Potent 1-2 punch sparking White Sox
Podsednik, Ramirez providing sought-after lineup stability
KANSAS CITY -- A move back into American League Central contention might not be the biggest accomplishment for the White Sox during this six-game road trip to Anaheim and Kansas City.
At least, not where future success is concerned.
In Scott Podsednik and Alexei Ramirez, the White Sox seem to have discovered a potent one-two punch at the top of the lineup that they have been searching for since as far back as January. It's no coincidence that on-field production has picked up with Podsednik and Ramirez getting on base consistently for the team's powerful middle.
"I'm starting to feel more comfortable leading off," said Podsednik, hitting .320 on the road trip entering Sunday. "As of late, Alexei and I have done a decent job of setting the table for the guys in the middle.
"Like any offense, when you have the top two guys getting on base, it allows the guys in the middle to do their jobs. So the more times we get on base, the better off our offense is going to run."
Just take a look at this recent road excursion as an example.
When the White Sox scored 17 runs in the opener last Monday against the Angels, Podsednik reached base six times and Ramirez reached four times. Ramirez was on base four more times in the second game, while the tandem reached base a combined five times in the series opener against the Royals.
Podsednik drove home the winning run on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium, with consecutive bunt singles from Podsednik and Ramirez to start the eighth setting up another run. Their development at the top is somewhat reminiscent of the Podsednik-Tadahito Iguchi combination from 2005, although clearly nowhere near as accomplished, with that duo helping the organization capture a World Series title.
Their presence has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the team.
"You always know what you have talent-wise in the clubhouse," White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye said. "It's a matter of finding a good mix and going out there and putting it all together. With us, it starts at the top of our lineup.
"Guys in the middle, they are what they are. Our numbers will be there. It's a matter of guys getting on at the top. That's how we go as an offense."
With the emergence of Podsednik and Ramirez, who is hitting .441 over his past eight games with a move away from pulling the ball, manager Ozzie Guillen also has been able to move Chris Getz and Josh Fields to the bottom of the order and not put as high expectations on the young tandem. The move seems to have paid off, with Fields hitting .417 over his past six games, and Getz batting .320 in his past seven starts.
"They can go out and just play," Dye said. "They are starting to come around and do what we knew they could do."
Guillen certainly is satisfied with the opening setup provided by Podsednik and Ramirez. His hope is this leadoff lineup stability continues over the upcoming months.
"I hope I don't have to keep making a change," said Guillen, who has used seven different leadoff men this year and seven at the two spot. "The worst thing about making the lineup and every time you make a change, it seems like you don't know what you're doing or that you're trying to make things happen.
"All kinds of things go through your mind. I hope those guys work it out and work the way they are right now."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.