Notes: Hall having 'mulligan' season
Backup catcher limited by injury, and with it few chances
CHICAGO -- When Toby Hall signed with the White Sox prior to the 2007 season, he knew things would be different. After spending most of the last five seasons as an everyday player with Tampa Bay, he came into Chicago the definite second option behind A.J. Pierzynski, but still expected to play on a regular basis.
But things took an unexpected turn for Hall during his first Spring Training in black and white, when he dislocated his shoulder diving for a ball on March 25. On one play, he went from being a potential contributor to one of the highest paid bench players in the league.
Since coming off the disabled list on May 26, Hall has had just 98 at-bats and hit .204 with one RBI and no home runs.
"Everything changed when I got hurt," Hall said. "Everything was going as planned in Spring Training. I felt great to come here and do what I was expected to do and come help. But you can't control the uncontrollable. I got hurt in the middle of the season and really tried to jump right in there.
"Not only that, but this is my first year in this role. Normally I get in there and have 400 or 500 at-bats. You get them everyday. This is just one of those mulligan years."
Hall had the option of having surgery that could have held him out for the entirety of the season, but instead decided to rehab the shoulder to return as a backup.
"Of course [I wasn't fully healthy]," Hall said. "Obviously, if I was the starter I would have to be down there [rehabbing at Triple-A Charlotte] for a month and get ready. To be able to come back and give A.J. the days off he needs and give him a break, the only thing I'm really hurting is the back of my baseball card.
"The easy route was to go get surgery and sit back and collect the paycheck, but I'm not that kind of person. I want to go out there and earn it and be out there playing."
Hall is signed to stay on the South Side through 2008, but his role next year could be substantially different. If he is healthy he could see time at first base, as well as behind the plate.
"Everything is going to be fine once I get back into Spring Training," Hall said. "You play every day, whether it is an 'A' Game or 'B' Game. I'm excited for that because things are going to be different. We'll see what role they have me in and I'll just go out there."
Here to stay? White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen may be signed through the 2012 season, but his coaching staff is only inked through next season. According to general manager Ken Williams, the coaches' future is squarely in Guillen's hands.
"What I've done is left it up to Ozzie to tell me how he's feeling," Williams said recently. "Ozzie came out and communicated to me that he has no problem with any of the coaching staff and their expertise and I'm following his lead on that."
But before Sunday's game, Guillen would not make any sort of commitment on which, if any, of his coaches could be gone from the dugout in 2008.
"I'm not going to say anything right now, because all of a sudden I [could] change my mind," Guillen said. "I don't think right now I'm looking. It's not fair to blame coaches because of fiasco and the way we play.
"I think they're all going to get fired and I'm going to bring in doctors," he joked. "We don't need coaches, we need doctors, psychologists and guys who can talk to people and get them better."
Thome up top: With just one game remaining for Jim Thome to reach 500 career home runs at home before the Sox head out on a seven-game road trip, Guillen admitted that he considered batting his slugger in the leadoff spot on Sunday to potentially get him an extra at-bat.
"We have to go the way we should," Guillen said after opting to hit Thome third in the order. "We still play this game to win. I think it was nice to see him get one more at-bat, but in the meanwhile, we have to respect the rest of the players, the fans and us. I don't think it was right for us to do that."
While Thome lacks the speed of a prototypical leadoff man, he actually leads the team with a .404 on-base percentage.
Manager incognito: If Guillen gets his desired changes for the White Sox going into 2008, there will be less in-game attention paid to the infinitely entertaining manager.
"It's one thing I don't want to do next year is have the appearances I had this year," Guillen said with a smile. "I have more appearances than anybody in baseball.
"The worst feeling for any manager is to take your pitcher out. The great feeling is to take him out when he's doing good. To me, that's the worst decision you make as a manager, go out and try to take your pitcher out."
Quick hits: The Angels and White Sox have split the all-time series 325-325. The winner of Sunday's game will take the lead heading into 2008. ... Andy Gonzalez committed an error in Saturday's 2-1 loss to Los Angeles. The South Siders have made nine errors in their last nine games and 23 in their last 24 contests. ... Chicago's 63-85 record is its worst through 148 games since 1989.
Up next: The White Sox head to Kansas City to open their final road trip of the 2007 season. Javier Vazquez (12-8, 3.90) will make his 29th start of the season at Kauffman Stadium at 7:10 p.m. CT. Kyle Davies (2-5, 5.65) will take the hill for the Royals.
Alex Gyr is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.