Poetry in Pros: Guillen stays, Williams goes

Poetry in Pros: Guillen stays, Williams goes

Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010
8:46 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Given the controversies that have hounded Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen almost from the beginning of the season, he cant be blamed for wondering whether he will always be welcome at U.S. Cellular Field.

But the feisty skipper currently piloting the second-place club in the American League Central once again made it clear on Thursday that for as much bravado as he packs in his belief that if he ever was fired, he wouldnt be out of work long, he didnt plan to manage elsewhere anytime soon.

I was looking for a house in Chicago this morning. People think Im lying, Guillen said. I have a beautiful house back in Miami and in Caracas Venezuela, but Chicago is the place I live the most.

Guillen is currently signed to manage the White Sox through the 2011 season, and the team holds an option to extend him to 2012. While Guillen doesnt claim hed pout over an extension, clearly hed like to be rewarded for his consistently good work in the managers chair, emphasizing today how happy he was that his team had bounced back from a 9.5 games deficit to reach first place and remain in close contention3.5 gamesin the American League Central.

I like competition. I like to compete, Guillen said. I like people to ask me questions and second-guess me. I like people to hate me. I like that. Why not? Im not a perfect guy. Some people love me, some people hate me. I like that. I like to compete and make those players compete.

Guillens tardy pregame sessionwhich found media members waiting for a good half-hour in the dugout, then herded into his managers office, then back out to the dugout after the managers meeting with GM Ken Williams went overtimequickly took on a bit of a dissertational direction.

Asked how was feeling in a season that seemed especially trying both on and off the field, the Chisox jefe again replied with total honesty.

My energy, its good, Guillen said. It could be worse. Right now, Im fighting through it the dog days, and Im fine. Sometimes you leave this ballpark like, My God, wow, Im bad and tired of it, but then you go to sleep and come back and come back with the same energy.

The day I dont want to come here, I will retire. Ill send you media a note: Thank you for the support, Ill see you guys later. You know when I feel bad? When I walk from the car to the ballpark and you see those guys, the vendorsthey are pulling for us because the only way they make money is when we win.

Youre in this game for two reasonsto put a ring on your finger and get players to play well for you.

While Guillen again reiterated that he didnt need any new players to take the AL Central away from the Minnesota Twins (Im very happy with this ballclub I dont want anybody else), Williams is charged with examining every possible acquisition that could spell the difference between first and second place at seasons end.

To wit, the GM was less giddy than Guillen over the White Sox, saying before Thursdays game that, Theyll give me confidence when they string together some wins.

Williams also expressed a bit of exasperation at the consistent questioning about X or Y player, saying, People dont understand, but everybody goes through waivers, every year. If youre in the major leagues, youre put on waivers.

The GM acknowledged that while an ideal waiver claim would be of the Alex Rios 2009 variety, a player who could help both now and in the long term, such now-and-later players are rare on the wire.

And as for the concern that a certain playerdont just think Manny Ramirezmight be out of Chicagos range money-wise (a Rios concern in 2009 as well), Williams said, its less about money. Were looking at walk-up ticket sales every day, but owner Jerry Reinsdorf hasnt given me any monetary restrictions.

However, in case you think Williams took any joy getting out into the soothing, open air of the ballpark only to be hounded with questions about this and that waiver claim, well, the genial GM concluded his session thusly: And these are my waiver wire answers for tomorrow, too.

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

Anthony Ranaudo becomes first White Sox pitcher since Mark Buehrle to hit a home run

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USA Today Sports Images

Anthony Ranaudo becomes first White Sox pitcher since Mark Buehrle to hit a home run

Anthony Ranaudo hadn’t reached base in eight major league plate appearances and hadn’t got a hit since his high school days in New Jersey. He didn't have any at-bats in the minor leagues, and wasn't given an opportunity to hit while playing for college baseball powerhouse LSU. 

But in his second trip to the plate in the White Sox 8-1 loss to the Cubs Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Ranaudo lifted a solo home run into the right field bleachers off right-hander Jason Hammel. It was a bizarre (in a good way) moment for a guy who also took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against one of baseball’s best offenses. 

“I figured it was going over Heyward’s head,” Ranaudo said. “I thought it was a double at first. I thought it got stuck in the ivy and I kind of pulled up at second base. I looked back at (the White Sox dugout) and realized it was a home run, from the way everybody was reacting and stuff, and I had to finish out the jog. I think it took me a little longer than I wanted it to, but it was a good experience. It was fun.”

Ranaudo last homered nine years ago as a senior at St. Rose High School (Belmar, N.J.), where he actually once faced White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier (Toms River, N.J.) during a state tournament as a freshman. He also blasted a home run in the New Jersey state championship game as a sophomore in 2005. 

With his fifth-inning solo home run, Ranaudo became the first White Sox pitcher to homer since Mark Buehrle blasted a dinger against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on June 14, 2009. He joined Buehrle and right-hander Jon Garland as the only White Sox pitchers to hit a home run in the designated hitter era (1973-present). 

Ranaudo also became the first pitcher to homer in his White Sox debut since Jack Salveson went deep in a 16-11 loss to the Washington Senators on June 14, 1935. He’s also only the second American League pitcher to homer at Wrigley Field, joining Detroit Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris, who took one out on Aug. 19, 2015. 

Ranaudo, who entered Wednesday with a 17.18 ERA in 2016, had his one-man show spoiled by home runs he allowed to Kris Bryant and Javier Baez. But the former first-round pick out of LSU still won’t forget his White Sox debut thanks to his no-hit bid and mighty wallop. 

“Yeah, that was definitely cool,” Ranaudo said. “Definitely something I’ll remember the rest of my life.”

