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

July 2010 Archives

daniel_hudson_white_sox-thumb-250x329-10800.jpgHere is the only guarantee given to Daniel Hudson come Friday - he will take the mound for the White Sox that night.
After that, all bets are off.
It isn't very often that a 23-year-old top prospect holds an entire organization hostage by what he does or doesn't do in a single outing against Oakland, but then again the South Siders are in a very unique situation.
The Sun-Times reported back on July 19 that Hudson and Dayan Viciedo were the two likely prospects that Washington was eyeing up as the return for Adam Dunn's services in a trade, after Sox general manager Ken Williams initially said no and no on Gordon Beckham and then Carlos Quentin.
Since then, every pitch thrown by Hudson has been scrutinized by scouts, as the Sox try and figure out if he's an elite talent that they will need for the stretch run, and the Nationals wonder if he is a big-league starting pitcher that they can use to build around phenom Stephen Strasburg.
As for Hudson, he was in an all too familiar position on Wednesday, fielding questions that he really has no answer for.
"I don't think it's an unfair situation,'' Hudson said. "I think it's a good situation for me actually. It might be beneficial to me to be honest. I have to go out there and just do what I can do. Whatever happens after that I can't really control. If they want to move me or they don't think I'm the guy then that's what they're going to do. If they want to increase my trade value and go get someone else to go and try and win a championship, there's not much I can do after that.''
Hudson did say that since he came up with the Sox, staying on the South Side was obviously the scenario he wanted to play out. That doesn't mean he will have a mental breakdown if it goes another way, however.
"It is a business and I understand that,'' Hudson said. "They're going to do what they think is best for the organization and whatever they think is best. There's not much I can control after that. I would love to play here in Chicago and would like to play here for a long time, but if they see that they need to move me to make the organization they will do that.
"People tell me all the time, 'Oh, this team is looking at such and such and your name was mentioned.' I'm like, 'You know what, it really doesn't matter to me.' I mean pitching here in a pennant race would be fun, pitching somewhere else would be fine. Wherever I go or whatever happens it will be good.''
Williams has shown in the past he's not afraid to move young starting pitchers. In the last year alone he's sent out the likes of John Ely, Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard.
According to a source, the player that actually might be harder for Williams to let go would be Viciedo.
The knock on Viciedo initially was that breaking stuff would eat him up, but yet at every level in his climb from the minors, the young 21-year-old has adjusted and overcome.
Williams feels like Viciedo has star potential within two years, and a young power hitter in the American League isn't easy to let go of.
Either way, with the trade deadline approaching on Saturday, some tough decisions might have to be made, and Hudson's start could go a long way in changing some minds one way or the other.
"If he's pitching good, we keep him, if he continue to pitch good, we might trade him,'' manager Ozzie Guillen joked of Hudson. "That's the only thing you can do when your name is out there, play good for the team so they won't trade you or play good for the team that wants you.''
As far as if Guillen feels bad for the predicament resting on Hudson's shoulders? Not at all.
"This is Major League Baseball,'' Guillen added. "If he doesn't want to be in this position, Charlotte will be asking about him. This is the big leagues and when you are a prospect at this time of the year, there will be a lot of people talking.''

jim%20thome.jpgOAKLAND - The drama builds.
With the Detroit Tigers losing outfielder Magglio Ordonez to a fractured right ankle for the next six to eight weeks, guess which Central Division rival is now throwing their hat into the Adam Dunn ring?
That's right, the boys from Motown. The same Detroit team that jumped in front of the White Sox back in the 2007 Winter Meetings and nabbed Miguel Cabrera from them in a blockbuster trade with Florida.
According to a source, the Sox have still not heard back from Washington GM Mike Rizzo after letting him know that while Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin were both a big no for Dunn's services, the minor leagues were all but Rizzo's to choose from.
Then again, it only makes sense that they haven't heard back, considering the Nats want to weigh all the options on what other teams are offering, as well as make one more run at Dunn with a contract extension to stay in D.C.
The fact that the Tigers are now on the radar doesn't help the Sox, however, because considering Detroit's other injury problems - Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge - a desperate team might make a more desperate offer.
Either way, manager Ozzie Guillen couldn't avoid the obvious question on Sunday. The Sox have been in the market for left-handed power for the last month now, so why did Guillen not just OK the Jim Thome re-signing back in the offseason and avoid chasing down a player that they could have already had?
As Guillen pointed out, he not only stands behind his decision, but explained why.
"No, I never regret anything I made with Thome,'' Guillen said. "Never, never. ... But in the meanwhile, I think we are where we are because we want to be this way. And I say we because everyone in the organization was in the same boat, pulling the same rope. But when I made that decision about Jim, it was just because one reason. I love Jim Thome, and all you guys know, he knows, his wife, the players, everyone knows how much we love him. I know every at-bat Jimmy have against us, I know what everyone was thinking, strikeout, home run, people were thinking it's my fault we didn't have that guy here. Well, if that is the way to be blamed, yes, I will take the blame. But in the meanwhile, I think we're a better ballclub, we're a better team without having a very good ballplayer with us.
"If I have to wear this the rest of my life because Jimmy is a fan favorite, player favorite, manager favorite, owner favorite - I mean everyone loves Jim Thome in this organization, everybody did, and I think Jim Thome got more respect, people talked about him more than Frank Thomas, that's how much people love him here - that's pretty good company. In the meanwhile, even when we were struggling I continued to keep my head up and say, 'I think we did the right thing,' or 'I did the right thing' if they want to put it that way. I don't regret it at all, no.
"It's easy for us to make the lineup, keep the guys fresh, win different ways. A lot of people say, 'Well, you guys aren't going to go anywhere because you can't hit the home run.' Well, in seven years I've been managing this ballclub we've had a lot of guys that hit home runs, and we finished third a lot of times, too. To me it was a chance to change the scenario and create more ways to score runs, and we're doing it.''
What is also overlooked is the fact that if the Sox were to acquire Dunn, he would DH, but also play first base and even right field in a pinch. Milwaukee's Prince Fielder would DH, but could also play first base. Thome is DH or bust.
"The guy [we get] has to play another position because I've got to get P.K. [Paul Konerko] a day off, I got to get [Carlos] Quentin a day off,'' Guillen added. "That's the way we should do stuff. If they think the thing doesn't work, I'll take the blame, I don't care, I don't. In the meanwhile, we're clear that we're not going to do stuff just to make people happy. I don't do that. Every time we win a game, 'They're a good ballclub.' Every time we lose, 'Why we no make a trade?' We're in Chicago, we know what we're doing.''

