Chicago White Sox: Manny Ramirez
Not only was it a surprise that the apparently budget-restricted White Sox agreed to a deal with Cabrera over the weekend to the tune of three years and $42 million, another eye opener was the fact that the added a player who had been suspended for 50 games and missed the end of the 2012 season because of elevated levels of testosterone.
Not only did Cabrera elect not to appeal his suspension for PED use, he had been leading the National League in batting at the time and asked that he be taken out of consideration for the batting title. By not participating in the postseason that year with the San Francisco Giants, he also missed out on playing in a World Series, which the Giants won.
“Obviously we’re aware of what happened in the past, and no one condones what he did,” Hahn said. “But we are talking about an instance where there was a mistake he made and took ownership for, and showed honest remorse about from three seasons ago. He’s already gone through the understandable and deserved public scrutiny and has not hid from his past actions.”
Although current executive vice president Kenny Williams has roundly criticized PED users in the past, the White Sox have not completely turned their backs on players with a questionable history. Manny Ramirez was acquired at the tail end of the 2010 season and played 24 games with the team.
Cabrera got his second chance the past two seasons with the Blue Jays, batting .293 over 227 games north of the border, with 19 home runs and 103 RBIs. The biggest draw for the White Sox was Cabrera’s .351 on-base percentage in 2014 and his .339 OPB over his 10-year career.
“Frankly, I respect the fact that he accepted and served his penalty and lived with the consequences, and he’s done his best to put it behind him,” Hahn said. “Obviously our (MLB drug) policy not only allows for the suspension and the punishment, but also the redemption. Melky has performed at the highest level on the other side of this issue and we’re optimistic he can perform at that level moving forward.”
For the Sox, that list includes Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, J.J. Putz and Manny Ramirez .
The Cubs only have one free agent in Xavier Nady.
Here's the scorecard for the Sox today: I look for them to offer arbitration to Konerko and Putz, and not offer to Pierzynski and Ramirez.
The Cubs will not offer arbitration to Nady. He has no ranking, therefore there would not be compensation.
The system works this way: if the Sox offer arbitration to Pierzynski, and he signs elsewhere, because he's a Type-A free agent, the team that signs him would give up a No. 1 pick from the June draft of 2011 if they're ranked in the top 15 record-wise from June 10. If the team signing Pierzynski ranks 15-30 by record, that team only surrenders a No. 2 pick and the Sox would receive a third-round pick from the MLB draft not impacting the signing team.
The Sox would also be on the hook for a guaranteed year to Pierzynski if he decides to accept arbitration. The Sox would have to pay him between $6-$7 million in 2011.
The White Sox most likely will not offer arbitration to Pierzynski, although the Sox would miss out on compensation if he signs elsewhere. It gives Pierzynski a better chance to sign with another team.
In the case of Konerko, the Sox most likely will offer arbitration. Konerko is a Type-A free agent. He made $12 million in 2010. If he would accept arbitration from the White Sox, his arbitration number would come in between $14-$15 million in 2011.
According to sources, the Sox also will offer Putz arbitration on Tuesday. He made $3.125 million last season, and Chicago would be tickled if he decided to take arbitration and sign a one-year deal. Putz is a Type-B free agent, meaning no compensation would be forthcoming from the signing club.
The Sox will not offer arbitration to Ramirez, who made $20 million in 2010.
Players offered arbitration must respond by Nov. 30. Teams must offer their own players under contract arbitration by Dec. 2.
Because of a rule change three years ago, teams are still allowed to sign their own arbitration-eligible free agents even if they don't offer them arbitration.
Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com that the Toronto Blue Jays are looking very attractive right now after they hired John Farrell as their new manager. Ramirez and Farrell were together in Boston before Ramirez was dealt to the Dodgers in 2008.
"I still have a lot of baseball left in me," Ramirez said. "I think that I can still bat if I keep myself healthy, and it is less probable to have an injury playing as the designated hitter."
Now comes the real question: Do the Blue Jays want Ramirez?
Ramirez batted a combined .298 this past season with nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 265 at-bats. In 69 at-bats with the White Sox he had just one home run and only two RBIs.
After experiencing leg problems in spring training and going on the disabled list three times in 2010, Ramirez underwent surgery to repair a hernia in his left groin and will be able to resume baseball activities next month.
