Is break good one for White Sox?

October 18, 2005|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

A five-day break might not be the best thing for players who have won 12 of their past 13 games, but it might come in handy for a staff preparing to win its first World Series since 1917.

That's the feeling of former Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly and star player Luis Gonzalez, who reminisced about experiencing the same break before their 2001 World Series championship.

"The way the White Sox are pitching, I don't know if that [break] is going to help them," said Gonzalez, who got the Series-winning hit in Game 7 against the New York Yankees' Mariano Rivera. "When you're on a roll like they are, you want to get the next series going and get that adrenaline going again."

Gonzalez has a pretty good pulse of the passion for a city that hasn't played host to a World Series since 1959, when the White Sox lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"The fans' emotions will help carry them through the layoff," Gonzalez said.

The White Sox won't resume workouts until tomorrow morning after beating the Los Angeles Angels, 4-1, in the American League Championship Series. They arrived home early yesterday morning and hope to maximize their free time before returning to U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox have 12 players with previous postseason experience, but only four have played in a World Series - Jose Contreras, Jermaine Dye, Orlando Hernandez and Timo Perez.

But the biggest task may involve keeping a roster sharp after using only one pinch runner (Pablo Ozuna) and one reliever (Neal Cotts) in the ALCS.

"It wasn't that difficult for me because I had such a veteran team," Brenly said. "I think we took one day off and then gradually got our work in.

"But as a staff, we were able to spend more time on a few more things. We crunched a lot of numbers and got our defense set for each hitter before the games."

The White Sox will need to set up their rotation for the World Series, and left-hander Mark Buehrle would appear to be the favorite to start Game 1 because of his home success and that he would have pitched today if the ALCS had gone to a sixth game.

But the White Sox achieved great success by bringing back Contreras to start Game 1 of the AL Division Series and ALCS while not starting 18-game winner Jon Garland until Game 3 of the ALCS on 12 days' rest.

The major benefit to a long break is allowing a team to set up its rotation for the Series, which did wonders for the 2001 Diamondbacks.

"[Curt] Schilling and [Randy] Johnson were on schedule and knew what they had to do to get ready," said Brenly, who had the rotation lined up so Schilling could start three games.

The Angels also had a five-day break before the 2002 World Series - and welcomed the layoff.

"Our bullpen needed a breather because we used a lot of guys in every [playoff] game," Angels pitching coach Bud Black recalled.

"But I love the way the Sox put trust in their starting pitchers. They kept their pitch counts low and just shut us down."

As the White Sox advance, so will their demands.

"They will have time to handle any distractions," said Gonzalez, who flew his mother from Tampa, Fla., to attend the Series games in Arizona. "For those who are in a World Series for the first time, you want to accommodate everyone and take care of the tickets as soon as possible."

White Sox traveling secretary Ed Cassin repeatedly has kept the traveling party informed well before each series of the travel plans, ticket and hotel requests.

"We just told our players to be adjustable and go with the flow," Brenly said. "But do what you have to do. I didn't see anyone complaining."

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