CHICAGO (AP) - No one is more surprised by the funk they’ve fallen into than the Chicago White Sox.
They’ve been waiting for nearly a month now to somehow shake it, put it behind them and look the like the team that was supposed to contend for a championship.
Instead, the bullpen has faltered with six blown saves and the defense has been shaky. But what really has this team with a $126 million payroll in last place and 10 1/2 games out of first place is an offense that has been inexplicably inept.
It’s gotten so bad that the White Sox were no-hit for the first time in 20 years _ by struggling Twins’ lefty Francisco Liriano, who entered the game with a 9.13 ERA and a 1-4 record.
Manager Ozzie Guillen, who has made his own headlines by being suspended, isn’t sure what to do to get his team going. He has tried talking to his players and leaving them alone. He has shifted players around in the batting order, he has tried to be more aggressive with manufacturing runs and he has apparently turned the closer’s role over to Sergio Santos.
And he’s still left scratching his head.
“We tried everything, man,” he said.
And now the woeful White Sox go on a nine-game West Coast road swing, having lost 17 of their last 21 to fall into the cellar of the AL Central. It’s their second extended road trip of the young season.
“A win would bring a smile to your face, a couple would be better,” said 44-year-old veteran Omar Vizquel. “It’s a continuation. You can’t expect to turn things around in one or two games. You got to play a whole week of good baseball.”
The only time the White Sox have done that was in the early days of the season. They started 7-4 and scored 15 runs in the season opener against Cleveland, which has raced to the top of the division.
What really blew the White Sox off track early on was squandering three ninth-inning leads in a span of five days in April. They haven’t played well since those meltdowns, two of which included dropped fly balls by left fielder Juan Pierre.
Guillen’s frustration surfaced during a trip to Yankee Stadium last week. After he was ejected by umpire Todd Tichenoran, the manager went on Twitter and called his ejection pathetic. That got him a two-game suspension and fine, and it was the first time baseball has penalized a player, coach or manager for using the social networking site during a game.
“We built a ball club to win the division or at least compete in the division. I didn’t come here for .500,” said Guillen, whose contract option was picked up for 2012 back in January.
General manager Ken Williams has said Guillen and the coaching staff has his support. He’s been puzzled, as well, by the play of the team he put together in the offseason with so many performers underachieving at the same time.
Reserve Brent Lillibridge is the only player batting over .300, although Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin both got off to good starts and have eight and six home runs, respectively.