A heavy price

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Washington+Nationals+Photo+Day+3h2f2-uVlzel.jpgOAKLAND - Less than a week from now, the questions will all go away. Gone will be the July 31 trade deadline, the rumors, the speculation and the daily inquiries.
More than a few members of the White Sox current traveling party can't wait for that.
Manager Ozzie Guillen had his own take on it Saturday afternoon, letting it be known that, yes, while general manager Ken Williams has been busy working the phones for the past month, targeting a short list of players, starting with Adam Dunn, the asking price is, let's say not exactly to the manager's liking.
"To be honest with you, I think all the general managers out there are crazy,'' Guillen said. "Wow.''
In explaining what the Sox have been trying to get done, as well as the resistance they have come across in accomplishing that, Guillen revealed details that were assumed but never confirmed by the organization. Specifically, to acquire someone like Dunn comes at a heavy price, and it's a price that at least Guillen doesn't want to pay.
"Like I said, it takes us a little while to put Gordon [Beckham] and the Missile [Alexei Ramirez], Carlos Quentin, [Alex] Rios, it takes us three or four years to put this team together, and all of a sudden we're going to bring one or two guys to help, to hope we get there?'' Guillen said. "And all of a sudden we don't, then you lose what you have done in the past three years.
"Like I say, I can't be a general manager because I'd worry about making trades and worry about putting my butt on the line. But in the meanwhile, if we think we have a chance to win, yes. We're going to compete? Yes. The main thing is if you're going to compete this year and [be] done next year, you're going to bring somebody to this club but take someone away from this club, then I don't think we do the right thing. That's my opinion. Because what we have is good for a little while and why should we destroy everything for one guy or two guys or three guys or exactly what it is?''
That's why Guillen thinks the Sox should just stay pat and let the current roster try and finish what they've started. If the asking price comes down this week, that might change the manager's mind, but as it stood on Saturday, what they are asking for - whether it's Washington or Milwaukee - is punishment that doesn't fit the crime, as far as Guillen was concerned.
"But in the meanwhile, I never get involved,'' Guillen said. "Do we talk about [trade possibilities]? Yeah we talk with the coaching staff. 'I have this in mind. What do you guys think?' I think that was the first time I got quiet because I don't have anything to say because it's not easy. Not because they will blame me and say 'He told me,' or 'We talked.' No, it's because I don't have a feeling for that department at all.''
Guillen did admit that he thought they would need a starting pitcher when Jake Peavy was initially injured and ruled out for the rest of the season, but Daniel Hudson has eased his mind.
As far as help for Matt Thornton from the left side of the bullpen? He's still torn on that front.
"If I'm going to pick someone out of the bullpen to really have to take care, it's Matt because everyone else ... we got four or five righties that are pretty good,'' Guillen said. "And that's the only thing I'm concerned.
"I got to trust [lefty reliever Erick] Threets more than anyone else. I got to put him in a situation to see if we can count on him.''
If it was up to Guillen, he would like the week to fast forward, and then just see who he has on his roster come next Saturday night. If it was up to Hudson, he just hopes that he's not only on the roster, but still in the organization.
Like Beckham, Hudson's name has come up frequently as far as a piece that could be moved when the Sox are talked about in the trade rumors.
"It will definitely be a little weight off my shoulders but I still can't think about,'' Hudson said of the pending trade deadline. "Once that happens stuff can still happen after that, so you never know what will happen.''

Does bubble wrap come in extra-large and angry?

