Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

May 2009 Archives

The 'OC' is back on the South Side Monday

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amd_whitesox_cabrera.jpgKANSAS CITY, Mo. - As far as Ozzie Guillen is concerned, when shortstop Orlando Cabrera steps on the field Monday evening in his Oakland uniform, he should be welcomed back to the South Side with open arms and cheers.
Unfortunately for the White Sox manager, he isn't in position to lead by example.
Guillen wouldn't come out on Sunday and say that the relationship he had with the once young shortstop he coached back in his Montreal days is now strained, but it definitely took a hit last season - Cabrera's one and only year with the Sox.
"I don't think our relationship - it's not what it was no doubt, but I don't think it's bad,'' Guillen said. "The day I said some things about him [to the media], we had a closed-door meeting and talked to him about it. What I didn't like, what I did like, and besides that day, there wasn't anything going on with him and me.
"I don't know if our relationship as friends has changed, because it's something where I've got a job to do and I had to do the best I can because I had to represent 24 other guys out there [in the clubhouse]. But like I have said over and over again, I will always remember that he went out on the field for me and played. He took the leadoff role, which he never was. It's too bad things didn't work out the way we wanted, but I think he played really good for us.''
The two did see each other back in spring training, and exchanged hellos, but they were quick.
While there wasn't one, huge knockdown, drag-out disagreement between the two, there was definitely a piling up of straw that eventually broke the relationship.
It started in the spring of 2008, when Cabrera took exception to Guillen saying in a Sun-Times article on the shortstop that he and Cabrera both liked to talk about the good-looking women in the Latino soap operas. Guillen said it in jest, but Cabrera didn't find it funny and let Guillen know about it.
On the other hand, Guillen didn't think that Cabrera came in looking out for the team first over his own pending free agency, evident by the way he didn't look to build any relationships with his new teammates, unless they had a deck of cards or a domino in their hands.
He acted like a one-year mercenary that was there to do the Sox a favor.
Guillen also didn't appreciate the way Cabrera went out of his way to point out Angels skipper Mike Scioscia was "the smartest manager I played for ... by far'' or the fact that he twice called up to the press box during games to have errors overturned, including one that could have been put on his own teammate in Toby Hall.
But even with Cabrera elsewhere, Guillen will never question the fact that Cabrera played hard for him - selfishly or not.
"He should get a good one, dang,'' Guillen responded, when asked what sort of fan reception should Cabrera receive. "Whatever happened behind the scenes had nothing to do with the performance he did for us. I think people should appreciate the way he did things on the field. To me, he had a big part on why we went to the playoffs last year. Inside stuff, that was our problems. It was my problem, his problem, whatever, it should have nothing to do with what he did on the field.''

Busy little GM

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p1_ken_williams_si.jpgKANSAS CITY, Mo. - Somewhere out there, Ken Williams is lurking. His manager knows it and his players know it, but when and where will the general manager strike on another deal?
He acquired reserve catcher Ramon Castro on Friday, already tried to land San Diego ace Jake Peavy last week, and is rumored to be smack dab on the trail of the likes of an Erik Bedard or Roy Oswalt.
Manager Ozzie Guillen didn't even know what was coming next from his stealth-like GM.
"I don't know,'' Guillen replied on Saturday. "In the past, I say I'm happy with what I have. Right now, this team has been so inconsistent. One week we play unbelievable and the next week we don't. Right now, the way we play right now, I will take my chances with this club.''
What do his players think:

"We don't have any control over what he does or what anybody does. We can't concern ourselves with what's going on. All we can do, like we said when the Peavy thing was going on, is worry about the guys that are here. We've been playing better the last 10 games or so and we think we're finally getting to where we need to be, and that's good, solid pitching and some hitting. Whatever Kenny thinks will help, we'll gladly appreciate it.'' - A.J. Pierzynski

"He's out there looking, yeah, He's always looking to make our club better and as players you respect that.'' - Jim Thome

"It let's us realize, and we always knew that, but he is going to do everything in his power to try and win baseball games. He wants to put the organization in the right position to do so, and we're all for winning games.'' - Clayton Richard


Quentin to the DL, Wise is back

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Quentin,%20Carlos%2017.jpgKANSAS CITY, Mo. - Carlos Quentin won't have to worry about sitting down on Monday with manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Ken Williams to plead his case about returning to the starting lineup now.
The White Sox announced on Friday that the 2008 MVP candidate was placed on the 15-day disabled list [retroactive to May 26] with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Quentin was hitting .229 with eight homers in 38 games, but most of his display of power came in April, as he was obviously fighting the foot injury throughout the month of May.
Taking his spot on the roster - and doing so two weeks earlier than expected - will be outfielder Dewayne Wise, who was rehabbing his separated right shoulder in Class AAA Charlotte. Wise was the Opening Day leadoff hitter and starting center fielder, but when he started off slow, moved down in the order. He had just started to hit when he was injured, making a diving catch on April 13.

Peavy deal taken off life support

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peavy_napkin_nights2.jpgANAHEIM, Calif. - Just in case there were some White Sox fans still holding onto that Jake Peavy hope - let your hands go and embrace the fall.
"I think it is [dead],'' Sox reliever Scott Linebrink insisted on Wednesday.
Linebrink would know. After all, he was given the recruiting responsibilities by general manager Ken Williams to talk to Peavy - who he played with in his San Diego days.
"I saw and read that maybe there was some hope still being held out there for a deal to happen with him in the future, but the second time I talked to Jake after he rejected it, he expressed to me that he felt comfortable being in the National League,'' Linebrink added. "It wasn't he was necessarily afraid to come to the American League, but when you've been in a league and you get to know it, especially being a starting pitcher, it's probably a bit more comfortable to stay over there.
"The thing I did express to him again was that no matter where you do go - because I think it's pretty inevitable that he's being traded - you might want to get this thing behind you as quickly as possible so you can get somewhere and get acclimated as soon as possible. I certainly know what it's like to have a trade rumor hanging over your head, and you certainly don't want that to be a distraction for the rest of the season. That was the last time we talked, about a week ago.''

Fields not fearing Beckham

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gordon_beckham.jpgANAHEIM, Calif. - Just when the likes of Chris Getz and Josh Fields thought Beckham-Mania had died for the time bring in the final weeks of spring training, they found out on Wednesday that not only is it alive and well, but now one step closer to coming to a ballpark near them.
More specifically, possibly even taking one of their starting jobs.
Prior to the series finale with the Angels, the White Sox announced that 2008 first-round pick - and apparently the newest South Side cult hero - Gordon Beckham was promoted from Class AA Birmingham to Class AAA Charlotte, and will start for the Knights on Thursday.
In 38 games with the Barons, Beckham hit .299 with four home runs and 22 RBI, while scoring 23 runs. But the telltale sign that the Sox have at least been getting a bit disgruntled with the struggles Fields has had as the starting third baseman and Getz at second, was the merry-go-round of positions Beckham - a natural shortstop - has been jumping around to. He played a few games at second very early on, but lately was getting work at third.
If the news was supposed to make Fields flinch, however, it didn't.
"We don't have any control over it,'' Fields said. "It happens with any player drafted in the first round, there is some kind of hype that comes out with it. I remember before I even played pro ball, Joe Crede was struggling at the time and the talk was when was I going to be ready to be up? It's just a part of the game and you deal with it. You try and control what's going on with yourself. I feel good about where I am and getting out of that little slump I was in. That's all you can do.''
As far as manager Ozzie Guillen was concerned, it was simply rewarding a player for good play at one level.
"This kid is a good ballplayer,'' Guillen said. "A lot of people say the difference between Triple-A and the big leagues is a small step but I don't know about that one. It's the biggest step you are going to make.''