The White Sox needed a left-handed power bat and some production at DH in 2010, but that isn’t necessarily why it hurt to not have Thome around. What hurt the White Sox the most is that Thome played a key role for their division rivals as he came in very handy when Justin Morneau went down for the season with a concussion. Mark Kotsay’s 47 starts as the DH led the team as the White Sox used 12 different players to start games in that role. Kotsay batted just .239 this past season, regardless of position played, and regardless of how bad his luck was with a number of hard-hit balls turned into outs, it was still .239. Paul Konerko’s 23 starts as DH appears to have helped him stay fresh during his huge season. The Manny Ramirez gamble was a bust as the veteran failed to find his old form over the final month and batted .261 in a White Sox uniform with just two RBIs. The White Sox will have to pay him nearly $4 million, although much if it is deferred.
Look ahead to 2011: Along with first base and catcher, the DH spot is unsettled as the offseason gets underway. Kotsay might retire so he might not be an option again. A left-handed bat would be ideal for the role, but the White Sox will want a player who can also give them innings on defense, whether it be at first base, third base or in the outfield. So expect the DH-by-committee plan to continue. Mark Teahen figures to get some time in the role (he had 10 starts as the DH in 2010), but manager Ozzie Guillen doesn’t figure to be as patient with him as he was with Kotsay. After taking a chance in September that failed completely, the free-agent Ramirez will not be back. Look for a new face to fill the Kotsay role.
Key stat: Kotsay didn’t get too many chances against left-handed pitchers and with good reason. He was 0-for-26 against lefties in 2010.
Quote: “No one is ever going to be happy when someone is struggling. All that does is just obviously bring other outside influences into this clubhouse, and I think we’ve done a great job just grinding through things. It’s not easy. I mean every time you struggle you get to see the true character of somebody. I think in this locker room these guys know the amount of effort, the amount of work I put in on a daily basis to help this ballclub. It just hasn’t seemed to pan out.” -- Kotsay, after a four-RBI game at Detroit in early August.
From in-fighting to a slow start to an improbable comeback and then a slow fade back into obscurity, the White Sox went through plenty this season. Jake Peavy’s season-ending injury was a tough blow, Paul Konerko’s MVP push was a highlight and Chris Sale’s emergence was a revelation.
Bullpen injuries, a dreadful start in April and May and some scathing Twitter critiques (mostly from Guillen’s son Oney), kept the drama flowing. By the end of the season Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams had kissed and made up, Brent Morel emerged as a talent for the future and nine victories over the final 11 games removed at least a little bit of the sour taste from a wild ride in 2010.
Here is what went right, what went wrong, questions for the offseason and what to look for in 2011:
What went wrong: Pierre was brought aboard to spark the offense in Guillen’s small-ball vision, but a .260 on-base percentage and a .193 batting average in April was a major reason for the team’s slow start offensively. Sure Quentin had his red-hot run when the ballpark was playing small during the hottest part of the summer, but nagging injuries continued to cost him playing time, which ruined his consistency at the plate.
INFIELDWhat went right: Omar Vizquel. Omar Vizquel. Omar Vizquel. With all due respect to Konerko, Vizquel’s unexpected contributions, especially on defense, were what made the White Sox click on the infield this season. Vizquel’s steady hand at third base came when the starting pitchers made huge improvements, and it was no coincidence. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez showed Gold Glove ability, while second baseman Gordon Beckham fought through a sophomore slump to post an impressive second half (.310 after the break). Konerko put up MVP-type numbers in what could be his final season on the South Side: .312, 39 HRs, 111 RBIs.
ROTATIONWhat went right: Freddy Garcia’s 12 victories (a number that could have been as high as 16 with some help from the bullpen) gave the starting staff much-needed stability from the front end to the back. When Gavin Floyd was posting a 0.80 ERA in five July starts, he was pitching as well as anybody in baseball. John Danks might not garner any Cy Young votes, but he was a leader of the 2010 staff, going 15-11 with a 3.72 ERA. Mark Buehrle just keeps on churning out solid seasons, becoming the only active pitcher with 10-consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories, 30 starts and 200 innings. Edwin Jackson was an animal in his first four White Sox starts, posting a 0.96 ERA over 28 innings.
