Williams: Struggling White Sox 'in it together'
General manager remains optimistic despite startling slump
NEW YORK -- White Sox general manager Ken Williams figured his team's recent play was about as bad as things could get for April. Then, his flight to New York on Monday got delayed -- in a Chicago airport.
"Two and a half hours," Williams said from the press box at Yankee Stadium about an hour before his team would kick off a four-game road series against the Yankees. "So I had the pleasure of sitting in the terminal for 2 1/2 hours with angry Sox fans. That was fun."
As he passed the time for his flight to board, Williams heard suggestions from fans on who should play, who should be benched, whom he should trade for and who should be let go.
"I gave them all [manager Ozzie Guillen's] number and told them to call him," Williams joked.
Of course, there was little else to joke about at this time. Williams' club -- the highly expensive one that was supposed to display a potent offense and be among baseball's best this season -- was coming off winning just two games in its last 13 and had hit just .195 while scoring 32 runs in that span.
At this early juncture, though, Williams wanted to console, not condemn, saying he just wanted to "give some hugs" and that his guys have "got to lighten up, not tighten up."
Williams has faced plenty of situations with his team in a funk. The difference this year, he believes, is the talent level.
"It's a whole different stress level when you look at what we have," Williams said. "You look at 22 games, and I refuse to be anything other than optimistic."
But Williams also didn't ignore the obvious struggles of a team that entered Monday having been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time in 22 months, is unsure of what it will get from its bullpen and has seen its biggest offseason acquisition -- slugger Adam Dunn -- struggle to the tune of a .145 batting average.
Chicago has scored three runs or fewer in nine of its last 10 games, a stretch in which it has faced some stellar starting pitching, including Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, James Shields, David Price, Dan Haren and Jered Weaver.
Early as it may be, and good pitching aside, the reality is the White Sox are 8-14 and in last place in the American League Central in an "all-in" year.
"We've earned every bit of it," Williams said of the criticism his team has faced. "We've not hit, we've not pitched consistently and we've not caught the ball. We've played probably as poorly as we can possibly play."
But Williams didn't suggest that he's ready for drastic changes -- particularly not with the coaching staff.
"None of them have gotten any dumber in the last number of weeks," Williams said. "They're the same guys, and I have confidence in all of them."
Because of the offense's struggles, a lot of the heat from the outside has been placed on hitting coach Greg Walker. But Williams pointed out that the offense was the White Sox bright spot early on.
And Guillen doesn't believe his coaching staff deserves blame for the players' shortcomings.
"It's not fair when somebody's job is on the line because the players don't produce," Guillen said. "That's not fair. There are some guys out there making $12 [million] to 15 million. Greg Walker only makes $100,000. I ask you, why should it be Greg Walker's fault?"
Before the finger was pointed at Walker, it was the bullpen that was blowing games early. Now, as the offense has failed to produce, that bullpen has barely had a chance to close out a game.
"It's been a collective effort, from the general manager to the manager to the coaches and the players on down," Williams said. "I think the grounds crew had a bad day last week in Chicago. We're all in it together, and right now, we're not looking too great."
Santos primed to close for White Sox
NEW YORK -- After Sergio Santos closed out Monday's 2-0 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, manager Ozzie Guillen hinted that Santos will have another shot to take control of that prime late-inning role.
"We are going to see how he is tomorrow," said Guillen of Santos. "And if the opportunity comes again, we'll see how he handles it."
Santos has not allowed a run covering 20 2/3 innings in 2011, including Spring Training. He gave up two hits over 1 1/3 innings on Monday but was never really in trouble, as the White Sox picked up just their second save in eight opportunities.
"He has the stuff to do it, [Matt] Thornton has stuff to do it, [Chris] Sale has the stuff to do it, Jesse [Crain] can do it," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski of the team's somewhat vacant closer's slot. "It's a matter of a guy taking the bull by the horns and saying, 'I'm going to be the guy' and taking it and running with it.
"If it's Sergio, it's Sergio. But we need someone to step up and do it."
Ozzie puts pressure on self, not staff
NEW YORK -- With two wins in a span of 13 games behind him and a big four-game road series against the Yankees ahead of him, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen addressed his club's lackadaisical offense on Monday by putting the onus on himself and his players -- and not his coaching staff.
With general manager Ken Williams scheduled to be on hand while his struggling team played at Yankee Stadium, Guillen was asked about the possibility of one of his coaches being dismissed with his team off to an 8-14 start and his offense batting just .195 with 32 runs in its last 13 games.
"Like I always said, you can teach, you can help, but you don't hit for them," Guillen said. "It's not fair when somebody's job is on the line because the players don't produce. That's not fair."
After bringing back Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and signing free-agent slugger Adam Dunn, the White Sox looked to have one of baseball's most potent offenses heading into this season.
But despite bursting out of the gate, that offense has cooled off substantially, entering Monday's game with 20 straight scoreless innings.
With the substantial track record of his offense, Guillen believes the law of averages will eventually play in his favor.
"We need to go out there and let the talent take over," Guillen said. "Show people how good you are, because they are good."
Guillen displayed some of that confidence against Yankees starter A.J. Burnett by not making any drastic changes to his lineup on Monday. Alexei Ramirez (.234 batting average) was back in the two-hole, and Dunn (.145) and Alex Rios (.160) hit fifth and sixth, respectively.
Because Guillen writes the lineup, he feels it should be the manager -- and not any member of his coaching staff -- whose seat is hottest.
"If somebody has to get fired here, it has to be Ozzie Guillen," the manager said. "It doesn't have to be [hitting coach] Greg Walker, it doesn't have to be [pitching coach] Don Cooper. It has to be Ozzie Guillen."
Rios learning to live with pain in left toe
NEW YORK -- It has become something White Sox center fielder Alex Rios just has to come to grips with -- he's going to play with at least some pain in his left big toe.
Rios, who entered Monday's game batting just .160 with no homers and four RBIs in 21 games, was given a day off Sunday but returned to Ozzie Guillen's lineup the following night for the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx.
Rios has been experiencing soreness in that toe for about five years, since he played regularly on the turf in Toronto, and he said nothing the White Sox have tried to alleviate the pain has worked -- including the injection of a gel into the toe.
"It's the same pain every day," Rios said. "But it's nothing that's going to take me out of the game. I've had it for years."
Guillen shares a laugh with Andruw
NEW YORK -- The Yankees' Andruw Jones, who played for the White Sox in 2010 and is a close friend of Ozzie Guillen's family, was announced as a pinch-hitter for Brett Gardner with two outs, nobody on base and left-hander Chris Sale protecting the White Sox one-run lead in the eighth inning on Monday.
Guillen immediately called for right-hander Sergio Santos, knowing full well that Yankees manager Joe Girardi would go to left-handed-hitting veteran Eric Chavez as his pinch-hitter.
At the time of the switch to Chavez, Guillen couldn't help but tweak his friend Jones, who never got to swing the bat.
"I told him, 'Good appearance. I hope you are making money out of this one,'" said Guillen with a laugh.
Third to first
Paul Konerko's RBI single with Carlos Quentin at second base in the ninth inning on Monday snapped an 0-for-17 run with runners in scoring position for the White Sox. ... The White Sox scored in the fourth and ninth innings on Monday. They entered Monday's game having scored in just two of their previous 27 innings. ... Adam Dunn snapped an 0-for-13 drought with a second-inning single. Alex Rios broke out of an 0-for-22 funk with his seventh-inning single. ... Carlos Quentin's 12th double extended his franchise record for most doubles in April. ... Phil Humber reached 100 pitches for just the second time in his career.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.