White Sox powder keg missing fuse

April 17, 1997|By Ken Rosenthal

CHICAGO -- The Cubs might be 0-12, but it was only so long the White Sox could stay colder than Jerry Reinsdorf's heart.

The team America loves to hate finally erupted last night, albeit against the Orioles' 'B' squad.

Not to worry.

The White Sox are still only 4-9. Ozzie Guillen still has more homers than Frank Thomas. And cold weather or not, the attendance is still lower than Reinsdorf's standing among his fellow owners.

Anything else?

Oh, yeah.

Manager Terry Bevington still is a candidate to be fired.

Sorry, but the White Sox shouldn't get too excited about last night's 9-3 victory over the Orioles, not when Pete Incaviglia made Bobby Bonilla look like Roberto Clemente in right field.

Poor Inky played a difficult fly by Dave Martinez into a three-run triple. Then a routine fly by Frank Thomas bounced off his glove for a run-scoring error.

Say it, Davey, say it:

Bobby Bo would have had 'em.

Maybe not the first one. But definitely the second.

Of course, the Orioles' manager put Incaviglia in right field only because Eric Davis (shoulder), Jeffrey Hammonds (groin) and Brady Anderson (rib) were unable to play the outfield.

Johnson also rested second baseman Roberto Alomar, so the White Sox simply changed places with a certain Baltimore juggernaut that went 9-2 against three beat-up opponents.

They also had the pleasure of facing Orioles No. 5 starter Shawn Boskie, a former Cub who expressed his solidarity with the Wrigley faithful by allowing nine runs (eight earned) in four innings.

"It's still early, 13 games into the season," White Sox leadoff man Tony Phillips said. "Sometimes you get off to a bad start, but we've got a bunch of old pros around here. Check everything at the end of the year."

Fair enough, but with any luck, the White Sox will continue to stumble, prompting Reinsdorf to sell the club and get out of the game he seems so intent on destroying.

That apparently is a possibility, so Chicago's start was certainly encouraging. The Sox were 1-4 at home entering last night's game. They were coming off a 1-4 trip to Detroit and Texas. They were at absolute bottom.

"Right now, we stink," Thomas said Monday night after the White Sox were swept two straight by Texas. "We can't get any worse than this. We're like zombies. Nothing's happening."

What was wrong?

"Everything," Guillen said. "When we pitch good, we don't hit. When we hit, we don't pitch good. And we haven't played good defense so far."

Well, things changed last night after a 3 p.m. players-only meeting. Doug Drabek threw eight quality innings. And Albert Belle ended a 1-for-27 slump by going 2-for-4 with a double and homer.

Fear not, Belle is in midseason form in at least one department.

He declined to comment, telling a reporter, "I'm done for the night."

Thomas, meanwhile, is still trying to hit his first homer of 1997. His luck could change tonight against Mike Mussina -- he's 20-for-36 (.556) with six homers lifetime against the Orioles' ace.

The party line is, everything will be fine once Belle and Thomas start hitting -- the Mantle-Maris wanna-bes have combined for only three homers since the start of spring training.

But will it?

The White Sox entered last night leading the American League )) with 15 errors. They had half as many homers (10) as the Cleveland Indians. They had grounded into 16 double plays and turned only two.

Bring back Michael Jordan!

It's a strange collection -- the moody Belle, the self-absorbed Thomas, the volatile Phillips. And Bevington isn't exactly Tony La Russa, the manager to whom he was once compared by GM Ron Schueler.

Third base coach Doug Rader is the manager-in-waiting, though Schueler denied yesterday that Bevington is in trouble as the captain of this $61 million Titanic.

"Bev's fine," Schueler told the Chicago Sun-Times. "If the lineup would score some runs, that question wouldn't even have to be asked. He's trying hard, everyone's trying hard."

Still, Bevington got into a silly dispute with Guillen the day before the season opener, screaming at the popular shortstop in front of the entire team after Guillen tried to bring his kids onto the field in violation of team rules.

Guillen didn't think the rule applied for an informal workout. Bevington should have pulled him aside and explained the policy. But after making a scene, Guillen refused to shake his hand during Opening Day introductions.

Meanwhile, the entire league knows Bevington isn't exactly a master strategist. Last season, he overworked his relievers. This season, he doesn't trust them. Jamie Navarro threw 122, 136 and 130 pitches in his first three starts.

The White Sox are going to contend in the AL Central -- they're only a game behind the Indians, the division's other slow-starting power. But if they don't reach the postseason, what's Reinsdorf going to do? Order another strike?

Read it and weep, Jerry.

You're 4-9.

Pub Date: 4/17/97

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