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quentin-carlos-392-cp-080905.jpgOAKLAND - Life with Carlos Quentin isn't always easy.
On one hand, Ozzie Guillen would like to protect the high-effort, high intensity outfielder from injury by putting him in the designated hitter spot a bit more. On the other, the White Sox manager knows in doing that he then has to be guarded against protecting Quentin from himself.
"There is one thing about it,'' Guillen explained of Quentin, "he will DH this weekend, maybe [Saturday] or Sunday. Ideally it will be both. But in the meanwhile we have to see how we do. DH is not easy. And this guy when he's DHing he looks like a bull going to the ring. He's just so anxious. It takes more out of his at-bat. But when you play in the outfield you make an out you go in the outfield and think about playing defense. When you DH, you come in here and swing and swing and swing and swing. This guy never stops swinging. That's why when I DH him I wear him down.
"Every time he comes back he goes down into the tunnel and keeps swinging. That's stuff you have to think about. Hopefully, he's fresh to play and we'll see where we go the next couple of days.''
Quentin returned to the lineup on Friday as promised, after leaving Sunday's game back in Minnesota with a bruised right hand.
It was the second time in the last few weeks the hand had bothered him, so Guillen wanted to be extra cautious with his return.
Before the hand it was a sore left knee that sidelined Quentin for several days, which he suffered making a diving catch in the outfield.
"We need Carlos,'' Guillen said. "Carlos has to stay healthy. Carlos plays hard. He knows only one way and one way only. But if those guys in the middle of the lineup swing the bat like they swing the bat I don't see why we're searching for trades. I always say, 'Why are you looking for left-handed hitters? Anybody can be a left-handed hitter. You're looking for a good hitter.' Carlos in our lineup makes our lineup a lot stronger and he makes a lot of people a lot better around him.''

Does bubble wrap come in extra-large and angry?

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quentin-carlos-392-cp-080905.jpgOAKLAND - Life with Carlos Quentin isn't always easy.
On one hand, Ozzie Guillen would like to protect the high-effort, high intensity outfielder from injury by putting him in the designated hitter spot a bit more. On the other, the White Sox manager knows in doing that he then has to be guarded against protecting Quentin from himself.
"There is one thing about it,'' Guillen explained of Quentin, "he will DH this weekend, maybe [Saturday] or Sunday. Ideally it will be both. But in the meanwhile we have to see how we do. DH is not easy. And this guy when he's DHing he looks like a bull going to the ring. He's just so anxious. It takes more out of his at-bat. But when you play in the outfield you make an out you go in the outfield and think about playing defense. When you DH, you come in here and swing and swing and swing and swing. This guy never stops swinging. That's why when I DH him I wear him down.
"Every time he comes back he goes down into the tunnel and keeps swinging. That's stuff you have to think about. Hopefully, he's fresh to play and we'll see where we go the next couple of days.''
Quentin returned to the lineup on Friday as promised, after leaving Sunday's game back in Minnesota with a bruised right hand.
It was the second time in the last few weeks the hand had bothered him, so Guillen wanted to be extra cautious with his return.
Before the hand it was a sore left knee that sidelined Quentin for several days, which he suffered making a diving catch in the outfield.
"We need Carlos,'' Guillen said. "Carlos has to stay healthy. Carlos plays hard. He knows only one way and one way only. But if those guys in the middle of the lineup swing the bat like they swing the bat I don't see why we're searching for trades. I always say, 'Why are you looking for left-handed hitters? Anybody can be a left-handed hitter. You're looking for a good hitter.' Carlos in our lineup makes our lineup a lot stronger and he makes a lot of people a lot better around him.''

prince_fielder_donuts.jpgSEATTLE - The White Sox already have their "King'' in Paul Konerko, and now there's talk about adding a Prince.
'Tis the season.
With the July 31 trade deadline 10 days away, the South Siders are in the all too familiar position of being the subject of rumors on an almost daily basis.
The Sun-Times was the first to report the team's pursuit of Washington slugger Adam Dunn last month, and while the Nationals have all but been given the Sox' minor-league system to choose from in return, they appear to be stuck on an asking price that Williams won't pay. A ransom that included either Gordon Beckham or Carlos Quentin.
Naturally, that led to rumors this week that Milwaukee slugger Prince Fielder was now on the Sox' radar.
So how did general manager Ken Williams answer the latest buzz around his team? Like he's supposed to - as vaguely as possible.
That meant a lot of "We're working every day" and "Typical for this time of year.''
"When you're in first place, it's nicer,'' Williams eventually explained. "When you're on the opposite end of the spectrum, it's not so nice. But we're always in the same mode. It's just kind of waiting for other teams to get in the same mode of wanting to do things and be kind of more aggressive along those lines of moving personnel around.''
Either way, there's no question that what concerned Williams in the offseason is still target No. 1 for him, and that's a run producer from the left side of the plate.
Dunn and Fielder would fit that description, with Dunn a free agent at the end of this season and Fielder still under a team's control through 2011. The problem with Fielder is his agent is Scott Boras, and the talk is he will want Ryan Howard money when his payday comes. That means five years, $125 million.
Williams was adamant a few years ago that he would do everything he could to stay away from players that were represented by Boras, but that relationship has thawed a bit. Only a small bit at that.
Not enough to sit down and negotiate a deal like that if the Sox were thinking long-term with Fielder.
The other problem in acquiring the Brewers first baseman is again the asking price. If Williams thought it was high for Dunn, he hasn't seen anything yet. Start with either a John Danks or Gavin Floyd and add in a Gordon Beckham.
Asked if trade talk has increased, Williams did say, "Some cases yes, some cases no.''
What has helped Williams sleep easier at night is the fact that neither Minnesota nor Detroit has pulled the trigger on anything to make them better, either.
"We don't want them to get better, but you can't react to that,'' Williams said. "I've never felt any pressure along those lines to do something out of fear of something they've done. You can only be the best you can be and make the smartest decision you can make for your club.''
Williams has been speaking to manager Ozzie Guillen throughout this road trip about the trade talk, but Guillen is still sticking to his guns that he likes the current 25 players on the roster.
"Well, it's like I say in Chicago, it's hard for me to say what I want and what I need when the team is playing like this,'' Guillen said. "It's not fair for the players. In the meanwhile, when you are the GM, and any team right now, are you selling or buying? You are making deals. You are calling people.
"Well, 2005, 2008, 2006 and 2007, every year, it's like that. That's why I don't pay attention to it. I think what we have is working. If we need help, those guys we need to hit will start hitting and the guys need to pitch better. It's hard for me to say what we want or what we need. Kenny sees our team in a different way than I do. He sees what's missing. But from down here, I'm happy what we have. I say that in January and I still continue to say those words.''

