Sox Drawer: Crede's still feeling the pain

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Sox Drawer: Crede's still feeling the pain

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011
Posted: 9:36 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Exactly two years ago today, Joe Crede took the field at the Metrodome against the Oakland As. He didnt know it at the time, but it would be the final game of his major league career.

Battling an injured back that on a scale between 1 and 10 had the pain level of 10, Crede came to the plate four times that day. He struck out every time.

The pain was just out of this world. I played the whole game through that pain, Crede said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet.

Afterwards, he walked into the office of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and told him that his season was over. So was his career. He just didnt know it at the time.

It really bothered me, trying to come back the next year and not getting much for offers at all. Not being wanted in baseball is not a good feeling after youve played so well and all of sudden it just stops, Crede said. I wish it would have been a storybook ending, but probably 95 percent of major league players dont have a fairy tale ending.

Baseball might have stopped for Crede in 2009, but the pain in his back still remains. Its a problem that may never go away.

It eats at me everyday almost. Everyday I get out of bed, Crede said. I have to get up in the middle of the night and I feel that pain again in my back. It really bothers me. It usually takes me an hour, or an hour and a half to get back to feeling normal walking around. Its what I deal with on a daily basis.

What specifically is wrong with Credes back? Seemingly just about everything.

Theres arthritis back there. My joints are just swelling up, causing irritation. Im sure theres still some herniation in the lower part of the disc, which is irritating the nerves and stuff, Crede said.

The former White Sox third baseman has had three surgeries on his back, and so many cortisone shots during his playing career he doesnt want to know the number. What hed like to know is if there is a doctor somewhere in the world who can fix his back.

Hes yet to find him.

Ive been going to doctors trying to figure out whats going on back there. I dont know. I just dont really have a good enough answer, Crede said. Im kind of at a loss for words with it. How many doctors can you see about it and still feel the same way? Thats another frustrating thing about it for me, is seeing some of the top doctors supposedly in the world and still having my back feel the same way. Ive just kind of learned to deal with it and move on. Thats life.
Joe Crede's fondest memories of his White Sox career come from the magical 2005 season that resulted in a World Series Championship. Crede hit .333 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in the ALCS and World Series. (AP)
In his nine-year White Sox career, Crede made a name for himself diving for baseballs at the hot corner. His incredible plays might have been rally killers, but they also punished just about every fiber in his lower back.

I dont know if it was hereditary or a degenerative disc, which it very possibly could be. I hate to talk about it because Im someone who doesnt like to talk about himself.

But Tuesday, Crede was willing to speak about his calamity while sitting in the White Sox dugout, just yards away from his old third base spot. The White Sox invited Crede back to U.S. Cellular Field to honor him for his celebrated career.

Looking out at the diamond, memories of his playing days started flooding back -- both good and bad.

I can remember dropping a pop fly in the top of the ninth with two outs (vs. the Red Sox in July, 2005). Manny Ramirez on the next pitch hit a home run. We lost 1-0. In the headlines the next day it said Crede E, he said with a laugh. I wanted to crawl under a rock after that.

But he redeemed himself tenfold later that season, especially on Sept. 20 at U.S. Cellular, when he hit a walk-off homer in the 10th inning against the Indians, who had cut the White Sox lead in the Central Division from 15 games to 1 12.

It felt like we were going to blow this big lead here. It just felt like they had all the momentum in the world. But then I hit the home run, that kind of swung the momentum. That was a big moment.

So was the four-game sweep of the Houston Astros, giving the White Sox their first World Series title in 88 years. And there on one of Credes fingers was his championship ring.

Its been a while since Ive worn it, he said, admitting that hes kept it hidden in a closet all this time. I should probably put it in a safe or something, but I guess I live in the country.

Living without pain. Thats Credes goal. Hopefully he gets there. If he does, hell offer the doctor an enormous thank you.

Come to think of it, thats exactly what every White Sox fan would probably say to Joe.

For the memories.

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.

Miguel Gonzalez throws six perfect innings as White Sox take series against Tigers

Miguel Gonzalez throws six perfect innings as White Sox take series against Tigers

For six innings Sunday, Miguel Gonzalez was perfect.

The White Sox right-hander put the baseball world on perfect-game alert and conjured memories of Mark Buehrle and Philip Humber with his dazzling work through six innings. Gonzalez lost his bids for a perfect game, no hitter and shutout in the span of three batters to lead off the seventh inning, but that didn’t take away much from how good he was in a 7-3 win for the South Siders at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He was dominant,” shortstop Tim Anderson said, providing an accurate if brief summation of the day’s proceedings.

Gonzalez, who entered with a 3-5 record and a 4.55 ERA in nine previous starts this season, set down the first 18 hitters he faced in order, with the visiting Detroit Tigers rarely even coming close to reaching base. That streak of 18 straight hitters retired to start the game was the longest by a White Sox starter since Chris Sale sat down the first 19 he faced back in May 2013.

Of course, whenever a performance nears no-hitter territory, players know it and stay away from the pitcher in the dugout, afraid of jinxing things. And the White Sox weren’t immune to that baseball tradition on Sunday.

“It was getting quiet,” Gonzalez said. “I was just trying to do my thing. Just go out there and make pitches, let them make the plays and that’s how things went.”