Thome's latest milestone

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clip_image007.jpgANAHEIM, Calif. - Jim Thome is no longer tied with Mike Schmidt on the all-time home run list, as Thome hit career homer No. 549 in the third inning to move him into sole possession of 13th place, and third on the active list.
"It was a big game,'' Thome said after the 17-3 win over the Angels. "Offensively, we broke loose there and swung the bats well. We almost kind of needed a game like this, after what Minnesota did to us (in a 20-1 loss) and yesterday we lost that tough game and to bounce back and score runs, especially against [Ervin] Santana and do that against him, he's a quality starter, to jump out like that was great.''
Thome did get the ball, and has collected every ball since he hit the 500-homer milestone. He also used the night to reflect on meeting Schmidt from his days with the Phillies.
"Mike, getting the opportunity to meet him was very special,'' Thome said. "Any time you can associate your name with the greats of a Mike Schmidt and the guys so on, it's a true honor. It's very humbling because you know what they've done for the game and to be a part of that is very special.''
Paul Konerko, however, may have had the best perspective on it.
"It's unbelievable when you hear the names he's starting to pass,'' Konerko said. "You have to sit back some times and realize you are playing with a legend. He's such a normal guy and humble guy that's just like any other teammate. But you have to realize his place in history keeps climbing.
"With Jim, I think he has good perspective on everything. He knows it's a cool thing but it doesn't make him any better of a person. He's as humble.. He's as good of a guy as any one on that top 10 or 20 list, I promise you that.''

Peavy deal is dead

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jake.jpgAnd just like that the dream for the White Sox is dead.
A source close to the Jake Peavy camp has said that the pitcher has notified the San Diego Padres that he will not accept the trade to the South Side, killing the deal that would have sent four players West and put Peavy in black and white.
There is no indication of the Padres have notified the Sox yet, but his team knows.
The Peavy talk has been a whirlwind since early this morning, when the San Diego Union-Times broke the story that the veteran was called into the office of manager Bud Black and asked if he would push his no-trade clause to the side and play for the Sox.
The pitcher spoke to Sox reliever Scott Linebrink about the Sox and manager Ozzie Guillen, gathering as much information as he could.
According to the source, Linebrink did a good selling job, and it seemed Peavy was leaning toward accepting the trade, but after an evening of thinking about it, as well as talking with his family, he was not ready to leave San Diego for an American League team.

Peavy to the Sox?

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Jake%20Peavy.jpgIt isn't the North Side, but it's still Chicago.
The rest falls on you Jake Peavy.
A San Diego Union-Tribune story that broke early Thursday morning, indicated that the Padres pitcher was called into the office of manager Bud Black to discuss his willingness to push his no-trade clause to the side and become a member of the Sox starting staff.
As far as what the Sox would have to give up in return, the report said it would involve four players. According to a major-league source, left-handed pitcher Clayton Richard would be a part of that package.

Here's why this makes sense:

--The Sox starting staff - minus any pitcher that has "Buehrle'' on the back of his jersey - has been erratic to say the least.
--Adding a player like Peavy in a very weak Central could be enough to give the Sox the most dominating staff in the division. Even if Gavin Floyd continues to slip up, Jose Contreras is making some noise in Class AAA Charlotte.
--General manager Ken Williams was up to something in Toronto, and something big. He was expected to meet with the media on Sunday morning, but never showed. Williams rarely blows off the media when he says he will meet with them.
--During spring training, Williams said that the slashes they made in the payroll in the offseason allowed them to make a significant acquisition during the regular season if there was light at the end of the tunnel as far as a division title. Considering how the rest of the division has played, there's plenty of light and it's blinding.
--The company line since manager Ozzie Guillen came aboard has been pitching and defense. The defense isn't going to improve anytime soon, but Peavy adds a big piece to the pitching department.
--The Sox will be dropping some heavy salaries after this season, including Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and Jose Contreras - all $10 million and higher. Add reliever Octavio Dotel's and that's almost $40 million coming off the books.
--What a better way to one-up the rival Cubs by getting a deal done for the player that they couldn't sweep the leg on.

Here's why this makes no sense:

--Peavy's contract is anti-Sox in every way. The pitcher will make $11 million in 2009, $15 million in 2010, $16 million in 2011, $17 million in 2012 and a $22 million option for 2013 with a $4 million buyout. Reports indicate that Peavy wants the $22 million option to become automatic if he is traded. This is a club that had to have its arm twisted to sign Mark Buehrle to a contract for more than three years. They just don't like long-term deals for starting pitchers, but maybe times have changed.
--There have been concerns with Peavy's shoulder since the World Baseball Classic, but he has pitched through it so far.
--Peavy has always insisted that he's wanted to stay in the National League and hit, and according to the San Diego Union-Tribune story, he has reservations about playing for a manager like Guillen.
--The Padres have been very honest with all of the Peavy trade talk - almost too honest if you ask the Cubs - and the Sox were never players in this during the winter. Williams likes to at least plant the seed before making major trades, so this one is definitely a recent developing plan by the GM.

Josh Fields knocked in the winning run for the White Sox with his RBI single in an eventual seven-run fourth inning Wednesday night, but he will find himself on the bench Thursday for the series finale against the Twins.

Manager Ozzie Guillen confirmed his plan to sit Fields on Thursday and start Wilson Betemit.

Before the 7-4 victory over the Twins, Guillen threatened to bench the slumping Fields.

''He's next,'' Guillen said of an Alexei Ramirez-style benching. ''If he keeps doing what he's doing, I need somebody to do better at third base. I need better at-bats. When you're batting second and eighth and ninth, and you strike out the way he does, it's not good for him, it's not good for the ballclub.''

Fields entered Wednesday tied for third in the American League with 43 strikeouts. The last three weeks have been particularly rough for Fields. He entered the game with 21 strikeouts and just nine hits in 58 at-bats since April 29.

Certainly, Fields isn't the only member of Guillen's lineup struggling. But he stands out the most in Guillen's mind.

''He just strikes out more than he makes contact,'' Guillen said. ''I never tell my hitters to hit .350 -- I never have and I never will. [Jayson] Nix, he's hitting around .220 [actually .241 entering Wednesday]. A lot of people in Chicago think Nix is leading the league in hitting right now. He's hitting .220. [Chris] Getz is around there also [.231]. But those two guys give themselves a chance to get a hit. I think right now Fields is not doing that.''

What was the ''Cuban Missile'' thinking?

During the White Sox' seven-run fourth inning Wednesday night against the Twins, Alexei Ramirez scored the tiebreaking run after a bizarre trip around the bases. He doubled one out after Paul Konerko hit a tying two-run homer. With Ramirez getting a comfortable lead off second base, Josh Fields lined a single to center.

Ramirez headed for third and was being waved home by coach Jeff Cox. But Ramirez slid into third base, then immediately popped up to score easily.

''That's Cuban baseball,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said with a roll of his eyes. ''A lot of people in Cuba think they know about this game, they are going to have to teach me that one. You think when you see baseball every day that you have seen it all, you have not. I've never seen that before in my life and I hope I never see it before again.

''When you win, you laugh. When you lose, you want to kill them.''

Ramirez was unavailable for comment after the game.

