Sox Drawer: What about Bobby?

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Sox Drawer: What about Bobby?

Sunday, May 9, 2010
11:34 PM

By Chuck Garfien
CSNChicago.com
During spring training, I asked Ozzie Guillen a simple question.

How much rope does Bobby Jenks have this season?

Ozzie needed about a millisecond to respond.

Hes got a lot of rope, the White Sox manager said. "Hes my man. I know we have a few people in the bullpen, but Im going to give him the best opportunity until he cant anymore.

Judging by his last two performances, and comments made by Ozzie Guillen after the game, Jenks days as the White Sox closer could be numbered.

Not just because he is not retiring hitters with the ease of 2005-2008, but with the White Sox fading further and further behind the first-place Twins, they can no longer digest ninth-inning collapses like Jenks had this past weekend.

The first was a solo shot to John Buck in the ninth on Friday night, which broke a three-all tie. That was bad. But nothing like what happened on Sunday.

It being Mothers Day, it was the Mother of All meltdowns.

After coming back from a 5-3 deficit to take a two-run lead in the eighth, coupled with Jake Peavys gem over the Blue Jays on Saturday, you could feel the momentum strongly swinging the White Sox way. They had the confidence. They had the mojo. They had Bill Melton, Frank Thomas and I on the CSN Postgame set, ready to sing their praises. It all seemed to be in perfect rhythm.

But then, the needle flew off the turntable.

Or if youre under the age of 18, the iPod, like, totally crashed.

Travis Snyder doubled to center.

John Buck singled to right (I think weve seen enough of John Buck for about a decade).

And then ... the dagger.

Fred Lewis, with 17 career home runs on his resume, belted that three-run homer to right, making it 8-7, Blue Jays. They eventually won, 9-7. At least I think they did. Hawk Harrelson was so distraught he swallowed part of his microphone.

So what do the Sox do now?

After the game, Guillen hinted that changes in the bullpen are coming, at least in the short term.

We have a lot of options, and we are going to search for ones, Guillen said. Maybe the next couple of days, I might use someone different just to see if Bobby can regroup and come back to his form.

As for Jenks, who now has a 6.75 ERA this season, he disagrees. Asked if he might soon find himself out of the closer role, the struggling reliever said, No, that doesnt even make sense.

What does make sense is that a loss like Sundays has the Sox teetering perilously close to Kenny Williams danger zone. The Sox general manager wants to win, and badly. But with his team seriously deflated by this tough loss and heading into of all places, Minnesota, for a two-game series, if the Sox are unable to quickly recover and lose both games, do the math.

Theyll be 10 games out.

The season wont be over. But Kennys patience with this club might be.

Even through the fog of Sundays loss, Jenks could clearly see the magnitude of what lies ahead.

This is probably, especially this early, the most important road trip weve got coming up, Jenks said. Especially against the Twins. It might only be two games, but they are both big games. Weve got to battle back. Were behind in the division, so these are going to be big.

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.

Slumping White Sox get huge boost after Miguel Gonzalez 'defended his ground'

Slumping White Sox get huge boost after Miguel Gonzalez 'defended his ground'

Every factor but one suggested there was no way Rick Renteria would remove Miguel Gonzalez in the seventh inning on Monday afternoon.

Of course, Gonzalez didn’t know that.

But even as he walked to the mound with two on and no outs in the seventh and Wrigley Field roaring, Renteria didn’t have any intention of pulling Gonzalez.

Trades and injuries have given the White Sox manager even less wiggle room with which to work than the one-run lead Gonzalez was trying to protect. As long he was convinced his pitcher was game, Renteria would stay with Gonzalez. Gonzalez acquiesced and soon thereafter the White Sox were on their way to their first victory since July 8. The White Sox topped the Cubs 3-1 and in doing so snapped a nine-game losing streak.

“I just went in there to reaffirm that we were thinking the same way,” Renteria said. “He was thinking the same way. It was kind of easy.

“He said ‘I got this.’ He defended his ground.”

[Such a mighty wallop: How does Matt Davidson's mammoth home run stack up?]

Even though he had a front-row seat for the conversation, catcher Kevan Smith had little understanding of what transpired. The rookie said Renteria and Gonzalez spoke entirely in Spanish after Jon Jay and Javier Baez singled to open the bottom of the seventh inning. Smith heard Renteria mention to Gonzalez that lefty David Holmberg was ready to face switch hitter Ian Happ. Beyond that, all Smith heard from Gonzalez was ‘bueno’ and ‘listo,’ and Renteria was headed back to the visiting dugout.

But you don’t have to be a linguist to decipher what issues the White Sox pitching staff faces after a trying month.

Prior to Gonzalez pitching into the eighth, the White Sox hadn’t had a starter complete seven innings since June 16. An already overworked bullpen has also had to deal with season-ending injuries to Zach Putnam, Nate Jones and top relief prospect Zack Burdi. And those issues have been even further compounded by the trades of Jose Quintana, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in the past 12 days.

So even though Gonzalez was on the verge of facing the top of the Cubs order a fourth time, Renteria had to stick with him so he could save top relievers Dan Jennings and Anthony Swarzak for later.

“I said ‘Just give me the ball,’ ” Gonzalez said. “ ’I’m OK. I’m fine. I’m feeling OK.’ Just walked away and I was able to get out of that jam. That was a big one.”

Smith was also happy with the decision. He liked how Gonzalez — who threw strikes on 73 of 105 pitches — had competed. Smith thought Gonzalez had great stuff and heard positive reviews from opposing hitters.

“(Gonzalez) had it,” Smith said. “The guys were coming up to the plate saying this guy has got some stuff today. It was a big moment to kind of prove that he can be a long guy, especially late in the game like that. Big pressure situation. Obviously it was getting pretty rowdy, but he stayed composed and pitched his way out of it.”

First was a five-pitch strikeout of Happ that ended with a swinging strike on a curveball. Jason Heyward then popped out to shallow center for the second out. Kris Bryant worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases. But Gonzalez jumped ahead of Anthony Rizzo in the count 1-2 before he got the star first baseman to fly out deep to center to strand the bases loaded.

Gonzalez returned in the eighth and retired one more hitter before he exited after a Kyle Schwarber single. The effort was plenty for Renteria and the White Sox, who also wiggled out of jams in the eighth and ninth inning.

“Sometimes you just don't have any other option,” Renteria said. “You just have to do what you have to do. They had a really good idea of how they wanted to attack those guys. …

“Miggy did a really nice job.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Sox win game one of Crosstown Series

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Sox win game one of Crosstown Series

Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun Times), David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Ben Finfer (ESPN Radio) join Kap to go over the exciting first game between the White Sox and the Cubs.

Plus, the latest on trade rumors linking Justin Verlander and Alex Avila to the Cubs. Do the Cubs really need to make another move?

Finally, the guys discuss whether Kyrie Irving asking for a trade out of Cleveland is the dumbest career choice, ever.