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Beginning Starters

John Snyder and Jim Parque, the youngest members of the Chicago White Sox's rotation, are pitching like veterans.


Few players are happier with the youth movement launched by the Chicago White Sox than John Snyder and Jim Parque.

The two youngest pitchers on the club, who follow each other in the rotation, are taking advantage of the opportunity.

"With some other teams, like Atlanta, we'd still probably be in triple-A," Snyder said.

Snyder, a 24-year-old right-hander from Westlake High, is 3-1 with a 1.88 earned-run average, third-best in the American League. He has allowed two runs and five walks in his last 21 innings.

Parque, 23, a left-hander from Crescenta Valley and UCLA, is 3-1 with a 3.70 ERA. He had a five-game winning streak dating to last season snapped by Boston on April 13.

They are scheduled to pitch against the Angels this weekend at Edison Field, Parque on Sunday night and Snyder on Monday afternoon in the finale of a four-game series.

With Snyder and Parque leading an inexperienced staff, the White Sox are hanging tough in the AL Central Division, trailing only the stacked Cleveland Indians.

The suddenly cost-conscious White Sox let high-priced outfielder Albert Belle and third baseman Robin Ventura depart as free agents to Baltimore and the New York Mets, and now have only four players 30 or older.

So second-year Manager Jerry Manuel was left with the kiddie corps and one proven star, first baseman Frank Thomas. The youngsters, especially Snyder and Parque, have responded.

"We are doing great," Parque said. "A lot of guys are saying the White Sox are young, but who cares?

"The fact is, right now there are three teams below us [in the division] that are young. I don't think people should underestimate us. We can play."

Parque, drafted out of UCLA by the White Sox in 1997 with a compensation pick between the first and second rounds, points to Manuel as the glue holding the club together.

"He's a personable man who is kind of a father figure to all of us," said Parque, who was 7-5 with a 5.10 ERA in 21 games for Chicago last year. "I see him as someone who takes charge of the team and gets us to play hard."

Snyder's best game this season was a 4-0 victory against Pedro Martinez and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 15, allowing two hits in six innings. He extended a scoreless streak against the Red Sox to 19 2/3 innings.

"That was the catalyst for my last few outings," Snyder said.

Parque's best start came in a 3-1 victory over Seattle at Comiskey Park on April 20, when he allowed four hits in six innings.

Parque and Snyder each started one game of a doubleheader against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, with Parque winning the first game, 10-7, and Snyder the second game, 9-1.

"We are feeding off each other," Snyder said.

For Snyder, the road to the majors was bumpy. He was drafted by the Angels out of Westlake in 1992 and traded to the White Sox in the summer of 1995 as part of a deal that brought Jim Abbott to Anaheim.

But one year later, Snyder had elbow surgery and missed most of the 1996 season. He was promoted to the White Sox last season and was 7-2 with a 4.80 ERA in 15 games.

"I've been working pretty hard for this since I graduated from high school," Snyder said. "I've been to the bottom of the valley and to the top of the mountain, and I want to stay at the top."


Parque had an unexpected visitor during a team meeting at spring training in Tucson--his Labrador puppy.

"He loves people," Parque said. "He got loose somehow and he saw me and almost took Jerry [Manuel] out and acted like he was part of the team during the meeting."


Hard-throwing right-hander Russ Ortiz of the San Francisco Giants got the best of former Montclair Prep teammate Brad Fullmer of the Montreal Expos when they faced each other at Olympic Stadium on Thursday night.

Ortiz (3-2) held Fullmer, a left-handed-hitting first baseman, hitless in three at-bats. He allowed five hits in five innings and the Giants held on, 6-5.

Fullmer and Ortiz played on a powerful Montclair Prep team in 1992 that finished 18-5 but was not eligible for the playoffs because the school was on probation for football recruiting violations.


Around the horn . . .

Javier Delahoya (Grant) of the double-A Bowie Baysox (Orioles) leads the Eastern League with four victories and is fourth in strikeouts with 26. . . . Outfielder Kurt Airoso (Cal State Northridge) of the double-A Jacksonville Suns (Tigers) is fifth in the Southern League with a .345 batting average and second with 30 hits. . . . Mike Glendenning (Crespi, Pierce) of the Class A San Jose Giants is second in the California League with seven home runs and third with a .652 slugging percentage. . . . Fernando Rios (Glendale High) of the Class A Rockford Reds is ninth in the Midwest League with a .328 batting average.

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