White Sox pitchers falter late in loss to Cubs

White Sox pitchers falter late in loss to Cubs

That inconsistent White Sox offense has managed to appear at the worst times throughout the 2016 season.

Cubs starter Jason Hammel drew it out on Wednesday night and prevented Anthony Ranaudo from creating his own sterling chapter in Crosstown Cup history.

Hammel stymied the White Sox for seven innings to outpitch Ranaudo, who had a no-hitter for 5 1/3 innings and hit a solo home run in his White Sox debut. But too much Hammel and a bunch of late offense by the Cubs sent the White Sox to an 8-1 loss in front of 41,166 at Wrigley Field. Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Addison Russell all homered as the Cubs snapped a four-game White Sox winning streak.

“(Hammel) spins it really good,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “His breaking stuff is his bread and butter. Anthony got a fastball, pretty much the only guy to get one really in the zone. You have to be sitting on it, and he can break it both ways.”

Everything was going swimmingly for Ranaudo through five innings.

Not only had he pitched out of a potential first-inning disaster, he hadn’t allowed a hit in two trips through the Cubs lineup. On top of that, Ranaudo’s solo homer off Hammel in the fifth inning gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead. The opposite-field blast was the first career hit for Ranaudo, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers in mid-May.

“He knows how to pitch,” outfielder J.B. Shuck said. “He was mixing up speeds really well. Once he finally settled down here after the first inning, he was locating well and able to throw strikes with all his pitches.”

But Bryant energized the crowd in the sixth inning when he belted a 3-1 curveball from Ranaudo out to left for his 26th homer. Ranaudo rebounded nicely, however, inducing weak fly outs off the bats of Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist to end the sixth.

With the back end of the bullpen still running on fumes, Ranaudo returned for the seventh inning and quickly recorded two outs. But a two-out walk by Jason Heyward set up Baez’s heroics. Baez, who lined out hard to center field in his previous at-bat, worked the count and hammered a 3-2 curveball for a two-run homer to put the Cubs ahead for the first time in three games.

Ranaudo allowed three runs and two hits with four walks in 6 2/3 innings.

But the Cubs turned into on in the eighth inning, scoring five times off Carson Fulmer and Jacob Turner, including Russell’s grand slam.

“Definitely something I’ll remember the rest of my life,” Ranaudo said. “The way the game kind of turned, that kind of took a bad turn for us. Definitely a great experience. The atmosphere was electric and thought we played really well for most of the game.”

The White Sox offense couldn’t keep pace against Hammel and Co., who struck out the side in his seventh and final inning. The right-hander only allowed more than one batter to reach base in a single inning once. Todd Frazier doubled with one out in the fourth and Shuck walked. But Hammel, who struck out seven, got Dioner Navarro to fly out and struck out Tyler Saladino.

Hammel allowed five hits and walked two in a 103-pich effort.

It was the 48th time in 101 games the White Sox have scored three or fewer runs and second straight day. They’re 13-35 in those contests.

“(Hammel) was down in the zone, mixing speeds really well and just was locating,” Shuck said. “Wasn’t giving us anything to hit today.”

Cut-fastball key to Miguel Gonzalez's improvement with White Sox

Cut-fastball key to Miguel Gonzalez's improvement with White Sox

Miguel Gonzalez has thrown his cut-fastball more in July than ever before.

The White Sox pitcher thinks the way its complements his repertoire has been critical to his most consistent month in the majors since 2014.

Not only is he 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA in five starts in July, but Gonzalez has increased his strikeout rate by three percent with 26 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings.

The improvement has helped Gonzalez, who next starts Saturday at Minneapolis, develop into either a good back-end rotation option for the White Sox and perhaps even a trade chip. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that the Miami Marlins scouted Gonzalez on Monday when he outpitched Jake Arrieta.

“It has been helping me this year,” Gonzalez said. “Hitters see a fastball out of the hand and at the end it’s already on them. That’s been a big change for me and it’s helping a lot. I’ve been seeing better results.”

His catchers have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cutters Gonzalez has thrown. In four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Gonzalez threw 19 cutters. The pitch is a staple for White Sox hurlers under Don Cooper and Gonzalez took his regular slider and started to throw it harder once he signed a minor-league deal with them in April.

So far this month, Gonzalez has thrown the cutter 119 times, which accounts for 24.59 percent of his pitches, according to brooksbaseball.net. Batters have hit .188 and are slugging just .313.

“It made sense to where if I throw a fastball inside, located, and then I throw that cutter, it’s going to make it a lot harder for a lefty, or a righty, to react on,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve seen swings where they get jammed or break a bat or they swing and miss because they think it’s a fastball and it’s three or four miles an hour slower.”

Always more of a contact pitcher, the addition has -- in the short term -- increased Gonzalez’s strikeout rate to near league average. Before July, Gonzalez struck out 17.1 percent of the batters he had faced in his career. This month, the rate is 20.2 percent.   

Cooper is pleased with the development of Gonzalez. He’s also not surprised to find that Gonzalez’s name has appeared in recent Hot Stove chatter along with James Shields, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, among others.

“Every year this comes up,” Cooper said. “It’s not the first time. People come and go. Trades do happen. Heck, when (Mark) Buehrle left that was a tough one because that was 10 years there. So if Buehrle can leave,anybody can leave. I’ve always said the names change, but the job doesn’t.”

Gonzalez is happy with his current location. He didn’t know what to expect with the White Sox when he signed in April. Suffice it to say, the experience has been better than he could have hoped.

“When you have a free mind, stress free, and you’re on a new team, new environment, things tend to change a little bit and in a good way,” Gonzalez said. “That’s how I feel. I feel comfortable with the team. They welcomed me and now it’s paying off. Hopefully we can get into a nice little stretch and win, a little streak going. That’s what we need right now.”