Licorice whip: White Sox offense stymied in loss

Licorice whip: White Sox offense stymied in loss
March 12, 2011, 10:54 pm
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Saturday, March 12, 2011Posted: 4:50 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. Never has a strong offense ever seemed so impotent.

The White Sox entered play second in the American League with a .281 average but could only muster a single hit in the first three inningsa bunt single by Juan Pierre to lead off the gameen route to a 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers at Camelback Ranch.

Matt Harrison stymied the White Sox for four innings, striking out four. The Pale Hose mustered just three more hits in the game against Rangers relievers.

On the White Sox side, Edwin Jackson threw four innings and was hammered for four runs and eight hits. The hurler said that Saturdays outing was the best hes felt all spring.

"I'm looking at pitches, ahead in the counts, behind in the counts, aggressiveness," Jackson said. "Those are things you can take into the season. Numbers are numbers. It's spring training. At the end of the month, everyone will be at zero all over again. You are working on things, and you want to see where you are at pitch-wise and continue to progress from there."

Chicagos second hit came courtesy of Omar Vizquel, who was promptly picked off of first base, turning an Adam Dunn strikeout into a fourth inning double play. Later, Dunn added a stand-up triple, aided by Texas centerfielder Craig Gentrys attempted catch on the play. Dunn scored the only White Sox run of the game one batter later, when Alex Rios tapped an excuse-me, check-swing infield single.

The hot-and-cold Chicago attack doesnt please White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, but hes been extremely patient this spring, continuing to point to the plan he diagrammed in the offseason.

Ten games, seven games before we break camp, youll see starters play nine innings, he said. You havent seen that in the past Everyone has to play seven-eight innings because we have started poorly in the last four to six years. After Opening Day we play very bad because we dont play together enough late in spring training.

In or Out?

Guillen joked postgame that he had been ejected from the contest, but theres no evidence in the box score to support that. Chalk it up to another case of wishful thinking for the jefe.

Jackson Four

Jackson threw all of his pitches and continued working toward his regular-season debut, but Texas easily solved him after two strong starts to begin Cactus League play (the righthander entered todays action 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA).

The only difference is the score, I guess, he said. The pitches were the same. I went out and worked on the same thing. I was throwing high a little bit more than I like.

Spring training can be a grind, with Jackson still due for four starts before the Cactus League mercifully closes its doors for another year. But the hurler wouldnt blame the grind for taking his eyes off the ball in his effort today.

You have to go out and you are still trying to have success, Jackson said. But you can be the most successful spring training pitcher and the worst season pitcher. And you can be the least successful spring training pitcher and when the season starts, you dominate.

The main thing is getting through spring training. As long as you feel good and healthy into the season, thats the most important thing.

Vote of confidence

After a fairly strong start at the plate, third baseman heir apparent Brent Morel has seen his OPS fall to .488. Yet Guillen wouldnt say that Mark Teahentearing the cover off the ball (hitting .474 after an 0-for-2 effort on Saturday)had won the job.

Morel is not going to make the team because hes going to hit .600-.700, Guillen said. But the way Teahen is playing the last couple of games is outstanding. Hes playing better defense than he was in the past.

The plan, according to Guillen, is to continue alternating the two candidates in games.

Its going to be a battlewere going to keep throwing them out there, Guillen said. Were going to alternate them. I want to see who responds the best.

Morel has to continue to be considered the front-runner, given Guillens predilection toward defense.

Are we going to go with better defense Morel, or Teahens offense? Guillen mused, noting that he has seven more meetings scheduled with staff to discuss the White Sox roster. Im not afraid to play Morel with this ballclub at all.

Ditto closer

Guillen also hasnt made up his mind with regard to the White Sox closer. Matt Thornton has made three appearances, with a 6.00 ERA and just one strikeout, while Chris Sale stands at 4.26 with eight strikeouts.

I can throw a coin up, and wherever it lands, thats the guy, Guillen said. I dont worry about either of those two guys. Coop will have an idea, Kenny has an idea, I have an idea, and well put the best guy out thereI dont care who it is, because I have confidence in both guys.

The manager was quick to remind of options beyond primary candidates Thornton and Sale, as well.

If Thornton and Sale are overused, then we have Jesse Crain. Crain and Will Ohman can close, too.

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