Torres can't climb out of early hole; Sox split

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Torres can't climb out of early hole; Sox split

Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010
Updated: 11:10 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

DETROIT- The wildness that had haunted Chicago White Sox rookie Carlos Torres in prior major league efforts reared up again on Tuesday night. By the time Torres was pitching his best, it was too late.

The Detroit Tigers cruised after pounding out five runs in the first two innings against Torres, setting back the Sox, 7-1, to salvage a split of their doubleheader.

"Everybody is stepping up on the mound for us right now, so the expectation is to win games," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, nonetheless seeing a silver lining in Torres' performance. "The worst scenario almost came true in the first two innings, Torres had 60-something pitches, and I was worried because I didnt want to bring my bullpen in so early."

While just one of Torres' five free passes in the game came around to score, his initial wildness-walking the first two Tiger batters in the first-forced him to play catch-up and work from a disadvantage.

"I know how to give the team innings, but no matter how you look at it, I needed to get deeper in the ballgame than the second inning because that can actually cash out a bullpen quite a bit," Torres said.

Torres barely did escape the second, which was the scene of the major damage, to the tune of four runs. Ryan Raburn led off with a single and with two outs was doubled home by Alex Avila. The string kept going from there, as Will Rhymes singled home Avila, Johnny Damon doubled home Rhymes and Brennan Boesch doubled home Damon.

"I've never seen that before, in the first inning three walks and next inning five hits, no unintentional walks," Guillen said. "It was kind of a weird combination. In the first inning he looked like a minor league pitcher but after that he threw the ball well and gave us what we needed. He turned it around."

The sole Chisox score came on a Paul Konerko bomb in the seventh, breaking up Jeremy Bonderman's shutout. The Tigers veteran was terrific, pitching 6.2 innings and surrendering just five hits, mitigated by five strikeouts.

"To come in here and sweep is not easy," Guillen said. "Bonderman was one pitch away from us getting to him. He threw a couple of good pitches and got two double-play balls that killed rallies."

Detroit picked up two more insurance runs in the eighth, when Ramon Santiago led off with a single and Austin Jackson's sacrifice bunt that turned into a hit and run-scoring play when White Sox reliever Tony Pena fielded the bunt and threw the ball far past Chicago first sacker Mark Kotsay. A Rhymes groundout pushed Jackson to third, where he scored on a Damon groundout.

The fact that Chicago's game two effort was so flat yet the White Sox remained in first place and could ponder ephemera the possibility of lefty phenom Chris Sale being called up for his possible major league debut Wednesday says it all about the state of Guillen's team.

"Right now all my players only have to worry about winning games, not anything else," he said. "Thats easy: Every time we go to the field, we expect to win these must-win games, no matter who we play, when we play, where we play. Just win games, and dont worry about the people behind us. Thats the easy part of being in first place: You dont have to worry about scoreboard watching."

For those White Sox not watching the scoreboard, their split coupled with Minnesota's loss dropped the Twins 1.5 games behind Chicago.

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

Dan Hayes discusses Chris Sale incident on The Dan Patrick Show

Dan Hayes discusses Chris Sale incident on The Dan Patrick Show

CSN's White Sox Insider Dan Hayes joined The Dan Patrick Show on Monday to weigh in on the recent Chris Sale incident and what it means for the White Sox and Sale going forward as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches. 

The White Sox announced Sunday that Chris Sale is suspended for five days after reportedly being so furious over having to wear the team's 1976 throwback uniforms on Saturday that he cut them up so they couldn't be worn. Sale was scratched from his scheduled start and sent home by the White Sox.

Hayes called the incident "a little bit of a crazy story," saying that the way it all played out "went in an entirely different direction than everybody thought it would." While he didn't have many details regarding what actually took place in the White Sox clubhouse on Saturday, Hayes did say he heard "scissors were not the culprit."  

When asked if this impacts the likelihood of Sale being traded, Hayes was quick to say "I don't see it happening now. It's possible this offseason but right now they want a major league player back amongst the package and it's going to be hard for a team like the Rangers or the Red Sox to give you the star player back during a pennant chase."

