Sox Drawer: The return of Wimpy

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Sox Drawer: The return of Wimpy

Thursday, May 13, 2010
7:34 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com
The calendar might say it's 2010, but if you're watching or listening to White Sox games this weekend, they will both have a 1990s flare to them.

No, I'm not talking about the return of Mike Caruso or the "Deacon" Warren Newson.

Not sure if we could handle that.

Instead, calling the three games in Kansas City with Hawk Harrelson will be Sox legend and my CSN buddy Frank Thomas, who will be subbing for Steve Stone.

Meanwhile on the radio side, coming back after an 11-year absence, will be former Sox player, broadcaster, and eternal comedian Tom Paciorek, who will be filling in for Darrin Jackson for both the Kansas City and Detroit series.

Before he hopped on a plane for KC, I caught up with the man we all know as "Wimpy", to talk about the White Sox, his broadcasting career, maybe the greatest draft class in the history of sports (his in 1968), and why his baseball cards are only going for one dollar on eBay. Okay I lied. 1.25.

Chuck Garfien: How excited are you to be coming back, calling games with Ed Farmer in the White Sox radio booth?

Tom Paciorek: Im really excited, Chuck. It came out of the blue to be honest. Bob Grim (Sox Senior Director of Business Development and Broadcasting) called me a couple days ago and asked if Id be interested in subbing for Darrin Jackson. I really jumped at the opportunity to do those games in Kansas city and Detroit. The biggest thrill for me this week is to be able to work with my old friend Ed Farmer. You know Farmio didnt invent the curveball he just perfected it. Im really stoked about this whole thing.

CG: In the back of your mind, have you wanted to get back into broadcasting?

TP: Well, the last time I did any broadcasting work was in 2006 with the Washington Nationals. We didnt have a real good year (71-91) and I didnt think they should blame the whole year on me! I had a lot of fun doing it, and I wanted to get back into it. I tried in a couple different areas. Tampa Bay had an opening and MLB Network, but I didnt really get much of a response from them so I was pretty content to sit back and coach the Pine Crest Academy Middle School team (here in Cumming, Georgia) to a last place finish. We had five teams in our division and four of them made the playoffs. You can guess which team didnt make it. But we did have four wins this year which is one more than we had last year.

CG: From what you have seen from the White Sox, are you surprised that theyve struggled like they have out of the gate?

TP: I really am surprised that theyre struggling because I look at their starting rotation and I really like the guys. When you have guys like Peavy and Buehrle at the top of the rotation, you got to figure youre not going to go into an extended losing streak.

As for the hitting, Im really surprised especially since U.S. Cellular is one of the better hitters ballparks that the team hasnt hit the ball well. But they will. Theyll get it going. Ozzie will get them fired up. I think it will be a three-team race in that AL Central before its over.

CG: But when you see a team eight games back in the middle of May, it can be difficult to feel confident that a team can turn it around.
TP: Heck no. Thats nothing. The White Sox are a team that is really capable, when you combine their pitching power and defensive abilities, they could go on a 10-game winning streak and that wouldnt surprise me one bit.There are a lot of good teams out there. I dont think there are a lot of great ones. Theres no 1927 Yankees out there. So once a team gets a hot, and puts a good winning streak together, theyll get back right into the thick of things. The Sox have much more talent than their record would indicate.

CG: So I want to bring up the 1968 baseball draft. You were picked in the fifth round by the Dodgers.

TP: That was a pretty good draft.

CG: Yeah, Id say so. Im looking at it right now on the computer. Can you name the guys who were drafted in your class?

TP: It was amazing. Bobby Valentine, Bill Buckner, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Joe Ferguson, Davey Lopes. A pitcher named Sandy Vance.

CG: There was also Doyle Alexander, Ed Ott, Geoff Zahn. An amazing 14 players ended up making it to the major leagues.

