Posts Tagged ‘Zach Stewart’

White Sox notebook, 9/6

September 6, 2011 Comments off

Flowers: Gem fun for ‘everybody but me’

By Jordan Schelling /

MINNEAPOLIS — If anyone on the White Sox was not enjoying right-hander Zach Stewart’s bid for perfection on Monday night, it was catcher Tyler Flowers.As the one tasked with calling the game behind the plate, the pressure of making all the right calls to keep Stewart’s perfect game intact made for a stressful situation.

“It was fun for probably everybody but me. It was pretty stressful back there. I didn’t want to screw up and cause something bad to happen,” Flowers said.

“Now that it’s over, it was a lot of fun. … But he trusted in me the whole game, and that’s pretty good.”

Even though Flowers is now able to enjoy Stewart’s one-hitter, in which the right-hander retired 27 of the 28 batters he faced, the White Sox catcher did make one call that he could question.

Facing Twins third baseman Danny Valencia to lead off the eighth inning, Flowers and Stewart went with a 2-2 sinker off the plate for the eighth pitch of the at-bat. Valencia reached out and slapped the pitch a few inches off the plate and sliced it into right field for a double and the Twins’ lone baserunner.

“Now I do,” Flowers said of if he second-guessed himself. “But at the time, I thought that was the pitch to go with. We sped him up inside on a couple. [Valencia] was on the slider. [Stewart] had a good sinker all day. So go with what got you there. Sinker away.

“I was hoping we were going to freeze him. It was a little bit off the plate, too. It was a good pitch he hit. Tip your hat to Danny. He did a good job of putting the ball in play.”

Konerko given a breather against Twins

MINNEAPOLIS — After playing in each of the past 30 games for the White Sox, first baseman Paul Konerko got a day off Tuesday in the third game of their series against the Twins.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he tried to keep Konerko out of one of the games of Monday’s day-night doubleheader, but Konerko opted for the full day off instead. He should return to the lineup for Wednesday’s series finale at Target Field.

“I think today’s perfect because tomorrow we have a night game,” Guillen said. “This kid has been playing every day.”

Konerko last sat out when he missed three games in early August with a calf injury. Over the last month, Konerko has batted .333 with three home runs, 16 RBIs and an OPS of .930.

Adam Dunn started at first base and went 0-1 with three walks and a run scored in the club’s 3-0 win.

Axelrod hopes to get jump on Spring Training

MINNEAPOLIS — When he was not among the first group of September callups for the White Sox, right-hander Dylan Axelrod figured he would not be joining the big league club for the season’s final month.

But to his surprise, he got the call on Monday to pack his bags and join the team at Target Field.

“I knew I had a really good, solid year, but after the initial callups, it did come as a surprise,” Axelrod said. “I thought I was going home, and then yesterday I woke up, got a call at 11 a.m., had to go over to the field, get all my stuff, and I had a 1:50 p.m. flight.”

Axelrod arrived between games of the day-night doubleheader and suited up for the White Sox against the Twins for the nightcap.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did not need to call upon his bullpen Monday night with Zach Stewart tossing a one-hitter, but Axelrod could get in a game soon with the White Sox bullpen having been overworked lately.

When he does see game action, Axelrod will be making his Major League debut.

“I just hope to make a good impression,” Axelrod said. “It is a building block for Spring Training next year, and as I try to come out and try to make the team next year. I’ll be ready whenever they tell me they need me.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stewart making good impression for future

September 5, 2011 Comments off

By Jordan Schelling /

MINNEAPOLIS — In his first White Sox start, Zach Stewart got his first career win against the Twins. Making his fifth start with Chicago on Monday night, Stewart delivered a masterful performance against the Twins to record his first career complete game and shutout.Stewart threw a one-hitter, retiring 27 of 28 batters faced, with a leadoff double in the eighth inning by Danny Valencia being the only blemish on his near-perfect game. Impressively, he did it after allowing 13 runs over 10 2/3 innings in his previous two starts.

“I was a little more down in the zone today compared to the last two,” Stewart said after the 4-0 win in the second game of a doubleheader sweep. “I didn’t miss as many spots I guess.”

The rookie right-hander also said he started a few batters with breaking balls after noticing early in the game the Twins were jumping on fastballs early in the count.

Whatever he did, it amounted to an impressive outing, in which Stewart delivered a career-high 114 pitches and struck out a career-best nine batters.

