Sox Drawer: Running Strasburg diary

193872.jpg

Sox Drawer: Running Strasburg diary

Friday, June 18, 2010

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com

5:37 PM

By now, youveheard all about him. Stephen James Strasburg...the pitcher, phenom, andbaseball messiah who tonight will once again put the weight of severalplanets on his 21-year-old shoulders, taking the mound against theWhite Sox at 6:00 pm on Comcast SportsNet.

In his first majorleague start against Pittsburgh, he struck out 14 batters in 7 inningsand got the win. In his second start at Cleveland, he struck out 8 more(walked 5),but won again. Its pretty obvious that his stuff is offthe charts, said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman.

Yeah, but hes never thrown a pitch to Gavin Floyd. Gavin, may the force be with you.

Strasburgsfastball consistently hits 99 and 100. He also has a knee-bucklingcurveball and change-up. And much to the chagrin of my people, hes notJewish. A major disappointment.

At least we have Sandy Koufax. Yes, well always have Sandy.

Sowith Baby Jesus getting set to throw his biblical stuff at the Soxtonight, Ill be here throughout the game, reporting on anything andeverything that happens. The good, the bad, or when Gavin gets in thebox...the ugly.

6:17 PM

Well, you can forget about a Strasburg no-hitter. Juan Pierre leads off with an infield hit.

Hawk Harrelson sets a record by canceling the post-game show 30 seconds into the game.

Omar Vizquel is next with a bloop double to right. By the way, Vizquel is Strasburgs grandfather.

Other facts about the Chosen One that you may not know:

Hespeaks 46 languages. He is allergic to kryptonite. If he was in Chicagoduring that crazy storm this afternoon, he would have stopped it withone arm. His left one.

Alex Rios sends a dribbler to the rightside. Pierre scores. White Sox lead 1-0. Okay, thats it. Strasburg iscompletely overrated. Whats up with all of this hype?

(Strasburg proceeds to strikeout Konerko and Quentin to end the inning).

Okay, hes for real. Sick. Filthy. Nasty.

6:30 PM

Sitting onthe third base side in the suite is none other than the Sox FirstFan...President Obama. Just saw him sipping a beer during thecommercial break. Hes still wearing that ratty, old Sox cap. The teamhas tried to give him a new one, but he always refuses. He likes theone hes got.

Who is operating the camera above homeplate.NASA?When a ball is hit into the outfield I feel like Im watching from aspace station.

Frank Thomas is watching the game from his home in Vegas. Asked him what he thinks of Strasburg, he texted backcomposed.

A 1-2-3 inning for Strasburg in the second. Gavin Floyd leads off in the third! Odds of him making contact: 85-to-1.

6:51 PM

Despite the best intentions, Floyd strikes out. Pierre does too.

Strasburgreminds me of Dwight Gooden when he came into the big leagues in 1984.At just 19-years-old, he went 17-and-9 with 276 strikeouts in just 218innings. The next year, he was basically unhittable. Gooden was24-and-4 with a 1.53 ERA.

This is the Sox first game inWashington, DC since July 16, 1971. The Sox won the game 2-0...thanksin large part to my TV partner Bill Melton, who hit accounted for bothruns with a 2-run homer in the sixth innings, his 21st of the season.

Bill also committed an error at third base. Well talk more about this on the post-game show. Mainly his error.

Vizquel grounds out to second. Still 1-0 White Sox. Floyd has his A stuff tonight.

6:56 PM

So Imreading the media game notes provided by the Washington Nationals.They also wrote about the Sox last game in DC, but mistakenly calledBill Melton Pete.

Pete Melton?

After giving up hitsto Pierre and Vizquel to start the game, Strasburg has retired 12 in arow, 7 on strikeouts. While in the dugout, Im told he is in deepdiscussions with President Obama on how to fix the oil leak in theGulf. Expect Stephen to have it all figured out by the 8th inning.

