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April 2009 Archives

Thome update, and more on Pods

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White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wanted an answer from Jim Thome by Thursday afternoon concerning the designated hitter's injured left heel, insisting, "He has to say I'm in or I'm out.''
Thome's in.
After receiving further treatment Thursday morning, Thome tested the heel on the basepaths at U.S. Cellular Field, and afterward told team representatives that he was ready to resume playing Friday in Texas.
"Much better,'' Thome said. "We went out and ran the bases, and it's much better than the other day for sure.
"I hit [Wednesday], really had no issues with hitting. So the big thing [Thursday] was to come in and see where I was at with my running, and everything went good.''
Thome had missed three games with the injury.
There was other news concerning the Sox injury front, as well, with second baseman Chris Getz [fractured right middle finger] also given the thumbs up to return to the starting lineup against Texas.
The only player that still remains a question mark is Brian Anderson, who injured his right oblique on Wednesday. According to the club, he will be evaluated again in Texas, with a trip to the 15-day disabled list still a possibility.
As far as the roster spot that will likely open up with the expected announcement of Jerry Owens being sent out on Friday, Scott Podsednik is the obvious replacement, telling ESPN 1000 that "It was exciting.''
Podsednik has already left the Class AAA Charlotte team, flying to his home in Texas where he will likely rejoin the team for the Rangers series.
The club remained mum on the move, deciding to not announce it until Friday.

Thome injury is 'pretty serious'

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Dewayne Wise was out on the field before Wednesday's game with Seattle throwing the baseball. On Thursday's off day, he will take one-handed swings in the batting cage.
So maybe his return from a right shoulder separation could be sooner than later, after all.
"Yesterday, [head trainer] Herm [Schneider] was talking,'' Wise said. "I know I'm not going on this road trip, but I will be going on the next trip, to Cleveland and Toronto. And he said I should be able to take batting practice then or maybe sometime during the homestand. It all depends on how I feel.
"He asked me where was I as far as the injury. As far as range of motion, ahead of schedule with that and pleased with what I'm able to do. Just all about strengthening the muscles around it so the joints will be stable and I can move on.''
The news isn't as good with Jim Thome, especially with manager Ozzie Guillen calling his sore left heel "pretty serious.''
"Right now, pretty serious,'' Guillen replied, when asked about Thome. "He's day-by-day, every day he feels better. If Thome is not ready to play Friday, we have to make a decision. We're short a couple of players. I have a lot of respect for him, and I wish he could be honest and say, 'Listen, I can't help you right now or yes I can.'
"I plan to play him Friday, but I'll go by my ear. After the game, we'll talk about it. [General manager] Kenny [Williams] will have to make that decision. Listen, I don't want to put anyone on the DL when it will only be a couple of days, but I don't want him to re-injure it because we need him. But hey, we have what we have, and when he's ready to play he'll help us. Right now, I would like him to be honest with us and say he can or he can't.''

Garcia back with the Sox?

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First there was Mike MacDougal, then Jack Egbert and now Lance Broadway - the Bermuda Triangle of bad middle relievers.
No wonder Freddy Garcia's names was brought up following the Game 2 loss to the Mariners on Tuesday. And it just so happens that Garcia is now jobless after the Mets cut ties with him.
"I need to talk to him [Wednesday], see where he is, if he's hurt, how he's doing,'' White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen admitted. "I guess [general manager] Kenny [Williams] and the scouts know more than I do. I have to ask them and see how he's doing. I know he will find a job and hopefully he pitches better for the next team, I don't want to say us yet because I don't know anything about it.''
Yet?
Everyone knows that Garcia is not only Guillen's close friend, but married into his wife's family. And as Guillen put it, he couldn't do worse than some of the other relievers sitting on team's rosters.
"I don't think he should retire,'' Guillen added. "There are a lot of worse guys out there. A lot ... and very bad. I think Freddy can still help. If Freddy's healthy, hey, Freddy can still pitch. There's a lot of really bad guys making $5-$6 million in the game still.''

Nix taking over for 'The Missile'?

