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Sox’ poor play has taken toll on Cooper

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Updated: September 11, 2013 12:12AM



There is no direct link between stress and diverticulitis, the painful colon condition that has sent pitching coach Don Cooper to the hospital twice this season.

But stress might weaken the immune system, making patients susceptible to infections. At a Baltimore hospital over the weekend, Cooper was told that it could be factoring into his problems.

“But what job doesn’t have some sort of stress?’’ Cooper asked Tuesday.

This season of bad baseball on the South Side, which showcased another level of ugly with four errors and five unearned runs in a 9-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field, has been difficult on Cooper. His pitchers are getting little support.

Manager Robin Ventura and general manager Rick Hahn have felt this season hit them in the mid-section, too, both describing the season as “gut-wrenching.’’

Being the worst hitting and fielding team — and one of the worst baserunning teams — in the American League will do that.

There was more of it in heavy doses Tuesday. Cooper was pained to see 23-year-old right-hander Erik Johnson, considered the top pitching prospect in the Sox’ farm system, victimized by two errors, a passed ball and what looked like a missed call by plate umpire Tony Randazzo on a strikeout pitch to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning. Given a second chance, Cabrera put the ball in play, and Conor Gillaspie made the first of his three errors on the night. First baseman Paul Konerko made the other.

Gillaspie was the first Sox player to make three errors since Andy Gonzalez in 2007.

“Obviously, it was very difficult tonight, and I can honesty say that’s probably the worst I’ve ever felt playing defense,’’ said Gillaspie, who has 16 errors. “I can’t say that there’s too many days where I’m kind of hoping, ‘Hey, I hope the ball doesn’t get hit.’ Tonight was one of those nights.’’

The Sox have played poorly as a team all year after leading the AL in fielding percentage last season.

“I wore one off the arm, had a ball hit the lip,’’ Gillaspie said. “A couple of them, the arm was a little tired maybe today, and that’s what happens. I’m sure I’ll laugh about it 10 years from now. Obviously, it was pretty bad tonight.’’

Johnson gave up five runs (three earned) in six innings against the Yankees in his debut last Wednesday in New York. In his home debut, four of the six runs he allowed were unearned. Johnson deserved better but wasn’t sharp, with three walks and seven hits — including a Prince Fielder homer — in 32/3 innings.

The Sox have made a major-league high 16 errors this month and 108 this season. They’ve allowed 60 unearned runs.

Two errors behind Johnson had a hand in preventing him from finishing the fourth. Gillaspie made two throwing miscues and one fielding. Konerko made one on a throw from Gillaspie, who played seven innings.

“I had some tough breaks out there, but I thought I attacked the zone as best I could,’’ he said. “I could have worked ahead to a few more hitters, of course, and put myself in a better situation.’’

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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