Results tagged ‘ Jake Peavy ’

That Twins sweep put me in a better mood

Hey, everyone, are you starting to feel like it’s easier for me to write these blogs and talk to you guys when we win games?  Well, it definitely is.  I’m in a great mood this morning in Baltimore and decided to write one of these up. Actually, my room here is right over Candem Yards. I can actually see the field right now.

Anyways, it was a great sweep of the Twins this weekend because, as you all know, they are always a huge pain for us. Those guys always play so well against us; we finally got them.  I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty good feeling.  I just hope this starts a trend of us playing better and more consistently, and this series against the Orioles would be a good way to continue it.

Jake Peavy did a great job yesterday and got some help from Brent Lillibridge, and the defense definitely threw some leather around this weekend.  The new kid with all the hair, Zach Stewart, did an awesome job as well this weekend. I hope he continues to throw the ball like that. Anytime you sweep a team, especially on the road, it seems like everyone needs to contribute, and we got that. Alex Rios was crushing he ball, and of course, “Q” (Carlos Quentin) continues to swing a hot bat.

I will have time to write you guys after this series with Baltimore and hopefully answer some more of your questions.  I had a great time this past Saturday at the TriStar National Memorabilia Convention thanks to Bobby and all the guys that worked there; it was a lot of fun. I will have pictures up for you guys here soon on the website.  My son and I had a great time, and I hope to be back doing that every year.

Thank you all for the support and talk to you guys soon!

– Ozzie

Q&A: On Twitter, pitchers & 2-strike hitters

After enjoying a nice day off in Chicago before heading to Denver last night, I am rested and ready to go against the Rockies. Denver is a very nice city, I must say, even though we don’t get a chance to be here very often. I’m looking forward to a good series and an opportunity to see a good, young Venezuelan player in Carlos Gonzalez – who can be extremely dangerous — and one of my favorite players in Troy Tulowitzki.

We know we need to start swinging the bats better. In the American League, if you can’t swing the bats, you have no chance. I was happy with the way we played the game this weekend, and I’m glad we had that 6-man rotation. We can now fill-in John Danks’ spot, and I was very proud of Gavin Floyd, Mark Buehrle and Jake Peavy, who were all available to pitch this weekend out of the bullpen. I have a lot of respect for all those guys. I also have to mention how happy I am for Davey Johnson and hope he does some good things with the Nationals. They have some good, young talent over there.

So, I had a little more time and the questions keep coming into my website, so here are a couple more answers …

Q: Ozzie, you are my favorite person to follow on Twitter. Many of your tweets are pretty funny. Why did you decide to start an account, and why do you like to use Twitter? — Mike C. (Waukegan, Ill.)

A: I thought it was a fun way to connect with my family, friends, and fans. Glad you enjoy it.

Q: Why don’t managers let pitchers throw 300 innings in a year anymore? Roy Halladay could easily hit that mark if he was left in games a little longer. And why is that magic 100-pitch count held in such high regard? If a guy feels good, shouldn’t you let him keep throwing? – Wyatt F. (Owensboro, Ken.)

A: Because they play 162 games now. These players make a lot more money, and it’s a big risk if they get hurt. Also, pitchers are developed differently these days.

Q: Who is the best two-strike hitter in baseball? – Kevin M. (Atlanta)

A: The best I ever saw was Wade Boggs. Right now, it’s hard for me to say because I don’t see enough of everyone, but A.J. Pierzynski isn’t bad.

Q: What is the worst thing you did to get thrown out of a game? — Brian M. (New York)

A: I can say some pretty bad words to the umpire, I guess. Nothing sticks out.

Q: Dear Ozzie, just wanted to say great tweet to Sean Pean about Venezuela! You clearly have first-hand knowledge, and he is clearly not well-informed. Keep up the great work! – Helen G. (Glendora, Calif.)

A: Thank you very much for the support!

Q: Ozzie, are you going to manage the Venezuela team in 2013? Also, what do you think of the expansion of the tournament to 28 teams? Thanks! — Mark H. (Chicago)

A: I don’t think I’m allowed to manage the 2013 team because I am a current MLB manager. If they expand, it would be very cool, but that also means a lot more games, so there is a downside, as well. If it makes money, it makes sense (haha).

Thank you, everyone, for reading this blog and your support. Until next time …

– Ozzie

Switching focus from the Tigers to Mariners

Well … the weekend series against Detroit didn’t go as well as we hoped. Detroit is a very good team, but with that being said, we just didn’t hit well enough with runners on base, especially against good pitching. We had Justin Verlander on the ropes a couple of times and just couldn’t get to him. Gotta give them a lot of credit though — they are a good team. I wanted to see how we responded after Miguel Cabrera beat us in the late innings. Tough to get down about that because he does that to everyone.

I’m very happy the guys were able to forget about the weekend and switch focus to the Mariners and get a much needed win last night. John Danks pitched a great game and finally got a win. He is too good to have the record he does, and I know he will be just fine. We get King Felix tonight, so we will see what happens. In any case, I expect our guys to keep battling because this year is far from over. We still have a large window to make some noise.

It was very unfortunate to see Jake Peavy go down again, but luckily, we have a five-man rotation now that has been set up. I fully expect some of our guys to pick up the slack, though, as we are in June now and the All-Star Break isn’t that far away. Hopefully, we can gain some more ground before the break and put ourselves in a position to compete ion the second half.

Also, I have to give it to the fans — we had a great crowd of more than 30,000 against the Tigers this weekend. That’s what I like to see!!

And for those of you that follow me on Twitter, you know I got the chance to go to the Chicago Board of Trade yesterday morning and wow, what an experience. Those traders are nuts! But the energy in that room was incredible, and I really enjoyed my time there. I’m not sure you will ever see me in a trading pit again, but at least I have the jacket for next time I’m there. What do you think, how do I look?

