10/06/05 7:23 PM ET
Notes: Everett focused on team success
Outfielder has helped extend rallies in first two games
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
And the outspoken White Sox designated hitter still won't talk to the Boston media in regard to his two years playing for the Red Sox, an often controversial time that covered the 2000 and 2001 seasons. His silence on the matter, though, certainly isn't because of a lack of effort from the Boston scribes.
"Basically, it's just repeated questions," said Everett, prior to the White Sox workout at Fenway Park on Thursday, as he was surrounded by inquiring media minds from Boston and Chicago. "It's the same questions recycled every time I come here. I come to play baseball and that's it. That's it."
The powerful switch-hitter has played a featured role during the two biggest White Sox postseason victories at U.S. Cellular Field over the defending World Series champions. Everett singled off Matt Clement in the first inning of Game 1 and came home on A.J. Pierzynski's three-run home run.
It was Everett's opposite-field single off David Wells in the fifth inning Wednesday that began a five-run, game-winning uprising, culminated by Tadahito Iguchi's three-run home run. Everett has been an important force in the White Sox lineup, more than filling the void in Frank Thomas' prolonged absence, whether he is hitting third, fifth or sixth.
His final numbers from 2005 showed 23 home runs and 87 RBIs, although the .251 average looked to be a bit disappointing for a career .277 hitter. Not in Everett's eyes.
Even though he finished 21-for-102 (.206) during the month of September, Everett pointed out that raw individual results don't always accurately depict the overall team contribution.
"Sometimes, it seems like a guy is going bad on paper. You see an 0-for-7 or an 0-for-8, but did you see his at-bats?" Everett said. "[Fans] look in the paper and you don't see it was a line drive or a ball that got robbed over the wall. All you see is that in the last 10 days, he's 0-for-30. You don't see if it was a good at-bat and did he move the guy over."That's why I don't believe in the word 'slump.' It's baseball. I keep swinging. That's all. It's going to happen. No player in the history of this game has had a great game every day. It has never happened, and it never will happen."
Everett also doesn't believe in getting hyped up because it's playoff competition, and he doesn't have any extra incentive to finish off the Red Sox in front of their home faithful. As Everett said, he simply enjoys playing the game and refuses to worry about the ancillary factors.
"I don't have pride, because after pride comes the fall. I go out and play the game hard. If it went well, it went well. If it didn't, it didn't. I'll sleep the same."
Closing thoughts: If the White Sox had their way, Tim Wakefield would give up five or six runs in the first inning Friday afternoon and they would easily wrap up their first postseason series victory since 1917. But a sense of urgency doesn't convey a sense of desperation in regard to sweeping this series.
Ultimately, the White Sox know they need one more victory in three games to advance.
"It's not going to be an easy task," said White Sox third baseman Joe Crede of finishing off the Red Sox. "They are a great team and can come back from a big deficit. We just want to carry the momentum we have built up into tomorrow or even the next day.
"We also want to get this done as quickly as we can," Crede added.
Who needs two? As a native of Providence, R.I., Paul Konerko figured there would be quite a few requests from friends and family members for tickets to Division Series contests played at Fenway Park.
But Konerko sent the word out early that he couldn't provide much help for these particular games. Nonetheless, he's confident that even the staunchest Red Sox fans in his support system will be cheering for the White Sox this weekend.
"The fact they won the World Series last year takes some heat off," Konerko said. "Now, they have their World Series and they can pull more for me. If they hadn't won last year, they would probably still be rooting against me."
Just doing his job: Calls of congratulations for Iguchi came in late last night as he was sleeping, following his game-winning blast off Wells. But Iguchi, a natural No. 3 hitter with great power while playing in Japan, took no extra satisfaction in using the long ball to produce the victory.
Iguchi has been forced to reduce his power and focus on situational hitting as the second hitter in the White Sox lineup this season.
"Anybody who hits a home run will feel good," said Iguchi through a translator. "My main goal is still for the team. If the team wins, then I provided something for the team."
Still the same: If the White Sox finish off Boston Friday evening, manager Ozzie Guillen believes Jon Garland still will open the American League Championship Series Tuesday. The team hasn't deviated from its set rotation all season and doesn't want to start now.
"But like I say, I made my rotation about who is the best pitcher I have," Guillen said. "I think the reason [Jose] Contreras was the first guy on my team was he was the first guy throwing at that particular time.
"I have to be in that position first to make the decision," Guillen added.
Cramped quarters: Some of the media members joked with Guillen in regard to possibly celebrating a trip to the ALCS in the cramped environs of the visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park. But Guillen pointed out that he was in Wrigley Field's visiting quarters for both Florida's pennant-clinching victory in 2003 and for a Braves' division title celebration as a player. Fenway should be no problem compared to the confined area at Wrigley.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.