White Sox fall short in Cactus opener

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White Sox fall short in Cactus opener

Monday, Feb. 28, 2011
Posted 4:42 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Gavin Floyd started Mondays Cactus League opener for the Chicago White Sox, tossing two scoreless innings and briefly giving the sparse crowd at Camelback Ranch reason to believe the team would immediately string together a strong spring training record.

But in spite of four errors and a passed ball by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first three innings of play, the Chisox fell 6-3.

Floyd hit DH Xavier Paul to open the second inning, then promptly induced a 1-6-3 double play from CF Trayvon Robinson.

There are ones where you just say, Uh-oh and duck, Floyd said. I said, I have time now, just dont mess it up. I went down like a goalie to just block it. Thats what we do here in drills. I was happy not to mess it up.

I was very happy with what I saw, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. The kids came after hitters. The main thing was Gavin Floydhe threw the ball very well.

The White Sox were buried by six runs in the fourth and fifth, two coming in the fourth inning off of Tony Pena and four runs in just 23rds of the fifth off of reliever Miguel Socolovich.

Pena was a little bit off, we expect tough outings, Guillen said. So was Socolovich. But we did a lot of good things today.

Adam Dunn was punched out twice by Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, and later walked to round out his White Sox debut.

The White Sox rallied for four runs in the sixth and seventh. In the sixth, Jordan Danks stroked an opposite-field double, and in the seventh Brent Lillibridge singled in a run and Donny Lucy safetied in two.

Ozzieball in Action

Guillen was thrilled at how his team played in the Cactus League opener, citing the little things conveniently tabbed as Ozzieball as the reasons.

Mo Morel hit the ball to second base to get Alexei Ramirez over in the third, Lucy went with the ball in the dirt, all those little things.

A big element of Ozzieball is aggressiveness. On the field, there were good marks as well as bad ones in that category.

I told these guys to be ready to play from the first day all the way to the last shot, Guillen said. Lucy went in the dirt, Lucas Harrell and Brandon Short were diving for the ball. I expect those guys to do that. Theyre in spring training. Some guys got to make the team, some guys have to play that way for them to be ready. But I expect them to go out every day and play well. Win or lose, doesnt matter, but playing well in spring training, makes sure we start the right way. The only way well do that is play hard.

On the down side was an inexplicable double-steal in the top of the first. Juan Pierre (walk) and Gordon Beckham (single) had reached off a rattled Kershaw, but Pierre was caught at third on a double steal.

Juan, I hope he doesnt do that during the season, tries to steal third base in the first inning, with Dunn hitting, Guillen said, laughing. I hope its a spring training thing.

Guillen disavowed himself any responsibility for such an aggressive move, which took the air out of the inning, Dunn and Paul Konerko following with strikeouts.

I told everybody they have to run until I stop you, Guillen said. I want to see what I can get with speed. We have two guys in the middle of the lineup are not that fast, but I want to attempt to run to see who we can count on to run the bases.

Alexei Plaudits

Guillens broken record postgame centered on Ramirez, whose defense appears to be in midseason form after a delicious play deep in the hole to retire Gabe Kapler to end the fourth.

The Missile played pretty good defense, Guillen said. Besides winning this thing, my job is to promote this kid so he gets the recognition in baseball by being a complete player and dont have everybody get behind the laurels about Derek Jeter and all those guys. Its our job to get him where he should be with the Gold Gloves and All-Star Games, all that other stuff.

Unsurprisingly, Guillen sees a lot of another former White Sox shortstop in Ramirezs play.

I used to make that play, but this kid has a better arm than me, Guillen said. I had to do it a different way because my arm isnt that strong. Like I say, this kid should have a Gold Glove and All-Star guy. Hopefully we play good and give him the push he needs to be at the top. He showed us already last year how good he is. Its my job now to let everybody know how good he is.

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

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana and Miguel Gonzalez looked like a pair of pitchers who began their offseasons earlier to prep for the World Baseball Classic.

Both White Sox starting pitchers looked sharp as they made their spring debuts in a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon. Team USA relievers David Robertson and Nate Jones also pitched a scoreless inning each in the win. Prospect Zack Burdi also pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Gonzalez, who is on the Team Mexico roster, only allowed a single on a dropped pop up on the infield in two scoreless innings.

“I’m a little ahead of the game right now,” Gonzalez said. “I started a little earlier this year in the offseason to work out, thinking I wanted to go to the WBC and get ready for that. But I think the most important thing right now is getting ready for April 1 with the White Sox. That’s my goal, and you don’t get these opportunities every year. To represent Mexico, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great.”

Quintana, who will start for Colombia in their March 10 opener against the United States, allowed a run and a hit in two innings. He struck out one and hit a batter.

“I feel good,” Quintana said. “I think for the first day I feel comfortable. I hit the glove. I feel good. A couple of pitches spinning were good and I feel really good.”

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Robertson is throwing much earlier than normal in anticipation of his March 6 departure for Miami, where Team USA begins its tournament. The club’s closer normally wouldn’t appear in a game until the calendar turns to March. Robertson said he usually only needs 5-6 spring outings to get in shape for the regular season. Though he felt a little rusty, the right-hander was pleased with several changeups and fastballs he threw.

“I wouldn’t say it was smooth but I got through it,” Robertson said. “I had a few bad pitches that were just not competitive. … All in all I got through what seemed like a tough inning for a first outing.

“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to go down there and put the ‘USA’ across my chest and have a chance to win something for our country. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m excited to play with a group of guys I’ve been playing against my whole life.”

Eddie Alvarez had a three-run double for the White Sox while Tyler Saladino collected two hits in three trips. Catcher Roberto Pena went 2-for-2 with an RBI. 

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Normally upbeat and positive, Jim Thome can’t help but beam with pride when asked about his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Thome, who blasted 612 career home runs, including 134 with the White Sox, is eligible for induction for the first time in 2018. Even though he’s expected by many to one day be voted into Cooperstown, perhaps even in his first year, Thome said he’s merely honored to be on the ballot. Thome is joined on the ballot by Chipper Jones and former teammate Omar Vizquel, among others. Voting begins in December and the results will be announced next January.

“To even be on the ballot and thought of, it would be the greatest honor I think you could get,” Thome said. “Or if you get an opportunity to go into the greatest fraternity baseball has or created, it would be indescribable. How do you ever think as a kid or a high school player or even going through the minor leagues, that you’d play at the big leagues that long? And then to get an opportunity at the end of your career to be put on the ballot is so great.

“That would be the coolest moment ever.”

Thome – who is in White Sox camp as a special assistant to the general manager – provided plenty of big moments in a career that spanned 22 seasons. He hit 30 home runs in 12 of 13 seasons between 1996-2008, leading the league with 47 in 2003. The slugger was a five-time All-Star and produced 72.9 b-Wins Above Replacement.

[RELATED: Brett Lawrie trying to clear final hurdles]

Thome isn’t as superstitious about his candidacy as others previously have been. He won’t be the guy to bring up the topic, but the Peoria, Ill.-native doesn’t shy away from discussing it, either.

“It’s not something you talk a lot about,” Thome said. “We’re not going to bring it up. But when people do bring it up, there’s a sense of pride, a sense of ‘Wow, baseball has thought that highly to put you on the ballot.’ And the fact that there’s just this wonderful fraternity of incredible players that you could be a part of, if you’re chosen.”