CHICAGO -- Don’t get Dewayne Wise wrong. It’s not that he’ll ever enjoy sitting at home and waiting for a team to call while the season is underway.
It irritates him he has to go through that, and he hates the feeling of being without baseball while baseball is being played.
It’s just Wise has come to accept that uncertainty is part of his career. He’s been signed as a free agent 12 times, claimed off waivers twice and been drafted twice. Through it all, he’s never doubted eventually some team will ring his phone.
The 34-year-old Wise was dealt that hand again last month when he was designated for assignment, cleared waivers and then released by the New York Yankees after they acquired Ichiro Suzuki. Wise returned home to South Carolina for a week and a half and waited to hear from someone.
“I’m pretty used to it,” Wise said. “It’s something been going on for awhile now. I’ve been designated, going through the whole waiver thing. It’s just something that I’ve been through. I just don’t let it get me down. I just sit around, wait and see what happens.
“Of course, you worry. You don’t want the season to end in July. Sitting at home watching TV, seeing all of your ex-teammates and some of your friends still playing baseball. I just had a couple days to myself. I knew somebody would call. I’m just glad the right team called.”
The right team was the Chicago White Sox.
White Sox general manager Ken Williams was looking to solidify his team as it prepared for a pennant race with the Detroit Tigers in the season’s final two months. Having already played for the White Sox in 2008 and 2009, Wise was familiar to Williams, and it didn’t hurt that Wise went 4-for-7 against the White Sox earlier this season.
Williams saw Wise as another vital piece to his postseason puzzle.
“A guy that you know is going to fight to win you a ballgame,” Williams said. “When you have an opportunity to add that kind of piece, you try to do that.
“Dewayne, he knows his role. He comes to play every day, competes offensively and defensively and is an aggressive player we were familiar with and knew if something happened he would fit the bill.”
Wise’s role has expanded quickly. After starting off in Triple-A for the White Sox, he was called up to provide depth in the outfield. And now with Alejandro De Aza dealing with a rib injury and having to go to the disabled list, Wise has been sprung into the lineup as the leadoff hitter and centerfielder.
Wise has taken full advantage of his opportunity. He’s had nine hits with three home runs and nine RBIs in 31 at-bats for the White Sox. He had two hits, including a home run, against the Yankees in the White Sox’s 9-6 win on Monday.
“It’s all about getting the at-bats, get a chance to be in there every day,” Wise said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura has certainly felt like the baseball gods have done him a favor. Losing De Aza, who had 73 runs, could have been a major blow for the White Sox, and Wise kept the offense flowing.
“You luck into that one,” Ventura said. “Getting (Wise), you know he’s a good player and a veteran, but the way it’s transpired, the way he’s playing, you kind of fall into that one with some luck with the timing of it.”
A.J. Pierzynski was around during Wise’s last tour with the White Sox and knew what they were getting when he returned.
“Great guy, great teammate,” Pierzynski said. “We always thought he could pay, at least I did. … He just always fits in. You put him in any outfield position and you hit him anywhere in the order and he’ll produce. He can run and play the outfield really well. He’s just a good addition to any team.”
Wise’s career to date is best known for his leaping over-the-wall catch to preserve Mark Buehrle’s no hitter for the White Sox on July 23, 2009. The White Sox commemorated Wise’s grab by printing “THE CATCH” at the spot on the outfield wall at U.S. Cellular Field.
“I would have never thought they would put that up, but I’m glad they did,” Wise said. “It’s something people talk about, and the fans will always see when they come to the ballpark.”
Wise is now hopeful he can provide a few more unforgettable memories for White Sox’s fans. He is confident he has some good baseball in him.
“I’m still having fun, man,” Wise said. “I know I can still go out here and compete at a high level and help a team win. I love the game, and it’s a childhood dream. I think that’s what keeps me going.”