Ozzie-Kenny 2011: Summer of Love starts now

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Ozzie-Kenny 2011: Summer of Love starts now

Friday, Jan. 21, 2011
8:06 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

In direct contrast to the stormy 2010 season that both men now admittedly regret, Fridays State of the Sox session from Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Ken Williams could be described as nothing short of a lovefest.

The frank and honest session opened to a rousing ovation, after Williams announced that just minutes earlier he had told Guillen that the club was picking up the managers option for 2012, keeping the White Soxs third-winningest manager (career record: 600-535) in town for at least two more years.

Hopefully I manage here for the rest of my career, Guillen said, recounting that when he called his wife, Ibis, with the news, she started crying. Its what Ive always wanted.

Williams, after cracking a joke about whether Ibis was crying tears of joy or sadness, tossed out a tantalizing bon mot.

Providing we can get back to basics and focus, Williams said, I hope to extend Ozzie for the rest of his and my career.

After the seminar, Williams expounded on Guillens future in Chicago.

We have to sit down and we all have to talk about it, he said. What wed like to ultimately do is make sure were all on the same page, traveling down the same course and some of the other, peripheral things are no longer factors. Ive got confidence in every one of these coaches, but this was the first order of business. Now we have to take care of the next set of business winning.

Williams insisted that while he feels his tombstone will read, just one more move to make, and that his roster is never set, for the time being hes content with the 2011 White Sox.

I kind of like where we are, he said. I don't want to subtract from the team. Any deal will have to come from our depth in the minors.

The closest the seminar came to teeth-grinding came after a fan asked about the Twins, specifically the cowering the White Sox do at the hands of Minnesota. As Williams bit his tongue the triumphs of the Twins are more vexing than any to him Guillen responded with characteristic frankness.

While sympathetic to the fan, he said the Jim Thome game-winning home run off Matt Thornton and the Sunday, fall-from-ahead, getaway loss to end that first series after the All-Star break were the two toughest losses of the season, Guillen said his job was harder, because he had to fly to Kansas City after that game with his team.

The plane was silent, Guillen said, noting that the postgame celebration from Minnesota really irritated him and stuck with him all season long. Those two games crushed the ballclub.

As the session wore on, the rapport between Guillen and Williams got more and more relaxed as well. Near its end, Guillen recounted one of his two crazy moves in 2010, and Williams interrupted you made more than two crazy moves.

Other highlights from the State of the Sox seminar:

Jarred by the sight of a half-empty room, someone in the crowd said that it was because fans instead chose to attend Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko autograph sessions. Guillen: I dont blame them."When the first fan question involved the White Sox offense and involved calling ex-White Sox player Nick Swisher a tool, Guillen leaned over to get explanation of the term from Williams, then broke into a smile.Both men stood steadfastly behind mercurial outfielder Carlos Quentin. Guillen repeated his comments to Spanish media on Thursday, that Quentin is the key to the White Sox. Williams called Quentin a Sportscenter guy, explaining that he didnt want to trade Quentin and then have to be haunted by nightly highlights of him playing well for another team.Guillen offered a bizarre explanation of why hes always changing his cell phone number, to which Williams retorted, Como se dice too much information? Soon thereafter, the GM led a rousing serenade of Happy Birthday in honor of Guillens 47th birthday, celebrated on Thursday.Guillen on shortstop Alexei Ramirezs slow starts: When youre from Cuba, 60 degrees is like negative-2. The jefe added that he felt Ramirez was the best shortstop in the American League, and that Ramirez and second baseman Gordon Beckham will be the best double-play combination in baseball.Andruw Jones was on Williams radar, but the team (finally) ran out of money.Williams was excited to recount a mammoth home run hit in Atlanta by Adam Dunn, but Guillen earned some laughs by telling his boss, I dont care how far he hits oneI want Dunn to hit 50 short homers. Also from Ozzie: One thing people overlook about Dunn is he hits to the opposite field hes going to be fun to watch."When a fan started a question with Manny Ramirez, Williams immediately blurted, sorry! to great laughter and applause. Fan: apology accepted.Before giving him a chance to answer a question about the 2011 AL Central competition, Williams put the hammer down: Dont say anything that could go national.Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

Lucas Giolito striving to contribute to White Sox 'as soon as possible'

At one point, it was looking like Lucas Giolito could be headed to the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale.

But when Sale was dealt to the Boston Red Sox, Giolito's name was in the clear of rumors — until 29 hours later, when the Nationals' top prospect would be headed to Chicago in a different trade, which sent outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington.

“It’s kind of like the world we live in now. Social media is always out there and everything is on Twitter,” Giolito said in a conference call Friday. “I saw my name being mentioned on Twitter for Chris Sale. I know with the winter meetings all sorts of stuff being thrown around. I was just trying to focus on what I’m doing in this offseason which is lifting and all my workouts. Kind of just whatever happens, happens. 

“It’s funny that Sale ended up going to the Red Sox and something else happens that I’m going to the White Sox now with a couple teammates. It’s really interesting stuff but I’m super excited.”

The move for Rick Hahn & Co. to acquire Giolito was the second major trade to begin the White Sox rebuilding process. But Giolito didn't come alone.

