Sox Drawer: Let it snow

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Sox Drawer: Let it snow

Thursday, March 31, 2011
Posted: 3:30 p.m. Updated: 4:56 p.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Indians head groundskeeper Brandon Koehnke knew he had quite a mess on his hands when he arrived at Progressive Field this morning at 6:30 a.m.

Two inches of snow had fallen in Cleveland, and the field hes responsible for, which just had brand new grass installed this past winter, suddenly looked ready for Christmas Day, certainly not Opening Day.

The White Sox were supposed to hold a workout here. Instead, the session began with Juan Pierre, Mark Buehrle, Ramon Castro, and 3rd base coach Jeff Cox building a snowman.
Buehrle, who will extend his White Sox record by making his 9th Opening Day start, loves the Midwest. Hes just not sure why the White Sox always start each season playing in it.

It makes no sense, Buehrle said. Why start on the East coast or the Midwest where theres snow and its 30 degrees? Theres no reason not to be in Anaheim where its 80 degrees right now.

For the record, it was 84 degrees today in Anaheim. It will be 80 there tomorrow. Where are the Angels beginning the season? Kansas City. Buehrles right. It makes no sense.

As for being in Cleveland for Opening Day, Ozzie Guillen your thoughts?

Very stupid to play in Cleveland right now, Guillen said. Nothing against Cleveland. We expect that. When you play in Cleveland on Opening Day...a couple years ago they canceled like 30 games here. But were here, and have to play through snow.

Speaking of which:

Hey, you ever been hit by a snowball? Matt Thornton said to Chris Sale as he walked out of the dugout. Sale proceeded to get pelted by a 97-mile-per-hour fastball.

Sale, a Florida native, was definitely at a disadvantage, which might be the same for hitters on Friday, even if the temps rise into the 40s, which has been forecasted.

The hitters are going to be cold up there, Thornton said. I honestly think its an advantage for the pitcher because youre out there and feeling warm and pretty much in constant motion. Hitters dont like hitting in the cold either."

Maybe so, but how about posing for a picture in the cold in shorts and no shirt? Thats what 43-year-old Omar Vizquel did on the field for a Cleveland newspaper. The former Indian is set to begin his 23rd season in the major leagues. Friday will be a memorable day for Vizquel, assuming hes not in the hospital suffering from frostbite and pneumonia.

This one in particular is really special because my best years were here in Cleveland and how special everything went when we had those teams, Vizquel said. Its going to be really, really great. An emotional moment for me.

By the afternoon, the snow had been removed from the Progressive Field tarp. Groundskeepers were blow drying the outfield grass. Yes, blow drying.

Thats April baseball. The White Sox are used to it. And even though hed rather be starting the season somewhere much more tropical, Guillen doesnt want to hear any excuses.

A lot of players this time of year have to prepare mentally to play in cold weather. Thats no excuse, the White Sox manager said. You want to play in nice weather, sign with the NBA. You play indoors and youre fine.

Last year the White Sox opened in Chicago. This year Cleveland.

As Thornton said, It is what it is.

Next year? On to Detroit!!

I'll be sure to bring my snowsuit.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

 

The White Sox take on the Twins on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.97 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.40 ERA)

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Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Even though he felt isolated and experienced a five-day stretch he called “a fiasco,” Chris Sale was right where he wants to be Thursday, surrounded by White Sox teammates.

Shortly after a 3-1 loss to the Cubs, the pitcher echoed the sentiments of White Sox management in a 10-minute media session when he suggested he’d like to move on from a five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property.

With the trade deadline only four days away, Sale wants to stay with the White Sox and hopes the current roster gets an opportunity to win. He also thought an incident in which he destroyed promotional throwback jerseys had been blown out of proportion.

While he didn’t apologize for his actions, the left-hander said he regretted letting down his teammates and fans who attended Saturday’s game. Sale, whose record fell to 14-4 after he allowed two runs in six innings, said he plans to address White Sox players and coaches soon and intends to let them know his level of appreciation.

“I want to let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at,” Sale said. “And let them know how much I appreciate them.

“I felt like I was out on an island, really. 7 o’clock rolls around and I usually know what’s going on. Sitting at the house sucks.

“I regret not being there for my guys. I’m a pitcher. I’m called upon every fifth day and when I can’t go out there for my guys and the fans, it gets to me.”

