White Sox say goodbye to 2010; Paulie, A.J. too?

275454.jpg

White Sox say goodbye to 2010; Paulie, A.J. too?

Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010
Updated 5:57 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com
Even for the last-place team, the final game of the season is always an emotional affair.

The Chicago White Sox had sewn up second place in the AL Central days earlier, but the open spaces of their projected 2011 roster is what will trouble fans for weeks ahead.

In Sundays finale, White Sox fans bade a possible farewell to two longtime Pale Hose heroes.

In the top of the fourth, six-season catcher A.J Pierzynski, the feisty soul of the team, trotted off the field to a loud ovation, having played possibly his final game for the White Sox. Three innings later, an even louder response was generated for Paul Konerko, a 12-season White Sox and five-year team captain.

The surge of emotionspurred by a labored 5 23 innings from Edwin Jacksonpaced the White Sox to a 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians. The White Sox finished 2010 as the hottest team in baseball, winning nine of their final 11 games and ending the year at 88-74. With the victory, manager Ozzie Guillen picked up his 600th career win.

After the game, both players spoke at length about the emotion of the day, as well as their futures. Before the two heroes left the field, Pierzynski implored the crowd, next year, bring back Paulie! and Konerko teased twice that there might be more.

The big blasts in the game came off the bat of Alexei Ramirez, who iced his Silver Slugger award with a first-inning home run and second-inning double, driving in the teams first three runs. Later, Juan Pierre stole his 69th base of the season and drove in the other three runs for the White Sox as part of a 3-for-5 day.

It was a nice way to win, Guillen said. A lot of good things happened today. Speaking as a friend or a baseball fan, it was a privilege to manage all those guys out therethey played hard.

Pierzynski went 0-for-2 in the finale and finished the season batting .270. Konerko was 2-for-3, upping his average to .312. The first baseman fell short in an attempt to clinch his third season with 40 or more home runs, however, finishing with run production numbers of 39 longballs and 111 RBI. Not that he cared much.

I hit 40 homers twice, and the world didnt change, Konerko said. Chasing an individual goal is not what Im about. If you chase the numbers, youre in trouble. This year, my numbers were just a byproduct of my plan day-to-day.

Konerko continued his insightful look at how the 2010 season has differed for him.

You dont have great years, you put together great years. Its a long-haul type of thing, he said. I gave away less at-bats fewer than 100 than I ever have this seasonthats a choice. Im a better leader because of how I went about it.

Natch, the self-deprecating Konerko would end his lesson on a comic note, laughing: I guess it took me 11 years to figure that out.

Both Guillen and Konerko described a rather comic scenario in the White Sox dugout, where as the game went on Konerko wanted to pull himself in order to get Mark Kotsay one more at-bat on the season, and Kotsay refusing to substitute for the legend. Bench coach Joey Cora had to intervene and make a final ruling.

Kotsay and I were both kind of arguing about it, Konerko said. Hes a great guy. Ill do anything for that guy.

When Kotsay trotted out to replace Konerko with one out in the seventh inning, the two had a lengthy embrace near the pitchers mound.

Pierzynski, who is the more affordable and potentially more essential team depth-wise option to return of the pair, was both grateful and urgent in his postgame comments.

The White Sox are a special team, and Chicago is a special place, he said. Ill always be thankful. White Sox fans are the best fans, and Chicago is the best place to play. Ive always said I wanted to be back. I want to be a White Sox until I retire.

Jackson pitched into the fourth without allowing a hit, and exited in the sixth having surrendered five hits and three runs while striking out six.

Lucky me, lucky me, a smiling Jackson said of piloting this monumental finale. Today was just a fun game overall. Everybody was loose. It was the last game. You can easily go out and give up, but guys continued to battle and play hard, so thats always a plus.

The Indians rallied for two runs off of Chris Sale after the rookie sensation struck out four of the first five batters he faced. But the southpaw induced a groundout from Michael Brantley to end the game, and the 2010 season.

Magic Number: 1,768

Paul Konerko logged his 1,768th game with the White Sox, the fourth-most in franchise history. He left in the top of the seventh to a standing ovation and a curtain call from the crowd of 24,539.

Final Word

The only stat that matters is winning. Guillen on the importance of his 600th career win, accomplished with Sundays finale.

Next on the Mound

The White Sox will continue this six-game series in Cleveland, next April 1. Early guesses at the Opening Day starter? The safe bet here is Mark Buehrle, for a team-record ninth time.

