Sox Drawer: J.J. Putz it in perspective

173134.jpg

Sox Drawer: J.J. Putz it in perspective

Monday, May 17, 2010
4:28 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Six weeks into the baseball season, the word being heard most around Minneapolis and its seemingly unstoppable Twins is believe.

In Detroit, where they lost Curtis Granderson, Placido Polanco, and Edwin Jackson in the off-season, but have quickly found new life thanks to young phenoms like Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch, theres new-found hope.

But here in Chicago, where since Opening Day the White Sox have remained stuck in a tedious square dance (one step forward, two steps back), the word being uttered over and over again is that of frustration.

I think everybody is frustrated, said Sox reliever J.J. Putz, speaking by phone Monday from Comerica Park where the Sox have a quick two-game series with those hopeful Tigers, who just took 5 of 7 from the Yankees and Red Sox.

Putz signed a 1-year, 3 million dollar contract with the White Sox this past winter, thinking hed be a bullpen bridge to many victories in 2010. But so far, theyve been few and far between.
Whats the answer? J.J. wish he knew.

It just seems like we cant find a rhythm to get any kind of ball rolling. Its extremely frustrating but at the same time I dont think anyone has lost confidence in one another, so thats a positive. If we just win three or four in a row and just kind of get a little momentum going I think well be fine, but thats easier said than done.

Weve noticed.

The Sox have won back-to-back games just twice this season, and not since April 25th when they swept the Mariners in three games.

Since then, theyve gone 7-11, which sounds good if youre thirsty for a drink and looking for a convenience store, but not if youre Kenny Williams, a man who has become parched watching potential victories routinely dry up.

The biggest culprit has been the offense, which remains last in the American League in hitting (.238), and has gone four games with just one extra-base hit (a solo home run Sunday by Alex Rios).

Sunday, Gavin Floyd continued his season-long struggles, giving up five runs on 10 hits to the last-place Royals, who are now 7-and-1 against Floyd in his career.

Are guys too tight?

Putz joked that his hamstrings are, but acknowledged that the players know the clock is ticking.

I think people are a little more anxious to get going in the right direction. In the beginning we said, Its still early, its still early. But now were getting towards June here, so I think theres a little more sense of urgency to get things going in the right direction.

Does he see a winning streak coming?

It seems like its bound to. I dont think it can keep going like this for too much longer.

If it does, thats where Trader Kenny comes in. Putz, an experienced set-up man and closer could be a target for a playoff contender, which is what the White Sox are supposed to be. Who knows? They still might.

Life can throw you curve balls. Just ask J.J.

The Detroit-area native is back in his hometown, his team desperate for wins against the team he grew up idolizing.

His favorite player was former Tigers great Lance Parrish.

I grew up a catcher, and always had the Lance Parrish Tiger orange (leather) on the inside of my glove, Putz remembers.

He also recalls being 7-years-old, watching the Tigers win their last World Series at his grandparents house in 1984.

My parents were actually at the clinching game.

Were you jealous?

I am now. Back then, I didnt really understand. I think I was just happy the game was over so I could go to bed.

26 years later, Putz finds himself back in Detroit, with 23 tickets reserved for friends and family, pitching for a White Sox team that needs to wake upand fast.

Weve definitely lost our fair share of games, one-run games, two-run games where we just havent done that one little thing in that game. Hopefully good days are ahead.

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.

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

Jose Abreu ready for 2017 after season full of 'different challenges'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A torrid two months at the plate helped Jose Abreu end what he found to be an extremely trying 2016 season with numbers close to his career norms.

But even though he finished with an .820 OPS and 100 RBIs for a third straight season, Abreu admits that 2016 was a season unlike any other he'd faced.

While he didn't disclose any theories for the cause of his lengthy struggles, the White Sox first baseman said Sunday he's pleased to have finished on a positive note and thinks that rebounding from those difficulties will only make him stronger. Abreu — who hit .293/.353/.468 with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs in 695 plate appearances — is also a fan of new White Sox manager Rick Renteria and is equally impressed with the prospects the club acquired this winter.