Similar to March when he pitched a day after ripping executive vice president Kenny Williams, Sale said his focus is back on the field. He declined to answer what he didn’t like about the throwback jerseys, calling it “counterproductive.” Even though the White Sox are on the outside looking in, Sale is hopeful he and his teammates can rally and make a strong postseason push over the final 60 games.

“I think everyone is making just a little bit bigger deal of this then it really is,” Sale said. “We are here to win games and from this point forward, I think that’s our main focus. We are going to come in every day and do our jobs and try to win ballgames, that’s at the forefront.

“I don’t like people filling in for me. I love what I do. I love pitching. I love competing. I love the guys that I’m surrounded by.”

“When I let them down, it hurts me more than it hurts them.”

Three days after he suggested manager Robin Ventura didn’t properly support him, Sale declined to discuss their future relationship and again diverted the conversation back to the field. When asked what was the biggest lesson he took from the ordeal, Sale said he wasn’t quite sure.

“I know you guys are trying to get in there and you guys have to write stories and stuff,” Sale said. “I understand. But they said their side. I said my side. I’m ready to talk about baseball and playing baseball and getting back to winning and getting the Chicago White Sox into the postseason. That’s my goal. That’s my focus. Anything else, that’s for you guys.”

While he admits that his competitive side may have fed into Saturday’s events, he also knows abandoning it would hurt him on the field. Sale said he was inundated by texts and calls from teammates past and present during his absence. That only strengthened his desire to win with the current group, Sale said.

“There’s no doubt my emotions have got me to this point,” he said. “I wouldn’t be the same person without them but stuff happens. Move on. We have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’ll just push forward.

“I’m here to win. I love exactly where I’m at. I have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’re pulling for each other, they are pulling for me and vice versa, through and through. I’d like to stay with this group of guys and make a push for the playoffs because I love those guys.”

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

The word of the day Thursday around the cramped confines of the visitor’s clubhouse at Wrigley Field was normal, as in getting things back to it with ace left-hander Chris Sale taking the mound after serving a five-game suspension for “insubordination and destruction of team property.”

A completely abnormal story — Sale cut up the 1976 throwback uniforms he didn’t want to wear last Saturday and was sent home for his actions — gave way to a relatively routine evening. Sale allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts over six innings, though the White Sox lineup was shut down by John Lackey and the Cubs’ new three-headed bullpen monster in a 3-1 Crosstown loss.

“Things were pretty normal,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys got here, not a different clubhouse or anything like that. I think everything went fairly normal as far as him going out there and pitching and it was about baseball.”

First baseman Jose Abreu said things felt like an ordinary Sale start, even though the American League’s All-Star starting pitcher hadn’t pitched since July 18. He didn’t have his best stuff and wasn’t his sharpest, either — those three walks were his highest total in over two months — as he wasn’t able to consistently paint the corners with his explosive arsenal of pitches.

But, as usual, Sale worked quickly and kept his team in the game against one of baseball’s best offenses.

“He pitched a very good game,” Abreu said through a translator.

The Cuban first baseman added: “I think that we already moved on.”

Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed.

“He gave us a great outing, we just weren’t able to score any runs for him,” Navarro said.

Before the game, third baseman Todd Frazier said he and his teammates rallied around Sale and hoped a solid outing from the 27-year-old left-hander would put the bizarre incident squarely in the rearview mirror. 

“Some mistakes are bigger than others but you gotta understand that we’re all not perfect,” Frazier said. “Things do happen in this game, different things that you think (you’ve) never seen before, and then it happens. It’s just one of those things, hopefully it goes away quick with the way he pitches."

Sale said he didn’t discuss the incident or his suspension with his teammates before the game to keep things as normal as possible. After he showed up a little after 4:40 p.m., he received hugs and handshakes from teammates welcoming him back following his five-day exile.

But after that, Navarro said things were business as usual. He and Sale went through the gameplan and got ready to face the Cubs' powerful lineup instead of dwelling on what happened last Saturday. Eventually, Sale will talk to his coaches and teammates on a personal level to “let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at, and let them know how much I appreciate them.”

With the White Sox playoff hopes flickering as the trade deadline approaches, though, Sale’s teammates are eager to keep the focus on trying to dig themselves out of a substantial, two-games-under-.500 hole.

“Everything’s in the past,” Navarro said. “He did a great job. Quality start, nothing else you can ask.”