CHICAGO -- There's little doubt that the loss of Federico Poquelin, Alexei Ramirez's father-in-law, affected the White Sox shortstop during the 2013 season. Poquelin was tragically shot to death while Ramirez was in Arizona for Spring Training last year.
Ramirez's priorities immediately shifted to his family after the murder, and understandably stayed there all season. That sort of focus hasn't changed in 2014, as Ramirez plays through the best start of his seven year career with a 13-game hitting streak entering Tuesday.
"The loss of a family member -- and a close and important family member like him -- you never forget it," said Ramirez through translator and director of public relations Lou Hernandez. "But the family is surviving and the family is doing well.
"We try to remember the great moments we had with him, the good moments from his life that we spent together, but you never forget that. That's never out of your mind, losing someone that you love so much."
The case remains unsolved.
Williams impressed with club's early-season energy
CHICAGO -- Ken Williams often referred to the term "Chicago tough" in describing the type of players he wanted on the White Sox roster as the team's general manager.
The White Sox executive vice president wouldn't go to his catch phrase Tuesday in describing the 2014 version of the club, but he certainly likes the energy shown in the season's first couple of weeks.
"One thing I am really pleased about is that in our offseason conversations, our scouts, [general manager] Rick [Hahn], they really paid attention, they really focused on energy," Williams said. "And this goes back to the [Avisail] Garcia trade in July, where we said, 'This is the kind of team we want.'
"It seems to be that whether it be from the Minors, from the trades, we are developing this culture of hard-nosed, gritty kind of play again. I'm loving it."
With the front-office structure of the White Sox, Williams is able to go out and see some of these players and talk to the club's scouts to reinforce some things the team has tried to do over the years. Having this sort of energy becomes infectious throughout the clubhouse and the team.
"Of course. Just the way it works the opposite way, it works to the positive when you have guys that you know are coming to play every day," Williams said. "That you know are sacrificing for the good of a team.
"When you see an [Adam] Eaton have a nine-pitch at-bat, it's like, 'Let me get up there and fight.' When you see a [Jose] Abreu who can hit the ball 1,000 miles take a pitch in a situation and clearly he's trying to go up the middle for the base hit or to right-center field for the base hit, those are unselfish things that carry over for the good of the team."
Williams is not surprised by the change, since this was the type of team manager Robin Ventura expressly wanted to assemble for this season and beyond.
"No. 1 in the type of players we acquire and No. 2, and this is how they are going to play. This is how we are going to play, come hell or high water," said Williams of Ventura's focus. "If we got somebody that doesn't believe in the team concept, well we are going to have to get rid of them or move them on."
"They are scoring a bunch of runs and they have some energy," said Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski of his former team. "I know last year when we played against these guys, there wasn't a whole lot of energy."
Pierzynski honors Hawk by wearing No. 40
CHICAGO -- Once Mike Napoli returned to the Boston Red Sox, A.J. Pierzynski understood his familiar jersey No. 12 was not going to be a possibility with his new team. So Pierzynski decided to honor White Sox play-by-play television announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, who Pierzynski has known since his high school days in Florida and who wore No. 40 during his days in Boston.
"I was kind of half joking with [Paul] Konerko and [White Sox director of media relations Bob] Beghtol and a couple of other guys over here, they were like, 'You can do what your dad did and be his number,'" Pierzynski said. "And I thought, 'You know that's not a bad idea.' So I texted Hawk and asked him what number he was, and he said 40. So I just went with it."
Pierzynski received a nice tribute from the White Sox upon his return to U.S. Cellular Field with the Rangers last season, after serving as the team's catcher from 2005-12 and winning a World Series in his first season. The team has changed for Pierzynski on this visit, but the memories remain just as vivid.
"Fans were always awesome to me here. I always have good memories as soon as I walk downtown in the city and see people that I know," said Pierzynski's, whose son and daughter were both born during his time in Chicago. "I walk in the stadium and it's not just the players and the coaches. It's the behind the scenes people, the security guards and the cooks and the guys who work on the plumbing that you get to know over the years from them being around.
"Those are the big things and the fun parts coming back here and seeing those people. I keep in touch with a lot of those guys. So it's nice to be able to see them or have lunch or grab a beer with them after a game."
Third to first
• Gordon Beckham played his first game at second base during his injury rehab assignment with Double-A Birmingham for a strained left oblique. Beckham was 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday pitting the Barons against Mobile and then went 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored as designated hitter in Game 2
• The White Sox closed the upper deck for Tuesday's series opener against the Red Sox, following Monday's snowstorm and the 40-degree game-time temperature.
"Due to cold temperatures and the expected conditions during tonight's game, we closed the upper deck and the Comcast Fundamentals Deck out of a concern for the safety of our fans [caused by snow and ice on the ramps and in certain parts of the seating areas]," the team said in a statement. "All season-ticket holders, group customers and individual-ticket purchasers for tonight's game were relocated to seats in the lower deck and issued new tickets."
• Due to conflicts with the Blackhawks' playoff schedule, White Sox games on Thursday vs. Boston and April 23 at Detroit will air on CSN+, instead of CSN as originally scheduled.
• The White Sox have agreed to terms on a Minor League contract with right-handed pitcher Frank Francisco, who will report to extended spring training before joining Triple-A Charlotte. Francisco, 34, is 20-22 with a 3.93 ERA, 73 saves and 421 strikeouts in 387 games for the Rangers, Blue Jays and Mets. Francisco joins Tommy Hanson and Javy Guerra as veteran additions by the White Sox since the end of Spring Training.
• Hitting coach Todd Steverson was talking about Ramirez's great early success in this instance, but he presented a statement Tuesday that holds true for the entire White Sox offense, sitting first in the Majors in runs per game.
"Say all the statistics and metrics you want to say," Steverson said, "but there's no metric for confidence."
• Ventura gave a vote of support to Matt Lindstrom, who has blown two save opportunities as the team's new closer.
"He's in there right now," said Ventura of Lindstrom. "It's always been that way, where you can make a change at any time. It's tough, the job is tough. As of right now, he'd probably be going out there today."