White Sox notebook: Owens shooting to steal 30 this season
Jerry Owens knows that it’s possible to steal 100 bases in one season — Rickey Henderson did it three times, after all — but he’s setting his sights a little lower for now.
“Maybe 100 in the future; for now I’m shooting for 30,” the White Sox rookie center fielder said.
That goal is a very real possibility for Owens. There are five weeks left to play and he had stolen 19 bases in 22 attempts heading into Thursday’s game.
“As soon as I get 30,” Owens said, “I’ll want to get 35 than 40.”
Owens has played in just 59 contests with the Sox, but already has the sixth-most stolen bases by any rookie in Sox history.
One more and he matches radio analyst Chris Singleton’s rookie mark (1999), two more and he ties general manager Ken Williams (1987), three more to catch Mike Caruso (1998) and four more to tie Mike Cameron (1997) for second-most among Sox rookies all-time.
Though he’s unlikely to match John Cangelosi’s rookie mark of 50 stolen bases, set in 1986, Owens is beginning to figure out what it takes to take bases at the major league level.
“Getting a good jump, I think, and having some knowledge about what the pitcher does before it even happens,” Owens said. “If I’m in the dugout I’ll watch him take his warmup pitches from the stretch and see if I can pick anything up. Maybe he might lean a little bit or might buckle that back knee a little bit, and that’s my key to take off.”
He’s been successful so far, but Owens wants more — and his manager wants more from him.
“Sometimes I might run or something and I’ll come in and (manager Ozzie Guillen will) say, ‘Hey, in that situation you might want to let Jimmy (Thome) hit, or Paulie (Konerko) hit,’ ” said Owens, who has a permanent green light to steal unless told otherwise. “I’m learning as I go, but Ozzie’s been really good about it, he’s helped me out with certain situations and helped me out in certain situations.”
Scott Podsednik (strained right rib cage), who Owens has replaced in the leadoff spot, is still day to day, according to Guillen.
If Joe Crede does return to the Sox next year, there’s a strong possibility Josh Fields will end up in left field, especially considering Williams said Fields has assured himself of a roster spot if he keeps playing like he is now.
“If it comes down to it and I do get moved to the outfield, that's fine — I just like know that I'm going to stay there for a while and be able to get comfortable with it rather than moving back and forth,” Fields said, adding that he doesn’t plan on playing winter ball unless the Sox want him to learn a new position.
“The good thing about it is Josh is such a good athlete that he’s not anchored to third base,” Williams said.
When asked about Texas’ 30-run outburst Wednesday against Baltimore, Guillen let out a little chuckle.
“All of a sudden, you just start laugh,” Guillen said. “I never thought that would happen in the big-league level.”
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