453288401.jpgSEATTLE - Don't think that it at least wasn't brought up on Tuesday.
Just minutes after Ozzie Guillen heard the news that his good friend Lou Piniella was retiring following this season with the Cubs, the White Sox manager was in the hotel elevator with his wife, Ibis.
The same Ibis who had no problem letting general manager Ken Williams have a piece of her mind for almost 10 minutes back in spring training after the entire Oney Guillen Twitter-Gate saga.
"I knew this conversation would come because I came into the elevator and told my wife, 'You told me you wanted to stay in Chicago, well ... now it's time to make that decision.' '' Guillen said with a laugh, insinuating that if she was at all unhappy with a certain someone or life in general on the South Side, there was now an opening on the North Side.
But like he insisted a few years ago, the only way Guillen would ever skip to the other side of town and wear the Cubbie red, white and blue would be if Sox board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf no longer owned the team or died.
"Yes, because I think when people are loyal to you, you should be loyal back to those people,'' Guillen said, when asked if he still felt that way. "I don't think you can say you never know because you never know what will happen, but I would have to wait until Jerry Reinsdorf is no longer the owner of the White Sox.''
Unless Guillen gets the sense that the Sox don't want him back.
Guillen, who is in his seventh season as Sox skipper, is signed through 2011 with a club option for 2012. Ideally, he would like an extension before next year to not only give him some security, but also take the thought of leaving for another team anytime soon completely out of play.
"Well when you work you always wants an extension,'' Guillen said. "You always want to have a secure job. But right now, if I start talking about extension, if I start talking about that, I don't think it's the time right now to talk about it because the way we play, I should be worried about how we're going to win games, worried about what will happen this year, worry about my players. Because as soon as I go there and we start talking extension, that means I don't respect the players, I don't respect the fans - 'Well, now because he's winning he wants an extension ... ' No, I think the time will come.
"In the meanwhile, I have a contract for next year and we'll see what happens. I just want to win this thing and see what happens in the future.''
Guillen as Cubs skipper is not so far-fetched. If current general manager Jim Hendry sticks around, Hendry is one of the few GMs in the game that Guillen is friendly with. There's also a connection with some of their players, especially good friend Carlos Zambrano.
"I don't think I talk to many GMs in this game period,'' Guillen said. "I talk to [Hendry] a lot. I have a lot of friends over there, even players that are friends over there. It's time for [Piniella] to move on, but in the meanwhile, when you lose a guy like Lou, now you start thinking about you have to start over, who is going to be your manager, what are you going to do. I think this organization [the Cubs] will go the right way. They have a good general manager and he will figure out who will be next.''
Before they decide who is next, however, Guillen did want to praise the guy that was about to exit stage left.
A lot of respect,'' Guillen said of Piniella. "I think this man, when you talk about baseball, period, Lou Piniella's name has to come up. As a player, as a coach, as a manager, I think this guy will be in the Hall of Fame.
"When you make decisions like that, drastic because he had to think about it. That's easy when you have his age and had the career that he had and had the privilege to have to power to say 'I'm done.'
"Meanwhile, when my day comes I hope it comes like that. Leave and pack my stuff up on my own, not people firing me or something like that. Will we miss him? Yes. This guy brings a lot to the game. A lot. Meanwhile people have to respect his decision.''

reds_zoom.jpgSEATTLE - When discussing the trade market on Monday, Ken Williams chose his words carefully, using phrases like, "We'll see how that develops,'' and "... right now, I don't see anything materializing.''
It hasn't been from a lack of trying.
According to a major-league source, Williams spent the last few days trying desperately to pry Adam Dunn from the grasps of the Washington Nationals, offering up "anyone and anything he has in the minor leagues in a package.''
And no one is untouchable, including pitcher Daniel Hudson or infielder Dayan Viciedo.
"The problem Kenny is finding out is that [Nats GM Mike] Rizzo is acting like Dunn is Ryan Howard,'' the source said.
That means that Rizzo is still fixated on getting Gordon Beckham or Carlos Quentin, two players on the current big-league roster that Williams has refused to move.
While Williams was sounding like the talks were dead before his team took the field against Seattle, they are in fact alive and well, but just put in Rizzo's court.
"Real quickly, what it is, is a limited market for us,'' Williams said. "What we view as potential help is really, there's only a small group of players. And even with that, we all still have to have the conversation amongst ourselves and we kind of do it on a daily basis this time of year amongst ourselves what we're looking at the right fit.
"The right fit, both skill-set wise, fit in the lineup or fit, whether it be a bullpen piece, a starter piece. Is it the right fit? Are you going to gain exponentially by making that move in lieu of staying with what you have? And I'm very mindful of how this team has banded together and overcome a mountain of hurdles to get to where they want to get right now, so I think you have to be very cognizant of doing something that isn't, like I said, exponentially better and making sure it's not disruptive at the same time.''
By disruptive, Williams means acquiring Dunn - a free agent-to-be - and sending out controlled salaries of what the Sox deem proven players in Quentin or Beckham.
The one surprising name that Williams would be willing to move, however, was Hudson. It would seem that giving away Hudson would weaken the starting staff not only for now, but the immediate future.
Williams, however, feels like Dunn's presence would help the starters because of the production he brings from the left side, and also that they could limit the number of times that fifth starter would be used anyway, knocking it down to about 10 more starts this year with the off days.
"And I'll be honest,'' Williams continued. "If I'm being honest and completely transparent right now of the price that is being asked for some of the players that we've inquired about, for us, it's more detrimental to our present and our future than we'd like.''
Like team captain Paul Konerko told the Sun-Times over the weekend, Williams agreed that the 25 players that dug the hole and then climbed out of it should be afforded the chance to write the ending of this story.
"I like the fight in them,'' Williams said. "Obviously, we put the roster together thinking it can compete, it could be a winning roster.
"And as a general manager, you can only hope and pray that your coaching staff can get the guys to play at that level of intensity and the players themselves have to have it internally to keep that drive going. As I sit here, I'm very cognizant of all those things and we will go through our drills and have our conversations. But it's a very small group of players that maybe potentially available and can help.''
Added Williams, "And just because July 31 passes, that doesn't mean other opportunities won't come about.''

