Sox Drawer: The Real Carlos Quentin

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Sox Drawer: The Real Carlos Quentin

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
10:53 a.m.

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz - Hes been described as intense, moody, distant, and unapproachable. A man who if given a choice between a five-hour root canal and a 10-minute TV interview would probably race to the dentist and say hold the Novocaine.

Since being acquired by the White Sox three years ago, this is the Carlos Quentin we have come to know, an extremely private person who hates to talk about himself, and prefers to keep his life at a distance from the media.

Like 200 miles.

So imagine my surprise when a member of the White Sox revealed that Carlos, despite his public demeanor, is actually a funny guy who can be the life of the party.

It was such a stunner, I thought about having the information scroll across the bottom of Comcast SportsNet as if it was breaking news.

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Id like to know who told you that, Quentin says with a smile as we begin our interview. Its spring training, the time when Carlos smiles the most. However, once the regular season begins, the expression usually disappears, replaced by a stern, focused stare that can knock down a brick wall.

But as we sit across from each other, Quentin seems lighter and more relaxed, as if a transformation is taking place.

Is this the real Carlos Quentin, the man behind the baseball mask?

Its hard to talk about, but youre on the right track, Quentin says. I definitely have a personable side to myself that I keep hidden from the mass public, and Ive done it throughout my life. Its become a part of me. My wife knows who I am, my close friends do, my family, a lot of my teammates. Everyone has their own battles to fight, and Ill continue working on mine.

Quentin, a Stanford grad, is one of the smartest athletes around. Maybe too smart for baseball. His analytical mind is always on, as if permanently plugged into an electrical socket. Probably not the healthiest way to survive a 162-game season. Its a problem hes trying to fix.

But with that mind comes some valuable tricks, like delivering movie quotes. Name a film that Carlos has seen, and he can fire back multiple lines as if the script is embedded in his brain.

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Ive got tons of them. Im not going to try right now, he says, before breaking out some Will Ferrell from Blades of Glory. Looking is for free, touching it will cost you something. Hence, movie quote. This is actually the first time documented that anyone has ever gotten a movie quote out of me in an interview.

I have the exclusive.

You do. Exclusive rights.

Its this part of Carlos we rarely see; witty, sarcastic. I ask him if its tough to show this side to the public. To let people in.

Yeah, I think so. For everybody. When I talk about this, Im completely aware that Im not the only person who does this. Its a common thing for a lot of players. This is our livelihood. This is a serious thing. Ive taken it to heart throughout my entire career, throughout college, throughout high school. You keep that in the background and its just being able to come out and be yourself while thats still looming over you. Its a blend that some people are very good at. A lot of people on our team are great at it. And some people need to work on it.

One piece of advice that Carlos has heard time and time again is to lighten up. He wishes he could just hit a button and quickly calm everything down inside his mind. But its not that easy. Never has been.

When someone tells you to do something that you continuously try to do, its like You dont think Im trying? What do you think, like I just decided no. Before I used to take it a little personally, but now I just kind of chuckle. No one walks in my shoes except myself. I appreciate people trying to help in certain ways, but Im open to it. Ill get there. Im not not trying.

To lighten the mood, I ask him if its time for another movie quote.

No, were getting serious, Quentin says with a smirk. I might start crying.

READ: Quentin gains perspective

The Carlos Quentin we saw in 2008 when he almost won the American League MVP (36 HR, 100 RBIs) is still very much here, although some of the rage that was burning inside him that season has quieted down. Quentin says he took the trade from Arizona to the White Sox personally, and has since learned from it.

I felt like I was kind of given away. Ive never been upset at the Diamondbacks, but I just felt like in a young players career, when a team gives up on you, trades you away, theres some adjustment to that. You go on this successful path, and all of a sudden you hit a huge bump, a huge roadblock, and you realize that the people you spent time with are now gone, and it can happen just like thatand you kind of guard yourself. But you cant keep guarding yourself over and over. And thats been kind of the habit Ive fallen into to protect me from the woes that baseball can bring. That people dont talk about.

If he didnt play professional baseball, Quentin probably could have made it to the NFL. At University High School in San Diego, he was named Western League Defensive Player of the Year as an outside linebacker. Considering he plays baseball like hes Brian Urlacher, I often wonder if he should have been a football player instead.

Ahh, me too, Quentin says laughing. It would have been easier. I have no problem running into something over and over. Physically it would take a toll, but tell me to go tackle somebody and Ill do it.

In the calm waters of spring training, Quentin can be the loose, relaxed version of himself. You wonder how long it will last. Maybe Carlos does too.

The regular season will begin, things at some point will go south. Its baseball. It happens to everyone. How will Quentin react then?

I hope I still get to talk to you, he says with a big grin. He then decides to take our conversation in a completely different direction. Who am I to get in the way?

He continues, I mean, theres a chance I might not speak to you after this interview.

I might not want to interview you.

Lets take a couple of breaths together. Youre pretty funny. I actually dont mind talking with you. A mental note. Ill remember to say hello to you from now on.

Can I put this on my resume that Carlos Quentin wants to talk with me?

Honestly, Im not that important. You know it too. Youre just joking. People will watch this because of you.

No, because of you.

No, its not about me, its about you.

Im making this happen??

Youre the media. Youre the face.

Im not even on camera.

Im just on the field. I graze and hang out. I swing a bat. Thats all I do.

I then prepare Carlos for what will be the toughest question I will ask him. He shivers. Actually, not really.

Got any jokes, I ask.

He thinks for a moment, pondering what kind of joke he can tell on television. Hes thinking about the kids.

What did the mama tomato say to the baby tomato?

I think Ive heard this one before.

Ketchup.

The punchline hangs in the desert air for a second. Its a tad uncomfortable. I better laugh. But its nice watching Carlos squirm.

We should never use that, he says, breaking the silence with a laugh. Ever. That took away all my credibility. Street credgone.

Ill disagree. It was Carlos being Carlos. The real McCoy. The guy behind the guy. The player we never get to see. It was fun while it lasted. Hopefully well meet again.

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: 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.”