Ozzie unloads on Ohman; Quentin keeps it cool

Ozzie unloads on Ohman; Quentin keeps it cool

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Posted 8:07 p.m. Updated 8:42 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen remained supportive of beleaguered reliever Will Ohman, who packed a 27.00 ERA with him from Cleveland to Kansas City. But that doesnt mean he was unwilling to give the crafty lefty a kick in the hiney.

Hes hereI have to use him. Weve got only 11 pitchers, Guillen said before the White Sox faced the Royals on Tuesday. I dont have the luxury to matchup Ohman to lefties. Maybe later on I will. But hes got to get his head out of his a.

Guillen was speaking soberly, but with a smile, knowing full well that the White Soxs 2-1 start has been somewhat shadowed by the troubles his bullpen has encountered. The poster boy for those troubles so far has been Ohman, a nine-year veteran signed this offseason to a two-year, 4 million deal.

I dont want to punish the kid, Guillen continued. He had what, two bad games? He knows that, we all know that. Im not going to change anything. I dont care what the fans think or what the media says. Its my problem He needs to pitch.

Ohman, while clearly scuffling in Cleveland, pronounced himself fully healthy and ready for more relief work, ASAP. His usual wry manner accompanied his diagnosis of the Wahoos series: When you throw the ball over the middle of the plate, guys hit it, and thats what it was. When I left the ball up, they hit it, and when I left the ball over the middle, they hit it.

Especially considering his team broke camp with just 11 pitchers, Guillen knows how important a productive Ohman is.

We need him pitching, he said. If hes not going to help us, well put people in his place that will I want to show this kid I still have confidence in him and that he can get people out. I still believe he can help us.

To that end, Guillen ran Ohman right back out on Sunday after a poor season debut on Opening Day.

The reason I put him back in on Sunday was to let him regroup, Guillen said. We were already losing; giving him another inning gives us a chance to rest the other relievers, but he couldnt do it.

Guillen was aware that he was catching criticism for his use of Ohman in the opening series, and predictably, the confident manager could care less.

I will take the blame every time the kids on the mound, Guillen said. I will take all the heat. Its my problem, however good or bad hes going to pitch.

Carlos Quentin, one day after being named the first AL Player of the Week for his offensive outburst vs. the Cleveland Indians during opening weekend, called the award a nice surprise but couched it in the context of how nice it was, with two wins in Cleveland.

Quentin went 6-for-11 in three starts over the weekend, getting on base at a .583 clip and slugging 1.091 for an outrageous 1.674 OPS. While the White Sox mostly pummeled Wahoos pitching, slugging at a .459 clip, only Adam Dunns eight total bases approached Quentins tidy dozen in Cleveland.

Through three games, Quentin led the AL in batting average (.545) and is tied for the lead in doubles (three) and RBI (seven).

The occasionally-manic right fielder credited an improved mental and emotional approach to the game for his early success.

What I was looking for was a chance to build on things, develop good habits on and off the field, and set a routine I feel comfortable with, day-in and day-out, Quentin said. Thats what I'm going to do, come in here and, for lack of better way to say it, do my work, play the game. Either way it turns out Ill hope for the victory, go home at night and know everything I did was said and done, turn in my card, punch it and come back the next day.

Quentin also credited his veteran teammates for contributing to a more mature and mentally strong approach so far this season. His willingness to learn from them could contribute to more than one Player of the Week honor this season, as Quentin is the consummate strap-Sox-on-his-back slugger.

There are great mentors on this team, professionals playing longer than I have, Quentin said. Im always watching and always want to treat every day the same, whether it be good or bad. I want to learn and pay attention to people who are successfultry to pay attention to and copy them.

Quentin's new approach

Carlos Quentin, one day after being named the first AL Player of the Week for his offensive outburst vs. the Cleveland Indians during opening weekend, called the award a nice surprise but couched it in the context of how nice it was, with two wins in Cleveland.

Quentin went 6-for-11 in three starts over the weekend, getting on base at a .583 clip and slugging 1.091 for an outrageous 1.674 OPS. While the White Sox mostly pummeled Wahoos pitching, slugging at a .459 clip, only Adam Dunns eight total bases approached Quentins tidy dozen in Cleveland.

Through three games, Quentin led the AL in batting average (.545) and is tied for the lead in doubles (three) and RBI (seven).

The occasionally-manic right fielder credited an improved mental and emotional approach to the game for his early success.

What I was looking for was a chance to build on things, develop good habits on and off the field, and set a routine I feel comfortable with, day-in and day-out, Quentin said. Thats what I'm going to do, come in here and, for lack of better way to say it, do my work, play the game. Either way it turns out Ill hope for the victory, go home at night and know everything I did was said and done, turn in my card, punch it and come back the next day.

Quentin also credited his veteran teammates for contributing to a more mature and mentally strong approach so far this season. His willingness to learn from them could contribute to more than one Player of the Week honor this season, as Quentin is the consummate strap-Sox-on-his-back slugger.

There are great mentors on this team, professionals playing longer than I have, Quentin said. Im always watching and always want to treat every day the same, whether it be good or bad. I want to learn and pay attention to people who are successfultry to pay attention to and copy them.

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

One year later, White Sox have clear direction, no longer 'mired in mediocrity'

One year later, White Sox have clear direction, no longer 'mired in mediocrity'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been one year since Rick Hahn uttered those three magic words to signal that the White Sox would soon begin a massive rebuild: mired in mediocrity.

