White Sox vow to stand together

White Sox vow to stand together

ARLINGTON -- As the White Sox gathered together on Ameriquest Field for their pregame stretch Thursday, with manager Ozzie Guillen flanked by numerous members from the Chicago and Dallas media, all movements and talk suddenly halted when Brandon McCarthy was hit by a stray baseball from Texas' batting practice.

"We haven't even started playing yet, and we are getting hit by baseballs again," said Guillen, after checking on McCarthy's condition.

Guillen could joke about Thursday's incident, especially since the right-handed reliever emerged with nary a scrape or scratch. But the actions which took place during Wednesday's 8-0 loss to Texas still were anything but humorous where the White Sox manager and his players were concerned.

Almost 24 hours later, the talk surrounding Texas starter Vicente Padilla hitting catcher A.J. Pierzynski leading off both the second and fourth innings had grown from regional to national. Chicago radio stations were debating the lack of immediate White Sox retaliation for Padilla's actions, despite both benches being warned after Pierzynski was hit for the second time, while ESPN's SportsCenter had a small panel discussion on Guillen's intense handling of Sean Tracey, the rookie right-hander who was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte prior to Thursday's series finale.

This much is known for certain after the issue was rehashed numerous times on Thursday.

• When Guillen was caught screaming in the dugout by television cameras from the Texas broadcast, he was not yelling specifically at Tracey, who was removed from the game after one hitter. Instead, Guillen was vehemently stressing that the White Sox have to stick together and stand up for each other at all times.

• Tracey was not sent down to the Minors because of his failure to complete his one task in the seventh inning. That decision was made earlier Wednesday, with the White Sox waiting to get the final call on the acquisition of David Riske from Boston. Guillen reiterated Thursday that he felt Tracey was better suited for the starting rotation, as opposed to his relief role with the White Sox.

• If Guillen found himself in the same situation with Padilla, his response might have gone down a little differently.

"I'll tell you one thing, if Padilla hit me twice, right now I'd be in the hospital or I'd be dead," Guillen said. "But I will fight. I will fight. When you get hit like that, that means there's something wrong. You don't go from pitching a great game to hitting the same guy twice.

"Padilla wasn't throwing inside. Padilla hit the man because he wanted to hit the man. He knows, the manager knows, baseball people know. Padilla can't say he wanted to hit him because he'd get in trouble.

"Everybody knows he hit him," Guillen added. "If that situation happened to Ozzie Guillen, right now I'd be bleeding with a broken nose."

Guillen's comments don't exactly paint a good picture for the manager in a fight against Padilla, but also bring up the idea that Pierzynski should have handled the situation himself when Padilla hit him a second time. Guillen made it clear that he was not saying anything directly about Pierzynski, pointing out that everyone has his own way of handling the situation.

As of Thursday, Pierzynski still had no idea as to why Padilla would hit him. The two had only faced each other eight times prior to Wednesday, although the right-hander could have been working through some residual frustration from when he allowed seven runs on seven hits over 3 1/3 innings during a June 3 start in Chicago.

Thursday marked the third somewhat-controversial incident involving Pierzynski this season, coming on the heels of Kelvim Escobar hitting him with a pitch in Anaheim and Cubs catcher Michael Barrett hitting him with a right cross after a play at the plate at U.S. Cellular Field. Pierzynski, though, didn't know if a return act of violence was the answer to stop such problems.

"Would I like to go out to the mound and get somebody? Yeah, but at the same time, can our team afford me missing four or five games in a row?" Pierzynski said. "We are in a pennant race and we are going to need everyone down the stretch. Can I afford to go out there? That's something we are going to have to weigh.

"Any time you get hit it's frustrating, but it's part of the game. It's just a shame that it ended up causing all the ruckus it kind of led to."

Part of that ruckus found Tracey on his way back to pitching with the Knights, after he was unable to handle his specific responsibility Wednesday. It was a scenario everyone in the ballpark expected to play out, including Blalock.

"It didn't bother me," Blalock said. "You figured after what happened earlier in the game something was going to happen."

But it didn't happen, leading to the many discussions. Tracey was counseled by veteran reliever Cliff Politte as he was packing his bags on Wednesday after the game.

On Thursday, Politte continued to stand behind the rookie. He also clearly understood both sides of the problem.

"It's a tough situation," Politte explained. "He was called to do a job and it didn't work out. When the manager calls you in to do something, you do it. This is the guy that runs the team, and if he tells you to jump off a bridge, you have to think about it if you want to stick up here and play.

"You feel bad for the kid because he doesn't know better and didn't know what he should do after the first pitch. I just told him to keep his head up. He's a young kid who really didn't know any better. I'm trying to pat him on the back a little bit, even though he messed up."

After his comments to the media, Politte quickly caught himself and exited stage right with questions about what exactly was Tracey's job to do. It was that sort of talk continuing on for most of Thursday, where nothing specific was said on the record, but pretty much everything was understood by reading between the lines.

There was one issue that was made clear by the White Sox. Hitting one of their key players in Pierzynski was not going to be tolerated, either in Texas or in any other venue during this season.

"You don't want to go out there and intentionally throw a ball at someone and get them hurt, but on the other hand, you have to protect your players," Politte said. "We have our catcher getting hit leading off the inning two times in a row, and for us to be able to sit back and take it, it kind of shows we aren't going to do anything about it.

"That's not right. We take care of each other here. It's unfair. If you start pitching in and hit a guy, you are gone. It's unfortunate, but you can't let one of your starters go out there and wear it like he did. That's not right."

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