CHICAGO -- Manager Ozzie Guillen has said for much of the season that Brent Lillibridge is his team's best defensive outfielder and, for much of the first half, Lillibridge made the run-saving and home run-robbing catches to back up that statement.
More recently, Lillibridge has taken that defensive prowess to first base, a position he had never played in the Major Leagues until July 31. Lillibridge added to his collection of highlight-reel defensive plays on Saturday night before committing his first error at any position since Oct. 1, 2010 in Sunday's 6-2 win.
Starting in place of Adam Dunn, Lillibridge went 2-for-5, including a three-run homer in a four-run first inning. He misplayed a grounder by Mike Moustakas in the third inning for the error.
Regardless of the miscue, Lillibridge has given Guillen and the White Sox exactly what they needed out of him so far at first base.
"Lilli, at first base, we're asking this kid a lot," Guillen said of Lillibridge, who also had a three-run homer on Sunday. "He wasn't a first baseman and now he plays pretty good out there. But he's coming up with big at-bats and making plays when he has to make them. He's playing very good out there."
On Saturday night, the White Sox held a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning with a runner on first and one out when Lillibridge fielded a hard grounder to first. He stepped on the bag and then threaded a throw past the runner to shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who tagged Billy Butler for the inning-ending double play.
Sale another strong option in White Sox 'pen
CHICAGO - With the White Sox taking a one-run lead into the ninth on Saturday, manager Ozzie Guillen called on Chris Sale to start the inning with closer Sergio Santos warming up in the bullpen.
Santos never entered the game.
Sale retired the side in order on a strikeout and a pair of groundouts to record his second save in the last eight days and fourth of the season. Not only does Sale provide Guillen with a left-handed arm at the back end of the bullpen, but his nine straight scoreless appearances which have spanned 12 2/3 innings, have given Guillen another solid option in the late innings of close games.
"We've been doing that for the last two weeks and it's worked out pretty good for us -- maybe even more than that," Guillen said of using both Sale and Santos. "Because the way Sale has been throwing the ball they're going to flip-flop, and whoever we feel is the best guy out there to finish the game, then we're going to do that. We will continue to do it and see what happens."
Sale, 22, is in his first full season in the Major Leagues and, entering Sunday, had already tossed 54 2/3 innings over 45 appearances, more than doubling the 21 games and 23 1/3 innings he pitched in his 2010 rookie campaign. Albeit a small sample size so far, Sale has posted a 2.42 career ERA in those two seasons, while recording eight saves, 12 holds and one blown save.
"I know it's his first full year here," Guillen said, "[but] we have two more lefties out there, Ohman and Thornton, that are there to help him. We never overuse him. No, I don't worry about innings, I worry about how we're going to use it."
Guillen keeping close watch on Tribe, Royals
CHICAGO -- Shortly after his White Sox had just finished routing the Indians on Opening Day, manager Ozzie Guillen made a bold prediction about the American League Central rivals.
Despite the White Sox battering the Tribe for 15 runs en route to the victory, Guillen said Cleveland had the talent to compete in the AL Central this season. With the Indians coming to town on Tuesday and the teams in the thick of the race, it turns out Guillen was on to something.
"Not at all," Guillen said when he was asked if he was surprised that Cleveland was still hanging around. "You look at the roster, I know a few people have been hurt with Cleveland, but I think they are talented, they have a lot of speed, they have fun, they believe now they can win. That's all you need to compete. You don't need names and all that stuff."
Before he turned his focus to Cleveland though, Guillen offered a similar prediction about the Royals as the White Sox finished their three-game set with Kansas City on Sunday.
"And these people there across the ballpark form us, Kansas City, right now they have a lot of talent coming up, too," Guillen said. "It's going to be interesting the next few years with the Central [division]."
Pierre enjoys familiar turnaround campaign
CHICAGO -- Left fielder Juan Pierre struggled over the first two months of the season. When critics called for his benching, manager Ozzie Guillen stood by Pierre, confident he would turn his season around.
And, similar to last season, Pierre has done just that.
After an 0-for-6 performance on June 24, Pierre was hitting just .248, but with his 1-for-5 day on Sunday, he has now recorded at least one hit in 37 of his 42 games since, raising his average to .284. It hasn't come as a surprise to Guillen though, as Pierre made an almost identical turnaround in 2010, when he was also hitting .248 on June 24, but finished at .275.
"In baseball, most of the time, I don't see 100 percent of the time, the water gets to the level and it stay there," Guillen said. "That's why I say, for two months, people hate that kid. It was embarrassing how people were talking about him. They don't know who Juan Pierre was and is."
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.