Chicago White Sox

Sox Drawer: J.J. Putz it in perspective

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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.

Why Yoan Moncada's hot streak is important for the White Sox confidence and his

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USA TODAY

Why Yoan Moncada's hot streak is important for the White Sox confidence and his

HOUSTON -- Don’t think the White Sox front office isn’t enjoying every second of Yoan Moncada’s tear.

Everyone can breathe a little easier knowing there are fewer questions for baseball’s top prospect to answer headed into 2018. Pleased as they’d been with Moncada’s patient plate approach, the club desired a breakthrough before Oct. 2 for the confidence boost it would provide him alone. Moncada continued a torrid run on Wednesday night that should have him bristling with poise when he arrives in Glendale, Ariz. next February. He homered as the White Sox fell 4-3 to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

“We’ve been looking for him to continue to try and make adjustments,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There was probably a point there where people were a little concerned. Truthfully, when you see some of the talent these kids have, you recognize that their skillset is going to play up, it’s just a matter of getting the repetition.”

The White Sox have been impressed with Moncada’s improved awareness as he gains more experience.

One area in which Moncada has made the most gains is pitch recognition. The book has been that second baseman has had trouble with offspeed since he arrived in 2016, hitting .154 against sliders and .238 against curveballs entering Wednesday, according to Brooksbaseball.net.

But Moncada is trending upward. The first-pitch slider from Astros starter Brad Peacock that Moncada ripped for a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fourth inning was his fifth hit of the trip on a slider or curveball in 11 at-bats. On the trip, Moncada -- who has 189 plate appearances this season -- is hitting .415/.477/.683 with three homers, eight RBIs and 12 runs in 41 plate appearances.

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

Given Moncada’s struggles in a brief 2016 tryout with the Boston Red Sox, having success is certainly helpful as he won’t head into another offseason wondering when it might happen for him. Moncada doesn’t compare the two situations because of playing time -- he was limited to 20 plate appearances over a month in 2016. But he agrees his recent play is good for the psyche.

“It’s important for my confidence, especially thinking about next year,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “With this run, I have been able to have more confidence and believe in myself and my talent, and I think that’s something I can carry into next season.”

“This offseason is going to be different because I’ve been able to play almost every day. I have more confidence in myself. I know the game better. Last season I had an opportunity to be at this level a little bit, but it wasn’t the same. This year is the opposite because I’ve been playing a lot and have been able to handle good and bad stretches at this level.”

While a reduction in strikeout-rate is still needed to be more effective, Moncada has begun to establish himself as a major league hitter. It’s exactly how teammate and mentor Jose Abreu hoped Moncada would spend his time this season.

“He has to get to know a lot of things at this level,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “The game, the pitchers, the culture here -- there’s a lot of little things he has to get to know here. The way you can work through it is give your best every day and try to learn as much as you can and try to use all your knowledge and to pool your knowledge on each play in the game. That’s the only way you can get results and you can build on those results and this experience for the future. I think he’s finally doing it and that’s important for him and for us thinking of the next season and beyond.”

Renteria not only likes the pitch recognition but the way that Moncada has tried to hit through the shift several times against Houston. Though the White Sox never wavered, they’re certainly happy to see Moncada produce the way they thought he eventually would.

“He’s starting to slow it down a little more,” Renteria said. “He’s starting to see more of the landscape and making adjustments in general. It’s been a good run for him. We thought he would show signs of growth at the end of the season and he’s doing that.”

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.