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