“He’s been a real nice addition. I think he’s a quality big league starter,” White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. “Obviously, he’s been showing that, too. He’s got not only a good arm, but he’s got some touch and he knows how to pitch, which for a young guy that’s pretty good.”

Stewart said he was not really aware of the perfect game until the fifth or sixth inning, and that he really did not let it affect him until he tried to lock in and focus on finishing it out in the eighth.

Stewart is 2-3 with a 4.56 ERA this season, and he has gone 2-2 with a 4.41 ERA since being acquired by the White Sox from the Blue Jays in late July.

Aside from his poor outings in his previous two starts entering Monday’s game, Stewart is 2-1 with a 1.25 ERA in his three other White Sox starts. He’s made quite an impression along the way as well.

“He’s had some really good starts. It’s good to see a young guy come out like that and pitch the way he’s pitched,” said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who watched Stewart’s dominant outing from the bench.

“He’s got good composure, he throws the ball over the plate, he’s not afraid, and he made guys put the bat on the ball. When you put those things together in this ballpark that’s not easy to hit home runs in, you’ve got a recipe for success.”

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was especially impressed with Stewart’s composure on the mound after giving up his first hit of the game in the eighth.

After giving up that hit, Stewart picked up right where he had left off, retiring the final six batters he faced after getting the first 21 batters of the game.

“This kid, to give up the no-hitter, perfect game, whatever it was, to right away throw the ball around the plate again, [saying] ‘Go hit it.’ Man on third base, no panic,” Guillen said. “That’s a good thing when kids carry themselves that way on the mound.”

White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers, who worked behind the plate after Pierzynski caught the first game of the split doubleheader, also liked Stewart’s reaction after the 22nd batter of the game finally broke through for a hit.

Flowers said he hopes Stewart’s performance is something the White Sox can build upon.

“It’s good to see for the future,” Flowers said. “Hopefully, we can put a run together here toward the end, but if not, it’s good to have that kind of arm for the next few years.

“I thought he was going to crack a smirk or something out there [after the double], but he was like, ‘All right. Let’s get the next guy.’ So that’s good to see.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stewart nearly perfect for White Sox

September 5, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — As he warmed in the bullpen, Zach Stewart could tell he was going to have a good night. Little did he know he would flirt with history on Monday at Target Field.

Stewart wasn’t perfect against the Twins, but came close as he delivered what was easily the best start of his career.

Stewart blanked the Twins, retiring 27 of 28 batters — perfect until Danny Valencia’s leadoff double in the eighth — as the White Sox swept the doubleheader with the 4-0 victory in the nightcap following a 2-1 win in the afternoon.

“It was a lot of fun. It was just one of those things,” Stewart said. “In the ‘pen, the ball was coming out good. I could tell it was going to be somewhat of a good night. I didn’t know it was going to be that good. But it just felt good from the beginning.”

In just his eighth career start, Stewart came within six outs of tossing what would have been third perfect game in White Sox history, and the first for the club since Mark Buehrle on July 23, 2009. He also would have been the first rookie to pitch a no-hitter since Boston’s Clay Buchholz no-hit the Orioles on Sept. 1, 2007, in his second career start.

Instead, Stewart settled for a one-hitter, the first complete game and shutout of his career. Stewart also had the first shutout by a White Sox rookie since Wilson Alvarez no-hit the Orioles at Baltimore on Aug. 11, 1991.

Stewart struck out a career-high nine while tossing a career-high 114 pitches and allowing only the one baserunner in the 62nd one-hitter in White Sox history and the first since Freddy Garcia on Aug. 23, 2005, also in Minnesota.

“I thought [a perfect game] was possible the way he was throwing the ball,” said White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers. “All day he had good sink. He was able to locate his offspeed pretty well. Just one pitch away, I guess.”

That one pitch was a sinker away to Twins third baseman Valencia, who sliced it to right field for a double leading off the eighth inning.

“It was tough because I fell behind real quick,” Valencia said. “But I knew eventually he’d try to backdoor me with a heater on the outside corner, and he made a pretty good pitch, but I was able to get the barrel out there.”

Stewart said he had to tip his cap to Valencia, who made a good swing on a good pitch.

After he surrendered the perfect game, Stewart was almost more impressive over the final two innings. He retired the final six Twins he faced, getting a groundout, popout, three straight strikeouts and a groundout to end the game.