Buehrle on the Twins: 'I own them'

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mark_buehrle_white_sox_baby.jpgAll Mark Buehrle did on Tuesday was improve his record to 6-1 on the season and end a five-game losing streak for the White Sox.
Along the way, he also watched his continued ownership of the Minnesota Twins, improving to a career 23-13 with a 3.72 ERA in 39 appearances against the division rivals.
So when asked about his success against the Twins, his response.
"I own them,'' he said, then laughing. "I mean I don't know, obviously we face them a lot of times. It seems like it's gone back and forth. It's about making your pitches, and I'm on a little stretch right now where I have the confidence. [Tuesday] was one of those games where I probably missed more spots than I have in a lot of start and I got lucky with them. I threw a lot of pitches down the middle and they either took them or fouled them off. That's why in baseball you need to get lucky.''
Two questions had to be asked of the southpaw after his latest win, however.
First, chasing 20 wins for the first time in his career.
"I think I've said it before, every starting pitcher wants to get 20 [wins], but if I get 20 wins and don't get to 200 innings, I don't think it will be as satisfying,'' Buehrle responded. "For me, I want to go out there and throw 200 innings and let you feel you're going deep into games. It seems like pitching every six or seven days, it's going to be tough to get to 200 innings, but I'll do the best I can.''
Then there's also that little All-Star Game that will be played in his hometown of St. Louis. Also, the place where his favorite team growing up happens to play.
"Obviously it would be nice, home town, but I've still got about 10 starts to go,'' he said. "There is a lot of stuff that can go wrong between now and then. But here I am right now, it would be an honor to go and represent this team.''

Kenny GM now holds future of coaching staff

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610x.jpgThose contract extensions for the entire coaching staff that were expected to be signed, sealed and delivered with a mid-April announcement?
Well, they're no longer in Ozzie Guillen's hands.
And while the White Sox manager was saying all the right things about his current staff and their immediate future on Tuesday, he also made it very clear that the final decision will now come from general manager Ken Williams.
That's a bit different than what was said several years ago, when Williams insisted that Guillen was given the full say of the firing and hiring of the staff around him. Even earlier this season, the manager told the Sun-Times that several of the coaches had already signed deals and they were finalizing extensions with the others.
"I want them all here as long as I'm here,'' Guillen said then.
He even went out of his way in Toronto on Friday to give hitting coach Greg Walker a vote of confidence. Will that same vote now come from Williams?
"I know a lot of people are starting to say that we aren't going to sign our coaches now because the way we're playing, but to be honest with you, if we don't think the coaches here now can help us, they're not here,'' Guillen insisted. "They would be gone. I think all those guys are doing the best job they can to get the players better. I'm not going to keep saying that I want them here as long as I'm here now, because I don't want to put my shoes in my mouth later. I think they are OK. I talked to [board chairman] Jerry about it, I talked to Kenny about it. The contract stuff, that's now up to Kenny and [assistant GM] Rick [Hahn] and Jerry.
"They asked me about it, and I said I wanted them all back. I don't know if they want to put it on hold or when they want to do it or if they want to do it, that's up to them.''
Pitching coach Don Cooper, Walker, bench coach Joey Cora, and first base coach Harold Baines have been with Guillen since he took of the helm prior to the 2004 season. Each of their contracts are up after this season. Third base coach Jeff Cox and bullpen coach Juan Nieves were hired prior to the '08 season, and Nieves is also up at the end of the year.
What Guillen did say was that the delay in inking the entire group had nothing to do with the club having second thoughts as they sink in the standings.
"If I was doing that they wouldn't be here,'' Guillen said. "It's not because we won a championship, won the division, because I don't care about that as much as do they work hard? They work hard, they prepare the guys as best they can, they have a feel for this organization. They do everything a manager can ask. If it doesn't work out the way we want it to, we'll take the blame, and we're man enough to do it. I don't see any of my coaches hiding from how bad we're playing from the media or the fans - we'll take the blame. I take the blame for the entire ballclub.
"I don't think we need to be in such a hurry to do it. I think Kenny wants to think about it, and I hope it gets done soon.''

Thoughts from Ozzie

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Ozzie-Guillen-R.jpgTORONTO - A few words from manager Ozzie Guillen on a season gone very wrong so far.
"I watched a couple of innings. [Sunday], obviously I was busy. It was hard to watch. I'd rather be here suffering with the players and the coaching staff then be somewhere else, watching the way we're playing. Right now, we're having a really tough time. I really hope that no one starts pointing fingers on the ballclub. We lose as a ballclub. I don't want anyone down here to blame anybody. A lot of people say it's about the pitching, the hitting, no, it's about putting everything together and start winning games. The worst thing you can do is just give up and hope that something good happens. No, you've got to make it happen. You've got to come here every day and fight. Come here and do the best you can to get it going. How we're going to get it going? Well, that's our job to try and figure out how we're going to get this going. You say everything goes with the starting pitching, the starting pitching going well, but we're not hitting, we're not pitching, we're not making the plays. It's hard to win games when you don't put those three things together in a positive way. The worst thing that can happen is we start feeling sorry for ourselves or start wondering about our abilities, as a group - wonder can you manage, can you coach, can you hit ... we've been in this situation before and we overcame. In the meanwhile, I know there are a lot of desperate people out there, we are, but it's our job to keep those guys believing in what they could do, and hopefully for the best.''

And asked if he thought it would get this bad ...

"Besides not winning, we're playing bad baseball. We're making a lot of mistakes, pitching mistakes, hitting mistakes, baserunning mistakes, it's hard to win when you do that. When you're struggling and you can cut out those mistakes, you'll have a better chance. I watched a couple of innings, and Gavin was supposed to throw the ball away and all of a sudden it was in the middle of the plate. The difference between a good game and a bad game is maybe five or six pitches, and those pitches you're going to pay for. This is the wrong ballclub to make bad pitches against.''

Questions continue with Q

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2130(1).jpgTORONTO - The questions surrounding Carlos Quentin's left heel injury continued on Sunday afternoon, as the team first indicated that he was heading out on a 6 p.m. flight to return to Chicago and receive further treatment, and then said before game time that he might stay.
All that is know about the injury is that he received a cortisone shot in the heel while the Sox were in Cleveland, and returned to the lineup on Friday. He was a late scratch Saturday, however, when the pain moved to the mid-foot area.
Quentin received treatment both Saturday and Sunday, but was seen taking flips in the batting cage about an hour before game time.

News getting worse for Sox

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st24a_big.jpgTORONTO - Here are the medical updates coming out of loss No. 20 of the season.
Bartolo Colon left the game after five innings with what the pitcher said was a mild upset stomach. And no, it was not Swine Flu.
The news was a bit worse for Carlos Quentin, according to acting manager Joey Cora.
"Carlos came to me after [batting practice] and said he couldn't go,'' Cora said, as Quentin's left heel continues to be a problem. "The plan right now, he's leaving Sunday night to Chicago and get some treatment Monday. And hopefully be able to play on Tuesday, but that's where he's at right now. He won't be available tomorrow or on Monday.''
Head trainer Herm Schneider actually sent word that Quentin will get re-evaluated tomorrow morning at the Rogers Centre, and if there's no improvement he could be on a flight out by late afternoon.
If he has to go on the 15-day DL the Sox would be in some real big trouble, as the outfield is already thin.
Can you say 2007 all over again?