chi_g_gwalkts_600.jpgMINNEAPOLIS - In Greg Walker's world it's great to be a ghost right now.
Then again, the White Sox hitting coach has been dead so many times over the last three years - whether it was a South Side fan base wanting him fired or possibly even certain front-office members - being a ghost suits him just fine.
Walker is no longer stressing about his team's mechanics at the plate or playing Dr. Phil and trying to talk them out of straightjackets like he was throughout April and May. Now, it's about maintaining where all of his hitters are, and more importantly, keeping them there.
"I've been hands-off for a long time,'' Walker admitted on Sunday. "All I do is pat them on the back and tell them to go play. That's a credit to them. There's no doubt that our pitching hot streak helped our offense get better. We were winning 2-1 games and coming out feeling great about ourselves. Where as early in the year we were losing 3-2 and everybody felt terrible the next day - 'Gosh, we're not holding our end of the bargain up.' But you win those 2-1 games and everybody is saying, 'Man, we did great.' It changes the whole mindset of the offense.''
Walker is no stranger to working on the mental health of his hitters each year. Basically, that's the job description of hitting coach anyway. But 2010, now that's been a battle.
"I've been pretty consistent all season long with what I've said, and I think this was a talented team, but a team where nobody came into the year feeling good about themselves,'' Walker reiterated. "There wasn't a lot of warm and fuzzy, there weren't many chests stuck out, 'I'm ready to go.' There was a lot of self-doubt for different reasons - coming off bad years, coming off injured years, a year where you didn't get to play every day, such as an Andruw [Jones] or a J.P. [Juan Pierre], [Mark] Teahen changing teams, A.J. [Pierzynski] playing out what possibly could be his last year in Chicago, a lot of stuff going on.
"I felt like if we could weather the early storm we had a chance to be a good offensive team. Even through this stretch we have not been perfect. We've won close games, but I think what happened was we started pitching so well that our imperfections kind of got overlooked. So then we started gaining confidence and got better, we started hitting with runners in scoring position, everyone was loose, everybody is having fun on the bench, putting cups on each others' heads and laughing. Nobody even thought about [the hard times]. That's when the talent started coming out and everybody got well, got healthy and felt good about themselves.''
That doesn't mean the Sox offense is a well-oiled machine. Far from it. Reaching their expectations doesn't make them a perfect offense by any means.
"To be honest with you that's going to be the battle the rest of the way, keeping that mindset,'' Walker said. "There's not a lot to be done as far as coaching the rest of the way as far as I'm concerned. Everyone feels good about themselves as we sit here today, everyone is swinging the bat pretty dog-gone good. Mechanically, they are who they are. We are who we are as a team, we swing too early in counts too much, we do things that by the book doesn't hold up, but we have gutsy guys that will go out and get a big hit for you.''
What both Walker and manager Ozzie Guillen will now start watching for is which players can hold up under the stress of being the hunted rather than the hunter. The next 10-plus weeks are a staring contest, and it's about seeing who flinches.
"From now on, you separate kids from men,'' Guillen added. "People will be nervous and there's nothing wrong with being nervous. It's difference between nervous and having butterflies than being scared.
"Whoever is scared, believe me he's not going to be here. He might be on the ballclub, but he's not going to be on the field. This is my job and when [those players] ask me why not I'm playing, it's because I think you are scared. I'm too honest, that's my weakness. I don't see anybody yet.''

Picking his poison

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ozzieguillen.jpgMINNEAPOLIS - Considering the history, and heartbreak, the White Sox have had with the Minnesota Twins, it would seem like asking Ozzie Guillen which team in the division he fears the most would be a no-brainer.
But when asked on Friday about both the Twins and Tigers in hot pursuit from here on out, the manager played diplomat.
"Both,'' Guillen replied. "I worry about Cleveland and Kansas City, too. They can put you on the spot. But I think those two teams [Tigers and Twins], this division the last two years was decided by an extra game. That's why if you if see [Tigers skipper Jim] Leyland, myself, Gardy [Twins manager Ron Gardenhire], they will say the same stuff. This division is all the way to the end. I hope not, I hope we take over, but in the meanwhile you have to be realistic. They have too much talent, we know that.''
Guillen then admitted that the 2010 Sox were built specifically to beat the Twins and Tigers.
"We built this ballclub thinking about them,'' he said. "To me, whoever stays healthy and whoever pitches better, that's the one that's going to win the division because all three teams, they have enough talent there to win it.''
Because as far as Guillen is concerned, offense alone won't get it done in the Central. Those days of mashing the opposition into submission are over.
"First of all, when you have speed, they have to get on base first,'' Guillen said. "That's the most important thing. The American League is going a different way now. You're not going to see guys hit 50, 60, 70 home runs now. Look at the guys who are in first place. Why? Because they are pitching and playing good defense.
"Hitting, everybody in the American League can hit. Kansas City, second to last place, they lead the league in hitting. If you pitch better, who has the best bullpen and who stays healthy, that's the team that's going to take over.''