"Yes, those were different challenges, especially in my mind," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I never in my life experienced some of the kind of struggles like I did last year. But that put me in a better position as a player, as a person too. I'm in a better position now for this season because I learned from the experience."

In spite of his struggles, Abreu was still a league average player through the first four months of the season. But the 2014 All-Star hardly resembled the player who produced a 153 OPS-plus over his first two seasons. His timing was off and Abreu — hitting .269/.325/.413 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs through July 30 — wasn't driving the ball as he typically had in his first two seasons, when he smacked 66 homers.

Abreu was lost at the plate and nobody could figure out why.

But after the arrival of his son, Dariel, who visited him for the first time since he moved to the United States, Abreu took off. He hit .338/.402/.568 the rest of the season with 14 homers and 44 RBIs in 249 trips to the plate.

"Right after last season ended, I had my meeting at my house with my family, just to explain to them how the season was because they know about baseball," Abreu said. "But sometimes they can't register how the process is in a season as long as the major league season is. We talked about it. I explained to them all of the challenges, the problems I had during that season. Once we ended with that meeting, last season was in the past. We moved on and we were trying just to figure out things and how can I do better for this season."

Now in his fourth season in the majors, Abreu has a firm grasp on how the White Sox operate and likes some of the team's modifications. He likes how Renteria thoroughly communicates what he has in mind for the club. Abreu also enjoys being seen as one of the team's leaders and wouldn't mind being a mentor to prized prospect Yoan Moncada.

Now he hopes to carry over his strong finish to the start of the 2017 campaign.

"I'm working on it," Abreu said. "That's one of my goals. Everybody knows that at the beginning of last season, I wasn't performing good. It was kind of a surprise for me, too. But I'm in good shape right now and I believe I will be able to succeed."

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

White Sox rookie Charlie Tilson out at least 10 days with foot injury

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The leading candidate to be the team’s starting center fielder, Charlie Tilson has been temporarily shut down after suffering a stress reaction in his right foot.

The White Sox rookie said Sunday that he noticed the injury gradually building up before he decided to stop his workout on Friday and headed for the training room. An MRI performed Saturday on Tilson -- who is rehabbing from a torn left hamstring that ended his 2016 season early -- revealed the reaction, which isn’t severe as a stress fracture. Given Tilson previously had a stress fracture in his right foot, the White Sox said he'll be sidelined from impact work for 10 days, at which point he’d be re-evaluated.

“It started very minimal, and I tried to work through it a little bit, and by the time I addressed Herm, thankfully I caught it before it was anything that would keep me out for too long,” Tilson said. “It’s a minor thing, and it will give my other leg a chance to get stronger in the meantime, and hopefully we’ll turn this negative into a positive.”

Tilson wouldn’t be surprised if his injury is related to overcompensating for his left leg, which he has worked tirelessly to rehab since he suffered the injury on Aug. 2 and then had season-ending surgery. Manager Rick Renteria described it as an “irritation” in the area where Tilson suffered a stress fracture in 2013. In the interim, the White Sox will test some of their other options in camp, including veteran Peter Bourjos and minor leaguers Adam Engel and Jacob May, among others.

“But we don’t foresee it to be a long-term issue,” Renteria said. “By being able to shut him down now, it’ll be something he’ll be able to recover from. We’ll just readjust his timetable.”

Minor as Tilson and the White Sox say it is, the outfielder admitted he’s down about having to deal with it after the progress he’d made in his rehab.

The White Sox acquired the New Trier High School product from the St. Louis Cardinals last July in exchange for left-hander Zach Duke. Tilson was immediately called up as the White Sox intended to try him out in center field the rest of the season. But he suffered a season-ending injury in his major league debut while tracking down a fly ball and had surgery several days later.

Tilson made enough progress to be a full participant in a hitter’s camp at Camelback Ranch last month. Earlier this week, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Tilson was a top candidate to take over as the club’s starting center fielder if he was healthy.

“I guess you could say I’m disappointed,” Tilson said. “But it’s a very minor setback and it’s part of the process. I had a major repair, and these things come up and hopefully we can minimize them as much as we can and hopefully this is the last one. But I’m just going to deal with it and do whatever I can to move forward.”