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Banged-up Sox go down with a fight
Hurt, angry, proud.
The White Sox's emotions ran the gamut Wednesday after they concluded an eight-game trip with a weird 2-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
Injuries to shortstop Juan Uribe, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and backup infielder Pablo Ozuna forced manager Ozzie Guillen to field a starting lineup that saw catcher Chris Widger make his first major-league appearance at third base and third baseman Joe Crede his first at shortstop.
The Sox were incensed over a rare call made by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt that resulted in the ejections of Guillen and later Crede in the ninth inning. Right fielder Jermaine Dye then played shortstop for the first time as a pro.
Crede was batting in the ninth when pitcher Dustin Duchscherer's curveball hit him in the arm. Wendelstedt, citing seldom-invoked Rule 6.08, refused to award Crede first base, claiming Crede didn't try to get out of the way of Duchscherer's pitch.
Guillen put a dent in an office wall after Wendelstedt tossed him for the second time in his managerial career.
"I was in here throwing stuff all over the place," Guillen said.
Although the Sox lost in the ninth on Marco Scutaro's one-out single, Guillen had a brief postgame meeting to tell his players how proud he was after they finished a 6-2 trip battling Oakland with a shorthanded roster.
"They did everything they could to win the game," Guillen said. "With guys all over the place and out of position, I can't be more pleased with the way my team reacted. They didn't complain."
Iguchi (right knee bruise) and Ozuna (sore left wrist) were scratched from the original lineup because of injuries suffered in Tuesday night's 9-7 loss. Willie Harris took over at second, but Uribe's right groin pull caused Guillen to search deeper.
Crede, playing with a sore left foot caused by fouling a ball off it nearly three weeks ago in Minnesota, moved to short for the first time since 2000 in the Arizona Fall League.
Crede didn't get his first chance until the third inning, when he started an inning-ending double play. Crede looked more comfortable on his next chance when he charged a slow roller to retire Eric Chavez to start the fourth.
"Once I got my first ground ball, everything seemed to flow and I had fun with it," Crede said.
Third base was Paul Konerko's original position, and some Sox players believed he would get the nod there rather than Widger, with Ross Gload playing first.
Widger's only experience at third came in Little League and in a New Jersey softball league last spring.
Although Dye hadn't played short in years, he has fielded grounders there in batting practice and even has an infielder's glove that he used in the ninth.
He also received some tips from Oakland third base coach Ron Washington, who used to hit him grounders.
"[Washington] reminded me about footwork and positioning," Dye said.
Dye got the call because of Crede's ejection. Guillen acknowledged the call could have gone either way but was irritated Wendelstedt "tried big-leaguing me again" after their argument.
Wendelstedt ejected Guillen from a game last August. The manager drew a two-game suspension for his subsequent tirade, and another two games were tacked on because he told reporters what he had said to Wendelstedt.
Crede finished his at-bat popping out to second with runners at first and second. Wendelstedt then tossed him for allegedly cursing him while running to first.
"I yelled at myself but never turned around and looked at him," Crede said.
He said he was surprised crew chief Bruce Froemming ordered him off the field without giving him an explanation for the ejection.