What went wrong: The starting pitchers can be forgiven for their slow start to the season, but when it was time to make up for it in September, they were nowhere to be found. With the season on the line, the White Sox’s staff set a dubious club record by not winning a game in 18 consecutive starts. The starters were 0-9 over that stretch with a 6.45 ERA. Sure Floyd was terrific in the middle of the season, but he has a career ERA of 6.30 in April, a 5.47 mark in May and a 4.44 mark in September. That trend continued once again this season.
What went wrong: Calf, back and forearm injuries left Jenks with 27 saves, the least in any of his five full seasons. Jenks wasn’t the only reliever whose injuries hampered the team. Thornton and Putz were on the disabled list at the same time during a key stretch during the second half. Other issues: Santos allowed 32.2 percent of inherited runners to score, while Tony Pena had a .341 batting average against vs. first batters.
What went wrong: From the day Guillen’s son Oney left his position with the team during spring training, the manager and Williams were on shaky ground, only repairing the relationship during the final week of the season. Williams took a chance on Teahen that didn’t work well in Year 1 of a three-year deal. Sure it was admirable that Williams took a chance to make the team better down the stretch, but Manny Ramirez didn’t come close to reviving his 2008 magic, and the White Sox were left holding a $4 million invoice.
If Konerko doesn’t return, then who plays first base? Could they use the Konerko money to convince Adam Dunn to come to Chicago? Who will close if Jenks isn’t brought back, as expected. Putz is a free agent and Thornton has a team option, leaving a number of decisions to make in the bullpen. If the team doesn’t want to commit to free agent A.J. Pierzynski for multiple years, would they be willing to bring him back for just 2011?
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2011
Konerko’s return is 50-50. The team is interested and so is Konerko, but the veteran said that even if the White Sox are the highest bidder, it won’t guarantee that he comes back. Sale is expected to be converted back into a starting pitcher and could be the No. 5 starter if Peavy isn’t ready to return from a shoulder muscle injury by Opening Day.
Starting Brent Morel at third base and Dayan Viciedo at first leaves too many offensive question marks, so if Konerko doesn’t re-sign look for the White Sox to make a push for a veteran first or third baseman. The same goes for catcher if Pierzynski isn’t re-signed: look for the White Sox to bring aboard a veteran backstop for one or two years. Expect the White Sox to quickly exercise Thornton’s $3 million option for 2011.
Well, they at least seemed to inform the umpires.
Manny Ramirez was in the original lineup batting fourth as the designated hitter. When it was time for him to hit, the scoreboard showed Ramirez was up and the public address announcer even announced his name.
But Carlos Quentin came to the plate instead. He was followed by Tyler Flowers. Those were the original No. 5 and 6 hitters, who moved up a spot. Dayan Viciedo came to the on-deck circle after Flowers came to the plate, revealing himself as the new DH.
As of now, the White Sox have given no reason for the change, other to say that Ramirez is a healthy scratch.
“I have to squeeze Manny [into the lineup] the most I can,” Guillen said. “Oh yeah. Every time Manny sits on the bench, I’m going to take away everything he got.”
Take away from everything he got?
The reason it didn’t make sense is because Guillen was about to say one thing then veered off to say nothing at all, perhaps because he didn’t want to offer something he might regret. He might have been about to say that he has been told to play Ramirez every day because he immediately tried to cover his tracks.
“Kenny and Jerry [Reinsdorf] never get involved with my lineup,” Guillen said. “They never did and I don’t think they ever will. I hope not. You never know. But all of a sudden you don’t play Manny for three or four days and he’s healthy … we bring this guy here to play every day.
“I don’t blame them to be that way. But they never get into my lineup, they never did. I do the lineup the best I can and pick a matchup here and there who plays better, but playing time for the rest of the guys, they have to wait and see how I handle it.”
This does not seem to be about Ramirez himself. It’s not like Guillen has a problem with a guy who draws as much attention as he does, or that Ramirez served a drug suspension last year, or that Ramirez wasn’t able to carry the White Sox back into the Central race. By all accounts, Guillen seems to like Ramirez just fine.
This might have everything to do with the fact that Guillen felt his best chance to win was with the squad he had been managing all season. Williams obviously felt differently and brought in Ramirez on a gamble that he might be able to put a charge into the lineup.
