Lollar and Salazar Feel Left Out, but Guillen is Satisfied : Chicago Has Its Shortstop of Future
Ruppert Jones did a double take when he looked inside the batting cage Thursday night at Anaheim Stadium.
The batter was none other than Tim Lollar of the Chicago White Sox, his former Padre teammate. Jones, now a member of the Angels, is not accustomed to seeing American League pitchers bat.
“Lollar,” Jones said, “get out of there. You know pitchers don’t hit in this league.”
Lollar, an All-America designated hitter in college, does miss his at-bats in the American League. But that’s not all he has missed with the White Sox. He also has missed his turn in the pitching rotation whenever the White Sox have had an off day.
Luis Salazar, a third baseman with the Padres, misses third base now. The White Sox have converted him into a platooning center fielder.
Ozzie Guillen does not miss much about the old days, but that is because he was Garry Templeton’s understudy with the Padres. Chicago considers him a can’t-miss prospect who has just been missing the ball too much at the plate.
Lollar and Salazar have both expressed disappointment in their roles with the White Sox. But Guillen, Chicago’s starting shortstop, has no reason to be upset.
The three former Padres were traded to Chicago during the off-season for pitcher LaMarr Hoyt. The Padres also received two minor league pitchers for one minor league pitcher in the trade.
Tony LaRussa, the White Sox manager, said he considered all three former Padres of equal value to the White Sox. But Dick Williams, the Padre manager, knows better.
Williams said he attended an off-season banquet in Chicago and conferred with Roland Hemond, the White Sox general manager. Hemond told Williams that Guillen was the key man from Chicago’s perspective.
Guillen has fielded well (3 errors in 54 games through Thursday) but is not hitting so well (.210). Williams said he thought Guillen would be hitting better and “feeling his way more” at shortstop.
“When I played with San Diego, they worked a lot with my fielding,” Guillen said. “I hit well for three years in the minors, so they thought I could hit. I think I’m a good hitter.”
Guillen, 21, was aware he would never get a chance with the Padres as long as Templeton was around. And it’s obvious Templeton will be around for a while. He signed a four-year contract shortly after Guillen was traded.
When Guillen arrived in Chicago, the White Sox’s shortstops were Scott Fletcher and Jerry Dybzinski. Fletcher primarily plays third base now and Dybzinski has been released.
Guillen’s supposed potential has had its influence on White Sox decisions.
“People thought Ozzie could be one of the premier shortstops for years,” LaRussa said. “It looks like they’re going to be right.”
At one time, it looked like Lollar would be the next Steve Carlton. He won 10 games the first half of 1982 for the Padres, including shutouts of the New York Mets and Philadelphia.
However, it seems the word shutout now applies to Lollar’s status in the White Sox rotation. He was bumped from the rotation three times early in the season by off days. LaRussa wanted his other four starters (Tom Seaver, Britt Burns, Floyd Bannister and Richard Dotson) working on four days rest. Whenever Lollar got bumped from the rotation, he was sent to the bullpen.
“I’m the new experimental child,” Lollar said. “If there’s an off day, I get screwed. I don’t agree with it, but I’ve tried to keep a healthy attitude. I got bumped three times and really wasn’t very happy about it. I had lengthy conversations with management. They stressed I’d get my work in over the course of the season, which is great. I felt I could’ve gotten it in earlier.”
LaRussa described Lollar’s situation as an “April and May problem.” He said Lollar probably won’t get bumped much more from the rotation because the White Sox have few remaining off days. In addition, Dotson is currently on the 15-day disabled list.
Lollar, 29, has a 2-2 record and 4.08 earned-run average. However, both Lollar and LaRussa noted that the White Sox have won in six of Lollar’s nine starts.
“I’m sure that not everything has worked out the way he would like it,” LaRussa said. “Every time he pitches, he competes like a son of a gun. He’s been effective overall.”
Lollar still has trouble throwing strikes. He has walked 38 batters in 57 innings. While with the Padres, Lollar was often chided by Williams for walking too many batters.
“He didn’t seem to worry about it,” Williams said. “He said it didn’t bother him. It certainly bothered us. He certainly has the arm. Sometimes, a change of environment helps a guy.”
A different environment has not helped Salazar. He was platooned with Graig Nettles at third base last year with the Padres and didn’t like it. This year, he is being platooned in center field with Chicago’s Daryl Boston.
“It looks like the same situation here as in San Diego,” Salazar said. “Somebody sent me an article from San Diego saying they need a speedy leadoff hitter. I miss San Diego a lot. I’d like to be back in the National League.”
The Padres have not expressed an interest in reacquiring Salazar. But Salazar noted there are NL teams such as the Dodgers who could use a third baseman.
For the time being, Salazar wishes the White Sox would use him as a third baseman instead of an outfielder.
“I came here to play third base,” Salazar said. “I won the third base job, played two days at the beginning of the season and went 1 for 9. Now, they have forgotten I used to play third base. I understand the situation. They have a guy (Tim Hulett) playing third base who’s doing well, and I’m still struggling.”
Salazar, 29, was batting .158 through Thursday. But he had driven in 15 runs with his 16 hits, including 5 home runs.
LaRussa said he benched Salazar early because Salazar was struggling while the team was struggling. Now that better times are here for the White Sox, who are contending with the Angels for first-place, better times may arrive for Salazar.
“Salazar has been important to our flexibility,” LaRussa said. “He’s in a great spot. He has above-average ability in everything. When he plays well, you can’t keep him out of the lineup.”
For now, the White Sox must wait for Salazar to play well enough to get in the lineup and for Lollar to pitch well enough to stay in the rotation. And they are hoping Guillen will play well enough to remain in the lineup at shortstop.
Otherwise, they will hear from Chicagoans about how well Hoyt--who has won his last five starts--is doing in San Diego.
Player IP H BB SO W-L ERA Hoyt 82 83 10 37 7-4 3.39 Lollar 57 55 38 41 2-2 4.08
Player AB H R HR RBI AVG. Guillen 167 22 35 0 8 .210 Salazar 101 10 16 5 15 .158
Statistics complete through Thursday’s games.