Sox Drawer: Big Frank frankly speaking

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Sox Drawer: Big Frank frankly speaking

Wednesday, July 28, 20101:19 PM

By Chuck GarfienCSNChicago.com
For the man famously known as the "Big Hurt," Frank Thomas looks back at his legendary White Sox career and remembers the pain he inflicted on so many baseballs.

His 448 home runs, 447 doubles, 1,327 runs and 1,465 RBIs all rank No. 1 in team history.

But for all the damage he did to the White Sox record book, Thomas knows that he left behind wounds that are still being felt in certain quarters of the White Sox franchise and its fan base, lesions that the ultra-competitive Thomas acknowledges were created during his playing career because of his overwhelming will to succeed.

Feelings were hurt. Relationships soured. A giant would be humbled.

Let the healing begin.

"I was overly consumed in my career," Thomas said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet for the program "Inside Look: Frank Thomas", which debuts at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 14. "I was a focused guy. Most people couldnt understand how I could be so focused, but I was.

Although wildly popular in the 1990s, trailing only Michael Jordan, and arguably tying Sammy Sosa for Chicago sports supremacy at the time, Thomas would build a perception that he wasnt just the face of the franchise, but its arms and legs.

"People just didnt understand me. They felt like I was all about myself and all about my stats, and not worried about the team, and thats totally false."-- Frank Thomas, on the perception of him during his playing days with the White Sox"I was driven. I wanted to be the best," Thomas said. "I wanted to chase the best. People used to make a big deal about me and the stats. For me, stats meant that the team was going to win. It wasnt about me being selfish. I felt like I had to put up a certain amount of stats every day to help this team win and win consistently, day in and day out.

"I took a lot of heat for that in the past. People just didnt understand me. They felt like I was all about myself and all about my stats, and not worried about the team, and thats totally false."

Recently, Thomas has had a moment of truth as it relates to his infamous departure from the White Sox after the 2005 season. The team chose not to bring Thomas back because of a lingering foot injury, a decision delivered by general manager Kenny Williams to Franks voicemail. Thomas felt he deserved more respect than that, and shot some verbal missiles to his second home at 35th and Shields.

Williams fired back with a neutron bomb.

"Hes an idiot, hes selfish. Thats why we dont miss him," Williams said in February 2006. "And weve held it in for far too long ... hes the Oakland As problem right now."

Today, Thomas sees the notorious blow-up from a different perspective, and understands not only why the Sox didnt re-sign him, but why he and Kenny fought World War III in the first place.

"It wasnt pretty, but were both stubborn gentlemen," Thomas said. "Were both competitors. We both think we know it all. Getting myself away from it 3-4 years later, I respect what he did, because it was about this organization moving forward and I wasnt a part of the plan because they thought I was done. And I can look back, the first two months in Oakland ... I thought I was done. I was batting about .105, .110 still trying to heal. The White Sox just didnt have time to wait on that."

Thomas has to wait until 2014 to be officially inducted into baseballs Hall of Fame. His 521 home runs, .301 career batting average, and two MVP awards should get him in on the first ballot, especially considering he played the game clean during the height of the steroid era.

Others chose to take a different path to immortality.

There is still plenty of skepticism surrounding Sosa and the inflated numbers he magically produced from 1998-2001. So I posed the following question to Thomas:

If he had the power, would he vote Sosa into the Hall of Fame?

"Thats a tough one," Thomas said. "I love Sammy to death. I love him like a brother. But at this particular time, no I would not vote him in. Weve never heard anything from him. Hes never confronted the situation. Hes never explained his side. He just basically went back to the Dominican Republic and we havent heard anything from him. I really want to know what went down."

And Mark McGwire?

Tough sell. Hes admitted it, but still," said Thomas. "For me, what I put myself through for the last 18 years, busting my butt day in and day out to keep up, I dont have to dislike these guys, but Im kind of disliking what they did."

Thomas did not take steroids, but he did consume something else during his playing days, which may have been the hidden ingredient to his success. A secret he has chosen to finally reveal after so many years.

Boston Market.

Thats right. It turns out that Thomas could not get enough of this fast-food eatery and he would go to great lengths to gobble up their chicken meals before every game, home and away.

Was he superstitious? That would be a resounding yes.

"I would go to every city and look for a Boston Market," Thomas said. "That was something I held onto for six or seven years. I would go to Boston Market every day and have the same lunch every day, but it was all about consistency. I just felt like if youre consistent with your meals every day, you can be consistent on the field every day.

One afternoon Frank ate a steak before a game. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Never again. It was Boston Market or bust.

But did they have one in every major league town?