But that meant Guillen would have little to no playing time left for Mark Kotsay, whom he obviously respects. It also meant that Paul Konerko or Carlos Quentin couldn’t get a day off their feet by going into the lineup as the designated hitter every once in a while. That is one of the main reasons the well-liked Jim Thome wasn’t asked back.
By bringing aboard Ramirez, Williams was essentially forcing Guillen’s hand with lineup decisions. Or at least that’s how Guillen seems to look at it.
“In the meanwhile it’s hard for me to make the lineup every day because of that situation,” Guillen said about Ramirez’s presence.
Guillen was asked if he sees a scenario where the free-agent-to-be Ramirez might return White Sox next season.
“I don’t know. I say a couple of days ago that this is my job,” Guillen said while lifting up a lineup card. “Whoever is here, I write it down. The last time we have a conversation about that [not bringing back a player], it’s a heavy load I take all summer.”
Guillen was referring to the heat he took over the club not signing Thome, who is helping the Twins to an AL Central title.
“I know Kenny will put a winning team back on the field,” Guillen said. “I think we have a great thing going right now. Juan (Pierre) is coming back, (Alex) Rios is there, we have Carlos, we have the second baseman [Gordon Beckham], we have the shortstop [Alexei Ramirez]. Our package is pretty good.
“Now it’s Kenny’s decision who is going to be around those guys. The starting pitching is in great shape. In the bullpen we find a couple of guys there that can do the job. Put a piece here and there and get this ballclub to compete for another year.”
Playing in uniforms with green trim to celebrate a "Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day" promotion, there was ultimately nothing to envy. The White Sox lost their fourth consecutive game and the eighth in their last 10. They are also 1-6 in their last seven games against the Tigers.
But hey, with a Twins' defeat to the Oakland A’s it was a rare night that the White Sox didn’t lose any ground after their 9-2 defeat. So that’s something.
In the sixth inning the Edwin Jackson no-hitter watch started. By the seventh inning after Jackson started having leg cramps and Scott Linebrink struggled to get anybody out, the Detroit Tigers had sprung back to life.
Playing with a watered-down lineup a day after a key series against the Twins finished in a Minnesota sweep, things ended predictably. The White Sox had just three hits -– two on home runs from Manny Ramirez and surprise youngster Brent Morel –- and watched things crumble in the late innings.
Heading into the seventh inning, manager Ozzie Guillen and trainer Herm Schneider visited Jackson on the mound. The right-hander was pulling on the front of his right foot trying to work out the tightness in his calf.
Jackson clearly wasn’t the same as he was in the previous six innings. He took a no-hitter into the sixth before Austin Jackson broke it up with a two-out infield single. To start the seventh, the Tigers went lineout, single, single, walk, wild pitch for a run, walk and RBI single before Linebrink was brought in.
“Three things good happened in this game,” Guillen said. “I think Morel, the way he played third base and swing the bat, great. I like to see that. Manny for his home run. He need that for himself. Jackson throw the ball very good, except for that inning. He has thrown the ball very good for us and had one bad inning.”
Ramirez wasn’t going to make a big deal about his first extra-base hit and RBI in a White Sox uniform. Maybe it helped that the dominating hue had changed. So was it a relief to hit a home run after 84 consecutive at-bats without one?
“Not really man, I’m just trying to get the feel back and put a good swing on the ball,” he said.
At least he was able to smile over the silent treatment he received from teammates once he rounded the bases and returned to the dugout.
“It was funny, yeah,” he said. “This is an awesome group man. It was like when I was in L.A., Boston. We joke around but when it’s time to play we go out there and play.”
By the numbers
4: Strikeouts for Mark Teahen in four at-bats Friday. It matched a career high. The last time it happened was against the White Sox as a Royal when he went down four times on April 7, 2006.
“It’s been good so far. I’ve come in and had some success. It’s all about comfort. I’ve been comfortable. Pretty much most starts except for a couple I’ve given my team a chance to win.” –- Jackson, who is 3-2 with a 4.60 ERA for the White Sox, on his time with his new team.
White Sox right-hander Lucas Harrell (1-0, 4.50 ERA) will make a spot start Saturday for Freddy Garcia, who is dealing with a lower back injury. It is Harrell’s third career start, all this season.
