ChiSox Looking to Rebound after Nightmare 2007
Manager Ozzie Guillen, left, and bench coach Joey Cora are helping keep things peaceful for the Sox this spring. (AP Photo)
After the normal circus events of the Ozzie Guillen era, the Windy City media has almost been complaining about how quiet this year’s training camp is for the White Sox.
However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Guillen, with the help of bench coach Joey Cora, is making a concerted effort to keep this camp controversy free, and the players have been appreciative, many calling it the best run camp they’ve ever attended.
It’s a good start to what needs to be a serious rebound after last season’s 90-loss nightmare. Since winning the World Series in 2005, the ChiSox have been in free fall, slipping to 90 wins and out the playoffs in 2006, followed by last year’s debacle during which the team finished dead last in the AL in batting average, runs and OBP. The pitching wasn’t much better, ranking 12th in team ERA. However, that was mostly due to a horrible bullpen that’s collective ERA was almost five and a half. The starters were middle of the pack, and did a good job keeping the team in most games, ranking fourth in quality starts.
Notes from around camp:
- Jim Thome has been seeing plenty of action as the team has decided to run what will likely be its every day lineup out there more than usual this spring. The veteran is struggling so far, but as long as he’s healthy, you know the numbers will be there. His back hasn’t acted up at all this spring, so look for Thome to best the 130 games he managed last year.
- Paul Konerko (toe) was back in action Friday after getting scratched Wednesday. He’s been hitting the cover off the ball this spring as he looks to bounce back from an off year in which he failed to drive in 100 runs for the first time since his injury-riddled 2003 campaign.
- Javier Vazquez was supposed to start the Season Opener, but he’s been shifted back to the second game in order to split up the lefties (Mark Buehrle will take the opener and fellow southpaw John Danks will start the third game). Vazquez deserved the honour after winning 15 games last year for the second time in his career, despite pitching for a crappy team. But this makes more sense as the Sox want to throw a pair of lefties at the Indians in the season’s first series.
- Still with the rotation, Gavin Floyd has earned himself a rotation spot by surrendering just six hits in seven innings through his first two starts this spring. This is definitely his last chance to stick as a starter, and how he performs will have a large bearing on whether the Sox can return to .500 or at least get close.
- On the injury front, outfielder Jerry Owens is nursing a groin injury, and Guillen has toyed with the idea of using Nick Swisher as the leadoff man, but today is was Alexei Ramirez, who is getting a long look at second base and could emerge as a major sleeper. If the Sox are serious about using Swisher at leadoff, it will really hurt his value as a run producer.
- The Sox were embarrassed by the A’s today, 8-1, to slip to 8-10. Who cares, right? Well, one thing I’m not impressed with is the 124 runs they’ve surrendered. Only the Giants have given up more in Catcus League play. Oneli Perez quickly pitched his way out of a job; Carlos Vasquez was horrible and subsequently waived; Lance Broadway came to camp with a chance to land a rotation spot, but he was brutal; Mike MacDougal doesn’t look like he’s ready to be a decent reliever again any time soon; and Boone Logan doesn’t appear ready to take the next step and become a quality reliever.
- A.J. Pierzynski, coming off his worst offensive season, is batting just .222 this spring. The Sox need more productivity out of him as they look to get back to where they were a couple of years ago.