Well, Chicago baseball is heating up already this Spring. Just a few games into the season, and one of last season’s two playoff-bound Chicago baseball teams is having a whole lotta shake-up going on.
Fierty White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has moved mostly untested but highly promising second baseman Chris Getz into the leadoff spot just a few games into the regular 2009 season. Although Getz made an oh-fer (0 for 4) in his leadoff man debut against the Kansas City Royals (which the Chisox lost 2-1, stranding men on base in the final inning), Guillen said he liked the way Getz took all four of his plate appearances and will leave him in the leadoff spot for the foreseeable future. Not giving Guillen a good look at the plate in the previous two games was what cost center fielder DeWayne Wise the leadoff man spot.
Speaking of his decision, the always-straight-forward Chisox manager said of Wise’s final three plate appearances the day before, “I don’t like it at all. I think he was trying to, I don’t want to say intimidated, but just wanted to protect the plate. I want to get him out of there for a couple of days until he starts to swing the bat better. When he starts to swing the bat better or the way we think he swings the bat, I’ll move him back up to see what happens.”
The Chicago crowd certainly seemed to be in sync with Guillen’s thoughts. They booed Wise roundly the previous games before he was dropped from the leadoff spot after going 0-for-8. Wise himself is, well, none too wise about exactly why.
“I can’t figure it out. I was at home last night, and I was thinking about it. I was like, ‘Wow, it’s not just me that’s not hitting.’ I’ve kind of been the guy that’s been singled out and taken all the heat. I guess this leadoff thing has been the topic all offseason and through the entire spring training, maybe it’s because the fans wanted a veteran guy in that spot, a natural leadoff guy that’s had success on this level in that spot.”
Still, Wise and Getz, along with third baseman Josh Fields (who, though confined to the bottom of the order for now, apparently has learned how to lay down bunt-singles to make up for his lack of brilliant hitting), are all touted as potential big offense for a Chisox team that spent the off season offing some of its older veteran players to add youthful energy to those who remained. Hitting coach Greg Walker says of Wise, Getz, and Fields, “We’re excited about them. We feel like what they do mechanically holds up and they are mentally strong kids, so they should be just fine.” And manager Guillen, who calls himself a “defense guy”, has also voiced the opinion that “When you got Wise, Getz, Quentin, and then go to A.J., Fields and Ramirez, you got more ability to do more stuff. I don’t have to wait for Konerko, Dye, Thome to get hot to score some runs.”
On the mound, fireballing closer Bobby Jenks, who has been known to hit 100mph with his heaters, put aside worries from some that he was losing his already legendary velocity by consistently hitting 96 and 97mph in his appearances. so far this season. Still, he did give up the losing run in the form of a homer to non-power-hitter Coco Crisp of the Royals in the 2-1 loss. According to Jenks, Crisp hit a “cutter that didn’t cut.” But Jenks is still plenty young, the season is plenty young, and nobody’s perfect.
Chicago baseball could see a playoff repeat appearance from the 2006 World Champions this season. We’ll see how the off-season wheeling and dealing ends.
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