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BALTIMORE - Here's definitely a situation to keep an eye on, especially with Alexei Ramirez continuing to look completely awful at the plate on Thursday night.
It is probably not a coincidence that Jayson Nix has been playing shortstop for both Class AA Birmingham and now Class AAA Charlotte on his current rehab assignment, especially considering the struggles Ramirez is having offensively for the White Sox.
Nix is out of minor-league options, so when he's declared healthy, he's either on the 25-man roster or would have to get through waivers.
Here's a very logical scenario if Ramirez snaps out of it or not: The Sox call Nix up and either send Jerry Owens down because Brent Lillibridge can also play center field or possibly even send Ramirez down so he can get right.
That means Nix would play shortstop.
"One thing in my lineup, I need the 'Missile' to get it going,'' manager Ozzie Guillen admitted on Thursday. "Not get him going about getting hits. The at-bats, I wish I had better at-bats from him. We talk about it. I think he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He tries to do too much. I talked to him early, in Tampa. I told him don't worry about it. [Hitting coach] Greg [Walker] has been working with him.''

Contreras staying put

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BALTIMORE - No meeting necessary after all.
And just like that, both White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper defended the decision to stick with Jose Contreras in the starting rotation on Wednesday, despite his dismal 0-3 record and 8.04 ERA.
All of this coming after Tuesday's loss in which Guillen thought a meeting to discuss Contreras' immediate future in the starting rotation might have to be called.
"Not right now,'' Guillen said before Game 2 against Baltimore. "It's kind of early, even though the results aren't what we would like. Like I said last night, you cannot go by your heart and your feelings to make decisions, because you might make the wrong one. We talked to him about it, we had a conversation with him about the situation.
"Let's be honest, there haven't been too many games where you can walk lead-off guys and keep getting out of that situation, especially in this league. You have a lot of lefties out there, and good ones. Strikes, that's always been Jose's problem, when he doesn't throw his forkball for strikes that's when he gets into trouble. The velocity is there, but I don't think Jose has the confidence right now to let the ball go. That's what I see from the dugout. Maybe I'm wrong. Hopefully the next time will be better. I know he'll work on it, and then after the next start maybe we'll have a better idea on what to do.''
Cooper pointed out that Contreras' biggest problems right now are consistency with his forkball and getting out lefties. The forkball has been a pitch Contreras has been trying to find since the spring, while holding right-handed hitters to a .200 average and allowing lefties to hit .342 off of him is about executing and having a better plan of attack.
"Three starts is not enough,'' Cooper said. "But like we talked about in the case of Mike MacDougal, If there's constant failure or not sure what you're going to get or the results are not good enough, then they'll make us have to think about alternatives. We haven't thought about alternatives or discussed them. We're just discussing how can we make it better. Let's see if we can take care of that. Hopefully that will take care of everything else. But if it doesn't work, well then, it can happen to anybody. They're big boys. They know. But we haven't discussed any of that yet.''

