Chicago's Inside Pitch
White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has long been a champion of equal opportunity.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Reinsdorf had the opportunity to watch the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson break major-league baseball’s color barrier in 1947.
In 2000, Reinsdorf hired Kenny Williams as general manager. Williams was the third African-American to hold the position in major-league history.
From 2001-03, Williams and Jerry Manuel worked as the first African-American GM/manager duo in baseball history.
And in 2004, Ozzie Guillen returned to the White Sox and became the Venezuelan manager in history.
Fittingly, MLB announced on Tuesday the White Sox will host this season’s Civil Rights Game on Aug. 24. The Texas Rangers are the Sox’ opponent at U.S. Cellular Field.
PITTSBURGH _ The one thing great thing about any baseball game is that you can dissect it infinite number of ways. In football, they do it 16 times a year. In baseball, we do it 162. No doubt Cubs fans will go well into Tuesday afternoon talking about Monday’s 3-1 victory over the Pirates and the ninth-inning machinations involving closer Carlos Marmol. So maybe it’s a good thing that today is an off-day in the schedule. It also gives me a chance to enjoy one of my favorite towns – Pittsburgh is an underrated gem – and we can catch up on a few leftovers from Monday and look ahead.
As the first pitch of the season approaches, the obvious question is: Can the White Sox win the AL Central this season?
They came close last year, occupying first place for most of the season before running out of gas at the end, dropping 10 of 12 down the stretch while falling into second place and missing the playoffs.
The Sox enter this current season with low expectations from outsiders, mainly because the Detroit Tigers added Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez returns to a roster that is already loaded with talent.
Many "experts" are picking the White Sox to finish third in the division behind the Tigers and Kansas City Royals, who are today's opponent.
We'll see how it plays out, but new general manager Rick Hahn expects another competitive season.
PITTSBURGH _ We had some rain mixed with snow earlier today at PNC Park, but the tarp was taken off the field shortly after noon local time, and it looks like an on-time start for Cubs and Pirates. Temperatures will be in the low 40s with a gusty wind as Jeff Samardzija takes on A.J. Burnett.
We’ll have at least three stories for the paper tomorrow, and we’ll quickly sum up some morning developments here, including a couple of comments from team president Theo Epstein, who is on hand.
PITTSBURGH _ It’s a cool, drizzly Sunday at PNC Park, where the Pittsburgh Pirates are working out in preparation for Monday’s season opener against the Cubs. A few of the Cubs made it over from their team hotel to work out lightly, but there was no formal session today.
We’ll have a couple stories in Monday’s paper, and we can get with some of the nitty-gritty here today. I also tweet @BruceMiles2112, and I’ll blogging the entire series here.
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The White Sox and Dodgers played a late game (9:05 p.m. Chicago start) Saturday, and a Cactus League record crowd of 13,721 packed into Camelback Ranch.
Jake Peavy also made an appearance, just his second Cactus League start. The Sox’ right-hander has made his other starts in minor-league games this spring.
“It was fun to go out in front of the crowd,” Peavy said after pitching 5 innings against Los Angeles and allowing 4 runs on 7 hits. “It just didn't work out the other days and we got our work in elsewhere. But I feel ready to go.”
Spending most of his time pitching against minor leaguers was not as easy as it seems, according to Peavy.
GLENDALE, Ariz. - The White Sox used 10 rookie pitchers last season, and most of them performed well.
There is plenty of pitching depth in the organization, and that's a good thing at the moment.
Yesterday, manager Robin Ventura said starter John Danks (shoulder surgery) is going to open the season the disabled list. The left-hander is likely to pitch with Class AAA Charlotte until he gets his strength and touch back.
While nothing has been officially announced, it looks like Dylan Axelrod is going to fill in for Danks.
The other candidate, Hector Santiago, is likely to remain in the bullpen as the long reliever.
Speaking of the bullpen, Jesse Crain suffered a right adductor strain in the third exhibition game of the spring and is still dealing with the injury.
GLENDALE, Ariz. - It's easy to get caught up with injuries in spring training, especially as the regular season closes in.
Yesterday, we told you all about John Danks' miserable Cactus League outing against the Reds - the left-hander allowed 10 runs on 11 hits in 3.1 innings.
Clearly, Danks does not look ready to break camp with the Sox.
We'll try not to rehash too much, but just over seven months off shoulder surgery, Danks almost accepts the fact he'll have to get back up to speed pitching for Class AAA Charlotte in April.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Starting to get an itch for major-league baseball, specifically White Sox baseball?
I am, which makes this spring training visit even better.
If the weather here in the Phoenix area starts blowing toward Chicago, Sox fans won't be shivering when the regular season opens on April 1 against the Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sorry to report, it's already approaching 80 degrees an hour before the White Sox play a Cactus League game vs. the Reds.
As Opening Day draws closer, these exhibition games become much more important. That is certainly the case for the Sox today.
-John Danks makes his fourth start of the spring, and it's a big one for the left-hander.
MESA, Ariz. _ One more day in paradise for yours truly has turned into an eventful one as the Cubs have a couple of injury situations that will affect the opening-day roster. Pitcher Scott Baker has suffered a setback in his attempted return from Tommy John surgery. His throwing program has been shut down, and he’ll see the team orthopedist over the weekend. Baker came out of Sunday’s start against the A’s sore. He had an MRI Monday.
Third baseman Ian Stewart also had an MRI Monday. It showed fluid in his left quadriceps, and he will open the season on the disabled list. The injury has bothered Stewart for a month. He recently took some minor-league at-bats and said this morning he felt muscle soreness during some of his at-bats.