"No, but I tried to find it," he said

Who didnt?

"Many cities. Seattle didnt have one. Minneapolis didnt have one. So if I couldnt get Boston Market, I would call the hotel and try to have the same meal made up for lunch every day.

Now an official ambassador of the White Sox, as well as a pre and postgame analyst on Comcast SportsNet, Thomas has been welcomed back into the White Sox family. The team will retire his No. 35 jersey on Frank Thomas Day, Aug. 29, a day he expects will shed a few tears.

Baseball is Franks game. The Sox brought it to life. Where in baseball does he plan on spending the rest of his? Here in Chicago with the White Sox.

Where he belongs.

The Big Hurt is home.

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

Todd Frazier's late single lifts White Sox over Mariners

Todd Frazier's late single lifts White Sox over Mariners

The White Sox offense showed a bunch of late life on Thursday night.

Todd Frazier had two hits with runners in scoring position, including the game-winner, as the White Sox topped the Seattle Mariners 7-6 at U.S. Cellular Field. Frazier’s one-out single in the ninth inning off Nick Vincent scored Adam Eaton as the White Sox won for the fourth time in five games. Frazier’s game-winning hit was his first since June 2015 and the fifth of his career. It and a game-tying, two-out, two-run single in the seventh helped Frazier shake off a game in which he struck out three times in his first three at-bats.

“You learn something,” Frazier said. “You take the last at-bat and throw it away and just keep on going. Unfortunately, it took me three times to do that. To come up clutch today felt pretty good.”

Frazier leads the club in home runs and RBIs.

Similar to his teammates, however, Frazier has lefty plenty of chances for more damage on the table. He entered Thursday hitting .159 with runners in scoring position for a team that ranks 18th with runners in scoring position (.255).

While Frazier struck out with runners on the corners in the first inning, he succeeded in his next two tries. He picked up Jose Abreu in the seventh after the slugger struck out against Steve Cishek. Frazier sat on a slider and ripped a 2-0 pitch into left field to drive in Eaton and Tim Anderson, whose one-out RBI double made it a 6-4 game.

Then in the ninth, Frazier came through again. Eaton’s bloop single to center got things going before Anderson bunted him over. Vincent walked Abreu to get to Frazier, who singled to left again.

Frazier was previously 17-for-17 with five doubles, four homers and 42 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

“These are the best ones,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You can't rely just on the homer. There's more to his game than that. You have to be able to knock in runs when you're not hitting them over the fence. He can use the other side of the field. I think he can level it out somewhat and get some hits. Just put it in play more because you don't know know what's going to happen.”

[MORE: Rick Hahn denies rift in White Sox front office, holds off on plans for 2017]

David Robertson found that out in the top of the ninth inning when his outing was delayed for several minutes by a trio of fans who ran onto the field. Robertson worked around the delay and a one-out walk to keep the score tied at 6.

Down 2-0, the White Sox scored three times in the first inning to briefly take the lead.

Abreu and Avisail Garcia both singled in runs and Dioner Navarro had a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

White Sox starter Anthony Ranaudo pitched well after a slow start and then ran into bad luck in the sixth inning. What looked to be a surefire double play ball kicked off Ranaudo’s glove and combined with an Anderson throwing error led to a three-run inning that put Seattle ahead 6-3.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Ranaudo allowed six earned runs in 5.1 innings.

The White Sox were 6-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

“That’s just part of it,” Robertson said. “I guess that happens some times.

“Everybody played hard. They didn’t give up at all tonight. We pitched well enough to win and had timely hitting. A few things went our way, a couple errors that really ended up giving us a few runs. A few things went our way and it was great to pick up a win.”

Rick Hahn denies rift in White Sox front office, holds off on plans for 2017

Rick Hahn denies rift in White Sox front office, holds off on plans for 2017

Rick Hahn said Thursday he won’t divulge which direction the White Sox would head this offseason out of respect to his current players and staff.

But once the offseason begins, Hahn said it would quickly become evident what the White Sox front office has in mind. Roughly a month after his comments about being “mired in mediocrity,” the White Sox general manager said that he, executive vice president Kenny Williams and club chairman Jerry Reinsdorf are still mulling their options and open to all. Hahn also strongly denied recent reports that a divided front office prevented the start of a rebuild at the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, describing them as “tired.”

“The frustrating thing is it seems every few months we need to have this same conversation,” Hahn said. “The fact of the matter is I have no idea where an unnamed random report of any discord at the deadline came from. It’s simply untrue. There was no trade or direction of whatever it was described as vetoed, so to speak, at the deadline.

