09/04/09 1:55 AM ET
Resilient Wise seeking regular time
Chicago (66-69) vs. Boston (78-55), 7:11 p.m. CT
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
The left-handed-hitting journeyman outfielder won the starting center field and leadoff job out of Spring Training, only to have a woeful few games with the bat and become the focus of fans' ire at the outset. Just when Wise got his swing under control, he separated his right shoulder making a spectacular diving catch in a game at Comerica Park.
Wise returned in a reserve role, and went on to earn lifelong fame and possible fortune when he took a home run away from Gabe Kapler to start the ninth inning of Mark Buehrle's perfect game against Tampa Bay on July 23. He entered in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement. Wise eventually returned to the disabled list for soreness in his right shoulder, but he was back on Thursday in a 5-0 victory over the Cubs, lending his slick glove work to the win.
And what does Wise receive for throwing out Jake Fox at the plate in the seventh inning, with the White Sox clinging to a 1-0 lead? What does he get in return for taking extra bases away from Koyie Hill on a nice running catch leading off the fifth?
Well, there's a strong likelihood that Wise will be back on the bench Friday night when the Red Sox come to Chicago to open a four-game set. Such is the life of a bench player, even the strange life lived this season by Wise.
"Oh, man. It's just crazy when I look back at the season," Wise said. "Right now, I'm just keeping my head up and trying to be ready every chance I get. I just want to stay positive."
"It seems like every time we put this guy out there, he does something special," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Wise. "I wish he'd help me a little bit more with the bat, but every time we put him out there he does a good job."
Playing Wise more regularly is a tough goal to accomplish. With his four fruitless at-bats during Thursday's Interleague makeup game, he is hitting .193 -- albeit in 119 at-bats. But he certainly can work his way around the outfield.
His throw to nail Fox at the plate came on a Jeff Baker single that wasn't hit very hard and was slowed down even more by the high grass at Wrigley. Yet, Wise charged the grounder and made a perfect toss to catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who brought the ball back from just up the line to the right and easily tagged out Fox.
In a one-run game, Wise's play served as a late boost of adrenaline for the visitors.
"Aggressive on [the Cubs] part. A bang-bang play, and we executed it," Pierzynski said. "It was a big play, not only for the team but Carlos [Torres] and Dewayne. It got us out of a big situation with a guy at second and nobody out."
"I'm not swinging that good, so I just want to go out there and take hits away from people," Wise said. "I take a lot of pride in my defense and work hard at it in batting practice."
Wise's strong defense does not stand as his only asset. As he showed during Wednesday's four-run, ninth-inning rally against the Twins, he also has great speed. Serving as a pinch-runner, Wise scored the go-ahead run from second on Alexei Ramirez's single to left even though Wise hit third when left fielder Denard Span began his throw.
But at 31 years of age, Wise still wants that chance to play full-time. It might not come with the White Sox, and his playing time might not even increase in September if the South Siders decide internally they are out of American League Central competition. The hope still lives on, though, for Wise.
Anything is possible after getting through this season.
"I just want a chance to get 400 or 500 at-bats [in a season]," Wise said. "Let people judge me off of that. I never had the opportunity up [in the Majors] to play that much. When you are playing once every 10 days or two weeks, it's tough to get a rhythm. But it's all about being with the right team and getting the right opportunity."Pitching matchup
CWS: RHP Freddy Garcia (0-2, 5.94 ERA)
Garcia certainly was not the problem in the Yankees' 8-3 victory on Sunday, as he exited the game trailing by just a 3-2 margin. He gave up three runs on four hits over six innings, striking out five and walking three. The big blow was a two-run homer from Johnny Damon in the third to give the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish. In two starts this past week against the Yankees and Red Sox, Garcia allowed six runs in 12 1/3 innings and struck out 10. He has a career record of 19-13 at U.S. Cellular Field and a 6-2 record against Boston. BOS: RHP Paul Byrd (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
The crafty right-hander made a sparkling return to the Major Leagues on Sunday, spinning six shutout innings against the Blue Jays. The 38-year-old Byrd gave up three hits while walking three and striking out one. After deciding to sit out the first half of the season, Byrd looked for work around the All-Star break but didn't find any takers. The Red Sox signed him to a Minor League deal at the beginning of August. Tidbits
Guillen didn't make much of a few inside pitches from both sides on Thursday, which started when Ryan Dempster threw high and tight on Carlos Quentin in the fourth. Torres hit Aramis Ramirez leading off the bottom of the fourth and then Dempster hit Chris Getz in the sixth. "When they hit Getz, I don't think it was intentional," Guillen said. "No, that's part of the game." ... Guillen now has 499 career victories in his sixth season. He needs one victory to tie Jerry Manuel for fourth in franchise history. He sits 23 wins behind Tony La Russa for third place all-time. ... General manager Ken Williams is scheduled to talk about the Jim Thome and Jose Contreras trades before Friday's game against Boston. ... The White Sox Tragic Number for elimination sits at 22. ... Scott Podsednik recorded his 39th multihit game of the year and third two-double effort. ... Thursday's victory gave the White Sox their first season-series victory over the Cubs since 2006. The White Sox finished 12-6 in Interleague Play. ... Tyler Flowers made his Major League debut on Thursday. The White Sox catcher of the future popped out to first base as pinch-hitter in the ninth inning. Tickets
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WSCR 670, WRTO 1200 (Español) Up next
Saturday: White Sox (Gavin Floyd, 10-9, 3.97) vs. Red Sox (Junichi Tazawa, 2-3, 6.65), 3:05 p.m. CT
Sunday: White Sox (John Danks, 12-8, 3.82) vs. Red Sox (Jon Lester, 11-7, 3.58), 1:05 p.m. CT
Monday: White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 11-7, 3.86) vs. Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 14-5, 3.87), 1:05 p.m. CT
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.