At the Chicago Board of Trade

Looks like we finally have some momentum now

I have always said it’s better to be lucky than good (hahaha). Wow, that game Wednesday night in Anahiem was a lot of fun, and those are the types of games you need to win to pick up some momentum. It was the perfect game to win before enjoying an off-day in San Francisco! For those of you who may not have stayed up in Chicago to watch the whole game, we did leave a bunch of runners on base early, but we kept plugging away. Alex Rios has been red-hot as of late and “Q” (Carlos Quentin) has been swinging the bat great. And, man, it seems like I talk about this guy in every blog I write, but Omar Vizquel did a hell of a job for us again.

Now, we also swung the bats real well the first game in Anaheim, especially the guys at the bottom of the order. I really think baseball is more of a mental game than it is a physical one because confidence can be a scary thing in this game. Actually, not having confidence might actually be even scarier. I mean, look at the Cleveland Indians right now. They think they can beat anyone right now, and believe me that’s a very good feeling to have.

And, finally, Jake Peavy made his return to the mound. He looked better than I expected him to look, and as long as he doesn’t feel any discomfort, I think he will be just fine. We can only hope.

We are here in San Francisco enjoying our last off-day in like three weeks or something like that. Well, some of the guys were in San Fran. I spent the off-day up in Napa Valley with my wife enjoying wine country (haha). The West coast trip has been a positive one so far, but we have to close it out. I know the A’s are a good team and their pitching staff is tough, but we will see what happens; this is baseball. We can’t change anything; we need to stay positive and continue to play hard! – Ozzie 

My last Q&A before Opening Day!

Well, it’s almost over! I’m all packed as we finish up Spring Training here today and head to
Winston-Salem to face one of our Minor League teams tomorrow. Then it’s on to Cleveland for Opening
Day on Friday. 

Here are the last
set of your questions before the 2011 season starts … 

Q: Hey, Ozzie, greetings from Maracaibo. I’d like to see you in the playoffs again. I’m a big fan of you how manage, even though the last few years you’ve lost some games. Is your game a Caribbean style? – Eneil G. (Maracaibo, Venezuela)

A: I can only work with what I’ve got. Sometimes, the pieces they give me don’t fit the Caribbean style. But this year, I feel we have more better speed and there are going to be a lot of runners on base. 

Q: I’m really interested in why Adam Dunn is batting third. I would think that with his high strikeout record and low batting average, that Paul Konerko would be better in that slot. Just interested to hear why you think differently. – Brian M. (Minneapolis, Minn.)

A: I think Dunn is around a .370 on-base percentage. But it was never
a choice for me between Dunn or P.K., it was a choice between Dunn and Alex Rios. I
felt more comfortable with the guys the way we have them. But anything can
change, although I hope I don’t change the lineup too much.

Q: Hey, Ozzie. I see the White Sox have one roster spot left open. Have you thought about giving that to Domingo Ayala? I hear he’s got unbelievable God-given talents. — Dale H. (Rockford, Ill.)

A: I would pay to have Domingo on my team, just so I
could see him dress up and make everyone laugh (haha).

Q: Who’s a better person — Luis Aparicio or Dave Concepcion? – Greg M. (Managua, Nicaragua)

A: They’re both good people. They treat me very well, and they’re both stars and I respect them a lot. 

Q: Ozzie, I’m a Venezuelan lawyer with experience in sports and I’m doing my Master’s in Chicago! I want to work with the White Sox. Can you help me? – Pablo G. (La Guaira, Venezuela) 

A: Well, I’d like to help you but that’s not my area of expertise. Send your info to the White Sox offices and see what they say. Good luck. 

Q: What do you think of Lastings Milledge? I know he was a Cubs killer in Pittsburgh. I think he is a great defensive replacement in later innings. – Robert W. (Darien, Ill.)

A: I think if Lastings stays within himself and doesn’t try and do too much, he can help us — not only in late innings, but starting as well. 

Q: What changes in the division’s balance of power demand your greatest attention? Will Jake Peavy make it OK uninjured? How are Dunn and Gordon Beckham adjusting? – Jeffery M. (Chicago)

A: I think every
year the AL central gets better. Yes, even the Twins and Royals got better. But
that makes it more fun competing against them. I hope Peavy makes it ok–we
need him. I think Dunn will be fine and Gordo should be ok, these guys just
want season to start already. 

Q: Can Lastings Milledge be an everyday player for you guys? How did it go with Manny Ramirez last year? Take care. — Guillermo R.
(Cumana, Venezuela)

A: I don’t think Lastings is going to be a regular because we already have three very good outfielders. Manny and I were fine. Really, he never gave me any problems, and I have a lot of respect for him. 

Q: Hey, Ozzie, will your English Bulldog be at “Dog Day.” And does he bark at you in Spanish or English? (HA!) Have a great season. — Dave G. (Glenview, Ill.)

A: DH won’t be “Dog Day” because he usually humps everything he sees (hahaha). He speaks both
English and Spanish.  

Q: Ozzie, who will be the next three Venezuelans in the Hall of Fame if everything stays on course? Do you hear Gaita? — Jose R. (Maracaibo, Venezuela)

A: Omar Vizquel, Miguel Cabrera, and after that I don’t know who has a real chance. I hear Gaita in December. But only in December (haha).   

Thank you for all your questions since the website launch. They have been fun to read and
hopefully we can continue to do this once the season starts. Thank you to all the fans that came out
to Spring Training this year. We really appreciate your support.

