Sox Drawer: Kenny Downplays Matsui Rumors

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Sox Drawer: Kenny Downplays Matsui Rumors

Wednesday, December 9th

5:07 pm

If the White Sox are unable to sign free agent reliever (and Matt Thornton buddy) J.J. Putz, I guess you can put the blame on Sun-Times Sox beat writer Joe Cowley. Joe reported yesterday that the Sox had asked Thornton to place a call into Putz about coming to the Sox. Once the story spread across the World Wide Web, Williams sensed a change in talks, and now feels like a deal won't happen.

"We thought we had something going on," Williams said. "But as I've told you guys many times before when things become public to a large degree the entire game changes and most times or not, you're not going to get a deal. So something we thought we might be a little closer on becomes public. Now it's not so close."

3:26 pm

Don't buy those White Sox Hideki Matsui jerseys just yet.

Kenny Williams used his media session today to downplay reports that the Sox are close to a deal with the longtime New York Yankees outfielder.

"All I've said is he's a great player," Williams said.

Actually Kenny called Matsui a "good" player yesterday, so reading between the lines, it means...ummmm...nothing. Sorry.

He continued, "I never said that we were pursuing him. I'm not going to say that we're not because I don't know how the rest of the off-season is going to develop. But certainly in recent times I haven't had any discussions with regards to him. More interest has been written and spoken about than we've pursued recently."

One of the hurdles for Matsui might be his desire to return to the Yankees. However, with the Bombers getting Curtis Granderson and with Johnny Damon also a free agent, there are some serious question marks about what New York plans to do with its outfield.
Matsui might wait until he hears definitively from the Yankees about their plans before listening to other offers.

Still, Williams is up to something. If not Matsui, there could be another deal in the picture.

"I can do something within the next 5 minutes, or it could be nothing. I don't know," Williams said.

Minutes later, he then lowered expectations of a move when asked about the amount of money he has to play with. "We're tight. We're really tight. I don't know that we'll do anything. I don't anticipate it."

So there you go.

One of the most interesting comments from Williams came when he was asked about the Cubs Milton Bradley, who as I write this, is still Cubs property.

"The funny thing is, I've had the pleasure of talking to Milton in the past, and it saddens me to a great extent actually some of the things he's been put in or put himself in. I'd like to see this guy go out there without all the distractions and everything and do what he can do, because this guy can play."

Well, the White Sox can use a left-handed bat (or switch hitter in Milton's case) who plays the outfield, can DH, and has a high on-base percentage. Would the Sox dare enter the Bradley sweepstakes?

"I don't know that I see a fit for us," Williams said. "And I probably shouldn't even be talking about him because he's not our player, but Milton Bradley can play. And it's just too bad because he's a more thoughtful person and a better person than I think he has been portrayed or he's shown or however it has manifested itself. It's too bad."

Williams ended his Bradley comments with "I'm staying out of Cubs business."

But after his session with Chicago media, Kenny had other business to attend to, like the massive Japanese media contingency that was anxiously waiting outside the door, ready to pepper the Sox GM about Japanese icon, Matsui.

It was quite a scene. We'll have it for you tonight on SportsNite at 6:30 and 10pm.

Williams repeated his Matsui stance saying, "We haven't had enough substantial conversations with his representatives or himself to even think there could be a real possibility right now."

Whether the Sox get Matsui or anyone for that matter, Williams made one thing very clear.

"I will not disrespect anyone by calling them or making contact until I'm serious. And then when I'm serious about something, things move very quickly. We're either in or we're out."

10:16 am

Not sure if you've noticed, but a seismic dose of economic reality has hit the American League Central, and it has taken a thunderous whack at the White Sox main competition. In fact, the Sox should be theoretically better because their rivals are on the road to getting worse.

Let's take a look at the recent damage:

The Twins lost Johan Santana. They couldn't afford him. The Indians traded away C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Ditto and ditto. And now comes the latest exodus: The Tigers have waved bon voyage to Curtis Granderson, their center fielder, their leadoff hitter (tough to find, ask the Sox), not to mention their charismatic face of the franchise.

The Tigers did trade for and sign Miguel Cabrera to that monster eight-year, 156 million contract in 2008. Something tells me he'll be the next to go. Maybe not this year, but eventually.

So where did all of these former Central All-Stars end up?

Santana to the Mets. Sabathia to the Yankees (via Milwaukee). Lee to the Phillies. And now Granderson joins Sabathia in the Bronx.

See a pattern?

And what did the Sox rivals get in return? We'll probably know in a couple of years. But in the Twins case, the verdict is about to be read:

The Twins, guilty on all counts for not spending enough money.

Granted, they still made the playoffs in 2009, and were a Blackout game from getting there in 2008, but if they were able to keep Santana, arguably the best pitcher in the game, they could have gone much further.

But instead, the Twins traded him to the Mets before he became a free agent, and hoped the deal would give them a bright and cheaper future.

The trade hasn't been. Bright that is.

The key player for the Twins in the Santana trade was Carlos Gomez. Two years later, where's Carlos? Sent to the Brewers this offseason for J.J. Hardy. As for the three other players the Twins received, Kevin Mulvey was dealt to Arizona in September as the player to be named later in a deal for pitcher Jon Rauch. Philip Humber pitched nine innings for the Twins last season, giving up eight runs and nine walks. Deolis Guerra went 6-3 with 5.17 ERA in Double-A.

Advantage: Mets.

The Twins are hoping to see an added revenue stream in their new outdoor ballpark. But I'm not sure how many people want to eat frozen hot dogs come April and September. Maybe they can serve them on a stick.