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The distinct grinding sound in the back of his throat was a clear message that the hocker was coming up into his mouth, ready to be discarded.
With the media surrounding him minutes after recording save No. 3 on the young season, Bobby Jenks didn't have a cup and certainly didn't want to use the floor of the visiting clubhouse of Tropicana Field as a destination of his loogie-art.
So, Jenks pulled back the White Sox warm-up he was wearing, and spit inside his chest area of the shirt. Then another. Then he grabbed the collar of the warm-up, and blew his nose into it. All before one question was asked.
Sure it was a scene right out of "Animal House.'' As a matter of fact, the only thing missing from the moment was Dean Wormer looking at Jenks and saying, "Mr. Blutarsky ... zero point zero.''
That's where pitching coach Don Cooper comes in.
"Is that all he did?'' Cooper asked, when the subject of his closer came up. "Bobby's got ... I mean how do I word this? Bobby's got a problem holding poop in sometimes. I know there are a couple times where he's been driving around, no bathroom available and he has to find the closest woods, a parking lot, the side of a Walgreens. That's what comes to mind when I think of Bobby.
"I want to say he had a problem in someone's swimming pool, but again, I haven't heard of it being a problem lately.''
The details of whose pool it was are sketchy at best.
But when one teammate was asked about it he did say, "The sad thing is it wasn't an accident.''
"Isn't that what you want from your closer, a guy that can handle difficult situations on the field and off the field?'' Cooper said. "So, he's not the most hygiene-conscious guy. Isn't that what a closer is all about?''
So what if he makes teammates uncomfortable off the field, because on the field, when that bullpen door opens in the ninth inning, they know what they have.
"That's the type of guy that when he gets out there it's just extreme confidence,'' outfielder Brian Anderson said. "You've got the confidence that there will be a guy throwing four-plus pitches for strikes, not to mention that if he has to throw 100 he probably still could. He defines the closers' role.
"As far as the other stuff, Bobby does whatever. It's all relative I guess, because he gets on me for doing things he feels are gross, like biting my nails. I have to remind him sometimes, 'You're really going to call me out on that when you do some of the stuff that you do?' ''
Jenks did say that he gets on Anderson when he bites his nails "right after they were in his nose.''
As far as the rest of his clubhouse behavior?
"Bad habits are easy to form, and you're around each other so much that you see everyone's little quirks,'' Jenks said. "As far as me spitting on my warm-up the other night, well, why not? If it's there.''
The fact is there are no complaints about Jenks once he takes the mound. Sure, there are still those that want to point out the drop in his velocity and strikeouts the past two seasons, forgetting that the former minor-league starter can pitch, not just throw, and has now opted to be more efficient than intimidating.
Why have a six-pitch at-bat throwing fastballs near 100, when he can get a hitter to groundout on two pitches with an Uncle Charlie that drops from 12 to 6?
"I want to sit you as quickly as possible,'' Jenks said. "Going out there 60, 70 times it could wear you down by September. Going out there and being efficient early, that's something you have to learn the more you do it. The goal is to be better at the end.
"It just takes time to learn that. Greg Maddux didn't become Greg Maddux his first two years.''
But what the Sox and his teammates really like about Jenks is he knows who he is and is comfortable with it. He's not walking around with delusions of still being a starter. He's a closer, period.
"It never crosses my mind,'' Jenks said. "The hardest thing for me to get a grasp on is knowing I'll never get to hit again, not that I won't ever be starting again. This is what I do.''
That sums it up perfectly. There's your closer Sox fans - a blue collar, barrel-chested, perfect fit for the South Side, closer. Embrace him.
And then make sure to wash your hands right after that.

The dilemma that is center field

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Think you're tired of hearing about the dilemma that is center field for the White Sox?
So is the manager.
Ozzie Guillen made that very evident on Thursday, discussing Brian Anderson and possible scenarios if Anderson fails to add consistency to that position.
"There is not a legit center field out there that we can look for,'' Guillen said. "We're trying to put the best guy there. The one thing about it, I'm begging those guys to start playing the way we think they can play. Not because I don't have patience on how they're playing, it's because I don't have the patience to try to figure out who is going to be the guy. Right now, that's our plans and I don't have anything different. It's funny, if we win the game, we have a good center fielder. If we lose, we need a center fielder, a leadoff guy, we need a reliever. We just lost one game, and all of a sudden everyone is panicking and asking what are we going to do, what we should do.
"We're not going to win every game, but I expect a lot better things from Brian. If Brian doesn't do the job, somebody else will. Who? We got to figure out who it's going to be. I think it's about pitching and defense. We got to figure out the bullpen and get better. The guys we got here, we believe they can do it. But right now, I don't have no Plan B or C if Brian doesn't do the job. I want to see Brian's at-bats and see how that works.''
The one point Guillen did make about Anderson - which he hopes he's wrong about - is maybe the Anderson we've all seen is all we're going to get.
"Maybe he is what he is,'' Guillen said. "We make a lot of mistakes with first-round picks for a long time here. Thank God we changed that scenario. But I think whoever picked him in the first round, the tools are there. He's got the tools. But he's got to show people the tools. Not because you got tools you can play in the big leagues. You got the tools, we believe he's got the tools. We're waiting for the tools.''

