AL Notes: Rivals question White Sox's red-hot start
Are the White Sox cheating? At least two teams seem to suspect that their league-leading 3. 21 earned-run average might be helped by a high...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Are the White Sox cheating? At least two teams seem to suspect that their league-leading 3.21 earned-run average might be helped by a high mound at U.S. Cellular Field.
The Orioles and Rangers have both requested that umpires check the height of the mound before recent games. No violations were found.
"Those people are looking for a reason our pitching is better in our park," White Sox GM Ken Williams told reporters.
Here's the cause of suspicion: U.S. Cellular has been a notorious power park since the fences were moved in 2001. Last year, the Sox's home ERA was 5.09, the highest in the American League. This year, they have a 3.17 ERA at home, 3.24 on the road.
Hmmm — maybe they just have better pitchers this year.
• If and when Rondell White homers against Tampa Bay, — and it's a good bet — the Detroit outfielder will become the ninth player to homer against all 30 major-league teams.
The Mariners have two of them, Bret Boone and Richie Sexson. The others are Ellis Burks, Eric Davis, Jose Guillen, Glenallen Hill, Rafael Palmeiro and Gary Sheffield.
• More players on this year's All-Star ballot came from the Toronto organization than any other. The Blue Jays were the original organization of 16 on the ballot, followed by Houston (14), Minnesota (13), Washington (13) and Oakland (12).
Seattle was just behind with 11 — Boone, Tino Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Varitek, David Ortiz, Raul Ibanez, Scott Podsednik, Omar Vizquel, Jose Cruz Jr., Ken Griffey Jr., and Terrmel Sledge.
Organizations producing the fewest All-Star candidates are the Giants (two), Cubs (four), Tigers (five), Devil Rays (five) and Angels (five).
• Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella told Sports Illustrated that, at age 61, he burns to win another World Series.
"I'm running out of time, running out of time," Piniella said. "[Washington's] Frank Robinson, he's what, gonna turn 70? I don't want to be managing when I'm 70. I want one more chance to manage a club that can go to the World Series. Here or elsewhere."
Contrasting the Mariners and Rays, Piniella told SI, "In Seattle we had smart owners, from Microsoft and Boeing, and we'd meet regularly and talk about what we needed to do to win and how our payroll should grow."
He was asked if the Rays have similar sessions.
• The White Sox have targeted June 6 as a likely return date for Frank Thomas, who began a rehab assignment Tuesday at Charlotte. The Big Hurt has missed 10 months with a broken left ankle that required surgery.
The White Sox are concerned about finding playing time for Thomas, but more so that Thomas will upset the strong chemistry that has developed during their torrid start.
• Johan Santana's newborn daughter, Jasmine, watched her daddy pitch in person for the first time Tuesday. After winning 17 straight decisions dating to last season, he lost his second game in his past three decisions, giving up seven earned runs in 5-1/3 innings.
"It's a good thing she won't be able to remember it," Santana said.
Bonus Santana note: Opponents are hitting .351 off him in the first inning this season.
• With Magglio Ordonez and Troy Percival out, the Tigers are trying to keep Carlos Guillen in the lineup.
The ex-Mariner, who has developed into one of the league's top shortstops, is still feeling soreness in his right knee, operated upon last September. He told the Detroit Free Press it could be next season before he's fully recovered.
In the meantime, Guillen has missed periodic games because of fluid in the knee. He is also getting some starts at designated hitter, and those could increase. The goal is to keep Guillen off the disabled list, even though Guillen said that a couple of weeks off would make "a big difference."