TP: It was a great draft and fortunately for all of us, we got to play for Tommy Lasorda in Rookie Ball in Ogden, Utah. It was funny. The first thing we did when we got there, he told us to get a piece of paper and pencil out and write a letter to the guy who was playing our position at Dodgers Stadium. So we all got down and wrote to Maury Wills, Willie Davis, Wes Parker, I hope you enjoyed your stay with the Dodgers because Im coming to take your job real soon.

No wonder everybody hated us when we got to spring training the next year. So here are guys in the lowest form of Rookie Ball, writing to the guys in the major leagues telling them theyre going to be unemployed shortly. Thats the kind of attitude we had, and the kind of thing Lasorda instilled in us from 1968 on.

CG: I also found some interesting stuff on eBay. Did you know youve got a lot of stuff selling on eBay.

TP: No.

CG: They range in many prices. You can buy a 1979 Topps Tom Paciorek card for 1.00. If its autographed from 1978, its going for 5.00.

TP: Get out.

CG: Theres a Tom Paciorek autographed 3-by-5 notecard going for 6 bucks. Theres not even a picture. Its just a 3-by-5 notecard.

TP: Ill tell you what. Thats a bargain. Ive always said that my autograph isnt worth much right now. But five years from now, its going to be worth much less.

CG: And theres a Tom Pacoriek game-used Louisville Slugger going for 185. How about that?
TP: Is it cracked? Thats how I used to order mine back then. As (former major leaguer) Art Kusnyer once said, I used to throw my bat and helmet before I hit.

CG: Meanwhile, its like Old Home Week, because Frank Thomas is going to be in the TV booth with Hawk this weekend in Kansas City.

TP: Yeah, hes my Pick-to-Click!! Im glad to see Frank is back, and doing Pre and Postgame shows with you guys. I think he should be with the Sox, because he did so many great things for them. I was there for his first six or seven years, every at-bat. And he was the best hitter in baseball at that time. No matter who the pitcher was, the better Frank was. He always got 2 hits off the ace of the other team, drove in a run, scored a run, got a walk. Things like that.
CG: After all these years, I still dont know how you became known as Wimpy. Im guessing its after the character from the Popeye cartoon who loved hamburgers.

TP: It is. In fact, it goes back to 1968 and that Dodgers draft. It was a family atmosphere that Lasorda created. We all ate and drank together. The first day we went out for dinner. Everybody ordered steaks, but I decided to order these big double cheeseburgers. From that day oncan you imagine that from June 1968 to today Im still known for ordering two double cheeseburgers instead of a steak?

CG: And one more question, is it going to be deja-vu for you, being in the booth, calling White Sox games?

TP: I think its going to be really cool. I know Im a little older. I havent changed much over the years, Chuck. Ive gained some weight, Ive dyed my hair white. But other than that, Im pretty much the same. I think its going to be a lot of fun. Ive always been a high-energy kind of a guy when Im doing this type of stuff, and I know Im going to be able to muster it up this weekend.

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.

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If Carlos Rodon starts on the disabled list as expected, the White Sox won't turn to any of their vaunted top prospects in the interim.

The news on Rodon has been encouraging so far as no structural damage has been discovered. Still, the White Sox won't clear Rodon until after he receives a second opinion on Monday. While the length of Rodon's absence won't be determined for several days, the White Sox are certain of one route they won't take — they don't want to disrupt the development of their young starting pitchers. Were a DL trip for Rodon necessary, the White Sox would likely select either Saturday's starter, Dylan Covey, or minor leaguer David Holmberg over their top prospects. Covey made a strong impression on Saturday afternoon with 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched and the White Sox rallied for a 10-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

"When you have an opportunity to stabilize action or movement for players it serves them better," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "They get a little more comfortable where they're at. They get comfortable with the staffs they're working with and the information they're gathering, being in a routine. It is a little disruptive going from team to team to team. It happens, but it's not the most conducive (to learning)."

The White Sox are all about development this season. Therefore, they have no plans to call upon Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer or Michael Kopech unless they're A) ready and B) throwing every fifth day in Chicago. Renteria's comments Saturday reiterated Rick Hahn's earlier message, saying the club doesn't want to disrupt the development path.

