Frank Thomas said in spring training it was time for the White Sox to become Magglio Ordonez's team.
"Magglio has grown up into that role," Thomas said in March. "He's making $14 million, and he's a superstar. Let him do his thing."
Ordonez did his thing Thursday, hitting a home run off D.J. Carrasco in the 10th inning to give the Sox a 6-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals and complete a three-game sweep of their American League Central Division rivals.
"I was looking for a pitch to hit out of the park and end the game," Ordonez said.
For some, it's that easy.
Barring a new contract between now and the end of the season, how long this will be Ordonez's team is open for question.
If Ordonez's unsettled futurehe will be a free agent at the end of the seasonhas been a distraction, though, he hasn't shown it.
He won the AL's player of the week award last week and hasn't let up.
Through the first nine games of the season, Ordonez is hitting .351 with four home runs and 11 RBIswhich projects into a nice future payday.
Ordonez's blast capped three games in which the Royals had 10 homers and the Sox five.
"I think you have to credit the hitters this series," Sox starter Mark Buehrle said. "Hopefully, the pitchers can pick them up the next series."
Buehrle, who pitched through flulike symptoms in New York last week, couldn't hold a 5-2 lead and left after six innings with the game tied 5-5.
"Today was the best I'd felt since I left spring training," Buehrle said. "I felt like I had good stuff."
Buehrle fell behind in the first inning when Carlos Beltranwho else?homered. It was Beltran's fourth of the year, all against the Sox.
The Sox came right back with two runs in the first and added another in the second on Aaron Rowand's home run. After Juan Gonzalez made it 3-2 with a homer, Thomas gave the Sox a cushion with a two-run shot in the fifth to make it 5-2.
But Joe Randa's RBI single and Benito Santiago's two-run double tied the game in the sixth.
"Thank God we don't have to play these guys for a little while (Aug. 10)," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of the Royals. "They battle back."
Mike Jackson and Damaso Marte combined for four innings of scoreless relief before Ordonez finished off the sweep. Carrasco had plunked him in the ribs with a pitch in Tuesday's home opener.
After being stung on Opening Day, the Sox have won four straight against a team some have picked to win the Central this season.
"We want to establish ourselves in the division and the American League," said Jackson, who has worked five scoreless innings in three relief appearances.
"It's very important to set the tone."
Ordonez's homer came just in time for the Sox, who ran through all their position players.
"I was begging for a run because I didn't have anyone on the bench," Guillen said, adding that starting pitcher Jon Garland might have been pressed into emergency duty.
But Ordonez took matters into his own hands.
"If you want to go to the playoffs and World Series," Ordonez said, "you have to win these kind of games."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times