Sox Drawer: Easy as Juan-2-3

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Sox Drawer: Easy as Juan-2-3

Tuesday, December 15

Juan Pierre steals bases.

Kenny Williams steals leadoff hitters.

Thats the kind of thievery we saw today with the White Sox, who in a market (and in a league) where there are very few pure tablesetters, Williams found a guy who comes to the Southside with a full set of silverware.

Juan is certainly someone who fits the bill, Williams said. I love his work ethic. I love his intensity. He adds a lot to the club other than what he does on the field. And what he does on the field is pretty special.

The speedy outfielder had been on the Sox radar for the last 3 years. In fact, Williams did all he could to pry him away from the Dodgers while Pierre was in LA. I probably irritated (Dodgers GM) Ned (Colletti) more than once or twice, Williams said.

Heres why:

Pierre can run. He can hit. He can bunt, and he can chase down any fly ball in the 312 area code.

Trademark Ozzie Ball.

Yes, Pierre doesnt have the greatest arm in the world. But neither did Scott Podsednik, whose negotiations with the White Sox never got close, and who could ironically become the next leadoff hitter for...the Cubs.

Hows that for irony.

Speaking of the Cubs, Jim Hendry paid dearly for Pierre back in 2005, when he dealt Ricky Nolasco, Sergio Mitre, and Renyel Pinto to Florida for Pierre, who was set to be a free agent the following season.

Hendry felt the Cubs could re-sign him. Whoops. Didnt happen. Pierre inked a 5-year, 44 million contract with the Dodgers. Meanwhile, Nolasco has won 28 games the last 2 years with the Marlins. Pinto is a solid arm out of the Marlins bullpen. Mitre is now a Yankee.

As for Pierre, the Sox picked him up at the local discount store. Not a store most of us will ever be able to shop at, but baseball-speaking...what a bargain.

The Sox are on the hook for just 3 million of Pierres 10 million salary for 2010. The Dodgers are paying the remaining 7 million. In 2011, hell be on the Sox books for 5.5 million, with the Dodgers still paying 3.5 million.

The Sox gave up a couple of minor league pitchers in the deal, reportedly Jon Link and John Ely, who happened to play at my alma-mater, Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Anytime I get the chance to mention the Vikings, I will. Cant help it.

Link and Ely might turn out to be the next Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. But they could also be the next Royce Ring and Brandon McCarthy.

You just never know.

Thats why Id make this deal every day of the week.

It didnt work out so well for Hendry and the Cubs. Things should be different with the Sox. First, they get him for two years instead of one. And they get a Juan Pierre who is hungry, and like Andruw Jones, is looking to prove his doubters (like the Dodgers) wrong.

See a pattern developing here?

I dont hit for power, I dont have an arm, said Pierre, talking about the fan reaction in LA. Ive been criticized so much these last 3 years Im prepared for the Chicago media again thats for sure.

Hell also be extremely fresh for a 32-year-old who relies on his legs. Pierre got bumped from a crowded outfield with the Dodgers, losing playing time to Matt Kemp, Andre Either, and Manny Ramirez.

Ive been in the Witness Protection Program the last few years, Pierre said.

He was lost. Now hes found. And reunited with his old 3rd base coach Ozzie Guillen. Both of them were on the winning side of the Steve Bartman game in 2003 with the Marlins, and later got a ring.

When I asked Guillen the one thing he wanted last week at the winter meetings, he replied, A leadoff hitter.

Hes got one now, and he cant believe its Pierre.

I think Kenny did a miracle, Guillen said. I dont know how he did it.

Thievery.

White Sox try to slow down skid as they battle the Royals on CSN

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White Sox try to slow down skid as they battle the Royals on CSN

The White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Miguel Gonzalez vs. Danny Duffy

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

Cubs don’t see Cardinals as ‘big brother’ in rivalry anymore

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Cubs don’t see Cardinals as ‘big brother’ in rivalry anymore

ST. LOUIS – Jake Arrieta’s breakdown of his performance sounded like something out of the maybe pile for Joe Maddon’s next T-shirt idea: “I picked a good day to be sh---y.”

