CLEVELAND (AP) — As the herd of reporters and camera crews streamed into Chicago’s clubhouse and headed toward manager Ozzie Guillen’s tiny office, one of the White Sox coaches wondered if the team’s newest player had arrived during extra innings.
“Is Manny here?” he asked.
Not yet. He’s on the way, though.
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Manny Ramirez is about to enter the middle of Chicago’s lineup, and the White Sox are already swinging for the playoffs.
Brent Lillibridge atoned for a costly error in the ninth inning by hitting a two-out homer in the 11th as the White Sox opened a critical 10-game road trip with a 10-6 win over the Cleveland Indians, hours after Chicago officially claimed Ramirez off waivers Monday.
Lillibridge entered in the seventh, when second baseman Gordon Beckham left after being hit on the right hand with a pitch. In the ninth, Lillibridge bare-handed a high hopper but threw past first, helping the Indians tie it at 6 against closer Bobby Jenks.
Lillibridge was hoping for a chance to make up for it, and he got it in the 11th. He came to the plate with just one homer in 58 at-bats and was in a 2 for 27 rut before connecting off Rafael Perez (4-1).
“I was just trying to do my job and get an out for Bobby,” Lillibridge said of his miscue. “But we came back. We needed this win. It was a long game, and now we’re excited about tomorrow (and Ramirez’s arrival). It’s going to be an interesting day.”
Alex Rios homered, drove in four runs and had five of Chicago’s 21 hits as the White Sox won for just the sixth time in 15 games. Scott Linebrink (2-1) pitched two scoreless innings for Chicago, which added Ramirez to help get them back to October.
The White Sox moved within four games of first-place Minnesota in the AL Central, and after the game got good news on Beckham. X-rays were negative, but for a moment there was concern that the injury was much worse.
“The guy actually came out of the X-ray room and said it was broken,” Beckham said of a hospital employee’s weak attempt at humor. “It was like, ‘Are you kidding me? That’s rookie league stuff.'”
Beckham doesn’t know how long he will be out.
“It does not feel good right now,” he said. “I can’t imagine gripping a bat. As soon as I got hit, I knew it was bad. But they said it is a bruise.”
The White Sox appeared on their way to an easy — if ugly — win. But Jenks, who has been overworked with relievers J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton out with injuries, couldn’t finish off the Indians.
Jenks walked Shin Soo-Choo leading off, and after the White Sox allowed him to take second, Shelley Duncan blooped a RBI single to left to bring Cleveland within two. Travis Hafner followed with his third double — and fourth hit — that brought manager Ozzie Guillen out to the mound.
Guillen stuck with Jenks, who got Luis Valbuena to hit a high chopper to Lillibridge. He fielded it but rushed his throw as two runs scored.
“It’s not Bobby’s fault,” Guillen said. “His teammates have to pick him up. That’s an ugly game — win or lose. I felt like I was in Tucson (at spring training). It was a bad game. Thank God we won it.”
Jason Nix homered for the last-place Indians, who have dropped 11 of 16 and stranded 16.
“We made a good comeback against their closer, but we couldn’t finish the deal,” manager Manny Acta said.
Chicago’s expected waiver claim on Ramirez from the Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t happen in time for him to get to Cleveland — his first major league home — in time for the opener. But he’s expected to arrive early Tuesday, and Guillen said it’s likely the 38-year-old will make his White Sox debut batting fifth as the designated hitter.
Ramirez has joined the White Sox to do one thing: hit.
“Manny could be in a wheelchair with no bats and he still has a presence in the lineup,” Guillen said.
But before he plays for the White Sox, Ramirez may have to visit the barber. The White Sox have an appearance policy, and before Manny can start being Manny, he’ll have to get at least a few inches trimmed off his flowing hair, which currently hangs to the middle of his back.
“From my understanding, it is not going to be an issue,” Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. “He’s going to make an adjustment and he will conform to how we like to have our players represented out there.”
The White Sox are picking up the remaining $3.825 million of Ramirez’s contract this season, a payment that won’t be painful if it comes after a playoff appearance.
Even without Ramirez, the White Sox have been hitting. They have 10 or more hits 13 times in the past 16 games, and they wasted no time putting Indians starter Mitch Talbot in a 5-0 hole after two innings.
Rios hit his 19th homer in the sixth to give the White Sox a 6-3 lead.
NOTES: It was Paul Konerko’s 1,744th game with Chicago, tying him with Guillen for fifth on the team’s list. … White Sox LHP Chris Sale, the team’s first-round draft pick in June, struck out the side in the seventh. … Nix was ejected in the seventh for arguing a called third strike. … Guillen gushed when asked about Omar Vizquel’s impact on the White Sox. “You want to talk about a savior. It’s been my pleasure to manage that that kid,” the 46-year-old Guillen said. “I never thought when we got him he would be this good for us.” … In addition to adding Ramirez, the White Sox moved RHP Jake Peavy to the 60-day disabled list. Peavy had surgery on a right side muscle in July and is out for the season.