7:25 PM

The Phillies are thumping the Twins 8-0 in the 4th inning. Just sayin.

Withall the attention on Strasburg, Floyd is matching him. Just one hitthrough 5. Hes retired 8 in a row. But thats what humans can do.

Strasburg?His 9 strikeouts give him 31, which is the most in baseball history fora pitcher in his first 3 games. He breaks the record of 29 set byformer Astros pitcher J.R. Richard.

BREAKING NEWS: Gavin Floyddoesnt just make contact off Strasburg, he just got a hit!!! Thisjust might be the greatest achievement I have seen on a baseball fieldsince Mark Buehrle homered last year at Miller Park. Floyd was 2-for-48at the plate in his career.

Meanwhile, this game is flying and Ihave a postgame show to do. Maybe this running blog wasnt such a greatidea. Melton feels neglected. Im too busy to talk to him.

Strasburghas given up two home runs in his first two starts. Im predictingsomeone gets to him next inning. Konerko or Quentin.

Still 1-0 White Sox in the 6th.

7:56 PM

Thats itfor Strasburg. Despite a 100-pitch limit, they pull him after throwing85. He gives up 1 run over 7, finishes with 10 strikeouts and zerowalks. He really is amazing.

And I gotta get ready for the postgame show. If you have an email for Bill Melton, submit it by clicking here. Well get to as many as we can. Thanks for reading everyone!

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.

White Sox like short- and long-term payoff from Tim Anderson's battle with Jake Arrieta

White Sox like short- and long-term payoff from Tim Anderson's battle with Jake Arrieta

What arguably was the best at-bat of Tim Anderson’s nascent major league career ended with a strikeout. 

Anderson led off the sixth inning of the White Sox 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday with a 10-pitch at-bat against reigning National League Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. He fouled off four consecutive pitches, three of which came on a 3-2 count, before taking a sinker on the black for strike three. 

What happened after Anderson’s at-bat was where the payoff from it came: Melky Cabrera drew a walk and Jose Abreu lined a single to right. After Justin Morneau struck out looking on a high curveball — the pitch was out of the strike zone, according to BrooksBaseball.net — Todd Frazier launched a three-run home run.

 

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“I kind of felt like that got us some momentum, even though I did strike out,” Anderson said.” It kind of got him (Arrieta) flustered a little bit, got him off rhythm and we were able to capitalize on that.”

The 23-year-old Anderson hasn’t made a living on patient, lengthy at-bats since being promoted to the majors in early June. Anderson entered Tuesday’s Crosstown date with the Cubs seeing an average of 3.56 pitches per plate appearance, ranking 278th out of 310 players with at least 150 plate appearances this season (former White Sox and current Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski is last with 3.09 P/PA, while the Cleveland Indians’ Mike Napoli leads the majors with 4.59 P/PA). 

Anderson also has the lowest walk rate (1.2 percent) of any player with 150 plate appearances, which would explain why he only has a .281 on-base percentage despite hitting a relatively healthy .273. 

It’s relatively rare for a player to have a walk rate as low as Anderson’s and have an above-average season at the plate. The lowest walk rates for players with a wRC+ over 100 (100 being average) over the last three years: Adam Jones (3.6 percent walk rate, 119 wRC+ in 2013), Dee Gordon (3.8 percent walk rate, 113 wRC+ in 2014) and Jones (2.8 percent walk rate, 116 wRC+ in 2015).

[RELATED: White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion']

Eventually, Anderson will have to become more patient at the plate to maximize on his outstanding contact skills. The battle he had with Arrieta showed he can fight off plenty of pitches from one of baseball’s best hurlers, which manager Robin Ventura saw as a positive long-term sign. 

It didn’t hurt things in in the short-term view of the sixth inning Monday, either. 

“He’s getting a taste of some good pitchers,” Ventura said. “I think that’s part of his process going through the league, seeing these guys. He doesn’t back down, he’s a very confident kid. You learn something as well as be productive. You like to see a kid fight like that at the plate.”

