White Sox vowing they won't unravel

AL notebook

Baseball Week


They have the best record in the majors. They have been in first place two weeks longer this year than they had for the previous four seasons combined.

Yet the Chicago White Sox keep hearing that they haven't played anybody.

"Right now, we played, how many, 70 games against Triple-A teams?" Ozzie Guillen, Chicago's manager, joked.

The White Sox, the current class of the American League, will put their record on the line in the next few weeks when their schedule toughens.

Including the current four-game series against the Boston Red Sox, 26 of their next 32 games heading into yesterday are against .500-or-better teams.

That includes a brutal stretch of 15 games between Aug. 8 and 25 when they play the Red Sox, New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins exclusively.

"Right now, I feel like we can play anybody. We can match up," Guillen said. "It's a pretty good hitting team and, hopefully, my pitching staff can keep throwing the way they did."

The White Sox won 62 of their first 94 games and got fat on a mediocre American League Central. They won 31 of 38 within their division, including all 13 against the lowly Kansas City Royals. But the gregarious Guillen has an answer for that, too. He points to the fact that four of the five teams in the division are among the top six in the league in ERA.

"Our division is pretty tough in the pitching [part]," he said, "and this game is all about pitching."

The next three weeks should - finally - prove Guillen's assertion that his team is for real.

Soriano is sorry

Texas Rangers second baseman Alfonso Soriano apologized to his teammates for not running hard on a ball he hit Monday against the Yankees. He thought he had homered, but the ball hit the center-field fence.

The speedy Soriano got a single out of the long hit. He later scored, but that didn't stop him from issuing an "I'm sorry" to each teammate.

"Sometimes I just get too excited, especially when we're playing the Yankees," said Soriano, a former Yankee. "I wasn't sure if the ball was going to go out or not. I guess I got excited."

Early hook

When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Mark Hendrickson failed to record an out in a six-batter stint Wednesday against Boston, he became the third pitcher this year not to retire a batter in a start.

The Cincinnati Reds' Paul Wilson (eight batters vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers) and Detroit Tigers' Nate Robertson (one pitch after throwing at Tampa Bay leadoff hitter Carl Crawford) also finished starts with no recorded outs.

Quick hits

Detroit's Troy Percival (elbow) is out for the season and maybe for his career. He'll be 36 in August. The Tigers signed him to a two-year, $12 million deal this offseason. ... The Toronto Blue Jays have told interested teams that outfielder Vernon Wells is not available ... Desperately needing pitching, the Rangers have scouted the Colorado Rockies' Shawn Chacon and Pittsburgh Pirates' Mark Redman. They don't think either is worth a top prospect, such as Triple-A first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

League notebooks are compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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