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

Jose Abreu hopes to be ready for White Sox next game after leaving with injury

Jose Abreu hopes to be ready for White Sox next game after leaving with injury

Jose Abreu said he hopes to be ready to go when the White Sox start their series against the Detroit Tigers on Friday.

The White Sox first baseman took an awkward-looking fall on the infield grass while trying to field a grounder in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s win over the visiting Kansas City Royals, leaving the game with what the team announced as a mild right hip flexor strain. Abreu was labeled as day-to-day.

Manager Rick Renteria didn’t have any sort of update after the game — though he said he didn't think it was serious — but in his comments to reporters, Abreu said he felt fine after receiving treatment and will be ready to go for Friday’s series opener in Detroit.

“I feel good right now,” Abreu said. “I got treatment and I feel good. The day off tomorrow is going to help and I hope to be ready for the first game in Detroit.”

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Both Renteria and Abreu said the first baseman had no desire to exit Wednesday’s game but that Renteria was being appropriately cautious.

“He did not want to come out,” Renteria said. “He was pretty adamant but I think all of us, you don't take any chances. I think it was just the right thing to do at that time.”

“When you are on the field, you didn’t want to leave the field. It doesn’t matter what’s the reason or what’s happening,” Abreu said. “But he’s the boss and he made that decision and you have to accept it.”

Abreu went 2-for-2 with a two-out RBI double in the first inning Wednesday before he left. He has had two hits in each of his last four games and is 8-for-15 during the White Sox current four-game winning streak.

The White Sox are off Thursday. The team said Abreu will be reevaluated then after arriving in Detroit.

With White Sox hitters' support, Jose Quintana picks up first win of 2017

With White Sox hitters' support, Jose Quintana picks up first win of 2017

Four runs isn’t exactly an eye-popping total. But for Jose Quintana and his luck, it can seem like a gigantic number.

The White Sox starting pitcher is famously left wanting for run support nearly every time he takes the mound. So after the visiting Kansas City Royals erased a two-run White Sox advantage by the middle of the sixth inning Wednesday, it looked like Quintana might be heading for another bad-luck no decision — or worse.

But Avisail Garcia, he of the resurgent 2017 campaign, came to Quintana’s aid, belting a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to put the White Sox back in front. It put Quintana in position for his first win of the season, which he officially earned when things went final a few innings later.

“He hit the ball at the right time. It was a good time,” Quintana said after the 5-2 victory on the South Side. “He told me, ‘That’s for you.’”

Quintana’s own 2017 season hasn’t gotten off to the kind of start you’d expect from the 2016 All Star. He took a loss in each of his first four outings and didn’t pitch like his normal self, entering Wednesday’s game with a 6.17 ERA.

But Wednesday saw Quintana return to form. He struck out 10 batters, a season high and the eighth such effort he’s had in his career. He surrendered just a pair of runs, only one of which was earned.

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Third baseman Todd Frazier said he saw something a little different in Quintana on Wednesday.

“I saw it in his face. He had some look about him,” Frazier said. “It was weird. He was getting mad at me because I didn’t get the ball back to him in time. I love that stuff. I’ll definitely make sure I get it to him quicker. He had a mentality about him, you know, put fear in some hitters eyes.”

Quintana, who kept saying that he “needed” this kind of performance in this game, confirmed it was an accurate assessment.

“Yeah, it was a mission,” Quintana said. “Everybody was doing their job. I needed this outing, so I felt really good on the mound. It was extra motivation to win my first one.

“I needed that outing, I needed that win. I never started like that (with four losses), so I’m really proud of the first win for me. The first of many, so I can’t wait to keep doing my job.”

While the pitcher was different this time around, so too was his offense. The White Sox are locked in some kind of offensive surge right now, combining for 33 runs during a four-game winning streak.

In Quintana’s first four starts, the team mustered just four total runs, shut out in two of those games. While certainly everyone would like the offensive production to continue, it was performances like Wednesday’s that remind you that even when the team isn’t scoring for him — and that’s been often — he still has All-Star stuff.

“As a teammate, you always enjoy when one of your pitchers is having that kind of performance that Quintana had today,” Leury Garcia said. “You’re always trying to help him, you’re always trying to do your best to help your teammates to win games. And for us, the defense was good just to stay there and watch him do his stuff. That was good.”