White Sox fall short in Cactus opener

399102.jpg

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 agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

Crain's Chicago Business released its latest 40 under 40 project and White Sox announcer Jason Benetti made this year's list.

The 33-year-old just finished his first season with the White Sox as play-by-play announcer, working the home games at U.S. Cellular Field (before it was renamed Guaranteed Rate Field last month) alongside Steve Stone as longtime broadcaster Hawk Harrelson saw his workload reduced to mostly road games.

Benetti quickly became a fan favorite among Chicagoans on CSN and other networks in 2016 and his cerebral palsy became more of a backstory, with his work alongside Stone and his affable sense of humor taking center stage instead.

Among other topics, Benetti discussed how he approaches his job of broadcasting for the team he grew up rooting for:

Law school taught me that there are always two sides of the argument. I see it from the Sox prism, but I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that, if the Sox lose, the world’s over anymore. That first game, I was like, “All right, it’s just a game.” And then Avi Garcia hits a homer late in the game against the Indians and I call it like I would call it with a little more. And as the ball cleared the fence, when it was rolling around, I got a slight tear in my eye. And I was like, “What’s that?”

Check out the entire interview with Benetti and the full list at ChicagoBusiness.com.