The Tigers — who trailed big after the White Sox gave Gonzalez a 7-0 lead — finally broke through to start the seventh. Austin Romine reached on an infield single, Alex Avila singled through the right side of the infield, and Miguel Cabrera dumped an RBI base hit into right field.

Detroit added two more runs on three extra-base hits in the eighth, but Gonzalez still finished with a great line, yielding just three runs on six hits in 7.2 innings of work.

Gonzalez’s gem snapped a streak of rough outings that started, coincidentally enough, against this Tigers team, when he was crushed for seven runs on 14 hits in an April 30 loss in Detroit. Entering Sunday’s game, Gonzalez was a nasty 0-5 with a 6.99 ERA in his previous five starts. He hadn’t made it out of the sixth inning in any of his previous three starts.

“I started off really good. I was struggling for a couple outings, and all you can do is keep working hard and things are going to happen,” Gonzalez said. “I think if you work hard in between your starts you have a pretty good chance of getting back on track and that’s how I felt today.”

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That seventh-inning blip by the Tigers ended the day’s only drama, as the White Sox offense put the result of the game out of question earlier, tagging opposing starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann for seven runs in his five innings of work.

Zimmermann entered the day struggling on the 2017 campaign, and that didn’t change Sunday. Willy Garcia tripled in Omar Narvaez for the game’s first run in the third and scored on the same play thanks to a throwing error. Two hitters later, Melky Cabrera hit a solo home run to make it 3-0.

Matt Davidson led off the bottom of the fourth with his 10th home run of the season, and Narvaez drove in Yolmer Sanchez to make it 5-0. Todd Frazier tacked on two more in the fifth with a two-run shot that also scored Jose Abreu.

“As an offense, we’re trying to give that (big cushion) every night. That’d be nice,” Davidson said. “And it really relaxes them. And you can see what happens when they’ve got a lead and you let them do their thing.”

The White Sox took three of four from the Tigers in this weekend series that featured a doubleheader split Saturday. It’s a positive start to this home stand — which continues with a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox — after going 3-7 on a recent 10-game road trip.

“I'm very happy with it, but again I'm not surprised by it, simply because I think they come out every single day to try to play good baseball and do what they need to help each other out and win ballgames,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It's just their character, the way they're put together. They keep battling.”

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

Call it the White Sox latest Cuban connection.

When news came out of the team pursuing 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, it was pretty easy to guess that Jose Abreu, the franchise’s previous big-time, free-agent signing from Cuba, would be involved.

But not only was Abreu involved in the White Sox courting of Robert, sending a personalized message as part of the team’s video pitch, he’s been a willing participant. And now that Robert is officially signed after Saturday’s much-hyped introduction, Abreu is ready to take on a mentorship role, much like he has with another one of the organization’s Cuban prospects, Yoan Moncada.

In the lead up to Saturday’s press conference, it was Abreu touring Robert around Guaranteed Rate Field, chatting with him in the dugout and taking pictures on the infield.

“I was very excited to have him here, and I’m very happy right now because he’s signing with the team,” Abreu said through a translator ahead of Sunday’s series finale with the visiting Detroit Tigers. “He’s a very good player. I just told him that he has to keep working hard and keep doing the things to get here as soon as he can. He’s a nice guy.

“I’m excited to have that opportunity (to be a mentor). That’s something that I like to do. I like to advise the guys and tell them what to do for their best like I am doing right now with Moncada. I’m just waiting for that opportunity to happen with (Robert).”

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While Abreu arrived on the South Side an older, more experienced player who was ready for the big leagues, Robert’s journey to the majors will be a much different, much longer one. Abreu recognizes that and talked about how tough the transition will be. He also has confidence Robert, who has received glowing scouting reports comparing him to perennial All Stars, can succeed.

“It’s not an easy thing to do to come here straight to play in the majors because this is a very high level and a tough one to play,” Abreu said. “I think the best for him is the decision that he’s making for him, to have some games in the minors and let him develop there. He’s had a long time without playing baseball. Baseball in Cuba is good, but it’s not as good as baseball here in the U.S. and you have to adjust. I think that process for him is going to be perfect in the minors.”

Saturday, Robert talked about the White Sox tradition of Cuban players, mentioning how it helped motivate him to sign with the team. Abreu has been one of the franchise’s most successful Cuban players, a list that includes the legendary Minnie Minoso as well as more recent players like Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo and Moncada in the minor leagues.

While that tradition might not be the entire or even main reason Robert is now a part of the organization, general manager Rick Hahn talked about how it’s created an environment that will help Robert develop. Banners featuring Minoso, Abreu, Ramirez and Moncada flanked the table where Robert signed his contract.

Abreu said it’s a tradition he’s very proud to be a part of.

“That made me feel happy and proud. Not just for this organization that I’m a part of, but also for my heritage because I know that this is a very good organization and they are trying to take care of the Cuban players,” Abreu said. “I also feel a huge respect for Minnie Minoso because he was the first one who opened this door here with the White Sox.”

Through his mentoring, Abreu could keep that tradition going into the future. Robert and Moncada are huge pieces of the White Sox rebuilding puzzle, and Abreu is helping put those pieces together for the White Sox.