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jklm
12-10-2001, 03:07 PM
http://www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dssports/pro/092sd8.htm

By Joe Cowley
Staff writer


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It seems as though there are always eyes on him.
When baseball was only a game, that sort of attention wasn't a big deal. A ball, a glove, a mound Kris Honel was in his comfort zone.

As long as the fastball was blazing eventually topping out in the mid-90s and the hitter was swinging at nothing but air, Honel's mind was at ease.

My how things have changed over the past six months.

"At first, I was kind of baffled by it all," Honel said Thursday. "Baseball is still a game, but now it's also my job."

And a full-time one at that.

Since the White Sox drafted the former Providence High School standout with their first pick (16th overall) in the June draft, the type of attention he gets has dramatically changed.

"Things are definitely under a microscope now," Honel said. "Even this week, (the Sox) have me working out with the big-league players and they said they were going to see how I acted around them.

"They told me that they wanted me to act like they're just my teammates and didn't want to see me intimidated.

"They said they would be watching me."

Several flare-ups in Honel's coveted right elbow at the end of the summer forced the Sox to keep a close eye on the 19-year-old prospect.

There was even some concern that Honel might need to have offseason surgery. So when tests came back negative last month, all parties involved were relieved.

"I was a little concerned, but not much," Honel said. "I'm throwing now, and I feel 100 percent."

Honel was placed on an offseason throwing program by Sox head trainer Herm Schneider, and has been monitored along with the organization's other rehabbing players at the new training facility in Lisle.

"My main concern has been the big-league players first," Sox pitching coach Nardi Contreras said. "I peek over at how (Honel) looks every so often. ... The scouts did their homework on him for a reason."

Honel went 8-0 with a 1.09 ERA for Providence last spring, striking out 73 and walking four in 45 innings pitched. Not only did he work quickly on the mound, but he proved to work quickly off it.

After being drafted by the Sox on June 5, he wasted little time signing a $1.6 million deal just three days later. He was just the second first-round pick from the 2001 draft to sign.

"I figured the faster I got it done, the faster you get up here (to the major leagues)," Honel explained.

"I went into this thing not wanting to be stingy. Being from Chicago, the last thing I wanted to do is get a bad rap already."

Honel then pitched three games in the Rookie Phoenix League, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA.

By mid-August, he was promoted to Advanced Rookie Bristol, where he finished out the season. Honel went 2-3 with a 3.13 ERA in eight starts.

He also began having those flare ups in his elbow.

"He should be fine for spring," Schneider said. "We'll keep him on a throwing program and monitor him."

Honel will not join the big-league camp in spring training like the past three Sox first-round picks have done, but will instead start spring training in the minor league facility next door.

Not a problem. Besides a nasty knuckle-curve, patience is one of Honel's strengths.

"There's no schedule set in stone," he said. "All I know is that I'm starting the regular season in A-ball (Class A Kannapolis), and I would like to be in (upper A ball) Winston-Salem by the end of the year.

"As far as the major leagues, well, that's a long way down the road. Maybe three or four years, but I'm really trying to learn everything I can first and take it from there.

"I'm from a hard-working, middle-class family. I'm just still trying to get used to the money they gave me."

RedPinStripes
12-10-2001, 05:36 PM
This kid sounds like he's going to be great. I look forward to seeing him in the rotaion. I just hope that knuckle cruve don't tear his elbow up and end his career early.

Daver
12-10-2001, 05:52 PM
The knuckle curve is an easy pitch on the arm compared to a slider or a split finger pitch.


But then again what the hell do I know?

RedPinStripes
12-10-2001, 06:28 PM
I would have no idea. I never tried throwing one. I thought that was tearing up his elbow because it's his best pitch and throws it a lot.

Daver
12-10-2001, 06:31 PM
I never threw one either but I caught an awful lot of them.

RedPinStripes
12-10-2001, 06:54 PM
I've seen a few of them at the plate, but they looked like nothing but a hanging curve with less rotaion. I never faced Chris Honel either. From what I understand, it's a very tough pitch to learn and use effectivly.

Iguana775
12-10-2001, 09:15 PM
if thrown correctly, that pitch can be very unhittable. and he seems to be able to do that. mussina throws the knuckle-curve and look how his career has gone.

also, it is basically a curve with the pointy finger curled up so the first knuckle is on the ball. just throw it like a regular curve....at least that is what i have been told by a guy i played highschool ball with that threw one. he was pretty damn good with it.

Daver
12-10-2001, 09:23 PM
Originally posted by Iguana775
if thrown correctly, that pitch can be very unhittable. and he seems to be able to do that. mussina throws the knuckle-curve and look how his career has gone.

also, it is basically a curve with the pointy finger curled up so the first knuckle is on the ball. just throw it like a regular curve....at least that is what i have been told by a guy i played highschool ball with that threw one. he was pretty damn good with it.

You are close to being right,but that may have just been the way he threw it,it is usually two knukles on the seam.And ever notice that Mussina has no history of arm problems?

But then again what the hell do I know?

Jerry_Manuel
12-10-2001, 10:00 PM
Originally posted by daver
And ever notice that Mussina has no history of arm problems?


Daver you should know better then that. Who is our pitching coach? Granted he might not be the pitching coach when Kris is on the Sox he'll work with him in spring training.

RedPinStripes
12-10-2001, 11:01 PM
The 4 walks really impress me. Good control at that age and seeing a knucle curve after a 95 mph fastball is a surprise to anyone at the plate.