CHICAGO -- The White Sox honored Kevin Hickey during a pregame on-field ceremony Monday, paying tribute to the former pregame instructor, one-time player and friend to everyone on this team.A 16-inch softball exhibition preceded the Hickey ceremony, recognizing the man who led his 16-inch team to a 1976 world championship. Hickey passed away on May 16 after being found unresponsive in his Texas hotel room before the 2012 regular season started against the Rangers.
Hickey's No. 99 jersey hangs in the White Sox dugout, both at home and on the road. A plaque officially commemorating the Kevin Hickey batting cages was presented to his family by the entire White Sox team, following a video tribute, keeping Hickey forever a part of the White Sox organization with the plaque placed outside the newly named cages.
This year's team has handled Hickey's loss, along with the recent medical problems of assistant hitting coach Mike Gellinger, who blacked out in his hotel room in Baltimore on Wednesday and is dealing with a problem associated with his neck, according to manager Robin Ventura. These life issues keep baseball in perspective for the White Sox.
"Well, you know, this is our job and this is what we do and it's important. Everyone realizes that. We get paid a lot of money to do this," Ventura said. "It's important for a lot of reasons. But by no means is it the end of the world.
"So, the stuff that's happened with Kevin Hickey at the beginning of the year, it really levels that out for people to realize the importance of life and being happy and all those things. You know, baseball needs its own compartment in being able to control.
"Even the stuff with Gelly that happened in Baltimore, you just never know," Ventura said. "So, you know it's important and do the best and you care about it. But in the real scheme of things, it's down the list a little bit."A number of White Sox players such as Jordan Danks, John Danks, Chris Sale, Kevin Youkilis, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Brett Myers, to name a few, sported mustaches on Monday. It was Youkilis' idea for Monday's series opener and parlayed into a tribute to the late Hickey, who sported a mustache of his own.
"This being Kevin Hickey Night, it actually worked out pretty well," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "With the win, I have a feeling they're going to be around for a while. It was a nice thing for Hick tonight. Maybe there's some wins in it. Maybe he's looking down, looking out for us."
Dunn back in lineup, ready for final stretch
CHICAGO -- Once Adam Dunn passed the final test of taking swings during batting practice, the slugging designated hitter was able to return to the White Sox lineup for Monday's series-opening 4-2 victory over the Twins.
The Major League home run leader at 38 missed the final two games of the Tigers series because of a strained right oblique. But after extensive treatment from White Sox head athletic trainer Herm Schneider, Dunn felt better doing normal everyday stuff like getting out of bed and putting on socks.
Manager Robin Ventura noticed a difference in Dunn from Friday, when the injury appeared to be at its most painful, to Monday when the team returned to U.S. Cellular Field.
"There are times when you are looking at him and he winces or things I saw the other night," Ventura said. "But he feels pretty good. The way he was moving around was a lot different than he was the other day."
"I'd rather be in the lineup and then be out of the lineup, as opposed to being out of the lineup and work my way back in," said Dunn, who finished 1-for-3 in his return and said afterwardhe was solely worried about waking up overly sore on Tuesday.
Dunn petitioned Ventura to pinch-hit during Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Tigers. But with Dunn not having even taken a swing at that point, Ventura joked Monday that he wasn't listening.
Missing any action is tough for a player such as Dunn, who simply enjoys being part of the game. It has been especially trying right now during Dunn's first experience with a push to the playoffs.
"Normally, we got our plane flights knowing when we're going home," Dunn said. "That's a good feeling to know you're playing very meaningful games in September and it's only going to get more fun, only going to get closer and each game is going to end up meaning more and more."
Floyd upbeat, to throw again on Thursday
CHICAGO -- Describing Monday's 20-pitch session off the mound as "a little achy," White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd remained upbeat after his most significant test of a right elbow flexor strain that put him on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 27.
"It was a step in the right direction. I'm pretty excited about that," Floyd said. "I wasn't 100 percent out there but I felt pretty good, pretty loose. It was more in between pitches that I was feeling it. It wasn't 'ouch.'"
"The last time he still felt something there," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Floyd. "So it keeps getting better."
Floyd plans on throwing another bullpen on Thursday, which would be a little longer and incorporate breaking balls.
"So that will be kind of the true test to see what happens," Floyd said.
Ventura added that even with a great start Monday, Hector Santiago wasn't guaranteed to start again Sunday in Floyd's place. Dylan Axelrod will return from Double-A Birmingham Tuesday and he will be in that mix along with Philip Humber.
Taking care of business one game at a time
CHICAGO -- During White Sox manager Robin Ventura's pregame media session Monday, he was informed by a radio reporter that the Tigers had lost to the struggling Indians at home and put the White Sox back into first place. Ventura honestly had no idea.
"I did not know that," said Ventura. "So thank you."
Ventura might not have known the final outcome, but the Cleveland/Detroit game was on in the White Sox clubhouse and players hung back before stretch to try to catch the final out. This brief study of the game doesn't mean the White Sox have started watching the scoreboard, even with 28 games left after Monday.
"We've got Minnesota tonight. We had Detroit this weekend. We could have controlled them this weekend and we didn't do it," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "Now we have to assume they're going to play well and we have to take care of our business.
"However many games left, it's kind of irrelevant. It's all about playing one game and then moving on to the next one. You can't get to the end until you play all the rest of them. So we're just going to do ... not even one game at a time, one inning at a time. It's grueling and it's tough, but that's the way we have to do it. I think we will."
Ventura pointed out that simply as fans of baseball, players, managers and coaches watch to see how other teams are doing and which teams are getting hot or cold. But the White Sox still are focused on what they can do and nobody else.
"If we take care of us, we'll be where we want to be," White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn said. "We're in a position where we don't have to rely on other teams to do this and that. If we play good, we're fine."
Third to first
Chris Sale was not a happy man after giving up Delmon Young's three-run, game-deciding homer in the sixth inning of Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Tigers. But if the talented lefty stays on schedule, he should face Detroit again in next Thursday's series finale at home and can put that particular pitch to Young in his memory bank.
Actually, that ninth slider thrown to Young in three at-bats was not a bad pitch, with Young even saying that he basically took it off the ground and got lucky. But as White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper pointed out, Sale might need to "dirt that thing" in regard to using a slider in that same location.
"If you see the pitch, it's a great pitch. It just didn't work out," Cooper said. "We'll move on to the next. There were a lot of good things [from Sale] I thought. But you can't hang your hat with him or us as a team with a lot of positive stuff. We didn't win the game." The White Sox Carolina League affiliate at Class A Winston-Salem improved to 87-50 with a victory Sunday, clinching the best full-season Minor League record. The Dash are 43-25 in the second half, after posting a 44-25 first-half record. White Sox general manager Ken Williams issued the following statement concerning the death of Michael Clarke Duncan, the well-known actor who narrated the 2005 White Sox World Series video.
"Michael was a close friend," said Williams. "He was the nicest, kindest guy anyone could ever know. He was a great fan of the Chicago White Sox and often called me to offer advice. His friendship will be missed."
Kevin Youkilis snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a first-inning single and Alex Rios snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a fifth-inning double during Monday's 4-2 victory over the Twins.