What will Kenny Williams be serving when he meets with the media later this afternoon? Matsui on a platter? Putz a la king? Coco Crisp for dessert?

As the Sox GM said Tuesday, "We might as well do something. Jerry Reinsdorf is paying a lot of money for the rooms."

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox continue series with Mariners tonight on CSN

The White Sox continue their series against the Seattle Mariners, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 5:30 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: Jose Quintana (10-9, 2.84 ERA) vs. Ariel Miranda (1-0, 5.49 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

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Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Chris Sale strikes out 14 but White Sox fall to Mariners

Felix Hernandez has proven for years that he doesn’t need much help.

But the White Sox provided him with three free outs on the bases anyway on Friday night.

Those mistakes allowed Hernandez to hold the White Sox in check as they wasted a 14-strikeout performance from Chris Sale in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 25,651 at U.S. Cellular Field. Sale retired 16 in a row to end it, but it wasn’t enough as the White Sox dropped back to five games below .500.

“We didn’t run the bases very well tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That ends up costing you. You’re getting something going against them, and it just takes the wind out of your sails. Both guys pitched great.

“They just executed better than we did when they got the chance. Both guys were going strong. The way we ran the bases, we didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Sale (15-7) deserved much better than to lose for the fifth time in his last six decisions.

[MORE: White Sox trade catcher Dioner Navarro to Blue Jays]

Though he allowed a run in the second, third and fourth innings, Sale got on a roll late.

After Adam Lind’s two-out RBI double in the fourth, Sale found an extra gear and retired the last 16 Mariners to hit, including 10 strikeouts. He struck out the side in the sixth and seventh innings and afforded his teammates a chance to rally.

“Thank God we did it early because as everybody saw, when he gets on a roll it’s like lights out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s obviously one of the best pitchers in the league for a reason. We had no chance, really, after the fourth and fifth inning. He got into a groove and got all his pitches working.”

Two of Seattle’s three runs off Sale came on opposite-field drives as Lind doubled to left in the fourth and Franklin Gutierrez homered to right in the second inning. Sale walked none and only allowed five hits and three runs in nine innings. He threw strikes on 88 of 120 pitches.

It was the 13th complete game of Sale’s career and his fifth this season.

“I wanted to find a groove and I felt like after the fourth inning I got into a pretty good groove, that cruising speed I was talking about,” Sale said. “I just tried to lengthen it as much as I could, just fill up as many innings as I could. Just give us a chance to win, keep us in the game.”

While Sale kept his team in the game, they repeatedly took themselves out of it.

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The White Sox had plenty of chances against Hernandez, none better than the bottom of the eighth inning. Trailing by two runs, Avisail Garcia and Tyler Saladino singled on both sides of a J.B. Shuck fielder’s choice. Adam Eaton’s one-out walk knocked Hernandez out of the game after 104 pitches.

But closer Edwin Diaz got Tim Anderson to hit into a fielder’s choice as third baseman Shawn O’Malley made a perfect throw home on the slow roller for a force out. Jose Abreu then fouled out to leave the bases loaded. Diaz retired the side in order in the ninth for his 11th save.

Todd Frazier homered in the seventh inning of Hernandez for the team’s only run, but they should have had more. The White Sox had the leadoff man reach base in five of eight innings started by Hernandez, who allowed a run and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. Hernandez erased two of those five as he picked off Frazier and Shuck in the second and third innings. He also got out of a first-and-third jam in the fifth inning when Shuck lined into a double play and Omar Narvaez was caught leaning.

“That’s the frustrating part,” Ventura said. “You know you’re not really going to have too many opportunities (against Hernandez). You might be able to hit and run or all of a sudden you’re first and third. But if you just take it out of your own hands, that’s where you scratch your head.”

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

White Sox hope second-rounder Alec Hansen's 'fun ride' continues at Kannapolis

The way he dominated the Pioneer League had to boost to Alec Hansen’s confidence. It also prompted his promotion.

When the White Sox sent their second-round pick to Great Falls last month it was in the hope he could rebound from a rough junior season at Oklahoma that caused his draft stock to fall. Once thought to be the potential first overall pick of the 2016 draft, Hansen was selected 49th after he posted a 5.40 ERA and walked 39 batters in 51.2 innings. But Hansen — who made his first start at Single-A Kannapolis on Friday — looked every bit the first-rounder at Great Falls with a 1.23 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.

“We wanted to put him in a position where there was a little less pressure to start off the season,” White Sox player development director Nick Capra said. “There's always pressure, but it's a little less magnified in the Pioneer League. We wanted to get him on the right road. We did a couple things with him mechanically and he took off with it.”

“We kind of held him hostage in Great Falls a little bit too long. He’s been really good. He’s double-digit strikeouts every night. He’s not walking people.”

Hansen is expected to make two starts at Kannapolis before the team’s season ends. He earned a no decision after he allowed three earned runs and five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Columbia Fireflies on Friday.

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Capra described the mechanical changes the White Sox made with Hansen as minor. Essentially, they want Hansen to take advantage of his 6-foot-8 frame and stay taller and release the ball more quickly. They believe it will help him better command his pitches.

Through 11 minor-league starts, Hansen has walked 18 batters in 49 innings (he also pitched seven innings in Arizona). That’s compared with the 96 batters he walked in 145 innings in college.

“Our player development guys deserve so much credit for the way they've handled it,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “There was a little bit of concern about the confidence part of it, just him taking the ball every fifth day and knowing that we believe in him. Our pitching guys and PD guys deserve a huge amount of credit for just the time they put into it. They really, really know how to make these guys excel and succeed. Been a pretty fun ride to watch and I hope it continues.”