5/11/2014 3:44 P.M. ET
White Sox Honorary Bat Girl a fervent fighter
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- If a positive mental outlook counts for anything, then Vanessa Parzatka seems poised to give cancer quite a fight.
Parzatka actually is in her second bout battling the disease, after being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 2006. Yet, as she moved around U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday afternoon as the 2014 White Sox Honorary Bat Girl representative -- always with a smile on her face -- it was hard to tell anything was wrong.
One would have never guessed that Parzatka had just undergone chemotherapy Friday.
"I feel good," Parzatka said. "You know what? I'll be OK. I'll keep doing my therapies and hanging in there. I'll be around a while."
Major League Baseball's Honorary Bat Girl program recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease, with each team represented. Parzatka was nominated by her sister, Michelle, who sent along a moving depiction of Parzatka's life affected by cancer.
After the original diagnosis in '06, Parzatka underwent three major surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy before her life became stable, Michelle wrote. The cancer reappearing in February 2013 has been a struggle for Vanessa, her family and friends, and according to Michelle, the bat girl recognition would be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
The White Sox provided four tickets for Vanessa, and her father bought 30 tickets for friends and family to attend Sunday's series finale against the D-backs. Vanessa proudly showed off her pink bat with numerous players' autographs before the game, but took even greater pride in the engraving on the bat with her name and nickname, "Slick", from her softball playing days included.
"This is awesome," said Parzatka, who was a left fielder. "It's quite an experience."
Before bringing out the lineup card with White Sox bench coach Mark Parent, the resident of suburban Homer Glen talked about her love for the White Sox since grade school. She has great appreciation for U.S. Cellular Field, but her favorite memories come from games at old Comiskey Park.
There also was a brief discussion concerning the return of her cancer, including praise for Chicago Beverage, the company where she worked, but currently can't because she is unable to drive.
"They are special," said Parzatka of her employers. "They have been terrific."
When Parzatka heard the words about her cancer coming back, her initial reaction was understandable; she couldn't believe it.
Her attitude remains upbeat, especially in her Sunday role with her favorite team.
"It's a little severe but all and all, I feel very good," Parzatka said. "And then stuff like this, it's just fun."
Eaton to begin Triple-A rehab stint Wednesday
CHICAGO -- Adam Eaton was in an even more upbeat mood Sunday morning than his usual go get 'em sort of attitude, and it only had a little to do with Tyler Flowers humorously conducting a morning interview session with Eaton and a couple of reporters.
The White Sox leadoff man and center fielder is close to returning from a strained right hamstring that put him on the disabled list May 3. Eaton will travel with the White Sox to Oakland, but then leave Oakland on Wednesday to join Triple-A Charlotte for an injury rehab assignment.
"We are going to take the next seven days or so and we are going to use them to the best of our ability," Eaton said. "Go to Charlotte the third day in Oakland and hopefully get a couple of rehab starts and meet in Houston on the 18th."
Eaton paused for a moment to figure out that May 18 is just one week away, and the excitement for his near return quickly became evident.
"Really excited to see him back," said White Sox bench coach Mark Parent. "He adds a lot to our lineup, defensively and offensively and running the bases. Just overall energy in the game. He has obviously had a really good year so we want to continue his progress.
"One of the things, when he went down, is [Alejandro] De Aza never really was comfortable [leading off] before. And then we tried [Gordon] Beckham there, he's … even though you're only leading off one time it makes certain people uncomfortable. Adam just, he just loves that spot and we like him in that spot."
The outfielder's Sunday morning workout went at about 95-to-98 percent effort according to Eaton, who did nothing but treatment during his first three days on the disabled list. He has noticed a marked improvement during the down time.
"It has been a tough run without our big bopper up top," said a smiling Flowers at the end of the interview.
"Everything is going well, and it feels really good," said Eaton, who is hitting .276 with a .363 on-base percentage and 20 runs scored. "Everything is going to plan and we'll continue as such."
White Sox honored to use pink bats
CHICAGO -- Marcus Semien was not in the White Sox starting lineup for Sunday's Mother's Day contest against the D-backs. But he had a special reason to break out the pink bat in case he got a chance to hit.
Ann Flemer, the mother of his close friend, Matt Flemer, is a breast cancer survivor. Semien and Matt Flemer, who currently plays in the Rockies' organization, played high school ball and were at the University of California, Berkeley together.
"She's real strong," said Semien of Flemer. "She fought through it and she fought through it really quick. That's probably the closest person to me that survived breast cancer.
"It serves as an inspiration to all of us close to her. She worked hard every day. I remember every day I'd be working at the local field, she'd be walking around the field just getting her exercise in. That's inspiring."
Adrian Nieto pointed to his own mother as his reason for reaching the Majors. He was looking forward to honoring her on this special day, as well as bringing awareness in trying to conquer this insidious disease with a small gesture such as using the pink bats.