Ozzie goes off; Danks rips Toronto fans

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497882a41d856.jpgTORONTO - Not only is a new-look lineup coming Saturday, but manager Ozzie Guillen had some further choice words for those that are calling for the head of White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker following the 8-3 loss to Toronto.
"[Saturday] we'll have a lineup change,'' Guillen said. "I'm going to [bleeping] play [coaches] Bainesy [Harold Baines], Joey Cora and Greg Walker. We might have a better chance. At least, you know what, we're not going to strikeout that [bleeping] much, I guarantee that. Any team, no matter how good you are, you're not going to win striking out that many times.''
As far as his feelings for Walker ...
"At least they kicked our ass pretty quick. I'll take that,'' Guillen first said, when told the game lasted just over two hours and twenty minutes. "They didn't kill me little by little, they gave me one shot and kicked me out of the ballpark.
"A lot of people blame Greg Walker, that's a bunch of shit. This guy is here every day, 12 o'clock, 1 o'clock working with the players. He's out there working with the players, out there giving them the information, trying to figure out ... we just don't get it done. Don't blame Walk. All the fans out there that think they know about hitting, don't blame Walk. If they're going to blame Walk, blame me for giving Walk the job. I've seen in the past that when the coaches don't work for me the way they should be working, they're gone. Walk works his tail off every day to get those players better. Whoever wants to blame Walk out there, they better not waste their energy because it's not Greg Walker's fault.''
Guillen was pressed twice on getting the offense going, and did offer this up: "How? It's my job to figure out how. We're going to make a few changes in the lineup to see how, but that's my 39th different lineup I've made this year. When your manager changes the lineup every day, it's not a good sign of a winning ballclub.''
Finally, there were a few eye-openers from starting pitcher John Danks, with the first coming after he was asked if he was tipping his pitches or were the Jays somehow knowing what he was going to throw.
"We will [watch the video], but for right now we'll sit here and wonder what happened,'' Danks said.
At least he left the game with some dramatics. Upon leaving, Danks was getting it from the Blue Jays fans sitting above the visiting dugout, and mockingly gave them a tip of his cap.
"These fans ... I don't want to get in trouble, they are hockey fans, call them that,'' Danks said, watching his words carefully. "They were getting on me pretty good and it was just kind of my way of kind of slapping them back in the face, I guess you could say.''

Dye appeals suspension

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g051309sox3_cst_feed_20090513_14_19_21_584_h=400&w=262.jpgTORONTO - Jermaine Dye isn't even quite sure how the appeal process works, but that didn't stop the White Sox outfielder for challenging the system on Friday afternoon, as he put in for an appeal of the two-game suspension he received for an incident in Cleveland.
After being called out on strikes to end the sixth inning Wednesday, Dye had some choice words for home plate umpire Mike DiMuro, and as he was walking away, slammed his batting helmet down to the ground. It ricocheted back, however, and apparently hit DiMuro.
"Then I walked away and slammed my helmet down in frustration,'' Dye explained on Friday. "I didn't even know that it ricocheted back at him. I didn't even turn around, so I didn't know it hit him. I still haven't seen the replay. I don't even know what it looks like.''
What it looked like was not only a two-game suspension, but a fine for an undisclosed amount for what the league has determined were "inappropriate actions.''
While manager Ozzie Guillen said he wasn't surprised by the punishment, Dye said he was surprised.
"I didn't know what to expect because I've never been suspended,'' Dye said. "I didn't know how they even go about knowing how long a suspension should even be. I figured if anything I should be fined. It wasn't intentional, I didn't try and ... I can't control the helmet if it goes backwards. I slammed it straight down just being mad at myself. That was it, it wasn't intentional.''
Dye was in the starting lineup against Toronto.

Dye suspended two games

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TORONTO - Jermaine Dye has been suspended for two games and has been fined an undisclosed amount for what the league has determined were "inappropriate actions'' after being called out on strikes to end the sixth inning of Wednesday's game with the Tribe.
Dye threw his batting helmet down and it rolled in the direction of the umpire.
Unless Dye wants to appeal it, the suspension will begin tonight against Toronto.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Balky back and all, the Twins are absolutely thrilled to call Joe Crede their own. The former White Sox third baseman who was so huge during the 2005 postseason -- and who feasted on Minnesota pitching last season -- is on a roll after a slow start, putting up 15 hits, 10 RBI and four home runs in his last 12 games. This might be tough for White Sox fans to stomach, but here is what Crede said about his Twins teammates after his grand slam ended a 13-inning marathon against the Tigers: "These guys have been great so far this year. It's going to be fun to see what this team can do.''

It's worth noting that after a hot start, Crede's replacement on the South Side -- Josh Fields -- has hit a dip, going hitless in his last nine at-bats. Fields, 26, was hitting .306 on April 17, but his average has dropped to .235 and he has just two home runs and 12 RBI in 30 games. Crede, 31, is hitting .237, and has five home runs and 13 RBI in 25 games. Manager Ozzie Guillen warned us not to expect Crede-like defense from Fields. So this shouldn't come as a surprise: Crede has one error and a .985 fielding percentage -- tops among AL third basemen; Fields has five errors and a .943 percentage -- only the Mariners' Adrian Beltre, with seven errors and a .929 fielding percentage, has worse numbers among AL third basemen.

The Twins got Crede -- coming off an All-Star season for a relative steal, thanks to that bad back, signing him to a one-year, $2.5 million contract that includes $4.5 million in performance bonuses. Fields is earning $410,000.

Crede's former Sox teammate Magglio Ordonez became upset after plate umpire Paul Schrieber put a hand on his shoulder to usher him away after a disputed call. Dontrelle Willis -- in the first start by a Tigers left-hander this season -- made his long-awaited debut in that same game against the Twins. He allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out none, but walked just two. Willis and the Tigers are taking this as a positive step.

A hideous five-run seventh inning seemed a fitting end to the Royals' five-game trip out West. In the five losses, the Royals were outscored 28-9. Making matters more frustrating, the five-game skid comes immediately after the Royals caught everyone's attention in the Central with a six-game winning streak. The open a seven-game homestand tonight. The Royals are 11-6 at home and 7-10 on the road.

Contreras dominates

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jose-contreras-cuba-pitcher.jpgMaking his first start for Class AAA Charlotte since asking to be demoted there, Jose Contreras threw six shutout innings, allowing three hits and getting the win on Wednesday night.
As far as Brian Anderson and his rehab assignment, the outfielder went 2-for-4 hitting in the No. 3 spot.

This means you Josh Fields

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Chicago+White+Sox+Photo+Day+-Hdfeh3O4qEl.jpgCLEVELAND - Ozzie Guillen has no problem throwing his players under the bus.
The latest victim with tire tracks on his back from the White Sox manager?
Third baseman Josh Fields.
Following the loss to Cleveland on Wednesday, Guillen pointed out that, "We strike out too much. Too much strikeouts. Game on the line, we strike out. People on base, we strike out. Lead off inning, we strike out. We got to cut that. That's a big part of the game. You put the ball in play, you got a better chance. We really strike out too much.
"Even the guys who strike out ... We got people who strike out more than Jimmy [Thome]. That's a little embarrassing, you strike out more than Jim Thome, because Jim has one way. He's not going to be on base 300 times, 150 strikeouts, 150 walks. He's going to be a Hall of Famer. Some guys aren't going to be Hall of Famers. They strike out too much and they have to be better.''
Thome has 33 strikeouts, while Fields has 39.