In addition, the White Sox received Reynaldo Lopez — who Giolito has played with since 2014 — and the Nationals' 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning.

"I definitely think it’s amazing to be coming over to the White Sox with a bunch of young talent," Giolito said. "I think it’s a great opportunity for us to all develop and get better and hopefully put a really good team together in Chicago. Definitely excited to be coming over with a couple guys from my previous organization."

[MORE: Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right]

Giolito went 6-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.28 WHIP across three minor-league levels this past season. He admitted his mechanics weren't quite in sync and is looking to improve on that.

"Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe I let too much get out of whack last year," Giolito said. "So this year with my training program I have in this offseason — lifting and Pilates and everything — I’m just trying to make sure that I can stay as athletic as possible so I’m able to repeat the right delivery more often. Once I start playing catch and doing bullpens and everything these next few weeks, right before spring training, I’m going to make sure I put that all together so I can repeat my delivery as best as possible."

His struggles continued when he got to The Show.

In his major-league debut on June 28, Giolito held the New York Mets to just one hit over four scoreless innings before a rain delay cut his night short. That turned out to be his most effective outing of the season as he finished the year with an 0-1 record, 6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP in six games with the Nationals, four of them being starts.

"(My MLB debut) didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked it to go, obviously, as you look at the numbers and everything," he said, "but I feel that with the White Sox now (and) getting traded and everything, it’s kind of like a fresh opportunity and a new start to get up to the big leagues again and contribute and do everything I can to stay there as well."

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Despite his low numbers, the 22-year-old Giolito believes he's ready to play on the White Sox main roster as soon as next season.

"I’ve had some experience in the big leagues last year," Giolito said. "Especially last year, I took a lot positives away because I did experience such a good amount of failure in a lot of I’d say like hardship when I made it up and didn’t perform up to what I believe is my best capabilities.

"I’ve pitched a good amount of innings in the minor leagues and I’ve had a little experience in the big leagues so I’m just really looking forward to making it up in the big leagues with the White Sox and contributing as soon as possible."

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

Rick Hahn, White Sox prepared to make more 'painful decisions' if the price is right

That Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada have reunited is a nice story, but it won't dramatically change the mindset of the rebuilding White Sox, who earlier this week demonstrated they aren't messing around.

Abreu said in a statement issued by the White Sox on Friday that he's "very happy" about the prospect of again playing alongside Moncada, who played 12 games with the star slugger in 2012 for Cienfuegos in the Cuban National Series. Moncada, 21, is the centerpiece of a four-player package acquired from the Boston Red Sox for Chris Sale on Tuesday, a toolsy infielder who MLB.com has rated as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

While the concept of Abreu mentoring Moncada has plenty of merit — the first baseman's work ethic is outstanding, and he's beloved by coaches and teammates — don't think the White Sox would hesitate to trade him if someone paid the right price. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn just spent four days at the Winter Meetings discussing how a team that just traded away its best pitcher and position player remains open to listening to all offers and is prepared to do what is must to get the franchise healthy again. 

"We're extremely open-minded on ways to continue the process that we started," Hahn said earlier this week, adding that the White Sox "have to make some painful decisions."

The White Sox have grown tired of never having all the pieces — or even more than a few — to fill the holes created by injury, poor performance, etc. They want to be flush with young talent and essentially have said anything that isn't nailed down at Guaranteed Rate Field is available with the exceptions of Tim Anderson and Carlos Rodon.

The team wants to cash in on the chips it possesses.

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While they don't have a ton, the few the White Sox have could help expedite a rebuild process as the Sale and Eaton trades have shown. Those deals brought back seven players, including three who played at the big league level last season (Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez). Some of those players potentially would start 2017 in the big leagues, and that possibility increases the internal value of Abreu and starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who is equally revered among teammates and coaches for his dedication and team-first mentality. 

Having those young players see firsthand what it takes to excel in the majors from veteran teammates is invaluable. Abreu, who arrived in the United States from Cuba in late 2013, addressed that point in his statement about Moncada, who signed with Boston in 2015.

"Moncada is a five-tool player," Abreu said. "He really has everything needed to succeed, and I know that with the proper guidance of veteran players and coaches with experience he can become an All-Star caliber player."

"He is going to make a huge impact in the White Sox organization, and both the fans and the team will be thankful.

"I already spoke with him to welcome him to the team. I told him that I'm going to be there for him for everything that he needs on and off the field."

In a conference call Wednesday, Moncada said he's "thrilled" to once again play with Abreu. Whether they will hasn't yet been determined.

When asked about Moncada's 2017 starting point earlier in the week, Hahn said the 21-year still needs to develop. Moncada appeared in eight big league games last season for Boston and struggled with contact, striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances. But that promotion came after a meteoric rise through Boston's farm system, an aggressive path that included only 45 games played above High-A. Nothing has been announced, but it appears Moncada will receive an invite to big league camp next spring and be seated near Abreu in the clubhouse. 

Still, Hahn sounds like he intends for Moncada to spend much of 2017 refining his approach in the minors. He also has demonstrated he is willing to dig deep and make more painful moves if it betters the team in the long run, all of which means the White Sox wouldn't hesitate to trade Abreu or Quintana if they get what they want.