However, Hayes didn't completely dismiss the idea of a trade taking place before the Aug. 1 deadline, saying "anything can happen, teams are motivated right now."

Hear what else Hayes had to say about Sale and the White Sox in the video above. 

Retirement suiting former White Sox star Paul Konerko well

Retirement suiting former White Sox star Paul Konerko well

Paul Konerko isn’t returning to manage the White Sox anytime soon, despite the team’s former All-Star first baseman fielding plenty of questions about the possibility. 

For now, the 40-year-old Konerko, who’s in Year 2 of retirement and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Monday's Crosstown opener at U.S. Cellular Field, is more concerned with fielding the balls hit or thrown by his seven-year-old son while they’re playing baseball in the park. 

“I was in the park, my kid threw me a ball, a ground ball and I booted it,” Konerko said. “And some guy’s walking by the park and said, ‘you used to get that one, Paulie!’”

Konerko is spending plenty of time with his kids — Nicholas, Owen and Amelia — and is also keeping busy by playing a bit of hockey and working on a few business interests. One of those ventures is a T-shirt Konerko helped design, the proceeds of which go toward raising awareness for Sensory Processing Disorder, which Konerko’s oldest son, Nicholas, was born with. 

Nicholas was born during the White Sox 2005 run to the franchise’s first World Series title in 88 years, and Konerko’s other two children were born while he was still playing in the majors. Because he missed a good chunk of his kids’ childhoods during baseball’s marathon regular season, Konerko doesn’t have a desire to get back into the game until he accomplishes what he wants as a father. 

“I was gone for so long,” Konerko said. “I played for 20 years, and 10 years of that I had kids.” 

So a return to baseball won’t happen for Konerko “Until I feel like I’m satisfied with where they’re in a position where I’ve done everything they want to do and they’re older,” he said. 

Konerko doesn’t have an itch to coach or manage in the majors, too, thanks to his final season with the White Sox.

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During that 2014 campaign, Konerko appeared in 81 games but also got a taste of what it’s like to be a major league coach. That glimpse into the life of a major league manager or assistant coach, and all the commitments, obligations and criticisms that come with it, led Konerko to walk away from the game “scared straight.”

“If I had not come back my last year, there’s a good chance I would’ve played out 2013 and probably got an itch to come back sooner,” Konerko said. “But my last year, I got a really good feeling of what it’s like to be a coach, because I was on the bench a lot, they kind of let me in on some things more, almost like a player-coach situation. And I think it scared me, because it’s not easy.” 

So while some sections of the White Sox fanbase may want Konerko to come back and manage a team that’s “mired in mediocrity,” as general manager Rick Hahn said last week, that’s not something the guy with 439 career home runs is going to consider. 

Plus, he actually does already have coaching duties right now. 

“I’m the assistant coach on my kid’s seven-year-old team,” Konerko said. “Trying to work toward the head coaching job.”

Ten years later, A.J. Pierzynski recalls Michael Barrett encounter in Crosstown Classic

Ten years later, A.J. Pierzynski recalls Michael Barrett encounter in Crosstown Classic

Hard to believe, but it's been 10 years since the fist of Michael Barrett famously hit the face of A.J. Pierzynski, creating one of the most legendary moments in the Windy City Series between the White Sox and Cubs. 

The punch lasted only one second, but speaking with the man who was on the receiving end of that punch, Pierzynski knows he'll be hearing about it for the rest of his life.

"It's just one of those things that happens," Pierzynski said in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. "Hey, you got to be remembered for something."

Fans won't let him forget it, even if some have forgotten what actually happened that day—which might also include Pierzynski. More on that in a moment.

First to the play that started it all. It occurred on May 20, 2006. While scoring a run on a sacrifice fly on a ball hit to shallow left field, Pierzynski knocked over Barrett at home plate. The White Sox catcher then moved towards the Cubs backstop to retrieve his helmet. 

If it was anybody else, nothing would have happened. This story you're reading would never have been written.