"I had a couple of people in my family pass away from cancer [not breast cancer], so hopefully there's a day when they find a cure for it and we don't have to worry about that," Nieto said. "A lot of people have gone through that and lost loved ones. That's really the meaning of it, it's motivation, it's really for breast cancer.
"I've even tried to stay on my mom, my parents, my dad to get scans and stuff like that because it's better to catch it early than late. The sooner the better. Hopefully this gets people the heads up and gets people more educated about it."
Jose Abreu was the only White Sox player to get a hit with a pink bat during Sunday's 5-1 loss to Arizona, in which they finished with just four hits.
McCarthy treasures time with Big Hurt
CHICAGO -- When Brandon McCarthy was a young baseball player, his hero was Frank Thomas.
"Big Hurt fan club when I was a kid. Anything Frank Thomas did, I was a part of then," said the D-backs pitcher, who originally came up with the White Sox in 2005. "His cleats, tennis shoes, his video game, fan club, all of that, I did as much as I could with Frank Thomas without meeting him I guess."
McCarthy not only got to meet the Big Hurt, but also played with him in '05. The right-handed hurler thought of those special moments when Thomas became a first-ballot Hall of Famer this past January.
"That will end up being one of the highlights of my career, especially since this is still a kid's game when you are growing up playing it," McCarthy said. "That was dream No. 1 for me: Can I play with Frank Thomas?
"To be able to do that and cross that one off in my first season is still an awesome accomplishment. It's something I'll be honored by throughout the rest of my life, knowing I got to play with Frank Thomas and fulfill a childhood dream.
"It's weird now because I still remember being a kid and that was your guy and that's when he was a young player and coming through and now he's been done for five years and now he's a Hall of Famer," McCarthy said. "Everybody keeps getting older and young players are now old players, but I think it's awesome for him. I picked a good one growing up at least."
Those McCarthy memories of '05 with the White Sox go deeper than the Big Hurt, as he was part of a World Series championship in his rookie campaign.
"You realize how unbelievably hard it is to win a World Series or even to get to that point," said McCarthy, who had a 4.03 ERA over 12 games and 10 starts in '05. "That first season, it just felt like this is a thing that happens. It was a cool experience to come up with and I still, the city, the fans, everybody was great to me.
"I enjoyed my team. It's weird now that it's that removed. A few years ago it felt like still a fresh thing and still here. Now, it feels like a career ago. It's kind of weird in that regard as you keep getting older."
White Sox striving to eliminate baserunning miscues
CHICAGO -- The most important part of Tyler Flowers getting thrown out going from second to third on Alejandro De Aza's one-out grounder in the hole between shortstop and third base in the eighth inning of Saturday's 4-3 loss to Arizona was that nobody, including Flowers, was accepting of the mistake after the game.
Adam Dunn was thrown out in the same situation during a game in Cleveland last weekend.
"That's why the guy is in the hole, you want to make him make that long throw," White Sox bench coach Mark Parent said. "That's just a Little League play.
"We messed it up last year, we addressed it again this spring numerous times. [Flowers] felt as bad as Dunner felt, as bad as [Josh] Phegley felt last year. I mean it's just embarrassing. That's a play that's embarrassing."
Parent felt the baserunning mistakes would be cleaned up for a team that has played overall good baseball during the first 38 games this season. He also pointed out that the baserunner has to read that sort of play with it out in front of him.
"It seems like when we're down, we have guys -- just like last year -- trying to do too much instead of just do what you're supposed to do. Let the scoreboard dictate," Parent said. "We don't need to give up outs on the bases. It's one base at a time.
"That was different in terms of being down last night and being around [Addison] Reed, we knew we could steal a base, so I let Alexei [Ramirez] run [in the ninth]. But other than that, when you're down like that, you really don't want to give up, you just want to have a lot of baserunners and then drive guys in."
Third to first
• Chris Sale will meet with manager Robin Ventura, head athletic trainer Herm Schneider and general manager Rick Hahn to decide his next course of action on the comeback trail. But being out of action retroactive to April 18 with a flexor strain in his left arm means Sale will almost certainly have one Minor League rehab start, and quite possibly two, even if he feels ready to start for the White Sox.
"He's not going to win, I don't think he's going to win this one," said Parent of Sale. "He's a huge commodity for us and for our future and we've got to make sure he's healthy."
Sale is next scheduled to throw on Thursday.
• Ventura, who missed Saturday's game to attend his daughter's college graduation from Oklahoma St., was not present for his pregame media session Sunday, but made it in time for the series finale.
• Ramirez recorded his 51st hit of the season last night, becoming the first White Sox player since Paul Konerko (2002) to collect 51 or more hits in the club's first 38 games.