– Ozzie 

I’m just loving my team right now …

What’s up, everyone!? I hope you all are doing well. I got to enjoy a rare day off in Spring Training on Tuesday and went
golfing. I actually played pretty
well and shot in the 80’s. 
Somebody do me a favor and warn Tiger. With a little more practice, I will
be ready to take him (haha). After
golf, we went for a little sushi dinner — man, I love sushi — then headed over to
Westgate to see the movie “Hall Pass.” I laughed so hard and only understood about 20 minutes of the movie
because they talk so fast. I would
laugh when everyone else was laughing to pretend like I knew what was going on
(hahaha). But wow, there were a
couple of scenes in there that actually did make me laugh. I love that kind of
humor. I think it’s great for that
one or two days you get off in the spring to get away and enjoy it a little, and
I definitely did that.

Now back to business. … I was very happy to see the turnout we
had versus the Giants yesterday. I
don’t know, maybe it was because the fans wanted to see Tim Lincecum, but we love
playing in front of a full house (yes, even if it is only in the spring). It’s
just more fun! I hope we get that
same kind of support at The Cell in April. Always a lot of fun for the players
to play in front of full stands. 

I have seen the guys play so far this spring, and I will tell
you I’m very excited to for this ballclub. I can’t and won’t guarantee anything; all I will say is that
this team is going to be very fun to watch. Jake Peavy‘s health has been outstanding, and the starting
pitchers have been great. They are really trying to set a tone for what this
year could be. I feel like the
lineup will be ready to go when we break camp because this team is built with
guys that have been in the league for many years, except for Gordon Beckham (aka, “Bacon”) and B-MO (Brent Morel). Everyone is getting their work in. I have no complaints, and when we get
to Cleveland, we will be ready to go.

There are a couple of spots on the roster still open. The front office, coaches and myself, of course, will make those choices and we will go with what we feel we need the
most. In this business, it’s all
about winning, not people’s feelings. 

Well, we only have a couple more weeks left until we get this party
started. Make sure you keep
reading this blog and checking out my website because I am working on some
exciting things, and I will hopefully get to announce soon! Thank you for all your support. And if
there is something in life you want, wake up and go get it! 

– Ozzie 

I have so many lineups running through my head

What’s up, people?! I wanted to write a quick blog to let everyone know how it’s going down
here in Arizona. Now that all the
guys are here, it’s been really awesome. I love my job!  From what I
have seen it really looks like everyone is here ready to work. It’s been awesome just seeing the
positive attitudes everyone has come to camp with.

I have a lot of ideas going through my head and have been
playing around with so many lineups for months now. In reality, I hope I can just stick to one because that means
everyone is healthy and it makes my job a lot easier. Same thing goes for the bullpen and the starting staff. I
really enjoy watching things come together. It has been very good to see Jake Peavy progress forward; I hope
he can get healthy and really help us out this year. 

As for what else I have been doing? If you follow me on Twitter, you know I had a great time watching the NBA All-Star Game festivities Saturday night. I love my man Charles
Barkley
… always entertaining! 

Make sure you keep your questions coming in the “Ask Ozzie!”
part of my website. I love reading
them, and I know a lot of people have been asking about the lineup. This is what spring is for. We will
sort everything out and put the best lineup on the field.

Who is coming to see us in Spring Training this year??

Ozzie 

Embarrassment!

Embarrassed. That is how we should all feel after these first games against the Red Sox and the Yankees in their home fields. We knew the 10-day road trip would be difficult, but not even in my worst nightmare did I imagine we would have a 1-5 record in the first six games. When we have won, we have won as a team. Now we must all face these defeats with the same embarrassment because every one of us shares in the responsibility. I am embarrassed and I question myself, thinking I am not doing the right things to earn the salary I am paid to make this team competitive and a fighter. I question myself and I am ashamed for not devising a lineup that produces runs to win, and for not putting the right pitcher on the mound to get outs. And if anyone on this team does not feel the same shame that I do, then I think he chose the wrong job.

As I write this column it is Saturday night in New York and a bitter taste lingers in my mouth from the loss to the Yankees by a score of 10-0. A game in which your team has more errors than hits has to be an embarrassment. I think even the kids that are playing in the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania played better that day than we did. The worst part is that I know our squad is better than what we have shown on the field in these first six games as the visiting team. Last Monday, when we began the road trip in Boston, Armando Talavera, a Venezuelan journalist based in New York, asked me my opinion on the White Sox. I answered, “I have the team to be a World Series champion.” I suppose that Armando must be thinking about recommending I see a psychiatrist to cure my delusions of grandeur. But it’s the truth. On paper, we have the talent and the material to be champions, but we need to execute.

I have never considered myself a loser and much less a pessimist, but if you ask me right now, I think we are in a difficult situation because we put ourselves in it. We know where the mountain summit is, and we have the desire to reach it, but it seems like our legs are not strong enough to get us there. At least that seems to be the case after losing those series against the Yankees and the Red Sox. On Monday we begin the last series of the road trip at the Metrodome where the Twins appear to be unbeatable. I imagine it will be a good opportunity to show we are still alive, we still have desires and that we are still in the race for the division title that we won last year with so many sacrifices.

Before I begin responding to some of your questions and comments, I want to take this opportunity to tell you that reading your positive and encouraging messages is, most of the time, a way to regain optimism in difficult moments like this one. Thank you for your loyalty and for your support.

Ben Morgan of Lincoln, Nebraska, wrote in English to ask me a question I have asked myself hundreds of times without finding an answer! Why does our offense shut down when it faces a young pitcher for the first time? Honestly, Ben, I don’t know. We know the pitcher always has an advantage over the batter who, as you point out, adapts himself and makes adjustments with each at-bat. The pitcher certainly has control of the situation, not only because he has the ball in his hand, but because he knows what pitch he is going to throw and if it will be a curve, a fastball, a changeup or a slider. He knows what speed he is going to throw at, from what height, and at what distance from the plate – high, low, inside or outside. In other words, the batter is standing at home plate with his bat in his hand, preparing to make contact with a sphere that could be coming in at 70 or 100 miles per hour, without knowing if it is going to break to one side, drop, etc. He only has a few seconds to make a decision. When the batter is unfamiliar with the pitcher, he becomes the most vulnerable of hitters because he does not know his opponent’s repertoire. But it has been that way since baseball was invented and by the second or third at-bat, the hitter should have a better understanding of the situation and make the necessary adjustments to be successful. This problem has been very costly to us this year, but I insist that I don’t know why.