“We are of a similar mindset as to how best to proceed. We’ve had a number of conversations, both Kenny and I, as well as Kenny, Jerry and I, about the best way to approach the offseason and what we want to accomplish. And once the offseason rolls around we will start executing that plan.”

“It’s just, frankly, tired news and repetitive and there’s nothing there. None of us would be here doing what we do if we didn’t feel we were set up to have the potential for success.”

As for the most successful route to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008, Hahn wouldn’t yet commit to a plan. Hahn said the club would also address all questions about its roster and coaching staff after the season, which ends on Oct. 2.

With 36 games remaining after Thursday, the White Sox appear on pace for a fourth straight losing season.

[MORE: White Sox rule Austin Jackson, Matt Davidson out for season]

While the team has many of the top-tier pieces necessary to compete, its lack of depth continues to be a critical issue holding back the franchise. Injuries in the bullpen and outfield and the unexpected retirement of Adam LaRoche forced many part-time players or inexperienced pitchers into key roles. With a farm system still short on talent, the White Sox would likely need a serious cash infusion to fill in some of those holes in order to compete in 2017. Or, they could begin a rebuilding process and replenish their farm system by unloading some of their talented, affordable players.

Either way, Hahn isn’t ready to talk shop.

“We have a sense of what we want to do,” Hahn said. “Frankly, regardless of which direction it is — full rebuild or add on — we’re still in the middle of the season.

“If I were to say we’re going to do a full rebuild that’s disrespectful to what they’re trying to accomplish. To the other extreme, if I were to say we’re going to fight and go for it and plug the holes it begs the question, ‘Where are the holes?’ and that’s disrespectful to the guys in the clubhouse. It’s just not the time to be laying out offseason plans. We’re working on it, exploring a lot of angles internally trying to come up with priorities so we can hit the ground running when the time is appropriate.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

When he spoke about the team’s trade deadline plans July 21, Hahn said the White Sox had only ruled out short-term acquisitions, but remained open to all options. He said the idea of trading away Chris Sale or Jose Quintana seemed “extreme,” in part because competing teams wouldn’t deal players helping them in their playoff chases; that they’d have a better market in the offseason.

Hahn said Thursday the White Sox remain open-minded. When reminded that the White Sox have operated in an aggressive manner under Reinsdorf, Hahn agreed. But he also noted that the White Sox haven’t been happy with their recent performances and left the door open for a rebuild.

“OK, but there also comes a point where there is a level of frustration with the way things have played out over the last couple of years,” Hahn said. “There are different approaches and again, I’m not saying (a rebuild) is the route we’re going to go. But I assure you there is absolute openness from Jerry, Kenny, myself. Everyone in that front office is looking for the best path to get us on an extended period of success, even if that involves a short-term step-back.”

White Sox rule Austin Jackson, Matt Davidson out for season

White Sox rule Austin Jackson, Matt Davidson out for season

Austin Jackson and Matt Davidson are officially done for the season.

Meanwhile, the White Sox still remain hopeful that Brett Lawrie is on the mend after a second MRI.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday that Jackson, who had surgery June 10 to repair a medial meniscus tear in left knee, and Davidson, who had surgery after he fractured his right foot, won’t return this season.

“Austin is progressing, but it unfortunately it’s been a slow pace,” Hahn said. “He has not taken baseball activities. I wouldn’t expect him back this season.”

Jackson hit .254/.318/.343 with 18 RBIs in 203 plate appearances before he suffered the injury.

At the time of Jackson’s injury, Hahn didn’t think it would end his season. But, Hahn did say it would take at least six weeks before they could re-evaluate Jackson’s knee post-surgery and get a better determination of when he might return. Jackson’s re-evaluation was pushed back a few days from the six-week mark and the White Sox made it clear they weren’t optimistic about him returning.

Davidson went 1-for-2 with an RBI before he broke his foot running the bases in his first game of the season.

“(I) would not expect (Davidson) either. It was a pretty bad fracture. It’s progressing and he’s hitting the early milestones. There just isn’t enough time for either of those two.”

Lawrie, who has been on the disabled list since July 22, had a second MRI earlier this week and is being treated, Hahn said.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Manager Robin Ventura has been adamant all along that Lawrie’s injury was tricky to diagnose. What began as a strained hamstring and later was thought to be a quad injury has been reclassified as a knee and calf issue. Hahn said the MRI showed the area is structurally sound.

“He received some medicine in the joint there,” Hahn said. “We’re let that work for a couple of days and we’ll ramp up the activity and see how it goes. No specific time frame.”

Miguel Gonzalez will participate in one more bullpen — possibly a simulated game — before he starts a rehab assignment, Ventura said. Gonzalez is on the DL with a strained right groin.