SoxFest Day 2: Big signing, reunion feel so good

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SoxFest Day 2: Big signing, reunion feel so good

Saturday, January 22, 2010
Posted: 6:30 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

SOXFEST, CHICAGO While the weather outside remained frightful, the mood inside for the second Ozzie Guillen-Ken Williams State of the Sox session at SoxFest on Saturday remained delightful.

By Saturday, the manager-GM duos self-deprecating humor act had benefitted from such positive word-of-mouth from their Friday set that the crowd of morning stragglers nearly tripled that of the night before.

The biggest addition of the offseason, Adam Dunn, was the opening topic for Saturdays session, with Guillen admitting he was shocked to hear the White Sox signed the Washington Nationals slugger.

Williams made Guillen his straight man, turning to his skipper and telling him, to laughter, I had to surprise you. Otherwise it would end up in too many blogs and twitters.

Williams chased that chiste with the White Sox company line, in just the first of a few comments subtly pitching ticket sales, remarking that we wanted to go all-in, then pray theres a way to pay for it all.

WATCH: Ozzie, Kenny joke about Dunn

Williams also shared a story Paul Konerko had told shared from a SoxFest stage Friday night, something that interestingly had helped drive him back to the White Sox, that at the end of the season he told Konerko directly that he didnt just want the captain back in the fold, but that he was aiming to bring in Dunn as well. For Konerko, who was relatively outspoken at seasons end about needing to see a commitment from the White Sox, that goal made a difference in his decision.

That was always my plan, including bringing A.J. Pierzynski back and strengthening the bullpen, Williams said.

Guillen also found room to have some fun at his new lefty sluggers expense. When moderator Ed Farmer asked, in reference to Dunns size, how many of you fans have seen Dunn up close, Ozzie chirped in, to laughter, How big, or how ugly he is?

As for some of that bullpen help, Williams revealed that last August he asked both Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper what reliever he should chase after in the offseason to bring to the White Sox: They both mentioned two guys, and in both cases, one of them was Jesse Crain.

Guillen took a second crack at a lineup in Saturdays session, and was surprisingly adamant about Gordon Beckham being his No. 2 hitter. Alex Rios, a logical candidate to move up in the order given his speed, the additional power provided by Dunn and Beckhams struggles in the first half of 2010, was discounted by Guillen because the skipper felt Rios possesses too much run-producing potential to wither on the sacrificial altar of the 2-hole.

WATCH: Guillen has new spring training approach

At one point, Guillen broke down into a rambling dissertation of Brent Morel, and how he first saw him while watching son Oney play in rookie ball and making note of the slick-fielding third baseman to Williams. After the tale was finally told, the GM zinged Guillen with a directive: Stop watching minor-league games in the spring and focus on getting us off to a good start in 2011.

While the laughs came easy, the issue of the White Sox being slow out of the box clearly vexed both men, and was very real. While Chicago was the best team in the American League after June 8, what led to their 9 game burial in the AL Central at that rallying point was of utmost concern. After Williams again repeated the suggestion made to him by a fan to put ice in Alexeis pockets to gear him up for the cold opening month of the season, when the ace shortstop routinely slumps, Guillen issued a managerial mea culpa regarding readying his team for the regular season. This year, according to Guillen, the White Sox will field their regulars for the last week of spring training; Chicagos slow starts, Guillen said, thus have been a managerial mistake.

While some fans were committed to handwringing over the loss of Andruw Jones and other depth issues, Guillen quickly put it in perspective: If a manager is worrying about his fourth outfielder, hes in trouble. Im worried about my closer and winning games. Added Williams: I guess I should be happy if people are only complaining about the 24th or 25th player. That means they like the first 23. Besides, Williams added with more honesty than remorse, were kind of tapped out with payroll.

As for that closer worry, Guillen didnt seem too put out by having to pick from Chris Sale, Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos and Jesse Crain as the heir apparent to Bobby Jenks. Whether you come in the game in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth, at that time, youre the closer.

Guillen and Williams continued to interact in a manner unseen for at least one SoxFest, truly bonding and working some of the brotherly love that marked their early years together. That tone led to a constant stream of jokes, including Ozzies over-the-top reaction to one young fans tough question: Who sent this kid in herego get some autographs or something!

The kid did end up with an autographOzzies, at the end of the session. It remains to be seen whether such harmony will find the White Sox running up a second World Series flag in six years come October, but it sure seems like the marketing tag all-in, as it stands right now, refers as much to a group hug as it does taking a pennant.

Other highlights from the second State of the Sox seminar:

After Guillen again recalled his two least favorite games last year, July 18 (a Jenks meltdown) and August 17 (Jim Thomes game-ending blast landed in Milwaukee, according to Guillen) losses at the Minnesota Twins, Williams scolded, Stop talking about those Twins games, youre depressing me. I dont want to think about that anymore.

When a young fan asked whether White Sox legend Frank Thomas had a future as a hitting coach, Guillen shrieked, NOOOOOO! and explained that coaches dont get paid enough to satisfy Thomas, and that you need to be a very bad hitter to be a good hitting coach.

Carlos Quentin, defended by the OzzieKenny tandem on an hourly basis, was given another glowing recommendation by the skipper: Ill predict it right now: Carlos is going to have a year like he did in his near-MVP 2008.

Williams was wry in assessing the chances for a multiyear deal for John Danks: We tried to do that last year and didnt get to far with it. Danks and his representatives are content to take it one year at a time. Well see.