340x.jpgMINNEAPOLIS - Leave it to Ken Williams to turn a mundane pre-game clubhouse into something that resembled a Jerry Springer audience.
The White Sox general manager was on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption'' Thursday afternoon, and when asked about the tension that took place with manager Ozzie Guillen in early June, including a heated shouting match that was first reported in the Sun-Times, responded with, "It was really blown out of proportion ... come on, we are about to come to blows? That's not realistic. Ozzie would never fight with me. He knows better than that.''
It was the "He knows better than that'' dig that sent the visiting clubhouse of Target Field into a roar, with Sox players oohing and ahhing like kids on a playground about to see a fight.
The interview didn't go unnoticed by Guillen, who was watching it in the manager's office.
"Everybody did,'' Guillen responded when asked if he saw it. "I don't see it as bad. I don't know if Kenny knows me for that long. He said 30 years [during the PTI interview]? He knows me longer than my wife know me.
"I think it was good. The one thing about it, I never deny I'm going to fight with him. I never fight with anyone because I don't know how to fight. I'm not a fighter.''
All of a sudden the road less traveled for Guillen is the high road?
"It's the one thing about all this stuff, I think the team stayed away from the problem from the beginning,'' Guillen continued. "We have enough professional guys. I have a few guys here who have played for a long time. Whoever is here for the first year, they find out who I am. My job is to make sure those guys play the right way. Make sure I get the best out of them. I think they were never involved in what happened off the field. I appreciate that as a manager. All those people out there, they think I don't get along with my players. They are wrong.
"They don't think my players respect me. They are wrong. Those people, they think my players don't like me, they are right. But they have to play hard for me. I don't care if they like me or love me. As long as they respect me and play hard for me, that's all I ask of them.''
What both Williams and Guillen continued to agree on was the separate meetings they each had with board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in the days following the June 8 confrontation, and the fact that those sit-downs were more fatherly advice than visiting the principal's office.
"We not sit next to him like a little child, we are grown men,'' Guillen reiterated of the meetings. "Jerry is a business man. He don't give a s--- if me and Kenny get along. If this team wins the World Series and we end up in jail because we are killing each other, Jerry would go for that.
"As long as they win, that's Jerry's business. We all where we are and we respect Jerry more than anything. Kenny loves Jerry and I love Jerry. I want to do this thing for him. My greatest moment in my career in 2005 was when I win the World Series for him.''
So are Guillen and Williams ready to go back to the brotherly relationship they had a few years back? Don't bet on that. While things have been forgiven they have not been forgotten.
"Did something happen? Of course it happened,'' Guillen added of the shouting match. "Everyone knows. But in the meanwhile, we separate those things from one time to another. I separate my problems on the field and off the field.
"It's the only way this thing is going to work is if we pull from the same end of the rope, and we do. Even if we don't agree with each other, at the end of the day, we do pull from the same rope.''

gordon-beckham.jpgThe White Sox are either really good at playing opossum or all is actually quiet on the trade front.
According to manager Ozzie Guillen, he is yet to sit down and have any sort of talk with Ken Williams to see if the general manager wants to address the hole left in the rotation by Jake Peavy's injury, go after a bat or stand pat.
"Maybe later on we'll talk about it,'' Guillen said. "I think you got to stay in the organization [for a pitcher]. You don't just pull up the magic thing and make a trade. That's not easy. When you go into the trade market, there's a lot going on. I think you've got to stay in the organization. Who it's going to be? I don't know who's down there or who's ready to pitch that day.''
Daniel Hudson is likely that guy on Sunday, at least short-term. If the Sox are forced to look long-term? That very well could rest on how Hudson performs.
That doesn't mean there haven't been trade rumors swirling around the club. The Sun-Times first reported the Sox jumping into the Adam Dunn sweepstakes over a week ago, and now names such as Carlos Quentin and Gordon Beckham have surfaced as possible names that the Nationals are looking at.
"I don't think it's strange because when you have guys that are considered the prospects of the organization they'll always be talked about in the trade rumors,'' Beckham said. "I can't really worry about that.
"It's just business. It is. If it was about your feelings then a lot of things would go differently. But it's not. It's about winning. I'm not surprised. I mean if we're talking about getting somebody then usually they're going to talk about me or John [Danks], Gavin [Floyd] or some other young pitcher.''

