Ozzie vows that he will protect his players
White Sox skipper upset about three getting hit on Saturday
CHICAGO -- Just as a point of reference, the White Sox have not changed their home uniforms to include a target on their back or on their side or around their knees.
It just seems that way with the team having been hit by a pitch five times since Wednesday's game against the Angels. Paul Konerko, the White Sox team captain and first baseman, has been nailed three times in the past four games, and had another hit-by-pitch overruled by the home-plate umpire on Friday.
"That's one of our best hitters," said White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham of Konerko. "I don't know how long people can keep hitting him and us not do anything."
And there lies the issue for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. Across the board, Chicago has acknowledged as to how none of these situations would be deemed intentional. On the other hand, how long can an old-school manager such as Guillen go without doing something to protect his team?
Guillen addressed that very issue prior to Sunday's series finale against the Indians, talking about the time when retaliation is necessary.
"If I see somebody hitting my players and I know it's on purpose, two guys are going down. I don't care if I get suspended, I don't care," Guillen said. "With Cleveland, they hit [three] guys. Not on purpose, but somebody can get hurt out there.
"Yesterday, I was upset. They hit one guy then threw in to another guy. I got upset. I know for a fact they're not throwing at anybody, but enough is enough. I've got Konerko who has got bruises all over the place. Around the league, be careful because we're going to hit people. I don't care if they suspend me, because I have to protect my players."
Major League Baseball is looking into Guillen's comments about retaliation, ESPNChicago.com reported on Monday, citing an MLB source.
Three White Sox players, in Konerko, Scott Podsednik and Beckham were hit by pitches in Saturday's 8-5 victory, giving the team 44 hit batsmen for the season, ranking fifth in the Majors. In an interesting twist, the Cleveland hitters lead all of baseball after being plunked 65 times.
A major point made by Guillen is that if you are a pitcher trying to command the inside of the plate but can't do it, then don't do it. Konerko agrees with the sentiment, as well as the protection idea for White Sox players.
"There's a lot of unwritten rules on that kind of stuff," Konerko said. "There are times where it's without question intentional, but there are other times where it's a cumulative thing. You know, there's a piece of that plate on the inside part or just off the plate inside, that if pitchers can use it and are able to get in there, that's when they have good nights. That's to their advantage if they can do that.
"But in trying to accomplish that inside part of the plate, they have no regard and they keep hitting people, at some point you have to do something to where it makes them be a little bit finer in there because they don't want to get their own guys hit. Sometimes I get confused with all that stuff, because I'm in the middle of it, playing out there, and I don't have a chance ...
"I'm a hitter and I hate getting hit," Konerko said. "You are always erring on the side of caution when you are getting hit, you like to see other people feel the pain too. At the same time, when you are in the middle of it, you are not the best guy to make the opinion on it, because you are in the battle."
That decision might not be made by Guillen on Sunday. But opposing pitchers might want to think twice before nailing Konerko during this next road trip.
"We're going to pitch in, too, and see what happens," Guillen said. "I'd rather have myself suspended for two days than have my players on the DL for 30 days."
"Sometimes, you just have to wear it -- literally," said Konerko with a smile.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.