Sox stuck in a rut as skid reaches seven games

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Sox stuck in a rut as skid reaches seven games

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 8:15 p.m. Updated: 9:39 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. The lifeless Chicago White Sox have fallen, and they seem unable to get up.

Manager Ozzie Guillen, flummoxed by the free-fall his club has suffered after battering foes in the first week of the season, is running out of choices. Hes lazy-susaned his bullpen, tetrised his batting order, argued calls for the sake of arguing, and tipped his cap to opposing aces.

In contrast to his feisty, foul-mouthed persona, Guillen has maintained a confident stance, supportive of his club and proud of the work theyre putting into improving. So if you think after seven straight lifeless losses and some 51 consecutive innings without holding a lead it may be time for the jefe to go Hal McRae on his club, think again.

Im not angry, he said postgame, after first instructing gathered media to just run last nights postgame tape, because his answers would be exactly the same. If we arent fighting, then I would say something, but right now the ball isnt bouncing our way.

Yet another game bounced away, this one in which bonus starter Phil Humber didnt help himself with a number of two-out or two-strike shots in foot.

I was disappointed with a couple of decisions I made with two outs (pitch selection), Humber said. Casey Kotchman, I threw two fastballs right by him, then threw him a curve, and on top of that, threw it right down the middle. It was just one of those things where Id get two out and then Id make a bad pitch, or a bad decision. Its something Ive got to get better at. As far as how I felt, I had good stuff tonight but just didnt make the right pitches at the right time.

Guillen cited Humbers work and that of the bullpen (2 23 scoreless innings from Will Ohman, Tony Pena and Chris Sale), remaining steadfastly behind his Chicago 9.

We are a few inches away from scoring a couple of runs when the Rays catch the ball, he said. I am not going to take any credit away from the Rays, they are playing well. They are playing great defense and the outfield has played very well against us. The one thing about it is they have gotten big hits and we havent.

We have hit a lot of balls hard and the Rays have made great plays, A.J. Pierzynski said. Give the Rays credit for the defense theyve played.

As the 4-1 final indicated, again, that no opponents lead is ever too small against these South Side Hitless Men, who have tallied just nine runs in the last six losses of the streak.

Only one Chisox safety ended up mattering, Carlos Quentins fourth homer of the season. The hulking right fielder continues to blister the ball (1.014 OPS) and has seen 14 of his 21 hits this season fall for extra bases.

Pierzynski was tossed from the game (for saying something not very nice to home plate umpire Brian Knight, according to Guillen) after the catcher grounded out to end the top half of the sixth inning. Although Pierzynski ended Wednesday nights game in the clubhouse, watching it on TV in his skivvies, the feistmeister unyieldingly supports the 2011 All-In Chisox.

We are fighting and clawing. We are doing everything we can, Pierzynski said. Thats the way its going right now. We need to keep fighting, keep our heads up, and do everything we can to try and win.

The pressures on, but the White Sox arent bowing.

If wed won six in a row, wed still want to win today, Humber said. Obviously, we need a winits not fun to go out there and lose, especially a few in a row. But I dont see anybody quitting in here; everybodys getting their work in. The talents going to rise to the top. Were right on the verge of breaking out; its just one of those things. Youve got to battle.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

Under-the-radar Reynaldo Lopez impressing White Sox: 'He's got some stuff'

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- He maybe doesn't receive the same hype as some of his peers, but the White Sox think Reynaldo Lopez deserves plenty of attention.

A highly-touted prospect for two seasons now, Lopez took a big leap forward in a 2016 season that resulted in two promotions, including a trip to the big leagues.

While Michael Kopech and Lucas Giolito have garnered much of the attention, Lopez, who was acquired with Giolito in the Adam Eaton trade, is right on their heels if not equal. Lopez -- who produced a 3.21 ERA in 19 minor-league starts last season and struck out 42 batters in 44 innings in the majors -- is rated the No. 31 prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 38th by MLB.com.

"He's looked good from the get-go," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "The bottom line is we like all three of them. I didn't hear a lot (about him). When people are asking me questions it's usually about Giolito and Kopech. I'm not sure why because he's a gifted kid. He's got some stuff."

Lopez, 23, already has pitched in 11 regular season games (six starts) and made a playoff appearance. He earned those outings by excelling in a season that began at Double-A Harrisburg. Two seasons after he put up outstanding numbers at Single-A, Lopez dominated the Eastern League with 100 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings and 3.18 ERA. He attributes his success to calming himself down in game situations.

