For White Sox, retaliation a dish best unserved

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For White Sox, retaliation a dish best unserved

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011
Posted: 7:07 p.m. Updated: 7:29 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com White Sox InsiderFollow @CSNChi_Beatnik
CLEVELAND To a man, all the way up to manager Ozzie Guillen, the White Sox remain steadfastly against retaliation for four hit batsmen in Tuesdays doubleheader vs. the Cleveland Indiansthree in the final three innings.

When the question of what went through his head in the ninth after seeing Gordon Beckham drilled in the back and Alexei Ramirez nailed in the shoulder two batters later, knowing he would scale the mound to finish the game, reliever Chris Sale was unmoved.

Ive got a job to do, Sale said. Its a one-run ballgame. The last thing you need to do is be stupid. Obviously, we dont like our guys going down like that. I cannot afford to give them any free baserunners, especially in a game like that. You still want to win. At the end of the day, a win is most important.

Thats debatable enough, but the money quote comes as Sale got to perhaps what really went through his head when confronted with the notion of nailing a Wahoo.

I dont really do too well in situations like that, he admitted. I just go out there and give everything Ive got and try to do my job.

Beckham sends his regards, Chris.

As a hitter just four seasons ago, closer Sergio Santos might pack a little more nuance into his answer, and admittedly he struggled a bit with the notion of HBP impunity.

You have to look at the situation, the pitch, the count, and make a decision about whether someone is being thrown at intentionally, Santos said. Were not going to stand for that, but at the same time you cant go out and react emotionally. You take note of the count, the pitch, and make a determination from there.

Kudos to you, Sergio, says Alexei.

Paul Konerko was nursing a sore backhe was taking extended treatment after Tuesdays game and was not injured as a result of being plunked in the upper thigh in the seventh inningand was due for an off-day anyhow, which he enjoyed on Wednesday. But the Captain didnt seem too excited about the notion that numerous bruised batters wouldnt be avenged any time soon.

I was more upset about getting hit than actually getting hurt, Konerko said by way of explaining his outraged reaction to being hit by Indians reliever Zach Putnam. It didnt really hurt at all, just stung for a second. I dont want to get hit. Nobody wants to get hit I dont think any of them were intentional, but theres a cumulative thing that kind of adds up after awhile. So, well see how it goes.

You can hardly blame the White Sox pitching staff for mellowing down their ire when Konerko can hardly drum up outrage for being nailed.

Guillen maintained Clevelands innocence when asked again about his teams lack of retaliation on Tuesday.

If I knew 100 percent they were throwing at us, theres no doubt in my mind I would do something about it myself, Guillen said. I would let somebody know we have to control this, and thats it. But deep inside, I dont think they did it on purpose.

Guillen has calmed a bit over the years. When he came to the White Sox, he said his players should slide into second base hard enough to break bones. He infamously told former White Sox pitchers Sean Tracey and Jon Garland to hit batters, and both hurlers failed.

The jefes comments over the past two days would indicate hes gone soft, but not so, he insisted on Wednesday.

If players come to me to talk about retaliation, I will be more than happy to donate the money for any resulting fine and protect my players, he said. But Tuesday I didnt have anything telling me it was on purpose I played this game and Ive been in this game for a little while. You know when its on purpose.

Im not going to hit somebody just because. But if I have tohell, yeah.

Guillen ferreted out Josh Judys innocence despite hitting both Beckham and Ramirez in the space of three batters in the ninth due to his circumstantial sleuthing, such as seeing that Judy was unaware how many outs were in the inning.
"A beanball war would be fun.-- Ozzie Guillen.
However, when I posed more provocative proof of Judys guiltSouth Side Sox noting that Judy in fact had good control, hitting just one batter in 52 minor-league innings and none in nine for the Indians (and the unsaid facts that Judy has hit four White Sox in the past two weeks and that since the game where Frank Herrmann broke Beckhams hand last September, effectively ending his season, Cleveland has logged 15 White Sox HBPs while the White Sox plunked just six Indians)Guillen was nonplussed.

I dont think you are going to hit a guy up or down by one run, he said. It wasnt like we were kicking their butt. It was a close game.

The last time a White Sox pitcher defended a batter, it was Mark Buehrle last September, a game after Konerko was beaned in the face by Carl Pavano (also in that series, Delmon Young took a rather direct route toward A.J. Pierzynskis head while being tagged out at the plate). Would Buehrle wreak revenge for longtime teammate and friend Konerko on Wednesday night?

It would surprise me, yes, but I cannot read Buehrles mind, Guillen said. Some people have to protect themselves, but if I see something I dont like, I wont wait for the next game. I would have told Sale, The first guy in the ninth has to go down. If the players think differently, they are grown people and have their own ideas. I have to respect that.

In fact, after some soft talk after the doubleheader on Tuesday, Guillen seemed to get more and more excited at the prospect of future fisticuffs with the Wahoos.

Im not the kind of guy who says wait for tomorrow, especially if were out of the playoff race, Guillen smiled. A beanball war would be fun.

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

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox start series at Twins tonight on CSN

 

The White Sox take on the Twins on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.97 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.40 ERA)

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Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Back with White Sox, Chris Sale ready to move on from 'fiasco'

Even though he felt isolated and experienced a five-day stretch he called “a fiasco,” Chris Sale was right where he wants to be Thursday, surrounded by White Sox teammates.

