Columnist Andy Call's Around MLB, weekly column.

Ozzie Guillen never really needed something drastic to happen for him to
drop a few dirty words. But two years after leading Chicago to a World
Series victory, the White Sox manager is saddled with a team playing so
dreadfully, most baseball-watching mothers simply would nod in agreement
instead of reaching for the bar of soap to wash out Guillen’s mouth.

The White Sox entered the weekend 10 games below .500 for the first time
since 2001, hadn’t won a series since May 21-23 and had lost 19 of their
last 24. Friday and Saturday losses to the Cubs just added to the misery.

“And we’re still getting paid for that, huh?” Guillen said. “That’s a little
embarrassing. Getting paid to lose series.”

One day earlier, Guillen said his team’s performance in a loss to Florida
was a “joke” and that his players were wasting their talent.

Chicago ranks last in the league in runs scored (4.01 per game), hits (7.8
per game), average (.236), on-base percentage (.310), slugging percentage
(.369), OPS (.679), doubles, triples, total bases and RBIs.

The problems aren’t confined to the hitters. Chicago’s bullpen is 2-10 with
an 8.16 ERA during its last 38 games.

“With the names we have in here, things eventually have to turn around,”
utilityman Rob Mackowiak told the Chicago Tribune. “I know we’ve been saying
that for months. You would think the odds of turning it around would be in
our favor.”

The White Sox have had their share of injury problems. Third baseman Joe
Crede is out for the season following back surgery. Outfielder Scott
Podsednik returned Saturday but had been on the DL for a month with a
groin injury. First baseman/DH Jim Thome missed most of a month with a
strained right rib cage and is battling back spasms. Outfielder Darin Erstad
was out three weeks with a sprained left ankle.

The first guy to take the fall was scouting director Duane Shaffer, fired
Friday after 35 years with the team. He had supervised the team’s draft
picks since 1991.

General Manager Ken Williams is said to have begun to mull trading away
left-hander Mark Buehrle, veteran outfielder Jermaine Dye and second baseman
Tadahito Iguchi, all of whom can declare free agency this fall.

“Every day I think about it -- when something happens to one of my players,
how am I going to react?” Guillen told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s because
of the relationship we’ve had the past four years. It’s not going to be
easy. That’s why I keep rooting for those guys and have faith in them,
because I don’t want that to happen. And the only way that doesn’t happen is
if we start winning.”


It’s time for Milton Bradley to get a second chance.


The mercurial outfielder already has worn out his welcome with the Expos,
Indians, Dodgers and A’s. He was designated for assignment Thursday despite
a pretty fair .818 OPS in 115 games for Oakland.

Teams are willing to put up with Bradley’s outbursts because he is a fine
athlete who can be a real asset when healthy. But if he can’t stay healthy,
the bosses have to worry about his injuries and his attitude. At some point,
the team decides he’s not worth the worry and moves on.

Bradley will turn 30 next spring and isn’t likely to change. When not
consumed by anger, he can be intelligent, engaging, thought-provoking and
even funny. But even during those conversations, you swear you can hear
something ticking. That’s why, at some point in the future, he’s going to
get a second chance for the last time.


Weird injury of the week goes to Tampa Bay pitching coach Jim Hickey, who
went out to play golf Tuesday and came back with 11 stitches and an ugly
bruise near his right eye. Hickey said he hit the ball off the curb of a
cart path, and the ricochet struck him squarely in the face.


San Diego right-hander Jake Peavy is on track to set a franchise record for
career strikeouts. Peavy fanned seven Tuesday to bring his career total to
960, ahead of Trevor Hoffman (956) and just 77 behind Andy Benes (1,036).
“You can almost put out a lawn chair and enjoy the show,” Padres first
baseman Adrian Gonzalez said in the Chicago Tribune of playing behind Peavy.


San Francisco’s Dave Roberts received a standing ovation that lasted nearly
a minute when the Giants played Boston at Fenway Park. Red Sox fans
remembered that Roberts stole second against New York’s Mariano Rivera in
the 2004 American League Championship Series, a key moment in the comeback
victory that sparked Boston’s World Series run.

“It gets closer and closer every single time,” Roberts told of
watching video of his steal. “And I swear, I hope five, 10, 20 years down
the road (umpire) Joe West doesn’t change his mind and call me out.”


Five active players have 1,000 or more career hits in the same ballpark.
They are Colorado’s Todd Helton (who got his 1,000th at Coors Field on
Wednesday), Derek Jeter, Frank Thomas, Garrett Anderson and Sammy Sosa.


Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder, on pace to hit 58 home runs, had an
inside-the-park homer last Sunday at the Metrodome. ESPN’s Jayson Stark
reports only seven players have hit one inside the park during a 50-home
season. They are Sammy Sosa (2001), Babe Ruth (1927), Jimmie Foxx (1932),
Hank Greenberg (1938), Hack Wilson (1930), Mickey Mantle (1961) and Willie
Mays (1955).


Detroit’s planning commission has put a hold on the demolition of old Tiger
Stadium because of insufficient planning by the Detroit Economic Growth
Corp. The project would cost the city about $2.9 million. The Tigers last
played in the ballpark in 1999. It opened in 1912.


Some quick hits:

Umpire Ron Kulpa called both Justin Verlander’s no-hitter and Curt
Schilling’s one-hitter in the same week.

Kenny Lofton has played on 10 playoff teams in the last 16 years.

Injured left-hander Eric Milton won 16 games during his three years with the
Reds and was paid $1.59 million for each of them.

The American League was 114-96 against the National League in interleague
games through Thursday. The AL was 154-98 against the NL in 2006.

Weird stat of the week: American League pitchers (who never hit) were
batting .171 in interleague games through Wednesday, while NL pitchers (who
hit all year) were batting .149.

Reach Canton Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail: