Chicago's Inside Pitch
Already deep in pitching - and still short on hitting - the White Sox added another arm Monday during the first day of baseball's winter meetings in Orlando.
The Sox signed right-hander Felipe Paulino to a one-year, $1.75-million contract, which includes a $4 million club option for 2015. Under terms of the agreement, Paulino gets $1.5 million nest season. On the option, the White Sox also hold a $250,000 buyout.
The 30-year-old Paulino was impressive in 2012 before having right elbow surgery. In 7 starts with Kansas City, Paulino was 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. On July 3 of '12, he had ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery.
Forget a big name like Jim Thome, Frank Thomas or Charlie Manuel.
A source has confirmed an MLB.com report that Todd Steverson is going to replace the fired Jeff Manto as White Sox hitting coach.
Steverson, 41, has filled multiple coaching roles with the Oakland A’s since 2004.
He joined the organization as hitting coach for Class A Vancouver and was named manager at A Stockton in 2005. Steverson continued managing in the Athletics’ minor-league system until taking over as Oakland’s first-base coach for two years.
In 2011, he was on the move again, serving as hitting coach for Triple-A Sacramento.
The past two seasons, Steverson was Oakland’s minor-league hitting coordinator.
While we wait for the White Sox to officially announce the signing of first baseman/designated hitter Jose Abreu, which probably isn't happening until after the World Series, let's take a look around the AL Central:
*Top prospect Micah Johnson's Arizona Fall League season is over.
According to the White Sox, Johnson is going to have a surgical procedure Tuesday to reposition a nerve in his right elbow.
Dr. Mark Cohen, the Sox' hand/wrist/elbow specialist, will perform the surgery at Midwest Orthopedic's Surgery Center in Chicago.
Johnson had a similar procedure when he was playing college baseball at Indiana. According to the Sox, the 22-year-old second baseman is expected to be fully recovered by the start of spring training.
Busy day on the South Side.
On Friday afternoon, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn talked about the miserable season that ends Sunday and looked ahead to the future.
Later, Paul Konerko addressed his future.
Let's start with Konerko.
Given his subpar season (.248, 12 home runs, 54 RBI), age (37) and health (he missed a month with a sore lower back), I thought retirement was pretty much a slam-dunk.
But after listening to Konerko lay out his options, I changed my mind a bit. Konekro said he might be open to playing one more season, even though he's had no formal talks with the Sox.
The end is near for the White Sox, and that's a good thing.
Only four games are left in the Sox' worst season since 1970, when they lost 100 games. The White Sox need to win one of four against the Royals to avoid 100 losses this year.
In reality, it doesn't really matter.
This season has been spiraling downward since late May, when the Sox lost eight in a row after scratching their way back to the .500 mark.
"It's not the season that you wanted," manager Robin Ventura said in his pregame media session. "At this point you can't go to the playoffs so you're ready to end it and get ready for what you're going to do next year."
The smell of cigar smoke and champagne still linger in the tiny visitors clubhouse at Wrigley Field after two days of celebration. The Braves celebrated here Sunday after winning the NL East, and the Pirates partied last night after clinching a playoff berth. There’s still a lot to play for as far as Pittsburgh is concerned. The Pirates still want to win the NL Central, and at worst, they want home field for the wild-card play-in game.
The Cubs will send lefty Chris Rusin against Gerrit Cole. Rusin is 2-5 with a 3.52 ERA. Manager Dale Sveum says Rusin looks more self-assured than he did last year, when he came up for a short stint.
According to reports out of Cleveland, where the White Sox play the first of two games against the Indians tonight at Progressive Field, infielder Jeff Keppinger is scheduled to have shoulder surgery on Thursday.
Keppinger had some shoulder soreness in spring training, and manager Robin Ventura today told reporters the condition affected Keppinger’s throwing but not his swing.
Keppinger, 33, played against the Blue Jays Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field and went 1-for-2 with 2 walks as the designated hitter. He finishes a disappointing season with a .253/.283/.317 hitting line and 4 home runs and 40 RBI.
The Sox signed Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million contract on Dec. 10. Check back later for more details.
We begin the final Cubs homestand of the year tonight as the Pittsburgh Pirates come to Wrigley Field to open a three-game series. The Atlanta Braves celebrated their NL East division title yesterday in the visiting clubhouse. No sooner has the smell of champagne and cigar smoke begun to dissipate than we could have the same situation all over again tonight.
A victory tonight by the Pirates (89-67) and a loss in St. Louis by the Washington Nationals (84-72) would assure the Pirates their first postseason berth since 1992. The Pirates currently have one of the wild-card spots along with the Cincinnati Reds. They’re still trying to catch the Cardinals and win the NL Central. The Cubs finish in St. Louis this weekend, and it’s possible they could witness three celebrations.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum talked about a couple of the young players on the team this morning: Anthony Rizzo and Junior Lake. Rizzo is completing his first full year in the big leagues after coming up in June 2012 and having success. This year, it’s been a mixed bag.
“I think you have to analyze it in a way that we know how the game works and it’s his first time ever playing every single day in the big leagues,” Sveum said. “It’s his first time with the pressure of hitting third every single day, for the most part anyway. The 22 homers, 75, possibly 75 RBI for a second-year player isn’t the end of the world.
Can we have some peace and quiet around here, already? That was the feeling here at Wrigley at the end of what’s been a long week of trial and tribulation. As we reported this morning, the Cubs and closer Kevin Gregg have decided to let bygones be bygones, and Gregg will not be released after yesterday’s postgame session.
Gregg said he didn’t appreciate being told youngster Pedro Strop would close games the rest of the season, or at least that’s how he heard it. After some airing of words (some choice, no doubt) between team president Theo Epstein and Gregg, the pitcher apologized and cooler heads prevailed.
Theo said he would “sleep on” a decision about Gregg overnight, but Gregg said this morning Epstein called him last night and things were fine.