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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Parque & Rauch:  two very different stories

Last week, just as my column was being polished and sent in for publishing, the Sox managed to blow a three game series to Oakland. The offense shut down and the pitching staff fell apart. The A's made even Mark Buehrle looking bad.

Naturally, the Chicago media came up with a tagline for this disaster, calling it a "lost weekend." With the A's scoring something like 30 runs more than the Sox, the description seemed appropriate.

Also, like clockwork, the usual doomsayers were out on the message boards and calling the sportstalk radio stations calling for Frank Thomas to be traded for starting pitching. Others who were more "level headed" suggested that Carlos Lee would be a far better person to give up than Thomas.

Of course, when the Sox came back and took two out of three from the Mariners, the furor quieted down temporarily, at least until the combination of Jon Rauch and Jim Parque were burned for ten runs in the first inning of Thursday night's game against Seattle.

Kenny Williams did what obviously had to be done. Rauch and Parque were both shipped back to Charlotte, replaced by Matt Ginter and Rocky Biddle. Gary Glover is expected to take Rauch's slot in the rotation while Ginter and Biddle will work out of the bullpen. Biddle, who has worked both out of the pen and as a starter in the past is still building up his arm strength after surgery, and is still quite a way from challenging for a role as a starter.

Kenny Williams has to be praised for his decisiveness in this move. Rauch has shown flashes of becoming a reliable starter in the future, but it was obvious from his erratic performance that he just isn't ready yet to start in the major leagues. At age 23, coming off arm surgery, it's no disgrace to be sent down.  Here's hoping that Rauch's taste of the big time has whetted his appetite and that he shows rapid development at the AAA level.

Parque is another matter. He has been praised more than once in this column as being a "little bulldog" in the Greg Hibbard tradition. However, the same
tenacity that he shows on the mound can be a liability when dealing with the
White Sox front office.

In the past Parque was reprimanded for speaking out of turn in a short lived
newspaper column. He has also let his feelings about various matters be known on the local sports talk radio outlets. This wasn't considered to be a terribly serious problem as long as his performance on the mound was helping the club.

However, things began to unravel for Parque after his surgery. He felt that he
had been promised a spot in the Sox' starting rotation for 2001, something Kenny Williams denies. Rather than starting the Sox last spring training game in San Francisco, as he expected, Parque was shipped to Charlotte to continue his rehab.

Things didn't go well for Parque, though. His ERA was well over 6.00, he failed to win a game, and his velocity hadn't returned. Parque just didn't get it, though. He was photographed in Charlotte wearing White Sox attire on the bench, interpreted by some in the media as a snub to the other players on that club.  He complained in the press that he was ready to pitch, a fact that his stats seemed to belie.

Kenny Williams seemingly had heard enough. Essentially he told Parque to shut up and get on with his rehab. He said that Parque had lost the respect of the Sox clubhouse. Yet within days Parque was summoned to pitch with the Sox.

Parque was a disaster. He looked like one of the pitchers for "Home Run Derby." The A's and Mariners teed off on him. If there is any consolation for Parque coming out of his brief return with the Sox, it is that he will go down in history as one of the pitchers who helped Mike Cameron tie the major league record of four home runs in one game.

I really don't like making predictions, but here's one that I can be comfortable with if it comes true. We may have seen the last of Jim Parque in a White Sox uniform. I don't mind a pitcher who is cocky. That just shows that he has confidence in his abilities. However, when you say you're ready to pitch in the major leagues when your minor league ERA is crowding 7.00, you're either stupid or delusional.

I hope Parque makes it back, and I hope he comes back as a member of the White Sox, but only if he gains something that he was obviously lacking besides a decent fastball. Parque's experience, if anything, should have taught him humility. If he gains that, he'll be back. If he doesn't, Charlotte could be his first stop on the way out of baseball.

The sad thing is that for the time being Jon Rauch is linked with Parque. The
only thing these two pitchers have in common is that both ended up in Charlotte after a disastrous loss to the Mariners. Rauch still has a promising future after getting his first taste of The Show. Parque's future is in doubt. Rauch hasn't said anything to warrant the animosity of his teammates and Sox management. Parque has done nothing but make himself look like a fool.
 

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at nsmf@aol.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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