CXS104_Indians_Whit_8503536.jpgCLEVELAND - Who said Paul Konerko wasn't the type of leader that could lay down the law?
Following the team's major-league leading sixth shutout of the season on Wednesday, the team captain pulled no punches with what's going on with the defending Central Division champs, insisting, "We're just not good right now, that's it.''
"Well you need to score runs in the American League,'' Konerko said after the 4-0 loss to Cleveland. "Any team that scores three runs or less except the team with the best pitching is going to have a horse[bleep] record. That's the way it is. But to answer your question, we ask how do we get it better, how do we score runs? It's not an easy answer because it's not one of those things where you can say, 'Hey, let's all go out there and swing for the fences.' It's one of those things where every hitter has to look at himself and say, 'OK, what do I do well, what makes me tick?' And try to focus on that.
"When you think about it baseball is a bunch of little individual jobs put together to have a good game, and that's what we're not doing right now. We're not putting it together, we're not putting anything together, really. It's not like other sports when you could say, 'OK, let's go defense, let's go offense,'' and everyone has kind of the same flow, it's just not like that. We all need to get better. Every guy on this team has something they can do better. That's where it starts. You have to look at yourself and say, 'What can I do to be a part of the solution?' That's it. We're working right now, I'd like to tell you that guys aren't going about it right, but everybody is doing it right.''
Konerko has insisted time and time again that a team can't be judged until June 1, but with the Sox now losers of eight of their last 11 games, and on some nights completely disappearing offensively, well a frightening message is being sent three weeks earlier that Konerko would like it to be sent.
"I'm glad we got to June because it buys us more time,'' Konerko replied, when asked if he had a feel for his team yet. "I don't want to have to answer that question now because we're not going anywhere right now.
"As a player you try and find the positives, and that's what I'm trying to do. This game comes at you almost every day - we have an offday [Thursday] - but we play almost every single day. So as a player you can try and look at what's wrong in your self or the team, but the game is coming at you the next day. You have to be ready. I understand that [the media] and other people kind of have the job to find the negative and what's wrong with this team or that team, and right now there are a lot of things you can point to, up and down the line, front to back, we got a lot of issues right now. But as a player that can be on call come Friday, it does you no good to worry about it. You have to say, 'OK, I have to be ready for Friday,' and start building blocks like that.
"That's really the only way to help when you're on a team, knowing what your job is and keep focusing on that. We're not stupid, we know there are a lot of things going on right now that aren't good, but if we keep worrying about those things that aren't good, it's going to get worse. It's not easy, it's a tough game. We just got to keep fighting.''

Dye and Guillen ejected

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Ozzie.jpgCLEVELAND - Ozzie Guillen was tossed from the game in the sixth inning, just minutes after Jermaine Dye was tossed by home plate umpire Mike DiMuro for arguing a called third strike and then slamming his batting helmet down.
Guillen began yelling stuff from the dugout in DiMuro's direction as Dye left the field, and then was told to join his right fielder in the clubhouse. Guillen did go out and argue for a few minutes with DiMuro and James Hoye, but then left the field.
It was Dye's third career ejection and Guillen's 17th.

large_magglio30.jpg.jpegHere's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Magglio Ordoñez's slow start has some in Detroit mulling the possibility the Tigers might release the All-Star who hit .317 and drove in 103 runs last season. Money is at the heart of this issue. Ordonez's contract includes an $18 million option for 2010 and a $15 million option for 2011. If Ordoñez has 135 starts or 540 plate appearances this season, his 2010 option becomes guaranteed. And if he has 270 starts or 1,080 plate appearances between this season and next, his 2011 option becomes guaranteed. This is all part of the five-year, $75 million contract Ordoñez signed with the Tigers upon leaving the White Sox after the 2004 season. If the Tigers release Ordoñez, 35, they must eat the remainder of his $18 million contract this season, plus the $3 million buyout of his 2010 option. There is no buyout for the 2011 option. He is hitting .241 with just two home runs and 12 RBI in 30 games. Meanwhile, the Tigers are ready for the D-Train to start rolling again.

Royals All-Star closer Joakim Soria insists he will ready when his 15-day stint on the disabled list expires May 23, The right-hander is under orders to restrict his throwing for a few days until the inflammation eases in his shoulder He gave his shoulder a break by throwing with his left hand while shagging balls in the outfield Tuesday in Oakland. Meanwhile, Luke Hochevar got hammered for eight runs in two innings as the A's extended the Royals' losing streak to four games.

The Indians, always in need of bullpen help, continue to look at former White Sox and Cubs right-hander Luis Vizacaino. Vizcaino, 34, signed a $3.5 million contract with the Cubs in the offseason, and was released last momth. The Indians would be responsible for only the pro-rated major-league-minimum part of his contract. Meanwhile, designated hitter Travis Hafner is set to begin a rehab assignment.

Former White Sox third baseman Joe Crede, who has gotten off to a bumpy start with the Twins, got a lift by news his two-week-old son, Jace, is home from the hospital. Crede, who got to spend a day off Monday with Jace, belted a home run Tuesday to celebrate.

Jenks punishment handed down

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05-world-series-game-4-bobby-jenks-a-j-pierzynski-celebrate-posters.jpgCLEVELAND - Bobby Jenks hasn't gotten any lighter this season, but on Tuesday his pockets did.
The White Sox closer was fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball in the wake of a Saturday incident in which Jenks threw a pitch behind Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, and then afterward admitted to reporters that he had done it on purpose to send a message.
Considering Sox hitters had been hit by the Rangers six times in four games this season, Jenks felt they were due. And while both teams were warned after the Jenks pitch, the league took a closer look at the pitch and deemed it fine worthy.
"I figure they're going to do what they're going to do, anyway,'' Jenks said. "My job is to go out there and pitch, and then I'll go out there and hopefully get the save.''
The club was relieved that a fine was all he received, avoiding any missed time because of a possible suspension.
"I was pretty pleased,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The way baseball is going right now, they've been severe with fines and suspending people. I think they did what they were supposed to do. Hopefully, this thing stays here and we don't have to deal with it. But they did what they were supposed to do.''
There was one report that had the fine at $750, but Jenks wanted to keep it mum and just move on.
"I go out there and do my job,'' Jenks said. "They go out there and do their job. The front office is going to do their job. That's how I look at it."
"But obviously, I'm happy about not being suspended. Just for the fact if it turns into a situation where we needed an extra pitcher out there that day. For those reasons, yes [it worked out].''

Quentin out !

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carlos1.jpgCLEVELAND - The hits just keep on coming.
After keeping a sore left heel quiet for the last three days, Carlos Quentin let the team know about the pain he was trying to play through, and has now been shut down until the team travels to Toronto for a weekend series with the Blue Jays.
"Carlos is feeling some pain in his heels and he is going to have a shot,'' Guillen explained on Tuesday. "He's having some heel problems for the last couple of days, and I think the doctor is going to check it out. He's going to get a couple days, get some medicine in there and hopefully he feels better. I'm more concerned about we're playing Toronto. He might pinch-hit today or tomorrow, but he's not going to start either game.''
The hope is that will change on Friday.
"Tomorrow is a day game, then we have [Thursday] off and Friday he will play,'' Guillen continued. "I will keep an eye on him because he was feeling that the last three days and he no say anything. I wish he would have said he was sore or I wish my players would be a little more open and say how they feel. Just because you have pain, you can't think, 'Oh, I want to play, it's a big series.' No, I don't want my players to take it that way. If they don't think they can be on the field, I would appreciate it if they would let me know. We know when guys are faking injuries, I been in this game long enough to know that.''