Said Stewart of his performance after the double: “Yeah, I’ve given up hits before, so I guess you just get used to it.”

Chicago scored first with a run in the second on three singles, and added another in the fifth with a Brent Lillibridge double and Alexei Ramirez single. The White Sox also scored two more in the seventh on three singles and a walk.

The four runs of support likely helped Stewart remain in the game after the eighth. Lefty Chris Sale was warming in the bullpen, and would have come in if Joe Mauer got to the plate, manager Ozzie Guillen said.

Stewart breezed through the first four innings, needing just 40 pitches to retire the first 12 batters he faced. He also got some defensive help from the left side of the infield, as Brent Morel made a pair of nice plays on grounders and Ramirez saved a hit on a liner to short.

Morel made a diving stop at third base and threw to first to retire Trevor Plouffe for the second out in the fourth. With two outs in the sixth, Morel added another tough stop and a strong throw to retire Drew Butera.

After a long flyout to right by Plouffe for the second out in the seventh, Mauer ripped a hard liner toward short that looked like it could get through for the Twins’ first hit. But Ramirez took a couple steps to his right and snagged it to keep the perfect game intact.

It was after that lineout to Ramirez that Stewart really made it seem as though he could finish it off with only two innings to go.

“When Mauer hit that lineout to end the seventh, I was like ‘OK, this looks like it might happen,'” said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who watched Stewart’s performance from the dugout. “Because when balls get hit like that, that’s usually what you look for in perfect games or no-hitters. It didn’t work out, but it was still a good game.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

White Sox notebook, 8/7

August 7, 2011 Comments off

Stance adjustment pays off for Rios

By Jordan Schelling /

MINNEAPOLIS — A change in the positioning of his hands may have contributed to White Sox center fielder Alex Rios’ three-hit game on Saturday night.Rios started for the first time since Wednesday, and he picked up a double, two singles and a stolen base. Recently, Rios has moved his hands higher, and on Saturday he changed where he held the bat prior to the pitch.

Instead of holding the bat more vertically, Rios moved it down to rest on his shoulder until the pitcher began his delivery. While one game is not enough to say if the change made the difference, Rios had his best game at the plate since late June, when he went 3-for-4 against the Nationals.

“I hope he keeps swinging the bat like that, we need it,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. “I don’t know what he did, I never asked him what he did. I told him the other day to raise himself up. I don’t know if it was that, but the last couple days, he’s swung the bat better.”

Rios continued to produce in Sunday’s 7-0 victory, going 2-for-4 with a double, homer and two RBIs.

Struggling Dunn sits against Twins lefty

MINNEAPOLIS — With the Twins starting lefty Brian Duensing on Sunday, White Sox designated Adam Dunn got a day off, his first in two weeks. Manager Ozzie Guillen said he may give Dunn another day off later on the road trip as well.

After picking up a few hits against the Yankees, Dunn went 0-for-7 in the first two games of the series against the Twins, with two walks, three strikeouts and a run scored.

“He’s struggling so much right now. Hopefully, with a little break we give him, we can get something better out of him,” Guillen said. “He was swinging the bat a little bit better in Chicago, but the last couple days he lost it.”

Dunn has just 54 hits in 331 at-bats and a .163 average to go along with a .294 on-base percentage, and he’s slugging just .302. His struggles drew national attention on Thursday when Stephen Colbert joked about Dunn threatening Bill Bergen’s record-low batting average of .139.

While his continued struggles could likely be affecting Dunn’s confidence at the plate, which would only compound the issue, Guillen thinks it’s more frustrating than anything for Dunn right now.

“I think mentally, he should be very exhausted,” Guillen said. “He’s missing pitches. He’s missing fastballs, he’s missing changeups, he’s missing breaking balls, guessing wrong pitches. Everything has piled up, one thing after another.”

With two months left in the season, it’s unlikely Dunn will be able to improve his poor offensive numbers. But Guillen hopes that Dunn will learn from this season and come back better prepared and in better shape for the 2012 season.

“He has to stay in shape now, he’s not 22 years old anymore,” Guillen said. “Now he has to learn that he has to prepare himself better. That happens to everyone. That happened to [Paul Konerko], that happened to [Mark] Buehrle.”

Brent Lillibridge started at first base in Sunday’s 7-0 victory and went 2-for-4 with a homer, his second in two games.

