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Bud Would Be Proud
by Derek Smart
I realize it was an exhibition game, that the purpose is more to prepare than compete, and that it's no rarity to see Spring contests end in ties, but that doesn't make me any less likely to feel a vague sense of dissatisfaction after yesterday's Cubs/White Sox tilt was called after nine due to the South Siders' supposed lack of pitching.
I think my feelings of perturbation comes primarily from the fact that the Sox only used three mound-men, and I have a hard time believing that they didn't come with at least one more hurler prepared to take the ball. Otherwise, they were counting on either Mark Buehrle going seven with Cliff Politte and Neal Cotts each making it through one frame apiece, or Politte and Cotts being able to absorb any extra outs if anyone needed to leave early due to injury or overwork, and while I appreciate a certain degree of confidence, that's just stupid.
Again, I know it's just Spring, and that it's merely an opportunity to sort out your roster and allow your players to get ready for the long season ahead, but I suppose all I want in this situation is a reason for the actions taken that makes sense, and that's not what I got.
But enough kvetching about piddly, meaningless, points of honor. Here's some stuff I saw.
There is now, officially, no argument I will hear for keeping Marquis Grissom on the roster that I will except as reasonable. Not only does he seem incapable of impersonating usefulness at the plate, after seeing him play the field in yesterday's game, he wouldn't even be a positive on the defensive side. Perhaps with some well-placed bread-crumbs he wouldn't look so lost, but it'd be a helluva lot of work to get those things laid out with each fly ball, and the logistics and timing issues would be a nightmare.
Add in the fact that there are still questions about his ability to keep an intact hamstring over the long haul, and that Angel Pagan has done nothing but impress thus far, and keeping Mr. Goodbody around is indefensible unless you put particular stock in mascotism. I don't.
Derrek Lee was back yesterday, but he looked completely out of it, dropping a well-thrown ball on the back end of a double-play, and not appearing in the least bit focused at the plate. Of course, all of this is understandable since he just rejoined the team after going home to be with his grandfather in the hospital, so not only was he likely distracted, he was probably exhausted, too.
All this is a long way of saying, if you see some ugly lines in the boxscore for The Savior in the next little stretch, don't worry yourself. With the week he's had, it's only natural.
Aramis Ramirez, on the other hand, looks bloody fantastic. He didn't have a great day at the plate, even though he doubled in a run in the ninth, but that's not what has me excited. His work in the field is smoother and easier than it was at any time last season, and for me, that's the best gauge of his health. When his legs are solid underneath him, and his movements are unimpeded, it shows up in his footwork and the consistency of his throws. Right now, all of that looks better than it has in ages, and as far as Ramirez' season is concerned, that's reason for some hearty optimism.
After what I saw yesterday, if I were a White Sox fan, I'd be licking my chops at the thought of Jim Thome in my lineup every day.
I tell ya, it's gonna be hard to keep Jerry Hairston out of the lineup, based on his defense alone. He looks a ton sharper in the field than he did last year, and like it or not, it's going to earn him plenty of playing time. I love Todd Walker, and I want to see him out there, but I'll admit, much as it pains me, that I get a sense of comfort with Hairston manning the keystone that simply isn't there with Walker. You may now commence the throwing of stones.
Can I just say how much I enjoy doing this again? I've had an incredibly difficult time writing this offseason - don't ask why, I just don't know - so knowing that soon I'll get to watch a bunch of meaningful ballgames, and in turn, write about those contests, tickles me no end. Six days left. Let the countdown begin!