Guillermo Rada of Cumana, Venezuela, says he is intrigued by what happened last year with Javier Vazquez, who is having a successful season with the Atlanta Braves. Guillermo wants to know if I put him on the spot for what he calls “poor emotional strength.” I can tell you, Guillermo, that I met Javier when I was a coach with the Montreal Expos and I always liked his attitude on the mound and his human touch. Last year he had several opportunities to help this team in crucial games and unfortunately he couldn’t get the job done. That happens in baseball.

Perhaps it was a bad year, something that everyone goes through in their careers. Personally I wish him the best of luck because as he himself said, with what he has earned up until this point he will be able to live peacefully when he retires and he will be able to spend time happily with his family.

Dr. Julio Antonio Machillanda of Porlamar, Venezuela, is one of many fans who’ve written to make comments about Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras. On this list are names such as Frank Abel Villalonga of Havana, Alfredo Valle of Tenerife, Orlando Garcia of Naples, Roberto Trujillo de Santa Cruz of Tenerife, Jorge Amaro and several others.

Oddly enough, Francisco Aguiar of Tampa, who has on several occasions sent me messages accusing me of mistreating Contreras, of not using him correctly, of not knowing when to replace him and a long list of other objections, did not write this time. Last week, a journalist in Boston asked me if Jose would start another game for Chicago. I replied that I have three kids and that I would love to live to see my grandchildren. I would not like to die prematurely of a heart attack. Nonetheless, Contreras started against the Yankees on Saturday because we simply did not have a better option. If you ask me why he’s experiencing this disaster, I must respond I do not know because it is safe to say that Contreras is a hard worker and a warrior. Some of you, in your e-mails, say that you know him from his days in Cuba and that the problem can be a lack of concentration, that he is not throwing underarm, that he is not using the forkball and a whole slew of other explanations. I, more than anyone, continue to hope that Jose will regain the form he had in 2005 when he helped us become World Series champions, especially now that we need him urgently. Let’s see what happens.

Jonathan Gallegos of Bogota also offered his opinion on Contreras and wonders why I waited so long to take him out of the game when the Red Sox scored six runs off of him in one inning. In addition to pointing out that sometimes I talk too much, something that should not surprise anyone, Jonathan offers some suggestions as to how to manage the team. Well Jonathan, I am going to repeat what I have said several times in my career. The farther you are from the field, the more intelligent you feel. Those who watch the games from the stands see everything clearly and know more than the managers and the 5 or 6 coaches in the dugout. I once said I was going to provide every fan with a cell phone so that they could call me and tell me what to do before plays and not afterwards, which is usually the case. There are many things that the fans are not aware of that influence decisions. Explaining them all would be enough to fill a book. But thanks anyways for taking a few minutes of your time to share your opinion with me.

Liz Pinto of Valencia, Venezuela, comments on the great year that Cleveland Santeliz is having with the Birmingham Barons, our Class-AA affiliate and wants to know what I think about my fellow countryman. Liz is not the only person following Santeliz, whom I described in a previous column as “a great kid with a good attitude to pitch.” Part of his success comes from staying healthy. He has been regarded as having great talent since he was signed, but the injuries had not allowed
him to prove it.

He is one of the Venezuelan players who are opening doors for themselves in our farm system and one of the players that I hope will be in the big leagues soon so that I can answer all those who ask me, on a weekly basis, why there aren’t more Venezuelan players on the White Sox if Ozzie Guillen is the manager. I hope a few are on their way.

Many also wrote in these last two weeks to comment on the addition of Freddy Garcia to our roster. Some of the questions and comments arrived before Freddy debuted with our uniform this year while others came after his second start. Elio Barroso of Charallaves, Jesus Ramos of Santa Teresa del Tuy, Roysbelk Garcia of Cua, Eliel Padrino and Reinaldo Perez of Caracas, Yubin Rios of Maracaibo, Thomas Enrique Perez Ramos, Victor Lapenta, Miguel Saldivia and many others are on the list. In an interview that appeared last Saturday in the Chicago Sun-Times, Freddy admitted that for the first time in two years he feels truly healthy and has no pain in his pitching arm. I think his start in Boston showed that. That day, Freddy proved he is in Chicago not because he married my wife’s niece, or because Kenny Williams has a charity and wants to show his appreciation to all whose who helped us win the World Series in 2005. Freddy is here because he underwent a physical showed that his shoulder was healthy and because he looked good in his minor league starts. Is he going to win all of his starts from now on? I don’t think so, but surely he is going to help, and I hope he helps enough to be considered next year when in theory we will have 4 set starters (Buehrle, Danks, Floyd and Peavy) and there will be a fifth spot up for grabs. But that is a topic for another day because for now we are focused on 2009 and on our fight to get to the postseason, for which we will need Freddy’s help.

Dario Sanchez of Valencia, Venezuela, asked me if I consider myself a member of what he calls “the new generation of Major League managers.” Well, I suppose so because aside from being a young manager in comparison to most of the current big league skippers, I also belong to a generation that has no choice but to see the game differently from how it has been viewed in the recent past.

I imagine you have guessed by now I am referring to the “steroid era” and other banned substances. This new generation that I belong to must revert to an intelligent game, one that does not depend on homeruns and is based on good defense, speed on the bases, timely plays and, of course, good pitching. I suppose that is what we will see in the next few years and the manager who makes those adjustments first is going to have an advantage over his rivals.