Stewart an option for rotation, bullpen

MINNEAPOLIS — Ozzie Guillen has not decided yet, but the White Sox manager said he’s leaning toward giving Zach Stewart another before putting him in the bullpen.

Stewart would likely pitch on Friday, if he did start again, but he could be needed out of the bullpen before then, which would be the most likely thing keeping Stewart from making a second start.

“I’m thinking, personally, we should keep him and give those guys six days,” Guillen said. “I don’t know yet, but … I have to know in the next couple days because I have to know exactly who I’m going to have in the bullpen and how I’m going to use them.”

Stewart allowed just one run on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings Saturday night in in a 6-1 victory to pick up his first Major League win.

While it remains a possibility that Stewart could start against the Royals, the right-hander would not start again the next time through the rotation, because the White Sox have off-days on Aug. 15 and Aug. 22, and using a six-man rotation through that stretch would give everyone too much time between starts.

Guillen said he would talk to White Sox general manager Ken Williams before making a decision on when Stewart would pitch next.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

White Sox ‘pen saves Stewart’s first win

August 6, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — As he made his White Sox debut, right-hander Zach Stewart was told by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to have some fun, throw strikes and give the team a chance to win.

Stewart did just that, delivering a solid start and picking up his first Major League victory as the White Sox won their second straight, 6-1, over the Twins at Target Field on Saturday.

The 24-year-old right-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on eight hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Stewart tossed 79 pitches, 55 of which were strikes.

“That’s pretty much my usual game plan, just go out and try to throw a lot of strikes and attack the zone,” Stewart said. “And, you know, get ’em out.

“I like to go out and try to make them put the bat on the ball and hit ground balls and just save my pitch count to where I can throw later into games.”

Through four innings, Stewart had allowed just two singles and a walk before the Twins started to figure him out a bit. He got into trouble in both the fifth and sixth innings, but escaped with just one run allowed.

“Their guy did a good job of keeping us off balance,” said Twins starter Carl Pavano, who allowed two runs (one earned) on nine hits over eight innings. “It seemed like he had pretty good stuff, too. He had a good fastball and good secondary stuff, so you have to tip your hat to him as well.”

Stewart credited catcher A.J. Pierzynski for calling a good game behind the plate, noting that he just tried to follow Pierzynski’s lead.

With runners on the corners in the sixth, the White Sox turned an inning-ending double play to help Stewart get out of the jam.

“Once they saw that he was throwing strikes, they started swinging early, and he got some easy, quick outs,” said Pierzynski, who said he had never seen Stewart throw a pitch until in the bullpen just minutes prior to the game. “He made some pitches when he had to, the double play on Delmon Young [in the sixth] was huge.”

In the fifth, the White Sox got on the board with a walk by Brent Morel and a pair of singles by Juan Pierre and Paul Konerko. Morel scored on Konerko’s two-out single, while Pierre stole third base and scored as the throw got away from Twins third baseman Danny Valencia one batter later.

Alejandro De Aza scored from third in the ninth on catcher Drew Butera’s errant throw to second following a Joe Nathan wild pitch.

Konerko then plated another run with a fielder’s choice, and Brent Lillibridge launched a two-run homer off Nathan to put the game out of reach.

Chris Sale relieved Stewart with one on and one out in the seventh, and he retired the first two batters he faced.

After giving up a double and throwing a wild pitch in the eighth, he got two crucial groundouts by Jason Kubel and Jim Thome to keep the Twins from tying the game, and Jason Frasor got the White Sox out of the inning with a strikeout of Valencia looking on three pitches.

“I think everybody knows how tough he is,” Thome said of Sale. “He throws 97 [mph] and throws a slider. The thing he does real well is that his arm speed when he throws the slider is like his heater. It’s not coming out like it’s his heater, but his arm speed is very good.”

Sergio Santos worked a perfect ninth to finish out what Stewart started.

Before the game, Guillen said he would have to wait until after he saw Stewart pitch before he decided what the White Sox would do with the right-hander for the rest of the season.

The only thing that was certain after Saturday’s game was that Stewart will stay with the big league club for a while and has impressed his manager so far.

“I like his attitude and his presence on the mound,” Guillen said. “He’s got a pretty good makeup. Hopefully, he’ll keep it up like that.”

Will Stewart get another opportunity to start?

“The way he threw the ball, he should,” Guillen said.

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.