Makeup dates

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DETROIT - The White Sox have been given three options for the make-up game with Detroit, and didn't like two of them.
Team captain Paul Konerko was e-mailed possible dates from the Tuesday rainout, with the first being an April 30 off day, the second being a June 22 off day, and the final scenario being a doubleheader played on July 24.
If the club has any say, it will be a doubleheader on that Friday.

Rumor to ponder

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The wildcard rumor floating out there?
The San Francisco Giants are looking to unload the $44 million they still owe Aaron Rowand through 2012. The one problem? The Giants would have to be willing to pick up a big chunk of the deal to even get Williams on the phone.
Another option coming from the demented mind of yours' truly? How about pitching starved Washington getting Lance Broadway from the Sox for ... drum roll please ... Willie Harris? At least once Harris gets off the DL with a strained oblique.

Damn you, Mike MacDougal

Can the Mike MacDougal ride please come to an end? I'm nauseated and want to get off.
MacDougal's latest gem on Wednesday - a tidy two innings, allowing four runs on three hits, while walking three and unloading two wild pitches. That put his ERA at 12.46.

Game is postponed

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DETROIT - Game has been postponed. No makeup date announced.
A full day in Detroit ... what to do, what to do?


'Pods' is back - breaking news

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DETROIT - The Sox have just announced that Scott Podsednik has been signed to a minor-league contract. He was not injured during the signing of the contract.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

Designated hitter Travis Hafner, whose terrible 2008 helped lead to the once-favored Indians' demise last season, showed he was back in 2009, with three home runs and six RBI in the first week of the season. It doesn't seem to matter because the Indians' pitching has been terrible.

Indians ace Cliff Lee is far off a 20-win course. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, who went 22-3 last season, raised some eyebrowns during spring training, going 0-3 with a 12.46 ERA in six Cactus League starts. Lee thrived last season thanks to superb control. This season, location has cost him. He is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts, having allowed 17 hits and five walks in 10 innings. Keep in mind, Lee didn't lose his second decision last season until July 6. The Indians are counting on a quick rebound. His next start is Thursday against the Yankees in the opener of the new Yankee Stadium.

Fausto Carmona was the latest Indians starter to turn in a bad outing, losing to the Royals, who are off to a fast start. As old friend Paul Hoynes points out, Tribe starters are 1-5 with a 10.92 ERA. Anthony Reyes, who beat the Blue Jays, is the only starter with a victory.

Wise has Grade 3 separation

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DETROIT - The news on Dewayne Wise is a Grade 3 shoulder separation. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday morning, and Jerry Owens is in the building.
Brian Anderson is starting, along with Brent Lillibridge once again at the top of the order.


Wise has a separated shoulder

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The Sox just announced that center fielder Dewayne Wise suffered a separated right shoulder on his fifth-inning diving catch of a liner by Ramon Santiago.
He is likely headed to the disabled list, with the team expected to make a roster move in the next 12 hours.
Wise started the season as the team's leadoff hitter, but after an 0-for-8 start, was bumped down to the bottom of the order. Since the move, however, Wise started hitting a bit more, including a 1-for-3 game on Monday that brought his average up to .238.
Brian Anderson took his spot in center, and will likely get a majority of the playing time with the news.

Wise leaves game with injury

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Dewayne Wise made a WebGem of a catch on what looked to be extra bases for Ramon Santiago in the fifth inning, but the center fielder also came up in extreme pain, holding his right shoulder.
He was examined and left the game.
No word yet on specifics, but Brian Anderson has taken his place.

'Demon' vs. American Idol

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Sox Minor League Conditioning Coordinator Dale Torborg - otherwise knows as "The Demon'' from his wrestling days - has taken on a new venture with the website "Mycontent.com'' as the chief marketing officer, and has already made news with it.
During Wednesday night's "American Idol'' show, rapper Flo Rida was a special guest. It just so happened that "Mycontent.com'' had an exclusive showing of a recent Flo Rida release party, so what happened when he mentioned the website on "Idol'' for the nice plug?
"They censored him, beeped him out,'' Torborg explained. "Even they are afraid of 'The Demon.' ''


Plan C?

