GLENDALE, Ariz. - The only thing missing Sunday was White Sox general manager Ken Williams pounding a piece of firewood on the ground, chanting "It just doesn't matter ... it just doesn't matter ... ''
Who could blame him?
Across the lake from the Sox facility, wearing all their glorious white and blue, were the Dodgers. Joe Torre, a throng of media waiting for the Manny Ramirez signing, Camp Mohawk in every way.
On the other side of the lake?
The Sox. Camp North Star.
The defending Central Division champs that are again being disrespected by the prognosticators as nothing more than a fourth-place team in many cases.
"Have we ever not been?'' catcher A.J. Pierzynski remarked, when asked about the so-called experts predicting their downfall. "The one year, in 2006, after we won the World Series [we were favorites]. We are always picked to finish last - that's the way it is. We understand that.
"We have to go out and play the best we can and try to do everything we can. If it works, it works. If not, then we will still give it everything we have and try to make this as fun of a season for everyone as we can. We know one thing about the White Sox--we are going to go out and give it everything we have and play as hard as we can.''
Other observations from Day 1
--Not only is Jose Contreras 30 pounds lighter, but looks to be 10 years younger - making him now appear to be 40. The right-hander wasn't expected back from his ruptured Achilles tendon until July or August, but now has May or June on his radar.
--Mark Buehrle will once again be on a lighter work schedule, getting starts off this spring so that the veteran can be ready for the regular season. The club did this with Buehrle last year, and it paid off. He and his wife are expecting the birth of their daughter within the next three weeks, so the left-hander will be getting some time off anyway.
--Pierzynski is still awaiting word on if he will be playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
--Carlos Quentin, Josh Fields, Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome were all in camp five days early to check out the facility and get some batting practice in.
--Quote of the day - "I think they got him so I wouldn't' be the fattest pitcher on the staff." - Buehrle on the Bartolo Colon signing.