Marvin Jose Gomez Hernandez of Cabimas ,Venezula, wants to know if my warning that I would pay back with the same token if other teams kept plunking my players was a way of motivating my team to be more aggressive in all aspects of the game. No, in reality it was just a warning to opposing teams. A manager must protect his players in all aspects of the game and it is not acceptable that while the Chicago White Sox are the team whose pitchers have hit the least number of opposing batters in the majors, that our players are third in being hit. Someone once said, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” And it certainly wasn’t me who said it!

Emison Soto of Maracaibo, Venezuela, wants to know who is in charge of evaluating young talent in our country. Emison, our scout is Amador Arias.

Professor Miguel Antonio Narvaez of San Carlos in the state of Cojedes in Venezuela writes to ask my help with starting a baseball academy in that region. Jean Carlos Viloria of Chichiriviche makes a similar request for a little league team in that town, located in the state of Falcon. If it were up to me, I would be starting baseball teams all over the world, in part to show my gratitude for all this sport has meant in my life. Nonetheless, the foundation that my wife oversees in Venezuela has decided to allocate the few resources we have to children’s health, which is just as important or even more important than sports. This foundation, by the way, does not make fixed contributions to any institution, but it also has no expenses because those who help Ibis in her work do so free of charge. No one is paid a single penny. Our occasional funds come from events that we organize ourselves (autograph signings, auctions of items from the Major Leagues, etc.) that unfortunately, in the last few years we have not been able to have because of my multiple commitments. Nonetheless, every year we seek help in order to honor our commitment to the Association of Parents of Children with Cancer, to whom we donate more than 350 Christmas gifts. More importantly, we attend their Christmas party. Thank God that there are entities like Polar and Tiburones of La Guaira that help us keep serving this organization that does such extraordinary work. I promise when we have more resources I will consider your requests.

Rafael Garcia of Margarita, Venezuela, sent me a list of Venezuelan players who belong to other teams and asked me which ones I would like to have in Chicago. Although I am not the person who hires players, certainly on Rafael’s list there are names that any manager would want on his roster. Nonetheless, they have all made commitments to their respective organizations, which are not likely to let them go because of their quality. Venezuelan players are more and more sought-after in this market, which should fill baseball lovers in their country with pride.

Two questions from the “Wild West.” Angel Rivera of Tucson, Arizona, solicits my opinion about Puerto Rican Alex Rios. Well Angel, I think Alex is going to help us a lot although he has not yet reached his full potential. I think he is still adjusting. And Carlos Castillo of El Plano, Texas, asks why we did not walk Mike Lowell intentionally in the game against Boston that Jose Contreras lost. According to Carlos, Contreras was nervous. Imagine that! From Texas, you knew that Contreras, a veteran of a thousand battles in Cuba, was nervous and that Lowell was going to hit a home run off of him. It’s true that the farther you get from the field, the more intelligent people are.

Ramiro Perez of Orlando, Florida, asks what my relationship is like with the Chicago media. The best way to find out, Ramiro, is to go online and look at the different newspapers in the city. I think you will come to the same conclusion that I have: that the press treats me very well.

Ender Elias Chaparro Camargo is a boy from Marcaibo, a town in the Venezuelan state of Zulia, who is in the United States representing the team from the Coquivacoa League in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. As I write I am not sure how our team is doing in the event, but nonetheless I wish Ender and his teammates the best of luck and I hope that they will take full advantage of this experience, which will be an unforgettable one in their lives. Who knows, maybe in the future I will run into many of them in the Major Leagues.

Leonardo Ferrero, also of Maracaibo, wants to know if any of my sons are playing professional baseball at the moment and why Jake Peavy’s debut has taken so long. Leonardo, my middle son, Oney, played in the minor leagues for a couple of years but now he works in Chicago’s front office. My youngest, Ozney, is 17 years old. He is in his last year of high school and dreams about playing professionally. We shall see.

That’s all the answers for today. There are a few questions remaining that I will try to answer in my next column, but I cannot say good-bye before expressing my gratitude for all the messages, comments, opinions and criticisms. All are welcome. Special greetings go out to Raul Avilan, Johars Jimenez, Gladys Perez, Yole Mata and Roman Orive of Caracas, Cesar Reyes and his family from Vargas, Wilmer Aponte of Turmero, Michael Gamez of Chicago, Orlando Rafael Figueroa Reyes of Carora, Rafael Garcia of Margarita, Juan Carlos Marin of Miami, Rafael Paez of Los Teques, Francisco Gar
cia of La Asunción and the many other people who honored me with their attention.

Check back in two weeks, when I hope to be writing with one foot in the postseason!

Reducing errors

More than once I have emphasized the need to reduce the number of defensive errors because they result in more work for the pitchers. As I write this column, the White Sox lead the American League in errors. Although our opponents don’t always score runs as a result, defensive errors force the pitcher to throw more pitches, which can limit the number of innings he throws. This can be very serious.

For this home stretch, we need all of our pitchers, both starters and relievers, to pitch effectively for as long as possible. For that they need help from our offense, but also from our defense. Pitchers seem larger than life when they have a solid team backing them from the first through the final inning.

Speaking of good outings, Freddy Garcia and Jake Peavy had great starts with the Charlotte Knights, our Triple-A affiliate, were very good. Freddy went 6.0 innings and although he took the loss, he allowed only two runs and struck out nine. Peavy also showed that he will be a big help when he joins our pitching staff. In 3.0 innings against Pawtucket, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, he allowed only one hit, walked one batter and recorded five strikeouts. Three of them came when he struck out the side in the first inning.

If Freddy and Peavy pitch according to their credentials, count the White Sox in the race for the American League Central title. It’s important, of course, that the rest of the players continue to do their jobs in terms of producing runs. To that end, the addition of Alex Rios should add great depth to the outfield and a respectable bat that should strengthen our lineup.