White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion'

White Sox VP Kenny Williams: Hahn, Ventura handled Sale situation in 'excellent fashion'

Kenny Williams doesn’t want the fallout from Chris Sale’s latest incident to drag out any longer.

The White Sox executive vice president said Tuesday he’d like to move on and thought going into detail on Sale’s comments about Robin Ventura or any other aspect of the incident that led to the pitcher’s suspension would be counterproductive.

Sale is in the third day of a five-game suspension imposed by the club for insubordination and destruction of team property after he destroyed the throwback jerseys they were set to wear on Saturday and was sent home early. On Monday, Sale told MLB.com that Ventura needed to stand up for his players when they objected to the 1976 unis.

“The one thing I can say is the way that Rick and Robin I think handled the situation, it was a difficult situation, certainly a unique situation, but one in which I think they handled in an excellent fashion,” said Williams, who was at an out-of-town event Saturday.

Sale defended his decision to destroy the uniforms, an act the Associated Press reported cost him $12,700 in fines as well as the suspension. Some players objected to last year’s throwback uniforms and the team altered them to make them more comfortable.

But Sale made it clear in spring training and again on Friday he didn’t wear them. He said wearing the throwbacks could hinder performance and thought it was a promotional stunt where the club put business in front of winning. Sale also disagreed with how Ventura, who sent him home early and scratched him from making a start, handled the situation.

[RELATED: Suspended Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs]

Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don't feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix -- it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that's when I lost it.”

Ventura didn’t directly address Sale’s comments on Tuesday in an effort to move on from the incident. Asked if he believed he and Sale can co-exist, Ventura said yes. He also said he didn’t think he would have handled the situation any different.

Sale previously ripped Williams endlessly in a 14-minute media session in March after Adam LaRoche abruptly retired over a dispute with management about how often his son Drake could be around the team. The White Sox declined to suspend Sale at that point, but didn’t hesitate to do so on Sunday. Hahn said Sale’s actions warranted the punishment.

Williams was asked if the organization would try to keep Sale on a tighter leash in the future. But rather than launch into a diatribe of his own, Williams suggested its better for all parties if they work through the scenario internally than have it play out in the media.

“You know me and I’m never one to shy away from a direct question,” Williams said. “But I’m more interested in moving on. Any further comment beyond what I said is counterproductive to all of that. At one point in my career, you probably would have gotten me to comment in a very different way.”

White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon ‘back on track’ after rehab start Monday

White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon ‘back on track’ after rehab start Monday

Carlos Rodon threw 58 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte on Monday and is optimistic he’ll return to the White Sox starting rotation soon. 

The 23-year-old left-hander was placed on the 15-day disabled list July 9 (retroactive to July 6) with a sprained left wrist, a bizarre injury he suffered when he slipped coming out of the White Sox dugout at U.S. Cellular Field before a game July 8 against the Atlanta Braves. He threw 3 2/3 innings yesterday in Louisville against the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks, three strikeouts and one home run.

More important than the results to Rodon, though, was how he felt in his first game in nearly three weeks. 

“I felt good,” Rodon said. “Back on track.”

The plan for Rodon is to throw again with the White Sox before returning to the team’s rotation, though. Manager Robin Ventura didn’t set a timetable but said the 2014 No. 3 overall pick is “headed in the right direction.”

[MORE: Suspended Chris Sale will start Thursday against Cubs]

The N.C. State product hit the disabled list earlier this month with a 4.50 ERA, 4.42 FIP and 91 strikeouts, 32 walks and 15 home runs over 92 innings. Once he returns, he’ll hope to hit the reset button on what’s been an up-and-down second year in the major leagues. 

Rodon said his goal was to throw 60 pitches on Monday, so he was only two pitches off from that mark. And when he returned to U.S. Cellular Field Tuesday, he remained encouraged with his recovery process. 

“Everything responded well,” Rodon said. “Just looking forward to this next start here.”