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Mark, how important was the acquisition of David Riske was and are there any other relievers the Sox could trade for? As always good stuff. --Joe Madden, Chicago
Joe, thanks for the kind words. The acquisition of Riske was very important, and he's already paid off. If Cliff Politte returns to form, that could be the equivalent of a trade. And any contribution from Dustin Hermanson would be a huge bonus. I don't see a trade at this point, but the market changes like the wind.
Just wondering why other teams (Cardinals, Rangers, etc.) are allowed to hit us and then both teams receive a warning. This is not justice. We need to fight back, as Ozzie tries to do! Please, clarify this for me. --Hilary, Chicago
Hilary, I see your point. But is it worth risking losing a starting player, especially with the team playing as well as it has recently?
Why is the ruling on throwing at batters so twisted? The team that is thrown at receives a warning along with the team guilty of doing the beaning. It seems to me the only team that should be warned is the team responsible for throwing at batters in the first place. If the team that has batters hit several times happens to hit the opposing team's batter, then that pitcher and manager get tossed out and probably suspended. This just seems wrong to me. The umpires are saying that it's better to be the first team to throw at batters in order to avoid discipline. --Ron Kelley, Peru, Ind.
Ron, in many cases the umpires are harnessed by this. But I'd like to see more umpires warn only the team that has hit a batter that they suspect was done intentionally. If the other team retaliates, it would be up to the umpire to either give a warning, an ejection or nothing.
The White Sox are easily defeating their NL opponents. Could it be arranged so the Sox play Cincinnati two or three times and eliminate a trip to one West Coast city? --Philip Drebin, Chicago
Hey, I'm all for it as long as it doesn't eliminate a trip to the Bay Area so I can visit family and friends. The 2007 schedule hasn't be released yet, but we could see the NL Central for a second consecutive year.
I waited YEARS to see my White Sox here in San Diego for interleague play. Now, they aren't even playing the Padres this season, either here or in Chicago. What gives? --Joyce Gomez, San Diego
Joyce, the Sox were in San Diego last year, and the three-game series was well attended by Sox fans. It could be a few years before the Sox and Friars play again during the regular season.
What happened to Ray Durham in SF who was once the fastest Sox player? How come he doesn't even attempt to steal a base anymore? Do speedsters eventually lose that much speed with age just like Tim Raines did in the latter part of his career? --Jay Choi, Glenview, Ill.
Ray Durham has been nagged by leg problems since signing that four-year deal with the Giants before the 2003 season. The Giants have been disappointed with his health, but he did come through last Saturday with a game-winning, three-run homer against Oakland. He also doesn't hit high in the order as he used to, so stolen base opportunities aren't as frequent.
I bought a players hat at the family field day garage sale. It had No. 57 and "B.A.J." inside. Who is this player? --Gerald Wells, Chicago
That would be Jeff Bajenaru, a reliever who was traded last March to Arizona for infielder Alex Cintron. Bajenaru deserved a fresh start with another organization. He is 3-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 33 games for Triple-A Tucson.
At what point does Ozzie become a distraction to the team with all his off-the-wall comments? It's apparent he is not well liked around the league. Could this eventually effect the clubhouse? --Mike, Oak Forest, Ill.
There is no gray area when it comes to the players' relationship with Ozzie. He knows which players to push, and which to stroke. The players can read Ozzie about as well as anyone, so they're not fazed or surprised by what he says.
Well, the Tigers are ahead in the standings at this writing and it just might not be a bad thing after all. One can't fight what comes naturally, and winning after winning is difficult. Motivation, complacency and probably the biggest reason, hunger, come into play and we as White Sox fans cannot be in denial here. When you're hungry, that big ol' juicy burger doesn't look quite as good as the first one you just devoured. Now we have a team with the Tigers that are just as hungry as we were last year, however, we shouldn't panic: cream always rises to the top. We just need to put a center fielder on the plate, at the plate, whatever, because as much as I like him, Anderson is more of a liability the deeper we go into the season. Just get Torii Hunter and pay the man, and no, this is not panic you're hearing here. --Steve Andrijczak, Cypress, Texas
Steve, all I know is that I look forward to having a Tommy's double cheeseburger every time I go to Southern California, so that juicy burger looks good all the time.
I know Torii Hunter is the flavor of the month, and he'd be a great fit. But I like the top seven spots in the batting order. Uribe is cranking the ball with authority and nearly went a month without making an error. I don't see the Twins moving Hunter now that they are winning with regularity and have a formidable lefty twosome in Johan Santana and Liriano.
