Notes: Podsednik seeks consistency
Leadoff batter on a tear, but far from content with swing
SEATTLE -- Scott Podsednik not only is tougher on himself than anyone on the team or even the critics in the stands possibly could be. But he also is exceedingly harsh on his own game when things don't go well, by his own admission.
Actually, when things do go well, Podsednik still has not been completely satisfied this year. The fleet-footed leadoff man carried a nine-game hitting streak into Wednesday's series finale against the Mariners at Safeco Field, extended to nine via three hits Tuesday night.
Podsednik has hit .333 (16-for-48) over his last 12 games, after starting 0-for-16 and 1-for-26 (.038). But with his focus placed on the season as a marathon and not a sprint, Podsednik still had some issues with his offensive approach stemming from Tuesday night's 13-3 victory.
"I got on base three times, but there were also good hitter's counts where I took sub-par swings," said Podsednik, who entered Wednesday with a .230 average and 11 runs scored. "I just want to get more consistent where I'm putting good swings on balls.
"It's what I'm working on now. I'm getting close, real close, but I'm not completely where I want to be."
During the past three days, Podsednik had a firsthand view of one of the best leadoff hitters in the game in Ichiro Suzuki. Podsednik marvels at Ichiro's ability to turn two-hop grounders to second into infield singles, but admitted he simply does not get out of the batter's box quick enough to put his own amazing speed to full usage.
Instead, Podsednik is working daily on getting his swing to optimum maintenance, where he had it at the end of the 2005 season. It would be very easy for Podsednik to declare his game back in good form, even mixing in four stolen bases during this recent hot stretch. But Podsednik is working to have the same solid swing in August as he will in May.
"I haven't really consistently taken good swings since this year started," Podsednik said. "I don't know why. I could spend time and energy trying to figure out why. But that's not important. What is important is trying to get it back on track. Consistency is what I'm working on.
"Some would call me crazy not being happy walking away with three hits. In the grand scheme, I want to build a swing to hold up over the season. It's the most important thing."
Max effort: The paltry two runs allowed on four hits by Javier Vazquez during Tuesday's 13-3 victory seem to indicate the right-hander could have worked another inning or two past his six-plus innings. But Vazquez exited after the first two batters reached base in the seventh with a pitch count of 109.
That total was driven up by 34 foul balls off the Mariners bats during Vazquez's victorious effort. Adrian Beltre fouled off five pitches in two separate at-bats, while Ichiro and Raul Ibanez also had at-bats with five foul balls. Vazquez mentioned Wednesday that the foul balls indicate he's not throwing straight pitches, which is a good sign, and that opposing hitters are not consistently squaring up his offerings.
Aside from those bits of positive information, it's hard for Vazquez to definitively declare the high foul ball total a plus or a minus.
"Somewhere in between, I guess," Vazquez said. "It's a good thing that I'm throwing strikes and making tough pitches that they are having a tough time putting in play. It's still frustrating a little bit, because I'm making good pitches and they are tipping it.
"You really just have to give them credit," Vazquez added.
Ready for his close-up: As if closing out the American League Central title, the Division Series victory over Boston and the fourth game of the World Series hasn't made Bobby Jenks famous enough, the burly closer also has his own McDonald's commercial running frequently in Chicago. In the commercial, a White Sox fan gets Jenks to come to his friend's apartment and wake him up early in the morning by firing rolled up socks at his head.
This sleeping friend just happens to be a Cubs fan. Both young men in the commercial were actors, according to Jenks, and the numerous takes were filmed in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Jenks thoroughly enjoyed the offseason diversion from baseball.
"It was so much fun," said Jenks, who has not seen the Cubs' version of the commercial with Juan Pierre. "After the first couple of times, I had to break out of the shell a little bit. I had to get silly and get into the mood.
"But after that it was all downhill. It was great, and I want to do it again."
Third to first: Chris Widger's third-inning single Wednesday meant every position player on the roster now has at least one hit. ... Robin Ventura was one of 10 former players elected into the College Baseball Hall of Fame's inaugural class, announced on Wednesday. Ventura, who won five Gold Gloves at third base during 10 seasons with the White Sox, had a collegiate-best 58-game hitting streak in 1987 and hit .428 overall for Oklahoma State. Dave Winfield, Will Clark, Bob Horner and Brooks Kieschnick also were inducted. ... Members of the White Sox will receive a tour of the Playboy Mansion during Thursday's off-day. The visit will be taped for a future showing of the E Network's reality show, "The Girls Next Door," and the team will have a chance to meet Hugh Hefner. ... The White Sox claimed Eduardo Sierra off waivers from Colorado, and the right-handed pitcher was assigned to Double-A Birmingham. The team's 40-man roster sits at 35.
Down on the farm: Angel Gonzalez's four hits paced a 19-hit attack for Triple-A Charlotte during its 12-5 victory at Ottawa on Wednesday night. Gonzalez drove in three, as did Casey Rogowski, who chipped in three hits along with Ruben Rivera. Rogowski has six hits in his last two games, raising his average to .322. ... Gustavo Molina launched his second home run of the season and drove in two as part of Birmingham's 7-2 victory at Jacksonville on Tuesday night. Ryan Rodriguez earned the victory, striking out five and allowing two hits over seven scoreless innings. ... Aaron Cunningham's two home runs led Class A Kannapolis' five-homer attack in the Intimidators' 10-8 win over Greenville Tuesday. Cunningham is hitting .366 in his last 11 games, with five doubles, two triples, three home runs and seven RBIs.
Up next: Following Thursday's off-day, Freddy Garcia tries to garner his own little piece of baseball history against the Angels on Friday night in Anaheim. Garcia enters the start tied with Wilson Alvarez at 102 victories, the most career wins by a Venezuelan native. Jeff Weaver will try to help the Angels prevent Garcia from making history.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.