Pierre paces Sox victory in rain-shortened contest

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Pierre paces Sox victory in rain-shortened contest

Saturday, October 2, 2010
Updated 10:27 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

CHICAGO It has been the almost interminable refrain from Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen: Speed, speed and more speed, supported by a smattering of iconic clichs, like speed never has a slump.

While its ironic that Guillen has often been saddled with teams that could accomplish little more than station-to-station, automaton baserunning, this season, running was in order. Ozzies band of brusque baserunners have swiped 158 bags on the season, the most since 1992 (160), and stand a fair chance of edging even that Tim Raines-led club with one game left.

Carving a war path on the basepaths has been Juan Pierre, with 66 steals heading into the Saturdays action, the second-most in White Sox history.

Guillen has been singing Pierres praises all season long, and has positively flipped his wig as summer has switched to fall. More than once in recent weeks hes placed Pierre on his short list (two or three) of all-time favorite players. Before tonights game, he went so far as to say that if he had a son entering the major leagues, hed want him to play just like Juan Pierre.

Guillens favorite base-snagger added a bag on Saturday nighthis second steal of home plate in the past two weeksto register the first White Sox run in an eventual rain-shortened, 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Pierre walked to lead off the game and then used his speed to terrorize Wahoos shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera into an error on Omar Vizquels apparent double-play grounder.

Cabrera knows hes got to get rid of it with me, and Omar still runs pretty good too, so Cabrera definitely has a quick decision to make, Pierre said. It looked like he was trying to flip it to second and it didnt come out. Youve got to put pressure on the defense, and it worked out well for us in that first inning.

Pierre scooted to third on Paul Konerkos fly out to Shin-Soo Choo in mid-right, setting up the double-steal.

Today was an easy onesecond baseman Jayson Nix didnt even make a throw, said Pierre, who estimated he had one or two steals of home before 2010 but has never had a straight steal of home plate. Those are always good, steals when you dont have to slide.

In the White Sox dugout, Guillen leaned back and smiled, giddy with the whip-smart speed in front of him.

Pierre is a game away from becoming the second player in baseball history (along with Ron LeFlore) to lead both the American and National Leagues in stolen bases, as well as becoming the first White Sox player since Luis Aparicio in 1961 to lead the majors in steals.

Inspired by its pesky leadoff man, Chicagos scrappy O scored a second run without benefit of a hit, as in the second inning Tyler Flowers led off with a walk, was advanced on grounders by Brent Morel and Alejandro De Aza and scored on a wild pitch from Wahoos starter Carlos Carrasco.

We scored two runs without a hit, just like in 2005 when youd look up on the board and wed be winning every game without a hit, a guy would get on with a walk, stolen base, sac fly, wed be up, White Sox starter Mark Buehrle said.

Strangely, the semi-comic tone of the early game was set well before the blustery, wet weather better suited for gridiron than diamond set in. Cleveland even managed to tie the score under strange circumstances in the third, plating one in standard fashion on a Cabrera single but earning the equalizer off of a Buehrle balk that scored Michael Brantley.

Again, Buehrle saw comparisons to Chicagos title season: It was kind of like 2005Carrasco had a no-hitter in the fourth inning, and were tied 2-2.

But in that fourth inning, Chicago surged ahead for good, as De Aza doubled and Brent Lillibridge plated two on a single. Dayan Viciedo finished out the White Sox scoring by spanking a solo shot to left in the sixth.

The rain delay started at 7:52 p.m., just after Buehrle had completed his warm-ups for the seventh inning, prompting the southpaw to mock-slam his glove to the ground as teammates walked off of the field. Why?

I was trying for 100 strikeouts, which is kind of embarrassing, you have 33 starts and cant strike out 100 guys, but obviously Im not a strikeout pitcher, Buehrle said. I needed four today, and every time I got two strikes on a guy you heard the whole bench yelling, like, Cmon, one more strikeout!. Seems I get two strikes on guys, but I dont have that put-away pitch.

The record-denying rain delay lasted 1:03 before the game was called, at 8:55 p.m., granting Buehrle a .500 season (13-13) and the White Sox their eighth win in 10 games.

Magic Number: 526

Pierre now has 526 career stolen bases, good for 30th on the all-time list and trailing 29th-place Herman Long by 11.

Final Word

I was hoping to get out there for one more inning and try to get a strikeout, but when you have 201 innings to get 100 and you dont get it, its just not meant to be.Buehrle on finishing the 2010 season with 99 strikeouts.

Tomorrow on the Mound

The White Sox send out Edwin Jackson, who is 3-2 with a 3.25 ERA since coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks in July. Jackson has been an Indians killer in his career, going 6-1 with a 2.63 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 2.19 KBB. The 2.63 ERA is Jacksons lowest against any team hes pitched against in at least four games. In nine career games at U.S. Cellular Field, Jackson is 2-3 with a 4.24 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 2.18 KBB. And in SeptemberOctober starts, Jackson is 10-14 in his career with a 6.05 ERAa mark nearly a run worse than any other month of his careerand a 1.63 WHIP and 1.73 KBB.

Cleveland runs out Justin Germano, who is 0-2 with a 2.16 ERA on the season. The righty has pitched just two career innings vs. the White Sox, with an 0-1 record and 13.50 ERA, his worst mark against any major league team. While never having pitched in U.S. Cellular Field, Germano is a fairly horrific 0-6 in his career SeptemberOctober starts, with a 6.48 ERA, 1.61 WHIP and 2.31 KBB.

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

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As he surveyed the landscape this offseason, Peter Bourjos thought he and the White Sox would make for a good fit.

Adam Eaton had been traded and Austin Jackson departed via free agency, leaving the White Sox with Melky Cabrera and several young players to man a thin outfield. Bourjos, who lived in Chicago until second grade, pursued the White Sox and last month agreed to terms on a minor-league deal in hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Bourjos, who was born in Chicago, hit .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 383 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I always liked playing in Chicago,” Bourjos said. “It was a good fit and then spring training is here. I have two young kids. So packing them up and going to Florida wasn’t something I wanted to do either.

“We definitely look at all those options on paper. Evaluate what might be the best chance of making a team and this is definitely one of them. It seems like a good fit on paper.”

If he’s healthy enough, Charlie Tilson will get the first crack at the everyday job in center field. Tilson, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring, is currently sidelined for 10 days with foot problems. Beyond Tilson, the White Sox have prospects Adam Engel and Jacob May with Cabrera slated to start in left field and Avisail Garcia pegged for right. Leury Garcia is also in the mix.

But there still appears to be a good shot for Bourjos to make the club and manager Rick Renteria likes his veteran presence for the young group. Bourjos has accrued six seasons of service time between the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

“Bourjy has been around,” Renteria said. “He knows what it takes. He understands the little nuances of major-league camp and how we have so many players and we want to give them all a look. We want to see Bourjos, we want to see him out there.”

Bourjos, who turns 30 in March, has an idea what he wants to do with his chance. A slick defensive outfielder, Bourjos wants to prove he’s a better hitter than his .243/.300/.382 slash line would suggest. He said it’s all about being relaxed.

“Offensively just slow everything down and not try to do too much,” Bourjos said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it hasn’t translated. I think last year I got in a spot where I just tried to relax in the batter’s box and let everything go and what happened happened. I had success with that.

“I now realize what that feels like and it doesn’t work. Just take a deep breath and be relaxed in the box and good things are going to happen.”