Harrell will be opposed by Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander (16-8, 3.48).
The fourth-inning solo blast Friday was not only Ramirez’s first homer with his new team, it was his first extra-base hit and RBI as well.
In the first inning, his homerless drought had hit 84, his longest in 14 years. His previous 83 at-bat homerless drought ended in April 1994.
Leave it to Ramirez’s new teammates to mark the occasion with a silent treatment. When he reached the dugout, none of the White Sox players were there at the top step to greet him. When he was nearly halfway down a silent dugout, everybody sprang from their seats to give Ramirez a pat on the back.
Ramirez now has 555 career home runs, eight behind Reggie Jackson, who is 13th on the all-time list. He has reached base safely in 14 of the 15 games he has played with the White Sox.
CHICAGO – Begging and even pleading at times, Manny Ramirez asked to not be considered the savoir.
As it turns out, he knew what he was talking about.
Ramirez won’t carry the White Sox into the playoffs this season like he did in 2008 with the Dodgers. He can now say “I told you so,” but being right like this is nothing to be proud of.
Ramirez struck out three times Tuesday as the White Sox lost the opener of their long-shot series against the division-leading Twins and are now seven games out of first place with 18 to play. They haven’t been eliminated officially, although only the calculators are saying this is still a race.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way, not with a guy like Ramirez bursting through the door to be the hero. The White Sox claimed him and the $4 million or so remaining on his contract figuring it was the worth the gamble.
So after playing just 12 games with the White Sox, does Ramirez deserve to get ripped as the team’s downfall appears to be complete?
“When you don't do good, you deserve to get criticized; that's part of the game,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “You've got to take it. But in the meanwhile, we have to understand he didn't play in a little while and he got good at-bats, he just struck out. He's fighting for his at-bats and everybody out there too. All those guys are fighting right now. Today we just came up short.”
Afterward, Ramirez showed his disdain for the interview process, with short, shoulder-shrugging answers. He did do his best not to make any excuses by saying he feels good at the plate and he feels close to getting in a groove.
In the end, he couldn’t help himself, ultimately reminding everybody that his playing time has been limited this season.
“Like I said, I don’t look for excuses,” Ramirez said. “I got a long time that I haven’t played. All I have to do is go out there and battle.”
Instead of the front-office being applauded for laying it all on the line with the Ramirez addition, they’ll likely get ripped. Ramirez wasn’t the right fit they’ll say and the White Sox will be reminded of it as they pay his deferred salary for the next few years. He was damaged goods they’ll add, spending three separate stints on the disabled list this season.
Tuesday’s problem was actually a microcosm of the second half ride into mediocrity when the White Sox struggled to get the key hit and the bullpen charted a rocky course.
How many chances did the White Sox blow on Tuesday?
Paul Konerko tripled [yes, tripled] in the fourth inning with one out and didn’t score.
The bases were loaded with one out in the sixth inning, but the White Sox scored just once, and that run came on A.J. Pierzynski’s double play grounder.
Trailing by a run in the seventh inning, the White Sox loaded the bases with one out. They didn’t score when Konerko and Ramirez had back-to-back strikeouts.
Konerko was willing to make a case for his new teammate’s struggles.
“I don’t think anyone is questioning Manny can hit,” Konerko said. “If you are, then you don’t know the game. So, we’ll stay behind him. He’ll get his hits as he goes. It’s not as easy, those at-bats late in the game. … This game is tough to when you are not in there every night through the course of a season, no matter what you’ve done in the past.
“It’s tough to come down hard on someone like that. That’s just my opinion.”
In the big picture, though, the White Sox were victims of their own surprise midseason success. A lousy opening two months was followed by a blazing stretch when the White Sox won 26 of 30 games at one point.
The consensus was that they weren’t as bad as their 22-28 record in April and May and they weren’t as good as their hot June and early July. Indeed they have been somewhere in between those two portions of the season, going 29-27 since winning their first game of the second half, which put an end to their 26-victories-in-30-games run.
Ultimately, the starting pitchers couldn’t keep up the blistering pace they had going in the middle of the season, and the bullpen was ravaged with injuries to key personnel, including back and forearm issues for closer Bobby Jenks, a sore knee for J.J. Putz and elbow inflammation for Matt Thornton.
So do the White Sox have their backs to the wall?
