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White Sox Mon Aug 30 2010

White Sox: Manny to Debut in Cleveland Tuesday

As the White Sox scramble to keep their season afloat and remain in a pennant race with ESPN's new favorite Midwestern team, the Minnesota Twins, they will now have what everyone hopes will be the first real threat of the season at the designated hitter position. All summer long Ozzie was forced to juggle fading Andruw Jones, questionable Mark Kotsay,  defensively useless Mark Teahan and even at one point the impressive-in-every-stat-but-power-hitting elderly statesman of the MLB, Omar Vizquel as his DH. Those days are behind the Sox, at least for the last month of the season, as they will be joined tomorrow night in Cleveland by one of the most recognizable names in the sport, one Mr. Manuel Ramirez.

Manny's legacy in the game is well known by most at this point. After spending the majority of the 90's as a young but potent force on the Cleveland Indians, he made the biggest name for himself in Boston, where with a little *ahem* help, he and fellow power masher David Ortiz as well as the rest of the 2004 Red Sox overcame tremendous post-season odds, presented the entire baseball community with one of the most memorable moments in sports history and brought Matt Damon and Ben Affleck their first World Series title in 86 years. It was just under four years later though, when Manny and BoSox nation had enough of one another. Some claim he was a big spoiled baby and Boston deserved better. Others, like the ever verbose Bill Simmons (if you have never read his colossal recounting of the tale I urge you to do so here), felt it was Boston who should have behaved better and hung on to the dreadlocked-spectacle. After a shorter and proportionally less dramatic stint on the failing Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny is joining Ozzie Guillen's gang of veterans after being claimed on waivers by the White Sox.

Given the choice between trading away a prospect or two or hanging onto what's left of his farm system, Kenny Williams wisely chose to eat the remaining $3.825 million of "Mannywood's" contract. The further the Sox go in the pennant race, the wiser this decision will look. The decision, of course, does not address the Sox most pressing playoff-attending need: a bullpen.

Maybe it all goes back to Matt Thornton giving up the game winning run in the 2010 All Star Game, but the Sox relievers have been anything but a relief in the second half of the season. Putz, Thornton and Threets taking trips to the disabled lists certainly not withstanding, Murphy's Law has been the preeminent force driving the men who warm up in front of U.S. Cellular's section 158. Whether it was Bobby Jenks, who was far more reliable this season than he gets credit for, blowing leads, Thornton giving up game winning dingers to former favorite Jim Thome, or going through three relievers in the 9th with a five run lead against the sorry Baltimore Orioles, the Sox most obvious and gaping hole isn't their DH merry-go-round, it is their ailing pen.

However, Kenny Williams is still making a huge effort by bringing Manny to the team, and it is clear he still wants a playoff run. Perhaps this is further reflective of the Sox lack of arms, but they are 2 and 10 in one run games in the second half of the season. Having Manny's swing, equal parts power and proficiency, will hopefully put an end to the DH leaving the bases loaded, as Mark Teahan did just this past Sunday in the Sox 2-1 loss to the Yankees. Here's hoping this was the proverbial fire lit under the team as they make their last grasp for the post season.

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