Notes: Opponents off and running
Clubs succeeding in steals against rotation, catchers
CHICAGO -- If Cubs hitters can make contact and get on base Saturday against White Sox starter Freddy Garcia, look for them to run and run often.
Would-be base stealers have been successful in 12 of 13 attempts with Garcia on the mound in 2006, an indictment of Garcia's ability to hold runners on and deliberate style on the mound, more so than Chris Widger or A.J. Pierzynski's throwing arm. But according to Widger, pay far greater attention to Garcia's 6-1 individual record and the team's 7-1 record with Garcia as a starter, as opposed to the opponents' stolen-base success rate.
"It's all about winning games," said Widger, who is 1-for-11 in throwing out runners in 2006. "I'll take [ERA], wins and that sort of stuff ahead of the stolen bases.
"We trust our pitching staff. They are a little slower than some teams, but you have to give and take a little bit."
Garcia gave and the Twins took during his last start Monday in the Metrodome. Minnesota swiped four bases against Garcia and Widger, but only one of those four came around to score. It's the same principle followed by Greg Maddux, the Cubs' starter Friday, who gives up more than his fair share of stolen bases but has the confidence to retire the next hitter or two to avoid jams.
The starters as a whole, from Mark Buehrle to Brandon McCarthy, have allowed 20 stolen bases in 28 attempts. Buehrle not only does the best job among the staff of keeping runners honest but also has one of the best pick-off moves in all of baseball.
A low success rate for Widger and Pierzynski, hindered slightly by some of the starters, doesn't bother the catching tandem on a team far from obsessed with individual numbers. The only problem is when the stolen base leads to a stolen victory.
"If they start to hurt you and you start to lose games because of that, then it's a little bit different," Widger said. "As long as you are winning and playing good baseball, you have to give up something to get what you are getting from the staff."
Making their move: Ozzie Guillen and general manager Ken Williams, who is in Charlotte watching his first-place Triple-A squad, talked Friday morning in regard to impending roster moves taking place this weekend. One move will coincide with Jose Contreras coming off the disabled list prior to Sunday's series finale, with the right-handed American League Cy Young candidate getting the start that afternoon against Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano.
Guillen hinted that a second move had been discussed, when talking to the media prior to Friday's series opener. Right-hander Agustin Montero appears to be the odd man out for the moment, with rookie left-hander Boone Logan staying put.
The White Sox surveyed the opponents' landscape over the next week, in games against Oakland, Toronto and Cleveland. With left-hander power such as Oakland's Eric Chavez, Toronto's Lyle Overbay and Cleveland's trio of Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Ben Broussard on the horizon, Logan sticking with the White Sox for the time being seems to make sense.
Javier Lopez also could swap places with Logan. The veteran southpaw is 2-0 with a 0.42 ERA for Charlotte.
"Whoever we think is going to help us the most stays," said Guillen, who added he would know more after Friday's game. "That's part of the game. We've just got to be careful of what we're going to do and how we're going to be and why."
Something special: Having played the past five seasons for Pittsburgh, Rob Mackowiak has become very familiar with the Chicago Cubs. And the Cubs know Mackowiak all too well, after he hit a walk-off grand slam in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Cubs on May 28, 2004, and then tied Game 2 with a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth. Those heroics also happened to take place on the same day his son Garrett was born.
Mackowiak laughs at the moniker of "Cub-killer" being attached to his name, considering he's hitting .217 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs lifetime against the Cubs. The South Side native also tried to play down getting his first start in this super-charged series for Friday's series opener at U.S. Cellular Field, although he expected the Cubs series to be slightly different from Interleague Play with the Pirates
"We never had a rival in Pittsburgh," said Mackowiak, who replaced Brian Anderson in center field, while Alex Cintron took over for Juan Uribe at shortstop on Friday. "We played Toronto or Baltimore, and there was no meaning to it. It was like, 'OK, it's another game for us.'
"This is a different situation for me. Here, there will be some meaning."
End of the run: A.J. Pierzynski committed a throwing error on Jerry Hairston's first-inning sacrifice bunt, marking Pierzynski's first error since April 18, 2005 vs. Minnesota. The miscue ended a string of 150 consecutive errorless games, second only to Rick Cerone's American League record of 159 consecutive errorless games, from July 5, 1987 to May 8, 1989. The error also ended Pierzynski's AL record of 962 consecutive errorless chances accepted, a mark he set Tuesday, eclipsing Yogi Berra's previous record of 950.
Third to first: The White Sox Nos. 3-5 hitters entered Friday with a .319 average, 36 home runs and 111 RBIs. ... LeRoy Neiman, the world-famous sports artist, threw out the first pitch prior to Friday's game. ... Guillen took a picture with a bald eagle and its handler after the rather large bird flew in to the mound at the end of the National Anthem. ... White Sox coaches, staff and players will be featured on The Golf Channel's "The Big Break All-Star Challenge" on July 4. The event was taped in Tucson during Spring Training.
Down on the farm: Lance Broadway's run of good starts hit a little bump in the road Thursday night, as the right-hander allowed seven runs on 11 hits over four innings, during Double-A Birmingham's 10-5 loss to Montgomery. Left-handed starter Corwin Malone has picked up the slack for the Barons' rotation, with a 3-0 record and 2.80 ERA in his last four starts. ... Donny Lucy had four hits, including his second home run and two doubles, but Class A Winston-Salem came up short in a 10-7 loss to Salem. ... Josh Fields is hitting .417 with three doubles, five home runs and nine RBIs in his last 10 games, but the third baseman did not produce in Charlotte's 1-0 loss at Indianapolis. Tim Redding threw a complete game in the setback.
Up next: Garcia brings a six-game winning streak and a perfect 3-0 career record with a 0.82 ERA against the Cubs into Saturday afternoon's 12:20 p.m. CT contest. Left-hander Rich Hill makes his first start against the White Sox for the North Siders.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.