Anyway, there is a month and a half left in the season. The team’s management has made the necessary moves to strengthen our roster and our destiny is still in our hands. We hope to continue receiving support from our fans in Chicago and will keep giving our all on the field until the very end. Hopefully we’ll be battling in October to the satisfaction of our fans.

Now for some answers.

Angel Ramon Deonice of Carupano, Venezuela asks what motivated the White Sox to release Scott Podsednik in 2007 only to rehire him in 2009. Although I have said in the past that I have nothing to do with signings, I’d like to remind Angel Ramon that during the last two years that Podsednik was with us, his playing time was limited due to injuries. From there, the team decided to let him go. After the Colorado Rockies opted not to sign him for the 2009 season, Scott was willing to go to the minors to prove that he was in excellent health. If you take into account the trouble we had finding a leadoff hitter, you will understand why we re-signed him. I can honestly tell you that without Podsednik in our lineup we would not be contending for the division title.

Arturo Fadragas, a Cuban resident of Chicago, wants to know if his fellow countryman Jose Contreras is finished as a pitcher and if he figures in the White Sox’s plans for 2010.

Arturo is not the only Cuban who inquires about Contreras. Every week I get messages giving me suggestions as to how to deal with him, on what advice I should give him and how to support him. Some request that I order him to throw this pitch or that pitch at this or that angle. The truth is that upon his return from Charlotte, Contreras looked great and won some very important games. But his most recent starts have been a disaster, as Dr. Julio Antonio Machillanda of Porlamar points out. I really don’t know if it’s a lack of concentration or a lack of command of his best pitches, but the truth is that Jose is in the rotation right now because there is no other available option. His future with the White Sox will depend on what he does on the mound. Personally I hope that he gets out of this funk not only so that he can help us in the home stretch but because he is a hard worker and an excellent person.

Rafael Loretto of Valle La Pascua and Luis Manuel Ferrer Torres of Caracas ask about the famous “Guerrilla” of the 1980s with the Tiburones (Sharks) of La Guaira. At some point I will discuss this in the column that I write in Venezuela, but I will mention that, contrary to what has been said, the term “guerrilla” does not mean that the players played like hardened warriors but that there was much discord in the clubhouse among some of the players. So and so did not speak to so and so, so and so did not have a relationship with so and so, so and so hated so and so. Nonetheless, once the umpire said, “play ball,” the internal “warfare” did not keep the players from playing like professionals or from devoting themselves, body and soul, to the quest for victory. The result is known by Venezuelan fans, especially fans of los Tiburones of La Guaira.

Carlos Andrade of Maracay asks when Bartolo Colon will be ready to pitch for the White Sox. Carlos, I really don’t know and by the way, if you see him in Maracay, please give him my regards.

Marco Antonio Bonilla of San Diego, California, asks how many games I think Jake Peavy can win for the White Sox this year. Honestly, Marco Antonio, I hope he wins enough games to help us win the division title and the World Series. I would be satisfied with that.

Your question allows me to answer those who, like Wenceslao Moreno of Maracaibo, Oswaldo Peroza of Valencia and Juan Martin of Miami, wonder if it was a good idea to bring aboard an injured Peavy. Personally I think it was, not only because of the games he can win this year, but because of the message it sends to the team and to the Chicago fans. Peavy and Alex Rios, another acquisition for the second half of the season, have contracts that guarantee that they will remain in Chicago for several more years. This means that Kenny Williams is set on building a competitive team, not only for 2009, but for a long time. It’s true, as Martin points out, that we gave up valuable prospects, but in baseball you have to give something good to get something of equal value. Time will tell if it was a good decision, but right now it seems excellent.

Rafael Escalante of Valencia asks me if I would like to end my career with the White Sox. Definitely! I would like to be here for another 20 years or as long as my body can take it. However, the day that my work is poor or that I can no longer help the team win, they should send me home without contemplation. I hope I have grandchildren by then so I can drive them crazy!

An annoyed Victor Saldivia Simanca of Valencia wrote to complain that I have not responded to any of his questions. Although I was sure I had discussed his messages in previous columns, I nonetheless want to reiterate my appreciation. Your letters, more than questions, contain analysis and opinions that I respect although I may not always agree with them. For example, in one letter you suggest that Freddy was a warrior but that even warriors must meet their end. In your opinion, Freddy’s end has come. I hope that is not the case and that he can contribute this year. In any case, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the White Sox and Venezuelan baseball with me and for the advice you provided in your last message.

By the way, many encouraging messages have been sent to Freddy Garcia via this column and I will definitely pass those along to him. Like I said at the beginning, his starts in the minor leagues have been very good and we can only hope that he will exhibit that same intensity in the big leagues and show why he earned the nickname “Big Game Freddy.” In response to Hector Natera of Guayana, Anibal Contreras of Santa Teresa, Jaifre Gutierrez of Maracay, and Royer Cegarra and Juvenal Briceno of Caracas, who asked when Freddy will be back in the majors, based on what we has shown us up until now, it is likely that he will be back earlier than we expected. In conclusion, I want to respond to Jose Sanchez of Punto Fijo, who asked why we signed Freddy if we already traded him once. Well Jose, first of all, everyone deserves a second chance, especially Freddy, who achieved so many good things with this organization. But more important
ly, it was because we think that he can still help us win games. Let’s see how things go for him.

Pepin Hernandez of Tenerife, Spain, asks if there is tension on the bench between our American and Latin American players. Pepin brings up the incident between Alexei and Pierzynski in one of our games. Even in the best families sometimes there are arguments, Pepin, and that does not mean that there are problems. The team’s friendly atmosphere is the main weapon that allows us to battle as one. Remember that there are 25 players and 8 coaches each with a distinct personality. But the desire to win unites us and makes us a family in which each member protects the others regardless of whether they are rookies or veterans. Incidents and differences will always be present but in the end, after each storm, the sun rises once again.