That puts Covey, a Rule 5 draft pick in December, with a decent opportunity to make the club out of camp. Covey commanded the strike zone on Saturday only hours after Renteria said he hoped to see the young right-hander replicate an Arizona Fall League performance that initially warmed the White Sox up to him.

Aside from a two-out walk in his final inning, Covey was sharp the whole way. He allowed three hits and struck out three.

"My last couple of outings I was definitely feeling the stress," Covey said. "I was kind of pitching a little passive, pitching to not make a mistake instead of just going right after guys. So today and yesterday I just thought I'm just going to throw every pitch with conviction and see what happens. I got a lot of weak contact today and some swings and misses, so I felt good."

Covey threw 44 pitches, 27 for strikes. He potentially could stay in Arizona on Thursday and make an additional minor league start to build arm strength, which would get him to roughly 60 pitches before the regular seasons started.

The White Sox don't officially need a fifth starter until April 9 and they're off the following day. That break could allow the White Sox to start Covey as part of a bullpen day. Covey said he recently changed his mindset after lackluster results in relief this spring. The right-hander has a 6.94 ERA this spring in 11 2/3 innings.

"Obviously my last two outings out of the pen I wasn't getting crushed, but I just wasn't commanding the ball or commanding the count as much as I would like to be," Covey said. "The mistakes get hit a little harder when you're falling behind in the count. Today I wanted to have the mindset of attacking hitters, throwing everything down in the zone and going right after them, and it worked out."

The White Sox blasted six home runs in the contest, including a majestic, go-ahead grand slam by first baseman Danny Hayes in the top of the ninth inning. Hayes is hitting .351/.400/.595 with two homers and is tied for the team lead with 13 RBIs this spring. Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico, Cody Asche, Everth Cabrera and Jacob May also homered for the White Sox. 

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

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USA TODAY

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While he still has a second opinion ahead and is likely to start 2017 on the disabled list, a clean MRI has Carlos Rodon feeling relieved after a bizarre Thursday.

The White Sox pitcher described Saturday the strange experience he’s had the past few days dealing with soreness in his left bicep.

In the span of 48 hours, Rodon -- who will receive a second opinion on Monday -- went from feeling good enough after a midweek bullpen session to request that his first start be moved up to likely landing on the DL. As he prepares to navigate the rehab process, Rodon is more at ease after an MRI on Friday showed no structural damage.

“(Thursday) was a weird day for me,” Rodon said. “I wasn’t very happy with it. I got that checked out, trying to figure it out.

“I feel better. It’s reassuring.”

“(Your arm is) your tool. It’s concerning. But that’s why you go get those things checked out and make sure everything is ok. That’s what we did.”

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Rodon, who went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 165 innings in 2016, has one more checkup before he’s all clear. He travels to Los Angeles on Monday for an appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that a second opinion is “protocol.”

Though he has already been reassured -- the club’s diagnosis was he had no structural issues after a physical exam and then the clean MRI -- Rodon wouldn’t mind more confirmation. The left-hander said he hadn’t experienced the kind of tightness he suddenly felt in his biceps tendon before Thursday. He could lift his arm above his head, but Rodon said his stuff wasn’t the same. After he informed them, the White Sox determined to be cautious.

“It’s pretty tight up there,” Rodon said. “I’ve never really been that tight. I couldn’t really step on some balls I wanted to throw to get that arm going. So, I had to get it checked out. It didn’t feel too good.”

The White Sox already had Rodon on a delayed schedule where he needed to hit every mark to be ready for the regular season. They did so in hopes of helping him avoid the fatigue he experienced last summer and also reaching the 200-inning mark this season. Now it appears Rodon will begin the season on the DL, according to Hahn.

Though he’d like to start the season on schedule, Rodon wants to make sure he’s physically good to go.

“Just trying to be healthy man,” Rodon said. “You don’t want to go the start of the season and be behind the best guys. You are a tick down from the best guys in the world. It’s not fun pitching when you are not feeling too good. I want to be 100 percent when I’m out there. That gives our team the best chance of winning.”