Shortly after a 3-1 loss to the Cubs, the pitcher echoed the sentiments of White Sox management in a 10-minute media session when he suggested he’d like to move on from a five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property.

With the trade deadline only four days away, Sale wants to stay with the White Sox and hopes the current roster gets an opportunity to win. He also thought an incident in which he destroyed promotional throwback jerseys had been blown out of proportion.

While he didn’t apologize for his actions, the left-hander said he regretted letting down his teammates and fans who attended Saturday’s game. Sale, whose record fell to 14-4 after he allowed two runs in six innings, said he plans to address White Sox players and coaches soon and intends to let them know his level of appreciation.

“I want to let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at,” Sale said. “And let them know how much I appreciate them.

“I felt like I was out on an island, really. 7 o’clock rolls around and I usually know what’s going on. Sitting at the house sucks.

“I regret not being there for my guys. I’m a pitcher. I’m called upon every fifth day and when I can’t go out there for my guys and the fans, it gets to me.”

Similar to March when he pitched a day after ripping executive vice president Kenny Williams, Sale said his focus is back on the field. He declined to answer what he didn’t like about the throwback jerseys, calling it “counterproductive.” Even though the White Sox are on the outside looking in, Sale is hopeful he and his teammates can rally and make a strong postseason push over the final 60 games.

“I think everyone is making just a little bit bigger deal of this then it really is,” Sale said. “We are here to win games and from this point forward, I think that’s our main focus. We are going to come in every day and do our jobs and try to win ballgames, that’s at the forefront.

“I don’t like people filling in for me. I love what I do. I love pitching. I love competing. I love the guys that I’m surrounded by.”

“When I let them down, it hurts me more than it hurts them.”

Three days after he suggested manager Robin Ventura didn’t properly support him, Sale declined to discuss their future relationship and again diverted the conversation back to the field. When asked what was the biggest lesson he took from the ordeal, Sale said he wasn’t quite sure.

“I know you guys are trying to get in there and you guys have to write stories and stuff,” Sale said. “I understand. But they said their side. I said my side. I’m ready to talk about baseball and playing baseball and getting back to winning and getting the Chicago White Sox into the postseason. That’s my goal. That’s my focus. Anything else, that’s for you guys.”

While he admits that his competitive side may have fed into Saturday’s events, he also knows abandoning it would hurt him on the field. Sale said he was inundated by texts and calls from teammates past and present during his absence. That only strengthened his desire to win with the current group, Sale said.

“There’s no doubt my emotions have got me to this point,” he said. “I wouldn’t be the same person without them but stuff happens. Move on. We have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’ll just push forward.

“I’m here to win. I love exactly where I’m at. I have an unbelievable group of guys in that clubhouse. We’re pulling for each other, they are pulling for me and vice versa, through and through. I’d like to stay with this group of guys and make a push for the playoffs because I love those guys.”

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

White Sox find normalcy in Chris Sale's return from suspension

The word of the day Thursday around the cramped confines of the visitor’s clubhouse at Wrigley Field was normal, as in getting things back to it with ace left-hander Chris Sale taking the mound after serving a five-game suspension for “insubordination and destruction of team property.”

A completely abnormal story — Sale cut up the 1976 throwback uniforms he didn’t want to wear last Saturday and was sent home for his actions — gave way to a relatively routine evening. Sale allowed two runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts over six innings, though the White Sox lineup was shut down by John Lackey and the Cubs’ new three-headed bullpen monster in a 3-1 Crosstown loss.

“Things were pretty normal,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Guys got here, not a different clubhouse or anything like that. I think everything went fairly normal as far as him going out there and pitching and it was about baseball.”

First baseman Jose Abreu said things felt like an ordinary Sale start, even though the American League’s All-Star starting pitcher hadn’t pitched since July 18. He didn’t have his best stuff and wasn’t his sharpest, either — those three walks were his highest total in over two months — as he wasn’t able to consistently paint the corners with his explosive arsenal of pitches.

But, as usual, Sale worked quickly and kept his team in the game against one of baseball’s best offenses.

“He pitched a very good game,” Abreu said through a translator.

The Cuban first baseman added: “I think that we already moved on.”

Catcher Dioner Navarro agreed.

“He gave us a great outing, we just weren’t able to score any runs for him,” Navarro said.

Before the game, third baseman Todd Frazier said he and his teammates rallied around Sale and hoped a solid outing from the 27-year-old left-hander would put the bizarre incident squarely in the rearview mirror. 

“Some mistakes are bigger than others but you gotta understand that we’re all not perfect,” Frazier said. “Things do happen in this game, different things that you think (you’ve) never seen before, and then it happens. It’s just one of those things, hopefully it goes away quick with the way he pitches."

Sale said he didn’t discuss the incident or his suspension with his teammates before the game to keep things as normal as possible. After he showed up a little after 4:40 p.m., he received hugs and handshakes from teammates welcoming him back following his five-day exile.

But after that, Navarro said things were business as usual. He and Sale went through the gameplan and got ready to face the Cubs' powerful lineup instead of dwelling on what happened last Saturday. Eventually, Sale will talk to his coaches and teammates on a personal level to “let them know where my head is at, where my heart is at, and let them know how much I appreciate them.”

With the White Sox playoff hopes flickering as the trade deadline approaches, though, Sale’s teammates are eager to keep the focus on trying to dig themselves out of a substantial, two-games-under-.500 hole.

“Everything’s in the past,” Navarro said. “He did a great job. Quality start, nothing else you can ask.”