But this was Pierzynski, one of the most hated players in baseball, the notorious monkey in the middle of everything.

This Sox was about to get socked.

"I went up to get my helmet. He grabbed me and said, 'I didn't have the ball (bleep)," recalled Pierzynski. Barrett threw a right hook that hit Pierzynski square in the left cheek, producing an image that has been permanently burned into the minds of Cubs and White Sox fans.

Or so we thought.

A decade later, Pierzynski says he frequently comes across people who have somehow forgotten what actually occurred.

"What's happened now is most people don't remember what really happened. They just know Barrett and I got into a fight," Pierzynski said. "Most people actually think that I hit him. People (say to me) 'Remember that time you punched Barrett and knocked him down?' So, it's kind of funny how it's kind of changed over the years."

But still, many people do remember the punch quite well, especially Cubs fans who relish in heckling Pierzynski whenever he comes to town, like earlier this month when his Braves played the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

“They’ll say things like, ‘Michael Barrett's coming. Look out!’ And I'll be like, 'Yeah, whatever,'" Pierzynski said. “Or they’ll yell ‘Hey, you suck! Or I hate you!’ Then it’s like, ‘Okay, great. Welcome to the club.’” 

The White Sox won the game that day 7-0, but Cubs fans have had a victory of sorts ever since—the memory of Barrett pelting their White Sox nemesis, a guy who pestered them for years.

But even Pierzynski himself seems to remember the play differently than everyone else. His account of what occurred will probably get under the skin of Cubs fans.

What else would you expect from A.J.?

"He didn't really hit me though, that's the thing," said Pierzynski. "He kind of just pushed me. It was weird, because he grabbed me and we were so close. It wasn't like (Rougned) Odor when he hit (Jose) Bautista where he wound up. I mean, it was so close that he just kind of pushed me off balance. 

"And (third base coach Chris) Speier grabbed me right away and then like 10 guys from the White Sox jumped on top of him. And poor (Cubs outfielder John) Mabry who was my hitting coach in St. Louis. I know we were laughing about it when I was in St. Louis. I think he ended up in the hospital with broken ribs and he had nothing to do with it."

Call it a punch, call it a push, most athletes who take a hit like that would be so humiliated they’d never want to talk about it again.

Not Pierzynski.

“I literally laugh about it. It’s funny to me,” Pierzynski said. “Now my kids are of the age to use the internet, so now that’s like the first picture that always comes up, and they’re like, ‘Why did you get in the fight with the guy?’ I tell them the story and they have to explain it to their friends. It’s just one of those things that happens in your life. Hey, at least it happened on national TV and gives people something to talk about.”

Six weeks after the fight, Barrett sought out Pierzynski at Wrigley Field before the White Sox and Cubs resumed the Crosstown Series on the North Side. The two shook hands, made amends and the feud was over.

But the two have not spoken to each other since.

“I haven’t seen him,” Pierzynski said. “I mean, we played a little bit, but I haven’t seen him off the field.”

What would you say to him?

“I don’t know. ‘Hey, how you doing?’ I don’t even know what he does anymore.”

Barrett is currently the minor league catching coordinator for the Washington Nationals. Attempts to interview him for this story were unsuccessful.

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At 39, Pierzynski isn’t sure how much longer he’ll play. He already has enough baseball memories to fill multiple lifetimes. But his recollections of those classic White Sox-Cubs games will never fade.

“I played in Yankees-Red Sox, I played in Dodgers-Giants, Cardinals-Cubs, nothing matched the intensity," he said. "Maybe it was because I was on the White Sox and there was such a dislike for the other team, not only in the fan base, but also kind of the organization. It’s just kind of there. 

"It just brought out the best. It always seemed like it brought out the best in both teams. It was always the one game you circled, and it was like, ‘Okay, we’re playing the Cubs coming up in a week. Everyone be ready.’”

Pierzynski was always ready—maybe not for Barrett’s fist—but the face that took the beating that day gave us all a knockout Cubs-White Sox moment, one we will never forget.