Guillen, looking back on his career: I was so good defensively, I forgot my hitting. Williams and Guillen fought over who was the lousiest hitter, with Williams winning by pointing out that Ozzie was a good enough hitter to play 16 major league seasons, while KWs offensive prowess landed him in a role of young scout.

While both men understandably dodged a question about the biggest regrets in their careers, the GM was willing to admit that there havent been many SportsCenter guys players who went on to become stars weve dealt away but that he felt his original acquisition of Bartolo Colon in 2003 should have worked out better.

Williams, on former White Sox outfielder and still-jobless Jermaine Dye: If we werent solid across the board, Id have entertained bringing him to camp in 2011.

Guillen chided nearby marketing guru Brooks Boyer for offering just two free tickets to spring training as a SoxFest raffle prize: How about five?

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

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland not satisfied despite strong outing in White Sox loss

Derek Holland turned in one of his best starts of the season on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, the White Sox had nothing to show for it after a 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon.

In six innings, Holland allowed four hits, one earned run, and two walks while recording six strikeouts. He was charged with his only run in the seventh, when he allowed a single to Yonder Alonso, who came around to score after Holland had been pulled from the game.

Despite his confidence in the bullpen, which has been one of the White Sox biggest strengths this season, Holland would like to see himself go deeper into the games.

“I should be getting into the 7th and not having 110 pitches,” Holland said. “The bullpen's done a great job of picking us up in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The starters, and really pointing more to myself, we need to...I need to go out there and go longer."

Entering Sunday, three of Holland’s last four starts had been the worst outings of the season – allowing 22 earned runs over those four games. Despite the team’s 5-3 loss, Holland felt his outing was a step in the right direction.

“I felt good about everything out there,” Holland said. “(Omar Narvaez) and I were right on the same page. There were just a couple of things that got away from us. Just one of those things. Defense made the plays for us when they needed to, unfortunately we just didn't come out on top."

Manager Rick Renteria also had high praise for the 30-year-old southpaw, who bounced back from one of his shortest outings of the season.

“I thought Holland, hopefully what's not lost is Holland's outing today was really, really good,” Renteria said. “He kept us in the ballgame. They've got some kids that can swing the bat. They were putting things together. All we were trying to do at the end was minimize any damage they could produce. We weren't able to.”

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tough luck for Tommy Kahnle as White Sox blow lead, get swept by A’s

Tommy Kahnle has been one of the White Sox brightest bright spots, but fell victim to some tough luck that could ding on his under-the-radar All-Star bid.

Kahnle allowed the tying and go-ahead runs in the White Sox 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics Sunday in front of 28,089 at Guaranteed Rate Field, marking only the sixth time in 31 games the 27-year-old right-hander has allowed a run in 2017.

In the eighth inning, Kahnle allowed a broken bat single to Franklin Barreto, then Ryon Healy reached on a Todd Frazier error. Khris Davis tied the game with a single to left, knocking Kahnle out of the game, and Oakland took the lead when Yonder Alonso blooped a single off David Robertson that plopped into left field out of the reach of Melky Cabrera. Consider the hit probabilities, according to Statcast, of those three hits and the error:

Barreto: 78 percent
Healy: 5 percent
Davis: 62 percent
Alonso: 2 percent

That Kahnle coughed up the lead was surprising given his stealthy success leading a strong back end of the White Sox bullpen this year. The White Sox, prior to Sunday's defeat, were 28-0 when leading after seven innings. 

"Our bullpen's doing a great (job), it really is," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think you can't take away from what they've been doing for us all year long. We've been going to them a lot."

On that improbable Alonso bloop single, Cabrera was shifted more toward center field. 

"He was actually playing a little more to the pull side than he was to the line," Renteria said. "I don't think he was going to be able to get to it, regardless of the effort he might have given us. These guys are all a little fatigued, they're a little tired right now. They're giving you what they've got right now."

Entering Sunday’s game, Kahnle’s 1.2 WAR was sixth-best American League relievers, behind Boston’s Craig Kimbrel (2.2), Houston’s Chris Devenski (1.6), Cleveland’s Andrew Miller (1.6), Los Angeles’ Blake Parker (1.4) and Toronto’s Roberto Osuna (1.3). His 44.8 strikeout percentage is among the five best in baseball along with Kimbrel, New York’s Dellin Betances, Los Angeles’ Kenley Jansen and Milwaukee’s Corey Knebel.

Kahnle has been undoubtedly spectacular this year even with Sunday’s hiccup, though with Garcia seeming likely to be on the American League All-Star roster, Terry Francona wouldn’t have to take him to fill the game’s requirement. That this year’s All-Star Game doesn’t count — it’s the first since 2002 that won’t dictate home-field advantage in the World Series — could alter Francona’s roster construction to reward more starters and closers, and the Cleveland Indians manager would certainly be justified if he wanted to take his own setup guy in Miller.

The White Sox handed Kahnle the lead on Adam Engel’s first career home run (a solo shot in the third) and Jose Abreu’s dash home on a passed ball in the fourth. Starter Derek Holland was solid, allowing one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings. Melky Cabrera added a solo home run in the ninth inning, his eighth of the season.

Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce homered off Robertson and Chris Beck, respectively, in the ninth inning to give the A’s a comfortable ending to their three-game sweep of the White Sox. Beck was hit by a comebacker after allowing that home run and left the game with a bruised left hamstring, and is considered day-to-day.