The Cubs ace then messed with a reporter who asked a follow-up question after Wednesday’s 9-8 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, wondering if Arrieta would study anything in particular after giving up four runs in a regular-season start for the first time in 11-plus months…or stick with the same routine.

“Well,” Arrieta said, “I’ll probably, maybe, throw left-handed or underhand.”

Arrieta may have some underlying issues with his timing and command, but the National League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner is still 9-0 with a 1.72 ERA. By Year 5 of the Theo Epstein administration, and Maddon’s second season in the dugout, the Cubs now have first-division problems. 

Whatever turbulence the team with the best record in baseball may have experienced during a 4-5 road trip through Milwaukee, San Francisco and St. Louis, the Cardinals scored eight runs on Arrieta Day and still lost. While the Cubs have already won two series this season at Busch Stadium before Memorial Day weekend, after eliminating the Cardinals from the playoffs last October.    

“For the first three-and-a-half years when we were in Chicago, it just felt like they were the big brother,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “They controlled the game. They controlled what was going on, the tempo of the game. They were the more talented team, the more experienced team. 

“Now we’re two very good teams playing. And whoever plays better that night is going to win the game. I think there’s something really refreshing about that when you come in here. We know we’re good. We know they’re good.

“We know that there’s a lot of good teams in the National League and we match up well with them.”

The Cubs ambushed St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez for six runs in the second inning, getting the kind of bounces the Cardinals are used to seeing here.

Jason Heyward’s two-out, two-run double hit first base and bounced up the right-field line, and maybe luck will change for the $184 million player who turned down the St. Louis core. Ben Zobrist is still on fire, getting two hits that inning, including a bases-loaded, two-run single that skipped in between diving first baseman Matt Adams and diving second baseman Kolten Wong.

“I wouldn’t say (things) are shifting,” said Kris Bryant, who blasted what turned out to be the game-winning homer, a three-run shot off Seung Hwan Oh in the sixth inning. “It’s just really competitive baseball. Lately, we’ve come out on top. They play us hard every game. It’s going to make for a lot of fun games in the future.”

When it looked like the Cardinals might stage one of their last at-bat comebacks, Hector Rondon didn’t buckle in front of a sellout crowd (45,465). The Cubs closer roared back after allowing back-to-back singles to begin the ninth inning, striking out Yadier Molina and Randal Grichuk swinging and knocking down the ball pinch-hitter Jedd Gyorko hit back to the mound for the final out and his eighth save. The Cardinals are now a third-place team that’s one game over .500 at 24-23.

“Of course, I totally think they’re going to be there at the end,” Maddon said. “They’re really good. They have a very good offensive club. They need to get their pitching straightened out. They have a good bullpen. And they just play hard. They play hard every second of the game.

“You can never walk away from that. They have some really good players in skill positions. They’re going to get (shortstop Jhonny) Peralta back, I think, at some point, and that’s going to make a big difference for them. And then the problem’s going to be: Where do you put (Aledmys) Diaz?

“They have some nice problems on the horizon.”  

The Cubs (31-14) now have an eight-game lead over the Cardinals in the division and a 9-3 combined record against St. Louis and the Pittsburgh Pirates, the other two heavyweights in the Central.  

“It’s going to be close to the end,” Arrieta said. “The Pirates and the Cardinals – these guys are going to continue to win games, in and out of our division. We just have to do our job to try and separate that gap when we have the ability to do so, because we know they’ll be close on our heels to the very end.”

Andrew White III heading back to Huskers

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Andrew White III heading back to Huskers

One of the Big Ten's leading scorers from a season ago will be back for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

Andrew White III announced Wednesday that he has withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft and will return to Nebraska for his senior season.

White ranked sixth in the conference last season, averaging 16.6 points per game in his first season with the Huskers after transferring in from Kansas.

White shot 48.1 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point range, also averaging 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He was a top-15 rebounder in the conference, and only three players in the league made more triples than White last season.