Sox Drawer: Playing the Manny Two-Step

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Sox Drawer: Playing the Manny Two-Step

Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010
7:11 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

Im not sure if Kenny Williams prefers the waltz, the polka, the salsa, or the centipede, but the White Sox general manager had his dancing shoes on before Tuesdays game vs. the Orioles, doing the do-si-do around every question about you know who.

Im not sure if I can say his name. Kenny wont, because hes the property of another team. But maybe not for long.

You can ask it in all different ways, but the answer to the question is, it does me no good to speak on it, Williams said. And the main reason is because I think this team needs to be focused on whos going to battle for them and not whos going to walk through the door.

But if the Los Angeles Dodgers do, in fact, place Manny Ramirez on waivers, Williams will likely do everything in his power to give the veteran slugger a key to the Sox clubhouse because of the boost he can give to the White Sox lineup. True, the offense hasnt been the teams biggest problem lately. That would be the bullpen.

Any chance Manny can close?

But come September, which is traditionally Manny Time, ask yourself this question: do you want Ramirez coming to the plate with the game on the line or an inconsistent Mark Kotsay or Andruw Jones?

With Manny questions coming from every angle, Williams did his best to dodge them all, but at the same time he never denied interest in Ramirez, choosing instead to smile his way through the media session with a grin that said, Yes, were interested in Ramirez, but with words that didnt say "no" either.

Williams also gave the following answer to a very loaded question about acquiring a certain player whose personality might not fit with his current team:

The perfect fit is less important than production in the last month of the season, and thats not to say I dont factor it in, Williams said. But you can only get on someones nerves so much in 30 days. So you come in, you produce, we win, everybodys happy. You dont, and the guy leaves.

Who else could Williams be talking about? Terrell Owens?

When asked whether he could manage Ramirez and his me-first personality, Ozzie Guillen said, I can handle anyone. But would he want Manny added to his team?

"I don't know," Guillen said. "Manny hasn't played in the big leagues in a little while. If Kenny asked me if you need Manny or do you want Manny here, I'm going to say yes because you know why? He's going to bring him anyway. Then why not?"

But considering that Ramirez has played in only 166 games the last two seasons because of injuries and his 50-game drug suspension in 2009, which Manny would show up? Guillen isnt so sure.

If you give me Manny when he was with Boston, Ill take a limo to pick him up, Guillen remarked. But I havent seen Manny in a long time. I didnt even see Manny in spring training and we played against him every day."

Theres also the issue of Ramirez's ever-growing Bob Marley locks, which might not sit well with a certain White Sox chairman, who made A.J. Pierzynski and Joe Crede cut their bushy manes during the 2006 season.

"I want to see how Jerry Reinsdorf confronts the hair. It's not going to be my bleeping department, Guillen said.

But for Ramirez, maybe the most important factor can be found in the motivation department. Manny will have plenty. Hes a free agent after this season, so hes playing for his next contract. He loves the spotlight. He thrives under pressure. Hes aware that his future is back in the American League as a designated hitter.

The Dodgers arent going anywhere.

The White Sox hope to be headed somewhere.

Well know in the next few days if Manny is headed here.

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: 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 than 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.”