Peavy facing season-ending surgery

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Angels_White_Sox_Ba_630432l.jpg"Detached'' was the first buzzword muttered in describing the Jake Peavy injury news on Wednesday, quickly followed by "Dr. James Andrews.''
Put just those two phrases together, and it's very likely that the next time the White Sox see their $52 million ace throw a baseball will be in February, when pitchers and catchers report.
The MRI taken earlier Wednesday revealed a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in Peavy's right posterior shoulder, leading to the club placing the 29-year-old on the 15-day disabled list, and now weighing their next move on what direction to go with Peavy.
"Obviously, I didn't want to say too much [Tuesday] night, but I knew something was wrong with me,'' Peavy explained. "When I walked off the field, I told you guys from the get-go, if you see me not take the post or walk off the field as I did [Tuesday] night, it wasn't going to be good, and this isn't good news, having something completely detached from the bone that's retracted down into my lat ... Not good.''
Peavy stayed away from saying season ending, but his body language and demeanor spoke volumes.
"It doesn't happen a whole lot,'' Peavy said of the prognosis. "We're going to see a couple doctors, and that's advised by our doctors because our doctor simply hasn't seen a lot of this. He hasn't really seen this at all. I'm going to see Dr. Andrews in Birmingham and consult with [Lewis] Yocum and get a lot of opinions to get the best way to handle this.
"Obviously surgery looks the way we probably have to go. And if that is, we'll just ride it. We did all we could do. We fought this and fought it. I was honest with you guys, telling you we had some problems and we tried to fight it. We fought through it. Got through it on a good note and got on a good stretch. Felt good enough to pitch and was getting guys out. Just unfortunate that this was the first time in my career this happened.''
The obvious question, however, was could this have been avoided?
An MRI Peavy took back in Pittsburgh on June 15 showed fluid in the shoulder. Manager Ozzie Guillen wanted to place him on the 15-day disabled list then, but with no structural damage shown, as well as others in the organization - including Peavy himself - wanting to push forward, Guillen was vetoed.
It looked like the right choice, especially after Peavy was dominant against Washington and then the Cubs, but in a loss to Kansas City last week, further pain was felt in the area.
In the second inning against the Angels Tuesday night, Peavy rolled craps.
"No, no. I argued my point for two hours,'' Guillen responded, when asked if he should have taken a harder stand. "Our general manager [Ken Williams] and our pitching coach [Don Cooper] were on the top of that. We addressed the problem. If this problem was in [Peavy's Washington start], then I will say, 'Wow, what did we do?'
"He was throwing the ball very well. It just happened. But no, we talk about it and we discuss about it. I give them my ideas, Kenny give me his ideas. Our pitching coach has a plan C. That means we don't feel guilty about it. One thing happened and we have to continue without him. Nobody should feel guilty or responsible for what happened to him.''
Peavy will see Andrews over the All-Star Break, and a decision on to cut or not to cut will be made shortly after.
In the meanwhile, the Sox called up Jeff Marquez to help a tired bullpen for the next few days, and all signs point to them calling Daniel Hudson up for what would have been Peavy's Sunday start.
"I guess hindsight is 20/20,'' Peavy said of the injury. "I don't think anybody made any bad choices here. We did all we thought we could do. I talked to the doctor on Monday in just trying to make sure we were making wise choices. I don't think anyone is at fault here - myself for wanting to be out there or the team for letting me be out there. It's just part of sports.''
Whatever the final verdict, Peavy seemed ready to accept his fate on the 2010 season.
"If there's a will, there's a way,'' Peavy added. "I'd certainly love to be back on this team, being in contention. Whatever the doctors think and feel is best for me and my career. We'll do that and I'll bust it in rehab and do all I can do to be back and be back feeling better and healthier than I feel now.''

Peavy facing season-ending surgery

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Angels_White_Sox_Ba_630432l.jpg"Detached'' was the first buzzword muttered in describing the Jake Peavy injury news on Wednesday, quickly followed by "Dr. James Andrews.''
Put just those two phrases together, and it's very likely that the next time the White Sox see their $52 million ace throw a baseball will be in February, when pitchers and catchers report.
The MRI taken earlier Wednesday revealed a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in Peavy's right posterior shoulder, leading to the club placing the 29-year-old on the 15-day disabled list, and now weighing their next move on what direction to go with Peavy.
"Obviously, I didn't want to say too much [Tuesday] night, but I knew something was wrong with me,'' Peavy explained. "When I walked off the field, I told you guys from the get-go, if you see me not take the post or walk off the field as I did [Tuesday] night, it wasn't going to be good, and this isn't good news, having something completely detached from the bone that's retracted down into my lat ... Not good.''
Peavy stayed away from saying season ending, but his body language and demeanor spoke volumes.
"It doesn't happen a whole lot,'' Peavy said of the prognosis. "We're going to see a couple doctors, and that's advised by our doctors because our doctor simply hasn't seen a lot of this. He hasn't really seen this at all. I'm going to see Dr. Andrews in Birmingham and consult with [Lewis] Yocum and get a lot of opinions to get the best way to handle this.
"Obviously surgery looks the way we probably have to go. And if that is, we'll just ride it. We did all we could do. We fought this and fought it. I was honest with you guys, telling you we had some problems and we tried to fight it. We fought through it. Got through it on a good note and got on a good stretch. Felt good enough to pitch and was getting guys out. Just unfortunate that this was the first time in my career this happened.''
The obvious question, however, was could this have been avoided?
An MRI Peavy took back in Pittsburgh on June 15 showed fluid in the shoulder. Manager Ozzie Guillen wanted to place him on the 15-day disabled list then, but with no structural damage shown, as well as others in the organization - including Peavy himself - wanting to push forward, Guillen was vetoed.
It looked like the right choice, especially after Peavy was dominant against Washington and then the Cubs, but in a loss to Kansas City last week, further pain was felt in the area.
In the second inning against the Angels Tuesday night, Peavy rolled craps.
"No, no. I argued my point for two hours,'' Guillen responded, when asked if he should have taken a harder stand. "Our general manager [Ken Williams] and our pitching coach [Don Cooper] were on the top of that. We addressed the problem. If this problem was in [Peavy's Washington start], then I will say, 'Wow, what did we do?'
"He was throwing the ball very well. It just happened. But no, we talk about it and we discuss about it. I give them my ideas, Kenny give me his ideas. Our pitching coach has a plan C. That means we don't feel guilty about it. One thing happened and we have to continue without him. Nobody should feel guilty or responsible for what happened to him.''
Peavy will see Andrews over the All-Star Break, and a decision on to cut or not to cut will be made shortly after.
In the meanwhile, the Sox called up Jeff Marquez to help a tired bullpen for the next few days, and all signs point to them calling Daniel Hudson up for what would have been Peavy's Sunday start.
"I guess hindsight is 20/20,'' Peavy said of the injury. "I don't think anybody made any bad choices here. We did all we thought we could do. I talked to the doctor on Monday in just trying to make sure we were making wise choices. I don't think anyone is at fault here - myself for wanting to be out there or the team for letting me be out there. It's just part of sports.''
Whatever the final verdict, Peavy seemed ready to accept his fate on the 2010 season.
"If there's a will, there's a way,'' Peavy added. "I'd certainly love to be back on this team, being in contention. Whatever the doctors think and feel is best for me and my career. We'll do that and I'll bust it in rehab and do all I can do to be back and be back feeling better and healthier than I feel now.''