“We are through the wall right now,” Konerko said. “You know, before the series, you know it’s tough and you have to probably sweep. But you just continue to play hard and who knows, we get the next two and keep battling until they tell you you can’t battle anymore. It’s what you get paid to do and what you do as a baseball player. It’s not something in my world you make conscious decision if you play hard or you don’t play hard.”
By the numbers
9: White Sox victories against the American League Central in their last 22 games against division opponents. Tuesday’s defeat dropped them to 30-34 against the AL Central. The White Sox have lost eight of their last 10 games to the Twins and are 5-11 overall against them.
“Sometimes you just get beat. I got beat tonight on that last at-bat. I did everything I wanted to. I’m swinging the bat great. I did everything I wanted to do and the guy beat me. I can live with that. I wish they were all like that. That’s the way it is.” – Konerko, on striking out with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning.
White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd (10-12, 3.91 ERA) will make his 30th start in the middle game of a three-game series with the Twins. He matched a career high by giving up 13 hits in his last start at Detroit, taking the loss. He is 0-3 against the Twins this season with a 7.41 ERA, giving up seven runs over 5 1/3 innings in his last start against them Aug. 18 at Minnesota.
Floyd will be opposed by Twins left-hander Brian Duensing (8-2, 2.02), who picked up the victory in his last start, giving up one run over eight innings against the Royals. Seven of his nine starts have been quality and the Twin are 6-3 in those nine starts. He is 2-0 in four appearances against the White Sox this season but doesn’t have a start against them.
Subscribing to that old adage that you can’t get a sweep until you win the first game, the White Sox will try to accomplish their bigger goals by thinking small at the outset.
“We don’t need a sweep, we need to win the first game,” said manager Ozzie Guillen, whose team trails Minnesota by six games in the standings. “We need to win the series. We’ll see what happens. Sweeping that Minnesota team is not easy.”
A sweep will almost surely be necessary, though. Winning two of the three games would only allow the White Sox to pick up a game in the standings. Trailing by five games with 16 remaining wouldn’t be an impossible recovery, but with the way the Twins are playing it seems unlikely. After this series, the Twins have Oakland, Cleveland, Detroit and Toronto on the schedule.
“Just play as hard as you can tonight,” Paul Konerko said. “You can’t worry about tomorrow night. It kind of simplifies everything. We know what’s at stake and we know where we’re at in the standings and it should dial us in to playing as hard a nine innings as we can tonight. We’ll see what happens after that.
“If it’s good we’ll move on to tomorrow night and if it’s bad we’ll move on to tomorrow night. Nine innings, three hours, give everything you’ve got. It’s pretty simple. Give everything you’ve got whatever it is you’re doing out there, whether it’s pitching, hitting, fielding, running the bases. You just focus in on the job you have at that moment and do the best you can and it will be fine either way.”
As for newcomer Manny Ramirez, he’s been through plenty of these stretch drives with Boston and Los Angeles so he knows how to play it cool at this time of the year.
“It's never over,” Ramirez said. “We have 19 games left so it's never over. You just have to try and win every game no matter who you're playing.”
Ramirez said he doesn’t know what to expect from the Twins’ Tuesday starter Francisco Liriano since he hasn’t been in the American League for about 2 1/2 years, but he had more to say about the entire Minnesota squad.
“They're always there, especially in the second half.” Ramirez said. “They've got a great hitting team, a great pitching team and all we got to do is battle. Like I said, we've got to win every game.”
Considering that he had just four plate appearances from June 30-Aug. 21 because two separate disabled-list stints, and missed a week of action with the Dodgers before he was dealt to the White Sox, Ramirez moved to reduce the expectations he feels have been placed on him.
“I haven’t played in like 50-something games and to come back and being on a team that’s in a pennant race, I’m happy to be here and I’m looking forward for tonight,” Ramirez said before the game, one of nearly a half dozen times he made sure to mention how many games he has missed this season.
Ramirez asked if a hitter’s park like U.S. Cellular Field appealed to him.
“Not really. Like I [said], it doesn’t matter how good you are, if you’re not playing all year around, all those guys on the other side are ready,” he said. “When you haven’t played for so long, you’re just trying to catch up.”
Are you making sure not to press too much with your new team?
