Chicago White Sox

Sox Drawer: Bobby on the brink

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Sox Drawer: Bobby on the brink

Friday, Aug. 3, 2010
7:08 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Bobby Jenks used to have a stranglehold on the White Sox closer position.

Now, hes simply strangling himself. And even his biggest supporter, manager Ozzie Guillen is losing patience.

Right now the situation is not about friendship, its not about I like you or not, its about winning, and Im going to give Jenks the opportunity to come back and do it again, Guillen said before Friday nights game in Baltimore. But in the meanwhile, if he cant do the job, were going to find someone else to do it. If he doesnt see what I see, he better open his eyes.

If Bobby hasnt seen it, he can take a gander at some of his recent numbers. Theyre not pretty.

In the second half, hes 0-2 with a 10.37 ERA and four saves.

During the day, hes 1-2, 9.38 ERA (compared to 0-1, 2.28 ERA at night).

But if youre looking for the most troubling statistic, the main cause for the Jenks ulcer that has creeped into so many of your stomachs when he takes the mound, its probably this:

In Jenks' three losses this year, his ERA is ... 216.00.

You read that correctly.

216.00.

That sound you just heard were baseball computers around the country blowing up in unison.

How did this happen?

In his three losses against the Blue Jays, Twins, and Mariners (my guess is you remember them), Jenks gave up nine hits and 10 runs, while recording just one out -- a sacrifice in Seattle by Ichiro Suzuki which got Jack Wilson to second, who scored the tying run moments ahead of the winning run by Chone Figgins.

All told, hitters in his three losses are a perfect 9-for-9. Batting average: 1.000.

But as we know, Bobbys struggles arent limited to just these three losses.

There was the three-run homer he gave up to the Tigers' Ryan Raburn on Thursday, not to mention the three he surrendered in the ninth against the Indians on May 26. There were also the two runs he allowed to both Texas and Seattle back in April. The Sox fortunately won all of four of these games, or else Jenks record would be much worse than 1-3.

Guillen can accept it when his closer gives up one run every once in a while. Its the two- and three-run implosions that can crush a baseball team and eventually terminate a closer.

Bobby is currently on life support.

Guillen said before Fridays game that Jenks should be ready to close tonight. But when asked if hes still Ozzies guy, Guillen replied quite cryptically, Today, yes. Then well see what happens today, and figure it out later.

By the way, the team Jenks has the highest ERA against in his career -- Baltimore: 7.98.

Bill Melton and I will be on the set for U.S. Cellular White Sox Postgame live tonight. Hopefully, were talking about a Bobby Jenks revival instead of a man clinging for closing survival.

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.

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

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USA TODAY

Look away, White Sox fans: Chris Sale makes history

This one may sting a bit, White Sox fans.  

On Wednesday evening, former White Sox ace Chris Sale accomplished a feat that no other American League pitcher has since 1999. The current Red Sox left-hander whiffed his 300th batter of the season, becoming the first A.L. hurler since Pedro Martinez to do so. 

Sale reached the impressive milestone in a dominant eight-inning, 13-strikeout gem. Vintage. 

Overall on the season, he's posted a 2.75 ERA with opponents hitting a mere .203 against him. Before his postseason debut in October, Sale has a shot at leading two franchises in season strikeout totals: 

The consolation on the South Side is that the prized prospect acquired in the Sale blockbuster had a pretty nice night himself. Yoan Moncada drilled a two-run blast in Houston, his seventh since being called up from Triple-A Charlotte on July 19. 

The great trade debate wages on. 

Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

HOUSTON -- Yoan Moncada took Jose Abreu’s advice to switch to a lighter bat and the White Sox rookie has been on a tear ever since.

The veteran first baseman thought Moncada would benefit from a slightly smaller piece of lumber and purchased it. Moncada began to use the bat at the start of the team’s current 10-game road trip and has since produced the best stretch of his career. Moncada is hitting 432/.488/.649 with 16 hits, including a triple, two home runs, six RBIs and 11 runs scored in 37 plate appearances.

“I just thought he wasn’t using the bats for him to take advantage of his swing,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “These new bats have better balance with the weight and are a little shorter than the other ones. I just did it thinking of him taking advantage of his power, his hands and to feel more freedom in his swing.”

Neither Abreu nor the White Sox have wavered in their faith in Moncada since his promotion from Triple-A two months ago. Baseball’s top prospect flashed plenty of talent in spring training and further convinced them by showing a consistently good eye at the plate after arriving in the majors.

But while Moncada had his share of highlights early on, he still hadn’t begun to receive the desired results on a consistent basis. Abreu saw him missing his pitch from time to time and suggested that Moncada use a smaller bat.

Moncada previously a 34-inch, 32-ounce bat. The ones purchased by Abreu are 33 1/ 2-inches and 31 ounces. Moncada has said the bats have produced a more fluid swing and he feels like he has a stronger swing since.

[MORE: Top 10 storylines from the White Sox minor league season] 

Manager Rick Renteria thinks it’s a combination of the new bat and Moncada having a better understanding for how teams are approaching him at the plate.

“Lighter bats can help you manipulate the barrel a little more, keep you on the ball,” Renteria said. “You don’t think you have to force yourself to get out in front too much. You can allow the ball to travel and do what it does, so you can see it as much as possible. Just in general, the at-bats and the experience and the sequence of pitches he’s been seeing over time now, he’s starting to understand and get a feel for hitting in the big leagues.”

Abreu said his own bat size has varied during a red-hot second half depending upon how he feels. Moncada’s mentor started the season with a 34-inch, 32-ounce Albert Pujols-model bat, but also began to use the 33-inch, 33 1/2-ounce at the All-Star break.

Abreu has enjoyed watching his protégé have consistent success over the past nine days.

“I knew he had the talent,” Abreu said. “I never had a doubt about it. It was just a matter for him to get to know this process and to get to know the league and for him to use the proper tools to take advantage. We are just seeing what he’s capable of doing and it’s a good sign for him building for next season.”