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The Sox are yet to face a left-handed starting pitcher in the regular season, but that will change, beginning Friday evening with the Twins in town.
Minnesota plans on starting southpaw R.A. Dickey in Game 1, following that up with Francisco Liriano on Saturday. With Chris Getz "leadoff-hitter-for-the-day'' on Thursday, manager Ozzie Guillen doesn't necessarily want the left-handed Getz to see those two arms - at least not in the leadoff spot.
So what then?
Plan C
"I might lead off Josh Fields,'' Guillen said. "Josh Fields is not a typical lead off guy, but he will get on base. He will give you good at bats. We've got a couple of options to see how that works.''

Guillen sends a message to Wise

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Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is well aware that struggling leadoff hitter Dewayne Wise is now in an 0-for-8 hole with four strikeouts, but that doesn't mean a lineup change is coming.
What Guillen would like to see, however, is better at-bats than what he got from Wise in the sixth and eighth innings.
"He was trying to feel for the ball, trying to make contact,'' Guillen said. "I want him to be aggressive.''
Guillen said that he spoke to hitting coach Greg Walker about it, and Wise, himself, agreed with the manager's assessment.

Open season on Wise

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Not that White Sox players really appreciated the home fans booing Dewayne Wise throughout Tuesday's Opening Day win over Kansas City, but at the same time, criticizing them for it is a battle that can't be won, according to team captain Paul Konerko.
"Anytime it's a situation with the fans, anywhere, it's tough to - it's kind of like one of those deals where the fans are always right, no matter what they're doing,'' Konerko said Wednesday. "It's just kind of the way it is and has always been. Going back to last September, August, there has been an issue with the leadoff spot, talking about the leadoff spot with our team. Carried on through the offseason, carried on through spring training, so it's - I don't want to see any of my teammates get booed. I've been booed, everybody has been booed, you don't want to get booed. But because it's been such a hot topic, it didn't surprise me, either.''
Pitcher Mark Buehrle was a bit more outspoken about it.
"I think on anything besides the bunt [attempts in the eighth], it was unfair,'' Buehrle said. "If you're booing him because he was 0-for-4 and struck out three times, I think that's a bunch of croc.
"Plenty of these guys are going to go 0-for-4 and have their bad days, and it's just that a lot of Opening Day stuff gets blown up because it's such a build up. So he goes 0-for-4 and they think he's not the right guy for the leadoff spot.''
Not that Wise's Wednesday evening got any better for him. He grounded out in his first at-bat, and then after a Josh Fields walk in the third, popped out to catcher Miguel Olivo on a bunt attempt.
Of course, the booing continued.

Fields on the field, as Camp Cora continues

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How serious are the Sox about keeping Josh Field's defense on point? Well, obviously Camp Cora has a travel plan outside Miami, because bench coach Joey Cora has Josh Fields down on the field right now - more than three hours before first pitch - hitting groundball after groundball to him.
Not only is Fields working on fielding, but also his throws to both second and first.
It never stops for Fields, and it shouldn't.

Wise under a microscope ... again

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If Opening Day is a time of new beginnings, that point must have skipped the South Side, especially as far as leadoff hitter Dewayne Wise is concerned.
Without a regular-season at-bat in 2009, no one player has been more dissected than the career-minor leaguer since the Sox awarded him that position late in spring training.
That didn't change on Tuesday, as general manager Ken Williams was once again defending the decision to go with Wise over Brian Anderson and Jerry Owens.
"Every time he goes up to the plate, he's going to fight his way through,'' Williams said of Wise before the opener against Kansas City. "At the end of the day, if we have everyone fighting for a win and we don't win, [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] and I, and everyone here, will hold our heads up and know we gave it every shot we could.''
As far as going outside the organization to acquire a more proven prototypical leadoff hitter, Williams said those avenues had been exhausted.
"The easiest thing in the world is to say you have to go out and get a leadoff hitter, get the prototypical guy who can hit you .300 and get on base at .370, steal 50 bases,'' Williams said. "But when people are pressed to say, 'where are you going to get that guy?', it's 'don't worry about it. You just go get him.'
"I have to go back in the lab and create that guy. Rest assured, we have been looking for and aggressively, whatever those type of guys are, we've asked about them and tried to get them in tow and that's no sleight on Dewayne. You can't create something that's not there, so you make do.''