Gavin Floyd's job is safe

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228955.jpgCLEVELAND - Gavin Floyd's job remains safe ... for now.
Following his latest five-inning, eight runs allowed gem against the Tribe, the 17-game winner from 2008 is now 0-2 with a 9.74 ERA over his last four starts.
The Sox (14-17) have shipped out pitchers with better numbers than that in recent years, but then again, none of them signed four-year, $15.5 million contracts late this spring.
So while manager Ozzie Guillen insisted afterward that while Floyd needs to improve, the links aren't being taken out of the chain leash just yet.
"No,'' Guillen responded, when asked if Floyd was in danger of losing his job. "We talked to him about it. It something that we're working on, and right now we expect better from him. The stuff is there, but command of strikes is the important thing.
"Gavin has obviously been more consistent than Jose, but it's not consistent enough. He's going through a tough time. Like I always say, in the big leagues if you don't throw strikes I don't care how good you are, you're going to get killed. Real bad command. He's not getting ahead in the count. You don't throw strikes, it's going to be hard for you to win games. In the game of baseball, if your starting pitcher throws well you have a chance to be in the game. We're not doing that right now.''

Jenks vs. Major League Baseball

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bobby-jenks-pink-goatee.jpgCLEVELAND - Bobby Jenks wasn't going to back down from anything he did or said over the weekend, and if Major League Baseball doesn't like it, well, the White Sox closer said that it was no longer his problem.
"If there's something on my mind, yeah, I'll say it,'' Jenks insisted on Monday. "But again, I wasn't trying to hit him. If they investigate that, they'll see that. It wasn't a dirty pitch. It wasn't up. It was right at his butt. That's all I can say.''
Jenks and the Sox, no strangers to controversy, once again became lightening rods over the weekend in the series with Texas.
After the Rangers hit six hitters in four games this season, Jenks unloaded a pitch to Ian Kinsler on Saturday, which went behind the second baseman. He told reporters over the next few days that it was a message pitch, admitting that he needed to protect his hitters.
That smoking gun was enough to catch the eye of the league office, and according to manager Ozzie Guillen, a further investigation into the situation was on going.
"Investigating? It's not a crime,'' Guillen said. "I mean Bobby didn't even get close to hitting him. If you hit the guy and you hurt him, then I see something wrong. But they have their way to do their stuff and we are still waiting to see what decision they make and then we see what happens.
"I'm not going to get caught up in that. That's all publicity. They have to do something, they have to do something. If not, then move along ... After they do something, I see how we handle it ourselves.''
The topic of protecting hitters is a sore subject on the South Side these days, especially considering the Sox have been hit 331 times since 2004, while only hitting opposing hitters 270 times, the fewest in baseball over that span.
It's their mouths, however, that seem to get them in more trouble than actually welting the opposition with fastballs.
Both general manager Ken Williams and Guillen have been candid about what their pitchers need to do, and that stance hasn't changed.
"I see a lot of my hitters almost with broken hands on back-to-back days,'' Guillen said. "I never retaliated because I think it no was on purpose. But in the meanwhile, if I'm the hitter, and I keep getting hit and my pitchers don't protect me, I don't want to play for them.
"That's the way baseball is and how it's going to be. Am I outspoken about it? Maybe it's my fault because every time I hit somebody, I say, 'Yes, I did.' I got in trouble. I paid my dues. I paid my money. They sent me to correctional houses. But in the meanwhile, fans have to know what's going on in the game.
"I see other managers hitting people left and right and they say we don't try to do it. I did it one time and I take the blame and I pay a lot of money. I'm not like another manager when they hit people every other day and they hide behind the bush like, 'We try to pitch inside and we don't mean it.' Oh, really?''
The Sox were hoping to hear from the league by today, one way or the other.
"Yeah [it was a message],'' Jenks said. "Protecting my guys as well. You don't want to see anyone getting hurt. My intentions were not to hurt the guy, like I said, before.
"That's where I pitch, guys. I throw fastballs in. Whether, I did miss my spot, yeah, it went behind him. Other than that, that's all I can do.''

Searching for any kind of spark for his lineup, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is using Scott Podsednik in the leadoff spot tonight against the Rangers. It's the first time It's the first time since Sept. 28, 2007, the Sox have used Podsednik in the leadoff spot.

''We're trying to get something going,'' Guillen said. ''[No. 2 hitter Josh] Fields isn't swinging the bat too good right now. Try to get something going early, so hopefully that works. When things don't work, we try to do a lot of different things to see how we react. Hopefully, that helps us to get better offensively.''

The lineup against Rangers right-hander Kevin Millwood features Chris Getz, who previously led off, in the No. 2 spot, where Guillen prefers he hits. How long Guillen sticks with this one-two punch depends on whether the success have success with the lineup tonight.
''The worst thing about it, when you start changing the lineup every day, I don't like to do that,'' Guillen said. ''But you have to do what you have to do. I hope we can keep the same lineup for the rest of the season, what we thought early in the season. But right now, everybody's struggling.''

Guillen wasn't kidding when he was saying after the loss Friday how the Sox have been on and off all season. Look at these numbers: In their 13 wins this season, the Sox have hit .309 with 87 runs, and Sox pitchers have combined for a 1.92 ERA. In their 15 losses, they have hit .208 with 34 runs, and pitchers have combined for a 6.87 ERA,

''We're on and off, on and off, on and off,'' Guillen said. ''When we're on, we just destroy people. When we're off, like last night was kind of weird because I think the pitching set the tempo of the game. We were down 3-0 and the game was slow. That game wasn't fun to watch for me. It was like a slow-motion baseball game. Look at how bad we're playing and we're only 3-4 games out. It's going to be a fight and I think whoever survives the best mentally will win.''

Manager Ozzie Guillen said today he expects to have shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who has been benched the last two games, back in his lineup Saturday against the Texas Rangers.

Ramirez, who hadn't spoken to reporters since Guillen announced the benching on Wednesday, says he will be ready.

''I'm always ready,'' Ramirez said through translator Lou Hernandez. ''The people that make decisions made the decision and I'm always going to be ready whatever decision they make.''

Ramirez's usual smile has disappeared in recent days, but he says he has taken the benching in stride.

''It's been OK, it's been good,'' he said. ''I've been able to study and think about what I've been doing and haven't been doing right when I bat. I had some time to get in the batting cage and focus on a couple of little things, but it's actually been pretty good.''

Ramirez, the runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year Award last season, is hitting .211 with one home run and 11 RBI. Has he been able to figure out what is behind his struggles?

''I have,'' he said, without elaborating. ''The coaches have been good and we've been working on minor details and I know what I have to work on.''

Guillen's biggest complaint has been pitch selection.

''Good at-bats,'' Guillen said. ''[Jim Thome] is struggling right now, but he's giving me good at-bats. He's battling, he's working on it, he's swinging at good pitches. When you miss a ball over your head ... and I talk about myself, because I was a free-swinger, too. If the pitch bounces and you continue to swing at that or if you don't care or you don't have the concentration or you try to be lucky ... . Hopefully, when he comes back, I expect him to swing at bad pitches. I expect him to be aggressive at the plate. But you can't go from [a ball in the dirt] to over your head in back-to-back pitches. That's a lack of concentration.''

Ramirez rebounded from a slow start last season and expects to do the same this year.

''Last year I felt almost worse than I have this year,'' Ramirez said. ''As far as knowing I can do the job, I've never lost that. This year, I'm more relaxed. I feel comfortable and confidence isn't an issue with me so I feel like when I get the opportunity, I'll get it done.''

