04.28.05

Dying At The Plate, Dye At SS

Posted in Baseball at 3:48 pm by

As if his ice-cold April wasn’t harsh enough, the White Sox’s Jermaine Dye found himself in an unfamiliar position, writes the Contra Costa Times’ Rick Hurd.

To get the proper perspective on what Dye could’ve been contributing to the A’s and didn’t, you had to have wandered into McAfee Coliseum during the late stages of the A’s 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, Dye’s new team, on Wednesday. That, or you had to have taken a healthy dose of No Doz before witnessing another riveting day by the home team’s offense.

You had to have witnessed the ninth inning. Because there, standing on a patch of dirt between second and third base stood …

Jermaine Dye? Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio, Don Kessinger, Ozzie Guillen …

And Jermaine Dye? “Now, we can add your name to the list,” Guillen, now the White Sox’s manager, said, putting his arm around Dye and taking a swig from a beer after the game. “Lots of great shortstops for this franchise.”

Hey, maybe he’s on to something. Dye hasn’t exactly distinguished himself in his first 31/2 weeks with his new team. He departed Oakland hitting a cool .171, and until the ninth inning, his most notable moment during his three-game visit here was dropping a fly ball that helped the A’s rally for a 9-7 win on Tuesday.

But Guillen (above) was tossed by home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt in the final frame after Wendelstedt ruled shortstop Joe Crede had stuck his right elbow into a pitch thrown by A’s reliever Justin Duchscherer. One pitch later, Crede was tossed when he threw his bat angrily after popping out to end a White Sox threat.

And all that did was leave the White Sox’s infield as empty as the upper deck, because middle infielders Juan Uribe, Tadahito Iguchi and Pablo Ozuna all were nursing various ailments and weren’t available.

And all that did was lead Joey Cora, Guillen’s bench replacement, to do what all good innovators do. He told Dye to get his infielder’s glove.

Who knew he even had one? “It just happened so fast,” Dye said. “As (reliever) Dustin Hermanson came in (to replace reliever Damaso Marte), I talked to Wash, and he was giving me the same hints he always used to give me. Use my feet, basic stuff.”

Ah yes, Wash. For the uninitiated, that would be Ron Washington, the A’s third base coach and instructor supreme for the novice infielder. Prospective infielders work like honey bees for Wash during the early days of spring training, a time of year when there’s nothing but time if you want to go to work.

Wash is so good that a certain Gold Glove right fielder decided last season that he could use some work on the infield. He was a third baseman at Will C. Wood High School-Vacaville, and the Kansas City Royals drafted him in 1992 with the idea Dye would play the position someday.

But shortstop? Maybe it happened in Little League, Dye said.

“I looked over there at short, and he was as happy as can be,” Washington said, his infectious smile taking over. “And I’m over there waiting for the first ground ball to be hit to him.”

It never did come. The most notable action Dye received came when he retrieved Erubiel Durazo’s leadoff fly ball that fell for a hit when center fielder Aaron Rowand lost it in the sun. The only grounders that went his way came courtesy of first baseman Paul Konerko’s soft tosses before the inning.

“He handled them,” Washington joked.

Carrasquel, Aparicio, Kessinger and Guillen couldn’t have done it any better.

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