5/10/2014 6:09 P.M. ET
White Sox host 'Pink Out' for breast cancer awareness
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Saturday's contest against the D-backs was designated a Pink Out Game at U.S. Cellular Field. The event was a partnership between the White Sox and the Chicagoland affiliate of Susan G. Komen in support of breast cancer awareness and education.
Fans were encouraged to show their support for breast cancer awareness by wearing pink. The game included a pregame ceremony and tribute, which included breast cancer survivors taking the field with White Sox players.
White Sox players showed their support by wearing pink caps. The Komen Chicagoland affiliate, Gilda's Club Chicago and A Silver Lining Foundation had a presence at the game, as well, and a large number of pink balloons were released about 10 minutes before first pitch.
Zoraida Sambolin, former CNN anchor and returning co-anchor of NBC 5 News Today, threw out a ceremonial first pitch. Sambolin was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a preventative double mastectomy in 2013. Lori Palasti, a longtime White Sox front office employee and cancer survivor, also threw out a ceremonial first pitch in honor of the Pink Out Game.
Sambolin is the fiancée of White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.
"We are losing so many people because they don't take the first step which is getting tested," Williams said. "It's the same thing with prostate cancer. With Zoraida going through this, what we saw was so many women are waiting until they get to an advanced stage because they didn't get early testing.
"There are some sad stories from matriarchs being lost in families where they didn't have to be lost. So any little thing that we can try to help promote and make people aware, we are going to do that from the female side, which she does, and the male side, because it's the family that has to go through it together. And support from the male in these women's lives or the partners has to be there and aids in their recovery."
Williams letting club's performance speak for itself
CHICAGO -- Ken Williams has an idea as to whether the 2014 White Sox, sitting at 19-18 following Friday's 9-3 drubbing of the D-backs, will emerge as one of this season's surprise postseason contenders.
But the White Sox executive vice president doesn't feel the need to share said opinion.
"All I can say is nothing I say matters," Williams told MLB.com. "They [the players] will continue to show you and everyone whether they believe they are and there is certainly nothing right now that indicates that they don't believe.
"Somebody is going to have to prove to them that they don't belong I guess," Williams added.
Williams spoke of the laundry list of things to be addressed coming off of last year's 99-loss debacle, a list mentioned many times by general manager Rick Hahn. But when asked what percentage of said list was actually accomplished since acquiring Avisail Garcia as part of a three-team deal at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, Williams once again couldn't provide a definitive answer.
"I couldn't even tell you, and you know why?" Williams said. "You just keep going to the next issue and because we've had so many injuries this early, it seems like it has been a scramble every day."
Holding steady or moving forward ever so slightly while getting healthy would be the next move to enhance that possibility of White Sox contention. Williams credits the entire front office for helping keep the roster solid with that abundance of first-month injuries.
"Not just Rick, but guys like [assistant to the general manager] Jeremy [Haber], [senior director of baseball operations] Dan Fabian and [assistant director of baseball operations] Daniel Zien," Williams said. "These guys back here, [coordinator of baseball information] Dan Strittmatter, these guys that are identifying Frank Francisco is out there or [Moises] Sierra who helped us win the other day, he's out there on waivers and maybe he can help us in this given situation. It's not just the people who are out front. It's a lot of the guys that are doing hard work behind the scenes, and I can't say enough about them."
Putnam a steady asset in White Sox 'pen
CHICAGO -- In a more roundabout way and with much less fanfare, Zach Putnam has served as a stabilizing force for the bullpen much as Jose Abreu has done for the lineup.
Putnam had a consecutive innings scoreless streak of 10 1/3 innings, covering six appearances, snapped in the seventh inning of Saturday's 4-3 loss to Arizona. Opposing hitters are 10-for-53 against him this season, and Putnam had retired 15 straight and 24 of the last 25 hitters faced until Arizona touched him up for three hits, two walks and one run on Saturday.
Arthroscopic surgery last August to remove bone spurs on his right elbow has made as big of a difference for Putnam and his split-finger.
"That's a big part of it," Putnam said. "This is the first time in probably three years that I've felt like I can legitimately say I'm 100 percent healthy. The recovery thing is really big too.
"It was taking me a long time in between outings to feel that good again. Being able to go out back to back days or three of four days here and not feel that sharp pain in my elbow, it has been great."
Francisco called up, Cleto designated for assignment
CHICAGO -- Prior to Saturday's contest with the D-backs, the White Sox purchased the contract of right-handed reliever Frank Francisco from Triple-A Charlotte and designated right-handed pitcher Maikel Cleto for assignment.
Francisco, 34, did not allow an earned run over eight innings with the Knights, posting one save and 12 strikeouts in six relief appearances. He signed as a Minor League free agent on April 14, marking his second stint with the White Sox. That first stint started on July 31, 2002, via a trade with the Red Sox and ended on July 1, 2003, as part of the Carl Everett trade with Texas.
"I knew from the past this is a good organization," said Francisco, who limited opponents to a .154 average with Charlotte in a run he compared to Spring Training. "I think it's the perfect opportunity for me."
In nine Major League seasons with Texas, Toronto and the Mets, Francisco produced a 3.93 ERA, 73 saves, 67 holds and 421 strikeouts over 382 2/3 innings. The White Sox also hope to somehow keep Cleto, who is out of options.
Cleto's last outing came Thursday against the Cubs, when he allowed Mike Olt's grand slam among the five runs he yielded over two innings. Cleto features a 98-mph fastball in his arsenal, but walked 15 and allowed 12 hits in 14 innings, while striking out 10.
"He came a long way," said Saturday's White Sox interim manager and bench coach Mark Parent. "They just wanted to continue it and they had the timeframe on Francisco down there and he's serving it up good in their mind. He's a valuable piece for us and has more experience so they thought it was better to bring him and hopefully slip somebody through waivers and keep him.
"We'd like to keep him in our organization. The guy throws 98. And he throws enough strikes. Maybe he just needs to get back to staying with the 98 more than the other stuff."
Third to first
• Parent served as manager for Saturday night's contest, with manager Robin Ventura attending the graduation of his eldest daughter, Rachel, from Oklahoma State University.
• Jose Abreu, who is battling a sore left ankle, started at designated hitter once again on Saturday. Abreu sent a text Lino Diaz, the team's interpreter and manager of cultural development, earlier Saturday to let Parent and the team know that he was healthy enough to play and wanted to play.
"One of the main things is we're playing at home and the fans are starting to appreciate him and coming to see him play," Parent said. "He wants to play well for them. That's pretty cool."
• Alexei Ramirez's six grand slams are tied with Joe Crede and Magglio Ordonez for the sixth-most in franchise history.