Mark, do you think Cliff Politte will be able to regain his 2005 form, or do you think the Sox should look elsewhere for middle relief help? Do the Atlanta Braves seem like a good trade partner? Their streak of division titles looks like it will surely come to an end this season. A good possibility may be Oscar Villarreal, a former D-Back with a proven track record of durability. What other options do the Sox have if Politte fails to regain form? Is McCarthy ready to perform under the pressure of a pennant race? --Fred Ward, Elmhurst, Ill.
It will be tough for Cliff to regain his 95 mph velocity with bone spurs in his right shoulder. The pool of available relievers chances weekly (just look at Seattle's resurgence). Pittsburgh, with Roberto Hernandez and Salomon Torres, could be a fit. The Sox looked at Villarreal and Juan Cruz in spring training, but Atlanta does a great job of trading players at the right time, so I'd be leery about whom I'd give up to get a pitcher like Villarreal.
Brandon McCarthy has been a good solider all season, and he'll have no problem pitching in a pennant race as he did last year against the likes of Johan Santana and at Cleveland on the final day of the 2005 season.
When are we going to see Josh Fields up? --Mike, Minneapolis
I think he might be the first position player promoted if there is an injury. Josh was named to play for the United States in the Futures Game at Pittsburgh on July 9 (with outfielder Anderson Gomes playing for the World team), so that's a pretty good showcase for him.
I was watching on the MLB network and the Houston broadcasters said that they were very surprised the Sox took infield practice every Friday. Is this new this year, or has Ozzie always done that? --Richard Bankman, Chandler, Ariz.
The Sox don't take shortcuts. They perform a lot of extra work at home, whether it's infield practice, bunting practice or cutoff drills.
While others have wanted Rob Mackowiak play center full time, I can't wait for Anderson to come back. Mackowiak just doesn't seem to be able to get good jumps on fly balls. Anderson was starting to turn around his game behind the plate before his suspension. Do you think he'll be able to pick up where he left off, or will the five games off cause him to revert back to his .160 ways? --Joe, Chicago
I don't know if Brian will regain his stroke immediately. I can tell you that I saw him get two hits in a game against Mark Prior in 2001, but Prior isn't scheduled to pitch against the Sox this weekend.
The Sox need a center fielder, who will they go after, who is available and when will they do it? --Steve, Overland Park, Kan.
Steve, I don't think it's going to happen. If Brian Anderson was struggling from anywhere higher than the ninth spot, we'd see some changes.
Hey, where does Kenny Williams get off offering "counseling" to Ozzie about going off at the mouth. Isn't Kenny the one who called Frank an "idiot" and said that if the Sox ever constructed a statue of him at the Cell, it had better be wearing a skirt? Now, how is that a whole lot better than what Ozzie called Jay Mariotti? Seems to me Kenny needs the training every bit as much as Ozzie. --David Landsburg, Tucson, Ariz.
As a pop-off artist, Kenny is a pretty good general manager.
Where is Kris Honel? --Jeff, Des Plaines, Ill.
Kris is still rehabbing and is scheduled to make his return in the minors in late July.
After Sunday night's Tadahito Show, I found myself wondering about Konerko's running. He's not fast, but for a slugger he's adequate, and yet he gets thrown out a lot, as he was Sunday trying to take third on Dye's sac fly. On the replay, I was struck by how slowly he STARTS. Is that something a track coach could help with? Or Tim Raines? That was a costly potential run lost. --David Beck, Santa Cruz, Calif.
David, as a base runner, Konerko is a pretty good slugger. I don't think Paul is going to back off his aggressiveness. Willy Taveras is known more for his speed, but he made an exceptional throw. I think the Sox are more concerned with Paul's hitting than his speed, so I wouldn't expect them to have him work with a speed coach.
Hey, Mark, good to see you on Chicago Tribune Live the other da. The suit fits you much better than the shirt you gave to your mother-in-law to wear while gardening. My question as a Cub fan, why haven't the Sox fans made more of a push to get their players in the All-Star game? They criticize Cub fans' for being idiots following a losing team, but yet there is no Sox player leading the fan voting. And that is a shame. Heck, Cub fans don't have anyone to vote for and the Sox have about seven of them. --Ed Young, Galesburg, Ill.
Ed, the next time my mother-in-law gardens will be the first time. I agree with your assessment, but I haven't seen a groundswell of support for local players in the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Dallas-Fort Worth markets this month. I wonder if the bulk of the interest in the All-Star game will occur after the first 31 players from each squad are revealed.
That's all for this time. I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss following the Cubs series and the All-Star selections.