All-Star lefty fireballer Matt Thornton in the pen. In 12 major-league appearances, Sale has logged a 0.66 ERA and 1.39 strikeouts per inning.

Though brimming with confidence, Sale himself has been wowed by his rapid ascendance.

This is far beyond where I thought I was going to be right now, Sale said postgame, appearing fully dried from the traditional beer shower that accompanies a first major-league win. I figured I would get a few chances, up five, down five, stuff like that. Its been awesome. I thank them for how much trust they put and have in me. Its very gratifying.

Sale threw 2 23 innings, his longest professional outing.

I felt fine, Sale said. I didnt throw too much in his last outing, one inning vs. the Boston Red Sox last Saturday. I had a great rest. I felt good today. The first inning, I didnt feel 100 percent but as the game went on, I loosened up a little bit more. I felt like this is one of my better outings.

The southpaw also has earned the respect of the guy who is charged with catching his whip-smart fastball, wicked slider and plus-change.

Hes good, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. Considering he was in college three months ago, for him to be able to do what hes done is pretty darned amazing. You dont see too many guys that are able to do that, especially right out of college, come into the middle of a pennant race and go out and dominate big-league hitters the way he has. Hes got a chance to be pretty special. You can see why he was drafted as high as he was.

More than just his livewire arm, the veteran Pierzynski is impressed with how the wide-eyed rook has carried himselfsomething just as important for a young players long-term prospects.

Sale has been great, Pierzynski said. Hes done everything right since hes been here. Hes gone about everything the right way. So far, so good.

Sale is a very pleasant surprise, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. I loved the way he was throwing. If we couldnt use him again tomorrow I thought why not use him another inning?

Sales guileless pitching has lit up the stat charts and his teammates eyes. And the rookie has done a good job of considering himself one of the very players he had so long admired.

They are all just people, Sale said. They come up and speak with me. They dont treat me like the rookie but like a regular person. Its a lot easier when you speak with them. Its just like a normal conversation. Its a lot easier when you arent thinking, Thats Buehrle, or Thats Manny.

Especially once the kids of today start whispering, Thats Sale.

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

Anthony Rizzo: More than talent needed for successful rebuild

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Anthony Rizzo: More than talent needed for successful rebuild

Nearly eight months into their rebuild, the White Sox have accrued an eye-popping amount of young talent. The franchise continues to receive kudos even in trading a pair of relievers this week to add depth to what might be the best farm system in baseball.

But having the best farm system -- the White Sox have eight of MLBPipeline.com’s top 100 prospects -- won’t mean much until it’s realized.

Well versed on the subject having experienced it on his own, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo acknowledged before Thursday’s 6-3 win over the White Sox just how uncertain the rebuilding process can be. In Rizzo’s eyes, it wasn’t just talent that got the Cubs over the hump, it was timing, too.

“It happened fast, but it could have went the other way, too,” Rizzo said. “We’re lucky with how everything turned out. Plus, a lot of hard work has gone into it.”

[MORE: Aaron Bummer on what it's like to get called up to the majors]

Similar to Yoan Moncada’s arrival last week, Rizzo was the first [hyped prospect to be promoted] after Theo Epstein’s plan went into place. Acquired the previous winter from San Diego, Rizzo reached the majors midway through the 2012 season with the Cubs only a few months into their rebuild. The three-time All-Star didn’t know it at the time, but he was the first new face the Cubs would introduce to their audience. While Rizzo often [was aware of skepticism of Epstein’s plan], he said he never felt the same pressure from fans. Rizzo also said he can understand why not all the Cubs faithful were on board.

“I think I was naïve and happy to be back in the big leagues,” Rizzo said. “You’ve just got to focus on playing baseball and not worry about everything else that you can’t control.

“I didn’t feel (pressure) at all. I know people were calling for the upper front office’s jobs. But they had a plan and they had a vision and they preached it the entire time.”

“As a fan I can understand why you get upset because you want to win. As a fan of football or whatever sport, if my team doesn’t win, I get mad. But obviously they knew what they were doing.”

So far the White Sox fan base has been mostly supportive of Rick Hahn’s efforts and embraced the idea of building through the farm system. But not everyone is on board with a 25-man roster teardown that appears to have the club hurtling toward its first 100-loss season since 1970.

This week’s Crosstown series is a reminder there are tough times ahead for the White Sox.

The Cubs lost a combined 197 games in 2012 and 2013 and 89 games in 2014. The second half of the 2017 season could be extremely difficult for a White Sox club that has traded Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, Jose Quintana, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak and Dan Jennings all since December.

Rizzo thinks the way the Cubs handled those difficulties played into their success in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s life,” Rizzo said. “There are tough times in anything. There are going to be good times and bad times so it’s all about how you approach it and how you handle it.

“We always knew the potential we had, it was just a matter of going out and doing it. Ball’s bouncing your way, calls going your way and staying together.”

Aaron Bummer on what it's like to get called up to the majors

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USA TODAY

Aaron Bummer on what it's like to get called up to the majors

For Aaron Bummer, Thursday was far from a bummer.

While experience continues to pour out the door of the White Sox clubhouse, new opportunities arise with those exits. For the White Sox, openings seem to be arriving every other day and Bummer is the latest to get a chance after Dan Jennings was traded was the Tampa Bay Rays for minor-leaguer Casey Gillaspie on Thursday morning. Jennings is the sixth player traded by the White Sox since July 13 and the fourth reliever.

A left-handed reliever, Bummer started 2017 at Advanced-A Winston-Salem and on Thursday received his third promotion of the season, joining the White Sox before the finale of the Crosstown Cup. Bummer, who missed all of 2015 after he had Tommy John surgery, couldn’t quite believe he was standing in the White Sox clubhouse.

“It’s been kind of a crazy 15 months because about 12 months ago is when I made my debut back from TJ,” Bummer said. “Twelve months ago I was in rookie ball so it’s kind of a crazy turn of events. Could I have ever imagined this, absolutely not.

“To be here right now is unbelievable and an awesome feeling.”

The No. 28 prospect in the White Sox farm system, Bummer posted a 3.31 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 49 innings between Winston-Salem, Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. Bummer’s fastball grades at 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale, sitting between 95-97 mph and touching 99, according to MLBPipeline.com. He also features a 55-grade slider.

The one area that scouts suggest Bummer needs to answer is control as he’s walked 20 batters this season.

“You have to allow them to be who they are,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s still 90 feet to the bases, 60 feet, 6 inches to the bases. It’s kind of a cliché, the Hoosiers rule, it’s the same. “You have to go out and execute pitches and trust the skillset and do it.”

Bummer’s great experience began when he learned the news of his promotion late Wednesday. He awoke his parents, who flew in to Chicago on Thursday, with the news and also told his girlfriend he was headed for the majors.

“it was a whole bundle of emotions for all of us,” Bummer said. “I’ve never been in something like this. I know a lot of these guys since Spring Training. And kind of had that bond and that vibes we are all together and these guys are all good teammates and everybody is pulling for each other. At the end of the day we are all here to win games and hopefully we can do that.”