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.

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since

Adam Engel stepped into the batter’s box for his first major league at-bat in May armed with a batting stance that, to say the least, wasn’t conventional. 

Engel’s hands were pushed far away from his body and were level with his head. His bat pointed straight up in the air, and his right (back) arm was raised above his left (front) one. On first glance, you had to wonder — how can that be comfortable? 

“That’s something that I probably wouldn’t coach a little kid to do,” Engel said. 

But there was a well-thought-out method to Engel’s stance. He used the word “tension” in describing what he was trying to avoid by thrusting his hands high and away from his body. And as White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson noted, nobody does anything well when they’re tight. 

“The closer I get my hands to my body, I tend to grab the bat a little harder, which causes a chain reaction I don’t want,” Engel said. “As long as my hands get to where I want them before I start swinging, that’s the goal.”

Since arriving in the majors two months ago, though, Engel has lowered his hands and dropped his back elbow. Here’s the difference in his stances between his first career hit (May 27) and his first career home run (June 25)

And almost a month later, Engel's gradually brought his hands lower:

For a rookie, tinkering with hand placement can be hazardous. But Engel’s batting stance has been a work in progress for a while now, as evidenced by what it was back in spring training of 2016:

Even during spring training in 2017, Engel’s stance was closer to what it was in 2016 than what it was when he made his major league debut:

But here’s the point Steverson made about all those tweaks and changes: As long as it helps Engel get the barrel of his bat to the point of contact, who cares how it looks before the swing?

“At the point of contact, 99.9 percent of every hitter looks the same,” Steverson said. “… How you get it done is based upon timing and your inner functions. But can I get it to here on time is what it’s all about. There’s many myriad ways of doing that. You’re not going to teach somebody to do that because there’s not their functions. 

“… You got guys (in basketball) taking free throws different — did it go in the bucket or did it not go in the bucket? It’s kind of the same way with hitting. Can I get the barrel to the point of contact or can I not get the barrel to the point. And that’s the end of the story.”

The 25-year-old Engel is still trying to find his way through his first major league season, hitting .233 with a .317 on-base percentage and a below-average .650 OPS.  But he’s had some sporadic positive results, like his four-hit game against the Minnesota Twins June 22. 

There’s a fine line between finding a batting stance and hand placement that you’re comfortable with and tinkering too much, especially for a player as green as Engel. But he’ll continue to put in the work trying to find something that will yield consistent success — and that may mean another batting stance that sticks out. 

“it’s just pregame work, watch a lot of video on the starter before the games and then try to work all my work pregame, batting practice, swings in the cage, try to have a mindset that I’m going to have in the game,” Engel said. “Work on the mindset, and then when I step in the box, it’s as close to practice as it can be.” 

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

Yoan Moncada's first White Sox game had same 'special' feeling as MLB debut

First came the roar from the home crowd. Then a bunch of fans in the first deck beyond third base stood to watch Yoan Moncada. The patient approach surfaced next.

Moncada made his White Sox debut on Wednesday night and although it didn’t feature any highlight reel moments, there were plenty of good signs. Moncada drew a walk in his first plate appearance and also lined out hard to center field in his last. The rookie second baseman went 0-for-2 as the White Sox lost 9-1 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It was fun to watch him come in,” pitcher Carlos Rodon said. “I saw him in Triple-A for a while, he’s a great talent. It’s good to have some good defense. That first at-bat was obviously really good. Fought it back to 3-2, got that walk. Two good swings.”

“It was cool. It got very loud when he came up to the plate, as we expected. That was fun to watch.”

The hype and energy surrounding the arrival of baseball’s top prospect was easy to detect.

The amount of media members on hand to document Moncada’s first game was akin to an Opening Day crowd. Every camera was aimed on Moncada, who flew in from Rochester, N.Y. earlier in the day to join the White Sox.

News of Moncada’s promotion at 11 p.m. Tuesday boosted the announced crowd of 24,907 by 5,000 fans, according to the team. Fans arrived early, some in Moncada White Sox No. 10 jerseys direct from China, while others brought Twinkies, the second baseman’s favorite snack food. Moncada spotted some of those bearing the sugary snacks when he stepped out of the home dugout and onto the field about 45 minutes before first pitch. Moncada, a former teammate of Jose Abreu’s in Cuba, received a loud ovation as he started to stretch.

“I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering me,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “I was really happy in that at-bat and excited because all that atmosphere and the excitement in the ballpark.”

The rumble was even louder when Moncada stepped in for his first Major League plate appearance since he played for the Boston Red Sox last September. Though he quickly fell behind in the count 0-2 against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda, Moncada never wavered. He took several closes pitches, fouled off two more, and drew a nine-pitch walk.

“He had some nice at-bats,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously worked a walk. Hit two balls well. He looked very comfortable. Turned a nice double play. I think he didn’t look overwhelmed. I think he ended his first day here with us as well as you could have it be. I know he didn’t get any hits but I thought he had some pretty good at-bats.”

Moncada’s second trip resulted in a groundout to first base. He fell behind 0-2 once again before working the count even. Moncada then ripped an 88-mph from Maeda down the right-field line only to have it go foul by several feet before grounding out on the next pitch.

Moncada got ahead 2-0 in the count in his final plate appearance as he faced reliever Ross Strippling. He produced an easy, fluid swing on the 2-0 pitch and ripped a 93-mph fastball for a line drive but it found the glove of center fielder Joc Pederson. The ball exited Moncada’s bat at 102.5 mph, which normally results in a hit 62.5 percent of the time, according to baseballsavant.com.

“I felt good,” Moncada said. “I think that I executed my plan. I didn't get any hits but I hit the ball hard and I executed my plan.”

“I made my debut last year but this one was special, it had kind of the same feeling for me.”