Ramses Valladaras, a child from Ocumare de Tuy, writes to tell me about his dream of becoming a professional ballplayer and to send me many positive messages. Ramses, the key to achieving your dreams is to work hard and persevere. As you know, I too was born in Ocumare del Tuy and although many people didn’t think I was tall enough or strong enough or whatever to play professional baseball, thanks to my efforts I got to where I got. If I was able to do it, you can too, but it will depend on your perseverance and hard work. Hopefully I can be your manager in the big leagues one day.

Jose Jimenez, also of Ocumare del Tuy, writes to suggest that I build a baseball stadium in that town where I was born although, as Jose recalls, I was not raised there. If it were in my power, it is likely that I would build baseball stadiums in all the towns of Venezuela for children and young people to play sports and stay away from vices. But as I have said in the past, that task lies with the authorities, with the governors and mayors. They are the ones who are truly responsible for the health and wellbeing of the town that elected them. The Guillen Foundation unfortunately does not have the resources for an investment of that magnitude, which is why we use the little that we collect to help children and young people with health problems. My advice is that you demand that the authorities keep their promises and that they prioritize sport, which is the best way to combat poverty and delinquency.

Carlos Venot of Caracas and Carlos Ovalles of Mariara, Carabobo, asked when my contract with the White Sox expires and if I have received offers to manage other teams. Carlos, I should be in Chicago until 2012, which is the last year on my current contract. The rest of the teams cannot make me offers because it would be illegal, but I really hope to finish my career in this city.

Leonardo Araujo of Caracas wants to know which position on our team is the weakest and needs immediate attention. Well, Leonardo, the starting pitching needs to be more consistent if we aspire to make it to the postseason. The starters have done a good job, but have been unpredictable. In general, our defense needs to improve because the errors are hurting our pitchers. I reiterate that with the material we have we can be champions, but we need to do our job properly at every position.

Alejo Manriquez of Maturin suggests that we try to acquire Pablo Sandoval from the San Francisco Giants. Alejo, “Kung Fu Panda” has a long ways to go before becoming a free agent and I doubt that the Giants would be willing to trade him right now.

Angel Ramon Utrera Ovalles of San Juan de los Morros in Guarico brings me joy with his optimism. He asks what the White Sox’s rotation will look like for the postseason. I hope God hears you, Angel Ramon. First we have to get to the postseason before we think about rotations. If that is the case, I would welcome the headache that would result from having to choose four starters among an effective Burhle, Floyd, Danks, Contreras, Peavy and Freddy. The best four would be given the responsibility of guiding us to the title.

Maikel Ferreras, of Ciudad Bolivar, asks me three questions: What recommendations do I give to players who are starting their careers? That they work hard and never give up. What is, in my opinion, the best Venezuelan player right now? It’s impossible to answer, Maikel, because there are too many that are really good. And, why aren’t there more Venezuelans on the White Sox? Although I have addressed this in previous columns, you should know that in the minor leagues there are approximately a dozen of our fellow countrymen making strides towards the big leagues. Little by little, since I arrived in 2004, the number of Venezuelans that have been signed by our scouts has increased. Before then it was difficult to compete with Dominican Republic in signing talent, but we are on the right track.

Esteban Armando Marquez of La Guaira clearly has not read any of my other columns because he asks if there is a possibility that I will manage the Tiburones in the Venezuelan tournament. Although I usually “never say never,” the problem is that those are the months that I devote to my family. As long as I am working in the Major Leagues from February to October, it is impossible to think about managing in the Venezuelan baseball league even if I wanted to. That is not in my plans for the time being.

Angel Esnaldo Lopez of Santa Lucia wants to know if I have been asked to manage Team Venezuela in the two World Baseball Classics that have taken place. Angel, no I have not, because the event’s rules prohibit the participation of Major League managers. In the first tournament they asked me for advice, which I provided with much love, but they ignored me almost completely.

Well, that’s enough for today. Once again, I apologize to those who wrote to me and didn’t receive responses due to a lack of time. My sincere gratitude goes out to those who sent encouraging messages and their congratulations for our work. I would like to mention Tito Barrera, Randy Roy Ramirez, Neji Hyuga, Sergio Sequera and Hendrick Espiona of Maracaibo, Jose Alberto Soterano, Charle Rondon, Haydee Matey, Raul Castellanos and Newlson Gomez of Caracas, Douglas Mendoza of Miami, Yazmany Monarrez of Mexico, Raul Rojas of Charallaves, Jairo Parra of Barinas, Edwin Salinas of Anaco, Andres Avelino Faneite, Cesar Pirona and Alejandro Leon of Valencia, Geraro Prior Harris of Colombia, Santiago Quinto and Olivia Ortega of Maracay, Alberth Chirinos of Coro, Lino Bravo of Fort Lauderdale, Ricardo Olivero of Highwood, Illinois, Yorman Armas of Los Teques, Nelson Caraspe of Valle de La Pascua, José Montero of Cabimas and the hundreds of people who took a few minutes of their precious time to share something with me through whitesox.com.

A million thanks to everyone and keep following and supporting the White Sox!

Consistency is the key

Thank God that the month of May is over! Even though we closed the month playing the way we all think we can, the truth is that the first few weeks of May were terrible. Too much inconsistency, too many ups and downs. One day we can look like the best team in the world and the next game we can look like an average one.

But all that is in the past. At this moment each player is doing his job, and the result is we have won four straight series, including two important ones against teams in our division, the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals.

There are still about 100 games left and every indication is that the division will come down to the wire. Nobody is going to give up easily. That is why the key to staying in the race and winning the title is consistency. I ask the fans to keep supporting the team, because we have a good team and they are trying their hardest on the field to win.

Now let’s answer some questions:

Orelvis Montero, Fernando del Pino, Juan Guillén, Guillermo Vázquez and Alexis Romero are among those that are suggesting that Alexei Ramirez’s moving to shortstop from second base where he played in 2008 is the reason for his slow start this season.