“I’m not pressing,” he said. “Everybody knows they’re not expecting a lot out of me because, like I said, I haven’t played in a long time. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you miss like 60 games and you come back and you’re facing all those guys on the other side, those guys are ready, those guys are good. All you can do is go out there and battle.”
Ramirez would obviously like to be able to operate from the underdog role, but it won’t happen. His two months with the Dodgers in 2008, when he carried that team into the playoffs, aren’t a secret to anybody. Fair or not, it’s what people are expecting of Ramirez as he transitions to another team.
“I’m just trying to put the bat on the ball,” Ramirez said, when asked if his attempts to hit to the opposite field are his way of getting his stroke down. “I’m just going there and trying my best. When I was in Cleveland you told me, what kind of impact I was going to have on this team and if I was going to have the same impact as when I was in L.A. And I told you, when I was in Boston I was playing the whole year around and when I was traded it was a different scenario how I wasn’t playing. I came up and I was trying to go out there and have good at-bats.”
Apparetly Ramirez underwent yet another trim before his first home game with the White Sox. Ramirez not only called it the third trim on his hair since he joined the White Sox, manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Ken Williams confirmed that number.
A “trim” might be overstating things just a bit. His braids, which are on their way to transitioning into dreadlocks again, continue to reach past the “Ramirez” stitched to the back of his uniform. But to Williams, Ramirez’s hair is fine.
“We bent a little too,” Williams said. “He’s cut it three times. It’s nice and neat. There is no issue. We had to bend a little and he bent. The next guy who comes here hitting 500 home runs, maybe we will bend the rules a little bit for him too.”
Asked if Tony Gwynn or Ichiro Suzuki came to the White Sox with long hair, Williams amended that statement saying that anybody with Hall of Fame credentials can take some liberties with the team’s appearance standards. He added that Paul Konerko could grow a Mohawk andhe wouldn’t have an issue with it.
Said Ramirez on the subject: “I trimmed it a little bit. [Bench coach] Joey [Cora] came up to me and said ‘You have to trim it a little bit.’ So I did it and let’s see.
Does he think it passes the test now?
“I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
A day after Manny Ramirez was hit by pitches twice, Andruw Jones looked at a fifth-inning pitch from Jeremy Bonderman up near his head. An irate manager Ozzie Guillen was caught on camera raising his hands in anger/frustration and then checking the lineup on the dugout wall.
Pretty safe to assume Guillen was checking who the Tigers had coming to the plate in the next half inning.
The Tigers’ Ryan Raburn led off the bottom of the fifth, and against White Sox starter John Danks he watched a pitch buzz past his left shoulder. By not hitting Raburn, Danks failed to send the full message that White Sox pitchers are willing to protect their own hitters.
Home-plate umpire Brian Gorman then warned both benches anyway, a move that did not draw objection from either bench.
Raburn then stepped back into the batter’s box and doubled to left field.
There is a precedent for this when Ramirez was in Los Angeles and the outcome wasn’t good.
On July 21 of last season, Ramirez was hit on the hands by pitch from Homer Bailey of the Reds. It was just 18 days after he returned from his 50-game drug suspension and the hits were still coming free and easy for Ramirez.
He didn’t start the night after getting hit, which was Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Night of all things. But he came off the bench late in a tie game and hit a pinch-hit grand slam against former White Sox right-hander Nick Masset, sending a sellout crowd into a frenzy.
Cheers would be much harder to come by after that. Clearly not interested in covering the outer half of the plate, Ramirez struggled the rest of the way. Inside pitches made him extremely uncomfortable as well.
Starting July 24, when Ramirez returned to the Dodgers lineup, he batted just .251 over the final 61 games with 26 RBI.
The good news for the White Sox is that being hit on the wrist doesn't seem to be has bad as last year's pitch to the hands. At least he was in the lineup the next day this time.
As for getting hit twice in Tuesday’s game and four times in his first six games with the White Sox, manager Ozzie Guillen didn’t seem to be too concerned about it.
“They will pitch inside to him,” Guillen said. “Some people can pitch inside, some can’t. I don’t think they’re throwing at him, because you can see when people are just throwing inside, they hit batters on the hands. But if they don’t know how to pitch inside, please don’t do it. If you spend a lot of time in baseball, you’ll know when you’re throwing at somebody.”