Dotel speaks out !!

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39478470.jpgThey are from the same city in the Dominican Republic - Santo Domingo.
They are only one year apart.
If there was one person to run to the defense of Manny Ramirez and his 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball for a banned substance on Thursday, it should be White Sox reliever Octavio Dotel.
So it was a bit shocking when Dotel not only blasted Ramirez, but all of the Latin American players that have also been banned the past few seasons, calling them "stupid.''
In other words, Dotel doesn't want to hear any sort of language-barrier excuse.
"I think they're being stupid, that's what I think,'' Dotel said. "From a guy coming from my area, my country, you have to know what is going on in the major league rules and you have to know how hard they are going with this, and they're still getting caught, so I think that's stupid by out [Latin American] players, that's what I think.''
Dotel did say that he was shocked to hear the news, and that he felt Ramirez wasn't the only one to blame in this instance, but at the end of the day, it falls on the slugger's lap.
"It's surprising big time,'' Dotel continued. "I don't think that's the Manny way. It's surprising because we been doing this testing for what? Two, three, four years? C'mon. I still don't believe it. I feel like it was a big mistake by the doctor that gave him that medicine, but I really don't think that was Manny's fault. What was a big mistake was he should have known that we got those papers from Major League Baseball that you have to know. It's in Spanish, and you have to make sure that your trainer looks at everything, so it's his mistake, too. I'm not going to say it's not.''

Ooops !!

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pablo-escobar.jpgWell, at least Tribune sometimes-national baseball writer/blogger Phil Rogers has one reader.
In discussing Manny Ramirez and the steroid situation on Thursday, manager Ozzie Guillen said, "I think that's the way to start. I love police, I love politics. If I'm going to get the drug dealer, I'm going to get Pablo Escobar. I'm not going to get a guy selling in school. I'm going to go for the big fish. I say Pablo Escobar, not Sandoval.
"Some writer called Pablo Sandoval Pablo Escobar.''
That writer?
Rogers mistakenly referred to the Giants third baseman as Pablo Escobar two weeks ago, before Tribune editors pulled the blog off the website.
In case you didn't know, Escobar was a Columbian drug lord who terrorized the country before he was killed.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Tigers leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson says he's cool hitting anywhere in manager Jim Leyland's lineup. Leyland created a stir this week when he dropped Granderson to the fifth spot. He was back in the leadoff spot Wednesday before rain washed out the Tigers-White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field. What's wrong with Magglio Ordoñez? Two years after winning the AL batting title, Ordoñez is hitting .232 with two extra-base hits in 26 games. Ordoñez says he has gotten in the habit of hitting singles to the opposite field instead of driving balls to the gaps. ''I lost my approach,'' he said Wednesday. In this same notebook, we learn that Dontrelle Willis -- on the disabled list because of an anxiety disorder -- walked four, struck out four and threw 74 of his 118 pitches for strikes during another rehab outing.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was fuming over the playing conditions Wednesday night in Baltimore. After four rain delays that amounted to nearly four hours, the Orioles beat the Twins 4-1 in a rain-shortened game called in the top of the sixth inning. Gardenhire believes the game never should have been played. ''Somebody made a mistake here and screwed up,'' he said. This isn't the first time Gardenhire's patience has been tested this week. He lost patience with the lax play of Alexi Casilla and replaced him on the 25-man roster with Matt Tolbert. Tolbert hit .283 in 41 games last season, but was slowed by a thumb injury. "It's a chance for him to come up and play in the major leagues, which everybody wants," Gardenhire said. "You can call it what you want -- Wally Pipp, whatever you want to call it. I don't care."

The Indians expect Travis Hafner (shoulder) will return when his 15 days are up on the disabled list after a positive check-up with Dr. James Andrews. In this same notebook, check out this stat that tells you all you need to know about the Indians' struggling bullpen: Through 27 games, the Indians have allowed 163 runs, 72 (or 44 percent) of them coming from the seventh inning on.

Guillen grounds 'The Missile'

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alexei_ramirez_080_1001277c.jpgOzzie Guillen fired a warning shot after Tuesday's loss to Kansas City, and on Wednesday he grounded a "Missile.''
With Jayson Nix giving himself a chance at the plate these days and second-year player Alexei Ramirez looking completely lost with a bat in his hand, the White Sox manager made his first lineup change, starting Nix at short.
When asked if it was just a rest for Ramirez - aka "The Cuban Missile'' - Guillen was adamant in pointing out it wasn't.
"It's not a rest, it's not a rest,'' Guillen said. "I always tell my players give yourself a chance, get good at-bats, but when you see one at-bat after another, after another, after another, and no results, no adjustments - we talked to Alexei a few times, I don't mind 0-for-4, I don't mind struggle, I don't mind a slump. But how you are in that slump, do something about it. I need some offense, and that's why I'm going to put Nix out there.''
Guillen was then asked if it was short-term, and couldn't give an answer. It would seem that Ramirez and Nix will supply him with that answer in the next few games.
"I'm not going to say he's in the doghouse, I'm not going to say I'm punishing him for that, but I want to let people know, not just him, we have to play as a team and we have to see people on the field that can help us,'' Guillen added.

Yankees Tigers Baseba_De L.jpgHere's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

On the eve of their series with the White Sox that opens tonight at U.S. Cellular Field, the Tigers shook up their batting order, putting leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson in the fifth spot and dropping Magglio Ordoñez to sixth, the lowest he had hit since his first full season in the majors -- 1998 with the Sox. This was manager Jim Leyland's answer after putting Carlos Guillen on the disabled list. The result was a 9-0 victory over the Twins.

Second baseman Alexi Casilla is testing the patience of the Twins. The Twins are famous for being foundamentally sound, and Casilla has shown to be anything but that after a slow start with no signs of improvement. This is a blow for the Twins, who were encouraged by a strong 2008 season by Casilla. All signs point to a demotion in the near future -- perhaps by today -- for Casilla.

Kerry Wood to the rescue? Well, not so fast. The Indians hoped their bullpen would be a strength this season, but it continues to be a sore spot with manager Eric Wedge after the relievers once again failed to hold up their end of the bargain. Wedge's patience is wearing thin as his team resides in last place. ''We'll continue to make changes,'' he said. ''We'll continue to try people whether they're in Triple-A or not even in this organization. We've going to do whatever we have to do to get people down there that we can count on.'' At 5.96, the Indians' pitching staff has the highest ERA in the AL. The spotlight has been on the bullpen, but the rotation has been a huge disappointment.

Wonder what opposing pitchers think of Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez this season. Royals pitcher Jamey Wright offers a little insight after striking out the 2008 Rookie of the Year runner-up in the ninth inning Tuesday night. ''Ramirez is a little bit of a free swinger and I try to make my pitches and hopefully he'll offer at 'em and he did,'' Wright said. ''We were real lucky.''

