Sox Drawer: A.J. prefers tougher Bacon

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Sox Drawer: A.J. prefers tougher Bacon

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011
Posted 5:25 p.m. Updated 6:30 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz - In his first two major league seasons, Gordon Beckham took a page out of the Marv Albert School of Broadcasting by saying Yesss! to everything.

Fans, media, appearances, photo shoots, ice cream socials... you name it.

So on the day he reported to spring training - almost a week before his official reporting date - Beckham had a message waiting for him from teammate A.J. Pierzynski: Just say no.

Hes got a locker next to me, so Im trying to teach him to be more mean and tell people no sometimes, said Pierzynski, an expert in the art of saying no.

In the six years Ive covered him, Pierzynski (one of my favorite White Sox players) has given me every excuse in the book to not do an interview.

I have to work out.
I have to make a phone call.
I have to do something.
I have to do nothing.

Ive heard it all.

A.J. can also be extremely accomodating and gives some of the best interviews around - I think he knows it - so its worth getting turned down from time to time. Its actually become quite entertaining. On Wednesday Pierzynski said no to a pack of TV reporters, and then came back an hour later to give some of the best sound of the day - thats A.J.

But back to Beckham.

After his scorching White Sox debut in 2009 when he batted .270 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs in 103 games, Beckham came into last season treated like the second coming. He didnt believe the hype, nor the struggles that came next, which completely blind-sided him.

Ive got something to prove, said Beckham, standing at his locker with an additional 10 pounds of muscle added, not just to his body, but likely his brain too. I was probably more comfortable last year (at spring training), but I think thats a good thing. Last year I was probably too comfortable, lets just put it that way.

The season began with Beckham batting .235 in April, which wasnt a big deal until May came around and things only got worse. He hit just .159.

The rookie sensation was officially in a sophomore slump. There was even talk of possibly sending him down to the minor leagues. And when you add on the expectations, playing a new position, and a spotlight that was starting to burn a hole right through him, the heat was almost too much to take.

He didnt know what he was in for, Pierzynski said. Thats why you look at people who have the second year where theyre like, Oh man. Not neccessarily because their talent is gone or they tried less, I just think they just get in a situation where theyre spread too thin. Its not only his fault, its the organization, people outside, your mom, your dad, its everyone.

"I went through it and everyone went through it where you have that year and people are like... you can do this and you can do that. We need you to do this appearance, we need you to do this interview, and you want say yes to everybody.

In a way, thats what the White Sox did this off-season in regards to free agency. They shattered their piggy bank by signing lefty slugger Adam Dunn, and brought back Pierzynski and Paul Konerko, two pivotal mentors to Beckham.

To get Paul back and get A.J. back, these guys helped me come up, and helped me last year with my struggles, Beckham said. As a young guy, I didnt want to be in here with no Paul, no A.J., no Adam Dunn. We subtract those guys, you never know what this season is going to look like.

So how does Beckham look so far.... just hours into camp?

I like the way hes talking. I like the way hes acting, Pierzynski said. Hes got a different mind set this year, and thats good. I look forward to him coming out and having a great year, and as long as you guys dont annoint him the second coming of Babe Ruth, well be alright.

But can Gordon, the ultimate people person, actually say no to the people?

"I do need to learn."

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk rips Lackey, Swarzak traded, Coop misses Q

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Hawk rips Lackey, Swarzak traded, Coop misses Q

After a wild day at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, Chuck Garfien and Dan Hayes discuss John Lackey hitting four White Sox batters and also play Hawk Harrelson's epic on-air rant directed at the Cubs pitcher.

"Jeff the Sox Fan" appears on the podcast and suggests what he thinks Jose Abreu should have done to Lackey when he was hit for a second time.

While they taped the podcast, Anthony Swarzak was traded to the Brewers. What kind of return did the White Sox get? Garfien also interviews White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper about losing Quintana to the Cubs, why he can't watch Quintana and Chris Sale pitch in different uniform, when some minor leaguers like Reynaldo Lopez will be called up and more.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

How White Sox aggressive deadline strategy paid off in Anthony Swarzak trade

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AP

How White Sox aggressive deadline strategy paid off in Anthony Swarzak trade

The White Sox jumped out ahead of a crowded reliever market once again and traded Anthony Swarzak to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.

The White Sox acquired 25-year-old outfielder Ryan Cordell from the Brewers in exchange for the veteran reliever, a baseball source confirmed. The No. 17 prospect in the Brewers farm system, Cordell was hitting .284/.349/.506 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 292 plate appearances at Triple-A Colorado Springs this season.

A nonroster invitee to big league camp this spring, Swarzak was 4-3 with a 2.23 ERA, one save and 52 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings this season. He’s the third reliever the White Sox have traded since the second half began as they also dealt David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the New York Yankees with Todd Frazier on July 18.

TA free agent after the season, Swarzak has fared extremely well in high-leverage situations, stranding 26 of the 35 runners he had inherited. He pitched in two high-leverage spots in the team’s previous two games, earning his first career save Monday. Swarzak, whose 9.68 strikeouts per nine is a career high, also earned a hold on Sunday in Kansas City.

“I’ve been waiting for that opportunity for a long time,” Swarzak said of Monday’s save. “It’s nice that I went in there and got it done. You think about that moment for years and then it finally happens. You just are trying to take a step back and reflect on what just happened, and I’ll be able to come in tomorrow and be ready to go.”

Two American League scouts said Monday that Swarzak still had good trade value even though he’s viewed as a rental. While he wouldn’t likely net the White Sox a top-150 prospect, they could wrangle a “good” minor-leaguer in a deal. One element that could have potentially derailed the White Sox was an abundance of strong relief options in the market, perhaps as many as 20 pitchers.

[MORE: Carlos Rodon frustrated again after a weird start

After the White Sox traded Robertson and Kahnle, general manager Rick Hahn indicated they moved the pair early in anticipation of a competitive marketplace when they acquired Blake Rutherford and others from the New York Yankees. The Baltimore Orioles are a team that could have wreaked havoc on the relief market if they decide to sell -- something one AL source said they’ve gone back and forth on every day -- because they could flood it with Zach Britton and others.

The move is the third made by the White Sox in a span of two weeks, including the trade of Jose Quintana to the Cubs on July 13. The White Sox still have several veterans on the roster who could draw trade interest, including starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez.

“We are still open for business,” Hahn said last week.

Today’s Knuckleball’s Jon Heyman first reported the deal that sent Swarzak to the Brewers. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal initially reported the teams’ were discussing a trade for Swarzak.