Disappointed by another season of middling play despite a roster led with top talent but short on depth, the general manager suggested the White Sox needed a new direction last July 21.

At the time, Hahn only noted that the White Sox were no longer interested in acquiring short-term pieces and they would re-evaluate their future. Ten days later, the front office began a thorough overhaul that has since seen the completion of four franchise-altering deals for young, controllable, top-flight talent by trading reliever Zach Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals for Charlie Tilson. The White Sox sped their rebuild up incrementally in December and have since traded away Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, Tommy Kahnle, Todd Frazier and David Robertson. The series of moves has made it easily apparent where the White Sox are headed.

“It just make it official that it’s a rebuild,” infielder Tyler Saladino said. “You know you’re not in between or what are we going to do? It establishes what’s going on here for everybody.”

The White Sox received a boatload of criticism when the nonwaiver trade deadline passed last Aug. 1 and only Duke had been traded.

One report indicated that the White Sox asked for a “king’s ransom” for Sale, who remained with the club even after his second volatile outburst of the season produced boxes full of slashed throwback jerseys and a five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property. A grade-based ESPN article assigned Hahn an ‘F’ for the failure to begin the rebuild before the deadline. Two weeks later, a reported schism in the front office between Hahn and Kenny Williams over the club’s direction prompted chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to call CSN’s David Kaplan to inform him that his decision makers were “in lockstep” and the team’s decision would be easy to detect soon enough.

And just like that it was.

The White Sox switched managers in October, hiring development-oriented Rick Renteria only a day after Robin Ventura walked away. A month later, Hahn spelled it out again at the GM meetings that the White Sox intended to get younger.

And then the exodus began. First went Sale. Then Eaton. There was a brief interlude as the club signed Cuban free agent Luis Robert for $52 million in May. But the exits have since continued with the trades of Quintana, Frazier, Kahnle and Robertson.

“The fact that they've been able to do as much as they have in this short period of time is kind of impressive,” Renteria said. “We're sad to see a lot of the guys (go) that were here with us because they were good White Sox. But everybody knows the direction we're going in and we still go out there and play to try to get a ballgame every single day, so that's part of the process.”

First baseman Jose Abreu said he understands the process and has bought into what Hahn and Co. are selling. Abreu looks at the organization as a whole and believes the White Sox, who now possess 10 of the top 68 prospects in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com, are in better shape than they were a year ago. So even if the team is headed for an ugly final two months, Abreu believes it’ll be worth it.

“We all know that in this process you are going to rough moments and you’re going to feel sometimes like things aren’t going the way they are supposed to go, especially with the trades,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “But if you see now we are a much better organization, especially with all of the young talent we are getting. That’s part of the process too. You are pointing up to the future. All of those positions are for the future, and we are looking for good things to come.”

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Adam Engel stepped into the batter’s box for his first major league at-bat in May armed with a batting stance that, to say the least, wasn’t conventional. 

Engel’s hands were pushed far away from his body and were level with his head. His bat pointed straight up in the air, and his right (back) arm was raised above his left (front) one. On first glance, you had to wonder — how can that be comfortable? 

“That’s something that I probably wouldn’t coach a little kid to do,” Engel said. 

But there was a well-thought-out method to Engel’s stance. He used the word “tension” in describing what he was trying to avoid by thrusting his hands high and away from his body. And as White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson noted, nobody does anything well when they’re tight. 

“The closer I get my hands to my body, I tend to grab the bat a little harder, which causes a chain reaction I don’t want,” Engel said. “As long as my hands get to where I want them before I start swinging, that’s the goal.”

Since arriving in the majors two months ago, though, Engel has lowered his hands and dropped his back elbow. Here’s the difference in his stances between his first career hit (May 27) and his first career home run (June 25)

And almost a month later, Engel's gradually brought his hands lower:

For a rookie, tinkering with hand placement can be hazardous. But Engel’s batting stance has been a work in progress for a while now, as evidenced by what it was back in spring training of 2016:

Even during spring training in 2017, Engel’s stance was closer to what it was in 2016 than what it was when he made his major league debut:

But here’s the point Steverson made about all those tweaks and changes: As long as it helps Engel get the barrel of his bat to the point of contact, who cares how it looks before the swing?

“At the point of contact, 99.9 percent of every hitter looks the same,” Steverson said. “… How you get it done is based upon timing and your inner functions. But can I get it to here on time is what it’s all about. There’s many myriad ways of doing that. You’re not going to teach somebody to do that because there’s not their functions. 

“… You got guys (in basketball) taking free throws different — did it go in the bucket or did it not go in the bucket? It’s kind of the same way with hitting. Can I get the barrel to the point of contact or can I not get the barrel to the point. And that’s the end of the story.”

The 25-year-old Engel is still trying to find his way through his first major league season, hitting .233 with a .317 on-base percentage and a below-average .650 OPS.  But he’s had some sporadic positive results, like his four-hit game against the Minnesota Twins June 22. 

There’s a fine line between finding a batting stance and hand placement that you’re comfortable with and tinkering too much, especially for a player as green as Engel. But he’ll continue to put in the work trying to find something that will yield consistent success — and that may mean another batting stance that sticks out. 

“it’s just pregame work, watch a lot of video on the starter before the games and then try to work all my work pregame, batting practice, swings in the cage, try to have a mindset that I’m going to have in the game,” Engel said. “Work on the mindset, and then when I step in the box, it’s as close to practice as it can be.”