Notes: Marte apologizes, rejoins ballclub

Notes: Marte apologizes, rejoins ballclub

MINNEAPOLIS -- At 4:45 p.m. CT on Friday, the White Sox clubhouse was closed for a team meeting aimed at going over new signs for the three-game weekend series at the Metrodome.

But the most important aspect of the 15-minute get-together was a speech given by reliever Damaso Marte, who joined the South Siders in Minnesota after a prolonged absence that was started by manager Ozzie Guillen last Sunday in Chicago.

Marte apologized to the team and asked for forgiveness from "his teammates, the coaches and even the trainers," according to the reliever. The left-hander's apology was quickly accepted, and he was deemed ready for action as a crucial late-inning part of the bullpen for Friday's series opener.

"It's not easy when you stand up in the middle of the room and tell people you are sorry and how bad you feel about it," said Guillen of Marte's emotional return. "I think this kid made the right move and the right decision.

"To come up and do what he did, I think it convinced his teammates he was sorry. It was up to them if he was coming or not. They made the decision to do it, and I respect that decision. He's going to be with us for the rest of the season."

The problems for Marte began on Sept. 7, when he was summoned to protect a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning of a contest at U.S. Cellular Field against the Royals. Marte promptly hit left-handers Matt Stairs and Aaron Guiel and was removed from the game.

Marte did not appear during the Angels' three-game sweep due to soreness in his trapezius muscle, but on Sunday, Guillen mentioned Marte was not mentally prepared to pitch. That assessment just happened to coincide with Marte arriving late to the White Sox clubhouse, without permission, and Guillen sending Marte home.

From that point on, it was up to Marte to make amends. He stepped forward with that all-important move Friday evening.

"I was late, admitted I was late and explained the reason I was late," said Marte, who usually does interviews in English, but spoke Friday through translator and third-base coach Joey Cora. "When I got with Ozzie, I got a little emotional and said some things that I didn't mean.

"But I'm ready to go. I felt equally bad about the team and Ozzie because I consider everybody my second family. I felt bad about everything."

Not being in the training room early to receive treatment exacerbated Guillen's original anger over Marte's tardiness. That anger led to words being exchanged between the two, as mentioned by Marte.

Although Marte worried his time with the White Sox might have come to a close, despite being owed $2.25 million in 2006 and club options for 2007 and 2008, there was no need for the left-hander to apologize to Guillen in the manager's estimation. Guillen was the one who moved Marte off the team, but it was his teammates who had the decision to bring him back.

"He talked to me and said he feels bad, and he's sorry," said Guillen of Marte, who watched the four games while he was gone but didn't throw. "He doesn't have to tell me that. He seems to feel better. Mentally, he's a lot better. He's prepared mentally to help us, and now we're going to see if Marte can go out there and do it."

Slow but steady: The news regarding Frank Thomas and the navicular fractures in his left ankle would rate as cautiously optimistic, presented by athletic trainer Herm Schneider on Friday. Dr. Richard Ferkel, who performed the initial surgery on Thomas' left ankle last October, examined the prolific slugger in Los Angeles on Thursday and reported bone growth in both the area of the original injury and the more recent fracture.

As long as that bone growth continues, Ferkel will follow the conservative approach with Thomas and not recommend a second surgery on the left ankle. Thomas was taken out of his walking boot and put back in a cast for the next two weeks, completely immobilizing the left ankle.

"It's not to the point where he can go about his business," said Schneider of Thomas' ongoing recovery. "The original injury is still healing. It wasn't ever really completely healed. Those bones are slow to heal, as you can see."

Schneider was asked if surgery was planned on Thomas sooner than later, if the recovery stalled, so he could be ready for Spring Training of 2006. But that particular issue won't be explored as long as there is bone growth.

Stay the course: After talking with Freddy Garcia on a couple of different occasions Friday, Guillen has decided to keep the right-hander on schedule for Monday's all-important series opener against Cleveland and Kevin Millwood at U.S. Cellular Field.

"He's ready to go," said Guillen. "He just had two bad outings."

Both of Garcia's rough outings just happened to come against the last-place Royals. There was greater concern over Garcia's bout of reduced velocity in his home start when facing Kansas City on Sept. 8 and then the absence of a good slider Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium, as opposed to the 10 earned runs and 17 hits allowed over his last 12 1/3 innings against the worst team in baseball.

But facing the Indians, with the American League Central title on the line, should be the perfect tonic for what's ailing Garcia. The right-hander has proven to be a much stronger big-game pitcher, as opposed to facing teams with very little on the line.

Down on the farm: Class A Kannapolis moved within one win of the organization's first South Atlantic League title with a 12-5 shellacking of Hagerstown on Thursday night. The Intimidators grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five championship series.

David Cook homered and drove in two, while Christopher Getz, Sean Smith and Clint King picked up two hits apiece. Oneli Perez earned the victory in relief, with John Egbert taking the mound in Game 4 and looking for the series clincher.

Coming soon: Orlando Hernandez was knocked out by the Angels after two innings and three home runs Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, making Saturday morning's 11:10 a.m. CT trip to the mound an important effort for the veteran in terms of playoff ramifications. Hernandez holds a 1-5 record with a 6.02 ERA over his last seven starts but is 2-0 with 0.69 ERA in 2005 against Minnesota.

No inning will be allowed to start after 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, with the Metrodome crew needing time to change the field over for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers' football game against Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.