Bad News starting pitchers

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bad%20news%20bears.jpgKANSAS CITY, Mo. - General manager Ken Williams might want to start rethinking the whole Pedro Martinez thing, especially after the latest doosie by one of his starting pitchers on Tuesday.
Gavin Floyd reverted back to his Gavin "Fraud'' days, going five innings and allowing six earned runs on six hits.
So while the angry town villagers have been pointing at the offense and hitting coach Greg Walker with their torches most of the season, they may want to take a look at the starting pitchers as of late. Specifically, since April 23.
From that day to Floyd's gem against the Royals, Sox starters have a dismal 7.38 ERA in non-Mark Buehrle outings.
"It's not a rough spot as much as we've just had some days,'' pitching coach Don Cooper said. "[Jose Contreras'] days have not turned out the way we've wanted them to turn out. Bartolo [Colon] has given us a chance every time except one. We just need a little more consistency from everyone. It seems the days that have gotten away from us are the days Jose has started, so starting there, we need to be better. Each one of them has to be better.
"We need more innings out of our starters, as well. We need at least seven good ones to give us a better chance. More often or not, our guys have given us that chance.''
Throw in Floyd and John Danks all of a sudden flaming out, and what you have is a mess.
So how long can this go on?
"When performance simply shows that he ain't getting it done, no matter who that may be,'' Cooper responded. "If it's consistent failure to get the job done then we have to consider it. Right now, the only guy in that spot is Jose. He needs to get it going, he knows that, he's frustrated, we're all frustrated by of some of the things that have gone on in his games and we're determined to get that better. Their performances will show us. The starter right now that's really having trouble is Jose.''

'No' to Bonds and 'not right now' to Pedro

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BarryBonds.jpg
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Asked last week if Barry Bonds would be a Plan B for Jim Thome if the White Sox slugger's heel injury turned into something worse, general manager e-mailed a one-word reply - a resounding "No.''
Manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't as adamant when Pedro Martinez's name came up for a possible Plan B if Jose Contreras continued to struggle, but the answer was still the same.
"Pedro Martinez was mentioned in spring training, but just because a couple of his friends called me, and my job is to give Kenny the information,'' Guillen said on Tuesday. "But that's it, no, Pedro, no, not right now. I don't know if we're going to because that's Kenny's decision, but right now that's not on my mind.''
With Contreras making a huge start on Thursday - possibly his last start before a demotion to the bullpen - the team actually doesn't have a Plan B. At least one that excites them.
Guillen discussed a few more possible scenarios, and again didn't seem thrilled with either one.
"Plan B would be Jose,'' Guillen said. "I think Richard threw the ball better [Monday], but he hasn't impressed me enough to be the guy. Something maybe in the future, yes, but right now we're still fighting for the pennant race. Right now, I don't have the right answer. Right now, a couple people have dropped a couple of names, but I don't think those names fit the best. If we have to make a move I will do it, if it will help the ballclub I will do it. Will it be Richard? I don't know yet.''
Fresh off a five-inning, rain-shortened no hitter for Class AA Birmingham, top prospect Aaron Poreda also wasn't a real consideration.
"I think Poreda, he's not ready,'' Guillen said. "I don't think this kid right now is ready to be in the big leagues. I don't think we're doing a favor for him or the ballclub to bring him up. We have to take it easy with that guy. That's our future.''


Guillen says Walker's job is safe

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walker.jpgKANSAS CITY, Mo. - Far too often, it's the kiss of death.
Coach or manager is in trouble, boss comes out and guarantees them job security and then two days later, bang, unemployment gets another casualty.
Then again, it always depends on who is doing the kissing.
With the White Sox dragging their heels on announcing the contract extension for the coaching staff that were expected to be completed last week, as well as rumblings from down in Class AAA Charlotte that Knights hitting coach Gary Ward was preparing for a promotion, manager Ozzie Guillen ended any speculation on Monday concerning the immediate future of current big-league hitting coach Greg Walker.
"Never, nope,'' Guillen replied, when asked if rumors concerning Walker's firing were valid. "That's my decision. That's a decision I have to make, and my coaches are fine. They work hard. I'm behind them 100 percent.
"Obviously when the team is not hitting, not pitching, not playing defense they all want to blame the coaching staff, but right now, no, that's not true.''
Guillen's message was simple: If Sox fans want to blame someone, blame the 25 guys wearing the uniform.
"Everything's out there, the information to help, the opportunity is there [for the players],'' Guillen said. "Right now, I mean I've fired a couple of coaches because I didn't think we were on the same page. I didn't think they were doing the job they should have. The coaching staff I have right now they should be here as long as I will be here.''
Guillen did admit that he and Walker had some icy moments last season, after Guillen blew up on June 1, following a dismal series with Tampa Bay, and insisted that general manager Ken Williams needed to make changes, including mentioning Walker by name.
The way Walker saw it, he had been thrown under the bus. But after a cooling off period, the two spoke and cleared the air.
"Last year, Walker and I had a little thing going on, and that happens,'' Guillen said. "That will happen again, hopefully it doesn't happen the way it did. But no, that's a guy I like, that's the one I think is doing the job.''
As far as Ward, he already had one crack at being the Sox hitting coach from 2001-03, and it was just short of disastrous.
By the time he was fired, there were more than a handful of players that couldn't stand Ward, including former outfielder Aaron Rowand, who felt Ward has set him back more than helped.
"Did we hire [Ward] to be a big-league coach in case something happened? Well, a lot of people will think he's more than a Triple-A hitting coach, but no, Walker is OK here,'' Guillen added. "He's doing his job, he's doing what he's supposed to do, and as long as he does that he will be here with me. Work hard, and as long as the players respect you, that's what we want.''

Contreras getting one more start

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jose_2.jpgKANSAS CITY, Mo. - Thursday is sink or swim day for Jose Contreras, as the starting pitcher is guaranteed at least one more shot to fix things and turn his poor season around.
At 0-4 with an 8.31 ERA, it would seem that it couldn't get any worse for the right-handed veteran. Oh, but it can, especially if he is demoted to the bullpen in order to get himself fixed.
"Just give him the next start [against Detroit] and then we figure out,'' Guillen said. "We talk about Jose more than anyone the last couple week. That's the conversation of the day. Hopefully, like I say earlier, the stuff is there. There's no doubt. Maybe a lack of concentration, maybe a bad mistake at the wrong time. He made one mistake, and all of a sudden, everything goes south. He can't recover from that. We have to be better than that.''
Possible replacements in house? Well, Clayton Richard headlines a list of mediocrity, followed by the likes of a Lance Broadway or Wes Whisler.

Fields and Dye out

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08_deer_03.jpgKANSAS CITY, Mo. - Not only did the White Sox leave Texas losing two-of-three, but also bruised.
Specifically the left hands of both Jermaine Dye and Josh Fields, who were each plunked by Rangers pitchers in back-to-back games.
The news on each was good, as x-rays were negative in both cases. That didn't mean either was ready to play in the Royals series on Monday, however.
"J.D. is day-by-day, feels better, swung the bat a little bit,'' manger Ozzie Guillen said. "Josh, he's a little sore when he was in the clubhouse. I don't expect him to play this series. But J.D., hopefully he'll be ready to play Tuesday and can pinch-hit today.''
With two men down, Jayson Nix was forced into action at third base, a position he played nine times over the last three years in the minor leagues, while Brent Lillibridge was in center field and Scott Podsednik was in right.
Nix was actually brought to the ballpark earlier in the afternoon and worked out at third with bench coach Joey Cora to see where he was at defensively over there. A natural second baseman, Nix at least showed that he would be able to survive.
"We try to put the best guys out there,'' Guillen said. "Nix, we're going to try to figure out if he can play third base. Joey said he will help us out playing third, short and second.''
That's bad news for Brent Lillibridge, because when Brian Anderson [strained right oblique] is ready to come off the 15-day disabled list, unless Lillibridge starts hitting the ball on the ground and using his legs to get on base, he will likely be the odd man out.
Guillen was impressed with Nix as far back as mid-spring until the injured right quadriceps put him on the shelf.

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