"I just kept my focus in the game," Lopez said through an interpreter. "Before, I thought a lot about things and I couldn't think. And then I realized to keep my focus on the game. Sometimes if someone hit me or something, my mind got stuck in that moment. But then I understood you have to have a short memory and just let the things that are happening (be) in the past and focus on what's happening."

Lopez, 23, said he has taken the same approach to handling his trade to the White Sox. The right-hander admits he was shocked at first when he heard he was traded by the Washington Nationals, who signed him for $17,000 in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.

But the more he thought about it, Lopez realized how good of an opportunity he has in front of him with the rebuilding White Sox. The club intends to try Lopez out as a starter --- there's debate among scouting analysts whether he's meant for the bullpen or rotation --- at Triple-A Charlotte this season. Asked what he prefers, Lopez said he's a starter.

And rather than try to impress the club by overthrowing a fastball that MLB.com graded 70 on the 20-80 scale, Lopez has worked on location early in camp. Those efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Cooper and manager Rick Renteria.

"Lopez is a guy who maybe goes under the radar a little bit, but when you see his bullpen work, he's pretty clean, pretty efficient," Renteria said. "He hits his spots."

Through four throwing sessions, Cooper said he likes how Lopez has located his fastball and curveball. Cooper thinks the changeup, which is the lowest graded of his three pitches (45 out of 80), is where the most work is needed. But Cooper is pleased with how Lopez has worked in the bullpen and batting practice and looks forward to seeing how it carries over once the exhibition season begins.

Lopez likes how he has fit in with the White Sox through the first week and a half. An aggressive pitcher by nature --- "I like to get ahead in the count," he said --- Lopez has tried to work down in the zone in the early part of camp. He said that was one of his main takeaways from pitching in the majors.

"I learned a lot from that experience," Lopez said. "I learned how to pitch. It's not just throw hard. You have to locate your pitches and be smart. I think that was the most important thing for me, from that experience."

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with executive vice president Ken Williams

GLENDALE, ARIZ -- Ken Williams acknowledges that this is the first time as an executive that he's ever been a part of a rebuild.  After realizing their go-for-it attitude for more than a decade had run out of steam, the White Sox front office decided it needed to look in the mirror, take a step back, and start anew. It began this offseason with the trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, and will continue into this season and likely next season.

No longer involved in the day-to-day running of the White Sox, Williams believes he has found the right balance as the team's executive and vice president, utilizing his strengths in scouting and player development while overseeing things as Hahn reshapes the organization from top to bottom.

How does this dynamic work between Williams and Hahn? Williams goes in-depth on this subject and many others in our White Sox Talk Podcast conversation.

Among the highlights:

Working relationship with Rick Hahn: "The relationship has been the same and consistent since the very beginning.  We're constantly talking.  I'm not going to BS you and say that we don't have these conversations. I just think that a certain point in time, you just have to say here is your responsibility and mine is over here. I have to respect the fact that this is what you want to do. I'm only going to express my interest to a point so that you can come to your own decision without my influence and then we're getting to brass tax.  Most times than not, he'll express, 'Hey, I need to know what you think. But until that time you've got to give people the space to do a job as they see fit, and to plot a course as they see fit."

Trading Chris Sale: "Contrary to popular belief, we have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. There was obviously a little blip in that part of it and I've always understood him because I was a little bit like that when I was younger too.  It was very often a couple days later we'd visit and laugh about a couple things but also in a serious manner.  he's one of the best in the game.  How do you trade one of the best pitchers in the game and not feel some remorse about it?  On the other end of the spectrum we got what we think are special pieces that will be with us for quite a while assuming good health. And you can envision them being part of a championship team.  We got to the point where we couldn't envision that particular group that we had be a part of a championship team and that's what it's about."

Possibly trading Jose Quintana: "I have not been presented with anything that has been recommended by Rick that he wants to do. So in terms of closeness, we've bantered some things around, but Jose Quintana is a very, very special pitcher. I'm sure if something comes up where it's consistent with what we've done thus far then I'm sure Rick will put it in front of both Jerry and I.  But until that time, I can't say that anything has been close or relatively close."

His hopes for the White Sox: "My only goal at this point in my career is to help bring another championship to Chicago and to Chicago fans, watch Rick Hahn walk across the stage to receive an Executive of the Year award and watch Rick Renteria accept the Manager of the Year Award.  Then I will consider this a job well done. If any of those things don't happen, then it won't be.  I sincerely feel that in my heart."