Sox Drawer: Johnny (Damon) Quest

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Sox Drawer: Johnny (Damon) Quest

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010
12:13pmBy Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.comIf you believe the headlines spreading across the internet on Thursday, youd probably assume that the White Sox were on the verge of signing a certain two-time World Series champ.

Or you might conclude that he was going to diss the Sox, and maybe even his wife (whod reportedly rather spend the summer in Chicago), and head to Motown to play for the Tigers.

And lets not forget about the Atlanta Braves who have reportedly offered Damon a one-year deal, one similar to the White Sox, and had Braves slugger Chipper Jones, like A.J. Pierzynski, do his very best recruiting pitch, trying to persuade Damon to come over to the NL.

Whos right? Whos wrong? Who knows?

But when asked about the reports that the Sox were on the verge of signing Damon, a White Sox front office source said on Thursday, We are currently not interested in adding to the misinformation out there and classified the Damon negotiations as private.

What has become public is Damons round of golf with Pierzynski on Monday at a charity golf tournament in Florida. Hawk Harrelson was also there. Because of wrist problems, Hawk didnt play, but rode along for nine holes. Speaking with the Sox broadcaster by phone on Thursday, Harrelson said he made his own sales pitch to Damon.

I told Johnny that were going to win the division whether hes with Detroit or not. And when I left after nine holes, I looked at him and said, Ill see you at Camelback Ranch (the White Sox spring training facility). He smiled back and said, I hear what youre saying.

But despite he and Pierzynskis recruiting mission, Harrelson said he left the golf course that day believing that Detroit was the favorite to land Damon.

And now?

Since Ive had some time to think about it, I would say that right now its 50-50 or that the Sox might be a little bit ahead.

Considering the Sox tense relationship with Damons agent Scott Boras, its a surprise that the negotiations have gotten this far. But Harrelson looks at it a different way.

It just so happens that this particular player that (Boras) has in Johnny Damon is a guy the White Sox would like to have. They need a left-handed bat regardless of who his agent it. As far as their relationship, I dont think its changed. Harrelson then laughed, I dont think its the best relationship.

What Hawk likes the most about Damon is like A.J., hes a winner. Hes an asset, and brings a lot of positives to the clubhouse, to the airplane, to the playing field and certainly in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. Thats when your real stars shine and Johnny has been a great 7th, 8th, and 9th inning player.

If the Sox are willing to pursue Damon, and use him as a DHback-up outfielder, one could argue that the Sox could just bring back Jermaine Dye and use him in that role.

Harrelson is surprised that Dye is still a free agent, and agrees with what Frank Thomas told CSN last week, that Dye will retire if he does not a receive a fair offer.

If he doesnt get the money he feels he deserves, it wouldnt surprise me to see Jermaine retire at all, Harrelson said. I think thats the kind of person he is. Hes a stand-up guy a lot of integrity. If he feels he cant get the money he thinks he should be getting, then hell hang them up.

The lack of interest in Dye isnt so much a reflection on Jermaine as a player. Hawk says its all about money, or lack thereof.

Things have changed. The culture of the game has changed since the economy took a downturn. Its almost like a virus that goes through, and everybody has caught it. And now it looks like a lot of guys who thought theyd get a lot money to sign for a respectable contract are finding out thats not the case. I think last year was the first time in eight or nine years that clubs have lost money. Theres definitely a different philosophy now in terms of signing older players.

Damon is two months older than Dye. But as Harrelson put it, Its a good thing Johnny can play baseball, because he cant play golf.
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.

Preview: Chris Sale starts for White Sox against Rays tonight on CSN+

Preview: Chris Sale starts for White Sox against Rays tonight on CSN+

The White Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (16-9, 3.19 ERA) vs. Alex Cobb (1-1, 6.16 ERA)

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James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields gets first win in two months as White Sox beat Rays

James Shields’ time with the White Sox has not gone well. But Monday night was one of the bright spots, and it came against his former team.

Shields allowed just one run in his six innings of work against the visiting Tampa Ray Bays — with whom he spent the first seven seasons of his career — and earned his first win since July 26 as the White Sox opened this four-game set with a 7-1 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.

Shields didn’t exactly keep the Rays off the bases Monday, running into jams with multiple base runners on in four of his six innings. But he did keep them off the scoreboard, for the most part, getting some help from his defense with a couple double plays. He finished allowing just one run on seven hits with six strikeouts over his six innings.

The win was his first in two months after a brutal August — six starts with four losses and an 11.42 ERA — and a couple of rough outings in September. It was Shields’ sixth victory on the season and fourth since joining the White Sox compared to 18 losses on the season, 11 coming with the White Sox.

“I had a few chances my last few starts to get some wins, but sometimes those things happen,” Shields said. “I’m just trying to finish the season strong right now. Body feels good, arm feels good, so hopefully I can get another win on Saturday to end my season and move into next year.”

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With just one more start on his schedule in the season’s final week, Shields won’t lose a visually upsetting 20 games. Avoiding that number might not make losing 18 or 19 much easier for fans and observers to swallow, but teammates understand what Shields has gone through this season.

“I think we’ve all been through it once or maybe even twice in our career. He works his butt off, though,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He looks at film. He watches everything he’s doing. To come out with the strong outing today, even in the first inning, getting two runners on and getting out of that jam, it goes to show you his resilience. Whenever he got runners on, he looked relaxed and induced a lot of ground balls which we needed.”

Certainly Shields’ teammates picked him up Monday. The two double plays while he was in the game were just half the infield’s total on the night, two more coming in the seventh and eighth, when Tommy Kahnle and Nate Jones put the first two hitters they faced on in each frame. But the double plays helped end those threats and keep the Rays down.

The White Sox struck first with a run in the first inning, Melky Cabrera scoring on Justin Morneau’s sacrifice fly. After the Rays tied it up in the fourth with an RBI single, the White Sox punched back, Frazier doubling, stealing third base and scoring on Omar Narvaez’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of that inning.

And as Shields and the relief corps danced out of jams, the White Sox added to their score. Jose Abreu singled in a run in the fifth, but it was a pair of two-run homers off the bats of Morneau and Carlos Sanchez in the seventh and eighth innings that provided the real insurance.

The win was the third straight for the White Sox, something that while positive won’t provide much solace in a season where competing for a playoff spot is a distant memory.

But, like Shields finishing his season strong, White Sox players in general can create individual momentum for each of their offseasons and into next year with good finishes to 2016.

“We want to end on a positive note,” Frazier said. “Everybody wants to meet their goals. Baseball is the most individualistic team sport there is. You have to have your individual goals just like your team goals, and our team goals are out the door right now. You don’t want to play for yourself, but at the same time play for your pitcher a little bit and help him out.”