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Contreras without his "buddy," FOX sucks

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(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
One side effect of the Javier Vazquez trade that I don't think we've touched on -- or have only done so in passing -- is Jose Contreras' confidence level in El Duque's absence. When he schooled the Yankees in August, you could see him looking to the dugout between batters. He wasn't searching for Don Cooper down there. He was locking eyes with El Duque.

El Duque was Jose's second pitching coach, always the first to greet him at the end of an inning or end of an outing. It's no coincidence that he was able to master the three-quarters delivery while Duque was by his side. Contreras admits...

"It will be difficult for me," said a forthright Contreras through a translator on performing without the assistance of Hernandez. "I'm used to looking to my left and having my buddy there and it will be different this year. What can you do? Just keep on going.

"I'm not sure. I'm confident, but my buddy had a big influence on me and helped my confidence level. I'm being very sincere about it. I miss my buddy and it's going to be a big loss for me."

"Mentally, he was an enormous help," Contreras said of El Duque's impact. "He understands who I am.

"He was a big influence on me last year and a big reason I had the success I had. El Duque was like a coach."

In the article, Ozzie and Widger try to downplay the effect Duque's absence will have on Count, and to an extent I agree. Contreras really is a different pitcher, but it will be very telling how he deals with the first bit of adversity this season. If he's able to rebound on his own, he should be well on his way to being one of the best in the league. If not, well, then it's a good thing we have Brandon McCarthy waiting in the wings.
* * * * *

Freddy Garcia was the lone Sox pitcher not to report on Friday, but Scott Merkin reports that he had a good excuse. Garcia's car, containing personal papers and his passport, was stolen in Miami.

Bobby Jenks also explained his absences at SoxFest (death in the family) and at the Chicago Auto Show (car accident).

* * * * *

Although the broadcast schedule has yet to be formally announced, it appears that only 161 games will be televised in the Chicago area this year. Once again, the Sox travel for a weekend series in Minnesota during college football season.

The Golden Gophers are scheduled to play Michigan at the HHH Dome on September 30th, though a time hasn't officially been announced. (That usually doesn't happen until about a month beforehand for TV purposes.), meanwhile, lists the Sox as playing the Twins in the Humpdome at 11 AM that day.

Because FOX has exclusive rights to air MLB games during that time slot, and 11 AM would be too early for their Game of the Week, the game will not be broadcast at all.

First Annual South Side Sox Roadtrip, anyone?