Thornton doesn't want Pierre's apology

Thornton doesn't want Pierre's apology

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Posted: 8:24 p.m.
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Left fielder Juan Pierre, consummately professional, attempted to apologize to Matt Thornton after two errors on the homestand have led to two of Thorntons three blown saves.

But that apology was met with a 98-mph fireball from the closer.

"Stop right thereyou dont have to apologize to me, theres nothing to apologize for. You didnt hang a slider on an 0-2 count to the leadoff batter, Thornton told Pierre.

He didnt have toif thats the way he feels, good for Juan for apologizing but he doesnt have to, Guillen said. The only people I dont expect to make errors are the people seated with me, because were not on the field. That was nice of Juan but I dont think it was necessary. I know Juan very wellyoure talking about a very professional man. In all the years I have been around this game, hes one of the top three.

The play last night was not an easy play. Im not protecting Juan, either. He doesnt need my protection. But it was nice of him. Matt did not apologize to him when Andy LaRoche hit the double off the wall to open the ninth. But I think thats nice. Thats the type of person Juan Pierre is.

In a stand-up clubhouse, both players and the manager have put their full colors on display. But Thornton agreed with Guillen and took the hit for his third blown save in three tries.

I fell behind Daric Barton 2-0 and he was able to put good wood on that ball and get the ball in the air, Thornton continued. Thats a tough ball to catch. Ill have the ball go up 10 times to J.P. and Ill believe in him every single time it goes up. Theres not anyone who prepares himself more and is more dedicated to this game than he is. Every day I know hell be there for me in left field, no matter what the situation is.

Pierre was collected while discussing the play, citing his faith in God as what was pulling him through the toughest defensive stretch of his career.

To make those kind of mistakes in the ninth inning like that, honestly, if I caught those balls, we win the game, Pierre said. With a guy like Thornton, who is closing for the first time, I feel bad for him as well as the team. It has cost us two losses.

Again, Pierre dismissed the difficulty to the fly ball, something Guillen and others in the White Sox clubhouse cited.

You know, I just missed the ball, no way to explain it. Im standing right up here. It wasnt no wind or nothing. I just flat-out missed the ball It wasnt an extraordinary play. It wasnt a diving play. It was a routine fly ball. It was tough, but the sun came up today and Im back out there doing my work and try to help the team win.

Pierres teammates see how hard he works each dayNo. 1 is the first on the field, without failand are supporting him every bit as much as Thornton was.

We have no complaints about Juan, Brent Lillibridge said. Juan works his tail off and has all the respect in the world in this clubhouse. Hes had a couple of tough plays, but its not a lack of effort or drive. Hes going to be the hardest guy on himself and we want him to know its not a big deal. Were going to win a bunch of games because of him. It just shows up in games like this early, and it looks big, but we have a long season ahead of us and hes going to win a lot of games for us. You talk to all of us, and were not worried about anything.

The key for Pierre, who Guillen ran right back out to left field on Tuesday, is to have a short-term memory.

Mr. 10,000

Lillibridge, the consummately modest major leaguer, was somewhat embarrassed by all the attention hed earned by hitting the 10,000th home run in White Sox history.

If it was my 10,000th then itd be something, Lillibridge said of his fifth-inning drive to left-center. It was good to get the one run across, which is what we thought was going to be all we needed. It was a tough loss, but well look down the road a month from now and were going to be able to get those wins easily Its great to be a part of history, but more importantly get back after it, do my job and go from there.

Interestingly, the stars seemed to be aligned for Lillibridge to push the Chisox into five-figured round trippers. Paul Konerko called the superutilitymans shot from the dugout, and Lillibridge and Adam Dunn had both discussed the milestone clout before the game.

Me and Dunn were talking about it before the game, Lillibridge said. He was saying, Hey, somebody is going to get that 10,000th home run today, and I was like, I got it. I was very coynot expecting it.

In fact, Lillibridge wasnt even sure whether his 391-footer had enough gumption to get over the fence.

I didnt know it was out as soon as I hit it, he said. I was kind of hoping. I blew on it a little bit.

Lillibridge has usually made his relatively rare home runs count, hitting them in big situations, but through a handful of at-bats early this season, the mighty mite is outslugging Dunn (.667 to .571) and has equaled the slugger in homers.

At-bats alone will award the round-tripper win this season to Dunn, the teams regular designated hitter, a stark fact that Lillibridge was quick to acknowledge.

Well see how it goes, he said, laughing. I think he might pass me pretty quick.

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

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.”