I think Alexei is a great hitter and he showed it last season. But this is the Major Leagues where the advanced scouts send in their reports and the pitchers go over videos in order to find weaknesses in each hitter. That is why the hitters also need to make adjustments, which is what he wasn’t doing. The worst part was that Alexei was taking his offensive worries out to the field and it was affecting his defense. He even admitted that the couple games he sat on the bench helped him find his rhythm. His average is going up and his production has been vital to our winning streak of late.

Nestor Rodrigo, Fernando Ortega Blanco, Jorge Ramos, Karel Tardo, Luis Rodríguez, Humberto Fernández, Servis Melendez and Yordanys Flores are among those asking about another one of our Cuban players, the rookie Dayan Viciedo.

Viciedo is playing in Double A with the Birmingham Barons and is having a good season. At the time I am writing this he is hitting around .260. During Spring Training, I was able to confirm with my own eyes that the kid could hit, but as it is to be expected, he needs to play some games in order to develop his potential.

Like I said in Arizona and I´ll repeat it here, players like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter had to play in the minors in order to get better. That is what Dayan is doing: playing every day for when he comes to the big club he is ready to contribute to the team. Will he be ready this season? I don´t know, but the organization is counting on him.

Freddy Cordero, Jerónimo Sánchez, Rafael Morón, Arodys Pérez, Cliver Moreno and Jorge Humberto Mejía asks why there aren´t any Venezuelans playing on the team.

First off, I think this situation will change pretty soon, because in the last three years we have made an effort to sign more young Venezuelan talent. There are some names that keep popping up like Gregory Infante, Eduardo Escobar, José Alberto “Cafecito” Martínez, who unfortunately has been hampered with injuries, in addition to players like Miguel González, Jerry Puente and others.

One of the first things I did after I became manager was to convince the front office to invest more resources (time and budget) in Latin America. The tendency had been to find young talent in the Dominican Republic, where there are talented youngsters, but now, Amador Arias is doing a great job scouting Venezuela and the fruits of his efforts will soon be seen.

One of our readers, Carlos Graterol suggests that one of the solutions to the problems we had have in the leadoff spot is Endy Chavez. Endy is a great friend of mine and is an excellent hitter, but I don’t think the Mariners will give him up very easily.

Ramón Antonio Obando asks if it is true that I was thrown out of a game for arguing balls and strikes against the other team. Yes, it was something like that. I was thrown out after umpire Mike DiMuro called a strike on a pitch to Jhonny Peralta, the shortstop of the Indians, which was low. An inning earlier he had thrown out Jermaine Dye for arguing a called third strike. I was trying to explain to the umpire that his inconsistency was affecting the game.

Quiterio Henriquez, Raúl Fernández, José Sequera and Alfredo Uga asks why the White Sox don’t play more “Caribbean baseball,” which is what we Latinos call the style of play which emphasizes more of stealing bases, bunts and hit and runs. We are on the way to that style. I am convinced we will see more “Caribbean baseball” now that there isn’t artificial power in the game.

The end of the steroid age is going to force teams to be more creative when scoring runs and we are slowly trying to build a team that is based on power, speed, consistent pitching and good defense. This year, the injuries have limited what we have been able to do, but we are on our way.

Israel Díaz Ramos writes to ask my opinion on the political situation in Venezuela, while Ruben Cadiz Henriquez tells me: “to stick with sports, zero politics.” In the column I write for El Universal (Venezuela) I have touched on political issues pertaining to Venezuela more than once.

Gilberto Sandrea writes: “Will we be lucky enough to see Ozzie Guillén as the coach of Venezuela during the next World Baseball Classic?”

Gilberto, if that happens it’s because I have been fired as manager of the White Sox, since the rules of that event prohibit the participation of Major League managers.

That gives me the opportunity to answer an email from Jesus Rodriguez, who asks me to also publish and respond to negative comments and not only the positive ones. Fortunately, the only negative comment I have received up until now has been yours. Jesus says that I am a bad manager and that I will soon be fired. If that happens, like Jesus predicts, then perhaps I can be the manager of the Venezuelan team, but until that happens, my contract runs until 2012.

Javier Rosario and Martín Ramos ask why we haven’t signed Pedro Martinez to bolster our starting pitching staff. I remind both of them that the job of signing players is that of the general manager, Kenny Williams, who tried his hardest to land Jake Peavy, who would have been a big help. The pitching staff worries are also shared by Jose Hernandez who says we “should find one or two pitchers in the open market that will provide some consistency.” As many of you have gathered that is not very easy since every team is looking for the same, but I am sure that Kenny is on the lookout for ways to help the White Sox get better.

Williams Rodriguez asks if the White Sox would be interested in a hitter like Barry Bonds. Honestly, no. At the present time that is not we are looking for.

Carlos Armando Cheluja asks what is said when a manager visits the mound. First, let me tell you what is not said. We don’t tell him to throw strikes, since obviously that is what he is trying to do. If the idea is to keep him in the ballgame, the first thing is to ask how he is feeling, and after that I alert him to who is coming up in the lineup, who is more difficult of a matchup, that type of stuff. But in general, when the manager goes out to the mound it is to take the pitcher out of the game, and in that case it is better to let him talk to try and convince you to leave him in. In reality, the most interesting conversations are the ones between the pitchers and the pitching coach.

There are a lot of other interesting questions that I would love to respond to, but it is impossible because there are so many. I would like to thank everyone for their positive comments, analysis and suggestions. Some of those are of great use to me.

I will wrap this up without send out a big hello to Enrique “Quique” Germán, 13, who writes from Hermosillo, Mexico, and expresses his confidence in the White Sox. Thanks to you and your family for your support.

In two weeks I will be back again responding to your questions and comments.

Thank you to the fans that feel, like I do, pride in the White Sox.

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