Update on the Jake Peavy injury

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Jake_Peavy_Chicago_White_Sox.jpgThe White Sox rise from road kill to contender was due in large part to a starting staff that finally lived up to all the offseason hype and started flexing its dominance.
That may have all changed in one pitch.
On a 2-2 offering to the Angels' Mike Napoli in the second inning, Sox starter Jake Peavy quickly jumped in pain, favoring his right side, and then started walking off the field before the trainers could even reach him. If a competitor like Peavy is headed straight to the dugout, well, that's never a good sign.
It was just three weeks ago, that Peavy had an MRI and fluid was discovered in his shoulder. Manager Ozzie Guillen wanted him to go on the disabled list, but Peavy talked the club out of it. It seemed like a great sales job by the veteran pitcher, especially because he then went 2-1 in his next three starts, allowing just three runs in 22 innings pitched.
Just last week, Peavy said, "the bottom line is I appreciate the organization understanding my philosophy and the way I go about things, the way I want to be revered in this clubhouse by my teammates, and if I want to go out there, albeit a little sore, I want to take the post. If I don't go to the post every fifth day then you'll know that something is wrong with me.
"As long as I know I'm not jeopardizing my career, the bottom line is I want to be a part of something special. That can't happen in June, it can't happen in July, it's got to happen in October. And I want to be a part of that.''
It now remains to be seen how long before Peavy can be a part of that, with the club calling the injury a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle - which is located in the side of the back, under the shoulder. He will be re-evaluated Wednesday.
Either way, the Sox players knew it wasn't going to be easy.
"We still have a lot of work in front of us,'' veteran Mark Kotsay said. "Playing consistent, I think for the amount of time we've played consistent for, is a big key and a big plus in gaining momentum, gaining confidence. We've played really good baseball, we've pitched great, played great defense, we've done the things that this team needs to do to win. We just need to continue down that path.
"The easiest thing to do is to have success, the hardest thing is to fail. We've gone through those stretches where we failed, and now that we're having success you never want to go back to that feeling of not being able to get done what you want to get done.''

e415e6cf-a120-41c5-bd8e-5f84ecd3d1cd.jpgGordon Beckham has said time and time again that his hope has been the struggles of 2010 will be a learning experience that benefits him in the near future.
For now, that learning experience is coming from the bench.
Manager Ozzie Guillen sat Beckham for a second consecutive game on Monday, instead going with the hot bat of Brent Lillibridge at second base.
"He still is my second baseman,'' Guillen said of Beckham. "But right now, I think the way Lillibridge is playing, I'm going to give him a shot. Remember, if Kenny [Williams] or Jerry [Reinsdorf] told me, 'Here it is. That's the development of my ballclub. This is the team for the future ... '
"They tell me, 'Here's the team, we'd better win.' Well, then I put the best guy I'm going to think is for that day the best chance to win for that day. And I think that [Lillibridge] swung the bat very, very well every time we put him there. I will take advantage of that. If he continues to swing the bat, we'll we see what happens later. I worry about later, later. Right now I'll worry about this club. [Lillibridge is] playing aggressive. We'll see what happens.''
Lillibridge didn't hurt his cause Monday, picking up an RBI single in the second inning.
As for Beckham, he's hoping it's just another hard lesson learned.
"I feel like going through kind of what I've been going through mentally, I've taken a lot from that because what I've gone through has been really hard on me just because of expectations I have for myself, expectations of other people, so what I will take out of it looking back, I think I'll be able to say, 'I really learned who I am and what I was all about,' '' Beckham said recently of his struggles. "I learned what my swing was about, how to refine it. That's been the main issue, the swing or the mindset I had going into the swing. So I'll probably take out of it that I can get through some stuff, but I really figured out who I was as a baseball player.''

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