Lost and found

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The smile on Jose Contreras' face said it all on Sunday.
No interpreter needed.
"I found it,'' the White Sox right-handed pitcher insisted.
What he found in his last outing on Saturday was an out-pitch - his splitter - that had been hiding from him throughout the spring. With Contreras and pitching coach Don Cooper working in his Wednesday bullpen session and getting the location of his fastball more consistent, the hope was that the forkball would finally show itself against the Diamondbacks in the spring finale.
It did, as Contreras started the game, throwing four scoreless innings and allowing just one hit, while fanning three.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said during Sunday's workout that he and Cooper still hadn't decided if Contreras or Bartolo Colon would be the four or five, but either way, the club has a bit more of a swagger knowing that each of their veterans pitched well in their final tune-up.
"I have to sit down with Coop and see the matchups,'' Guillen said. "If it's a speed team, I like them to face Colon because he's faster than Jose to the plate. I'm excited about the way they threw [Saturday}. I never thought they would throw that well in a big game for them, for us, to make our minds clear about we have.''
Colon threw five scoreless in that same game.

Change at the top?

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PHOENIX - Don't be surprised to see Chris Getz in the leadoff spot sooner than later.
On Monday, Brian Anderson was thought to be "Plan B'' if Dewayne Wise was to stumble as the leadoff hitter in the early part of the season. On Friday, however, manager Ozzie Guillen let the revised "Plan B'' out of the bag.
"Well, the leadoff spot, I don't care because I've got [Chris] Getz,'' Guillen said. "He can fill up that role. Center field? Catch the ball and make the plays, and give me good at-bats. We've played without a center fielder for a long time, maybe since [Aaron] Rowand. I think what's important for me is to just go out and make the plays in the outfield, and I think we're better at that position.
"Leadoff, we're going to start with Wise at that position. If that doesn't work then Getz, I think Getz is going to get you consistently good at-bats day after day. How much he's going to hit? Well, we're going to find out.''
Getz had said on several occasions during the spring that he would welcome the shot to hit leadoff. It seemed the coaching staff heard him, with Guillen saying last week that he would give Get back-to-back starts in that top spot to see what he could do.
That never happened.
But in winning the No. 2 spot in the batting order, Getz has shown flashes of what the club expects from a top of the order type of player. Entering Friday's game with Arizona at Chase Field, Getz was hitting .324, to go along with six walks and a .387 on-base percentage throughout the spring. The rookie also nabbed four bases.
Wise was hitting .311 with a .317 on-base percentage without a walk, while Anderson was hitting .279 with six walks and a .342 on-base percentage.

Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the American League Central.

The Minnesota Twins switched gears, taking the Opening Day start away from Scott Baker and giving it to left-hander Francisco Liriano. Shoulder stiffness landed Baker on the disabled list. The Twins also officially put catcher Joe Mauer on the disabled list. And within this same story, we learn R.A. Dickey will get the start next Friday, when the Twins open a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox.

Coming off right shoulder surgery, Cleveland Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner is starting to show some signs of life at the plate as spring training winds to a close. In this same story, we see reigning Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, however, never clicked in the desert, breaking camp with an 0-3 record and a 12.46 ERA (30 earned runs in 21 innings). He allowed 46 hits.

Checking in on a couple of White Sox stars from 2005 ...

Former Sox leadoff hitter Scott Podsednik didn't stick with the Colorado Rockies, but it looks as if the Milwaukee Brewers are interested in reacquiring the speedy outfielder.

Former Sox center fielder Aaron Rowand broke camp with the San Francisco Giants with a .190 batting average. Rowand, 31, is entering the second year of a five-year, $60 million contract.

Guillen's message sent

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GLENDALE, Ariz. - Call it a friendly little reminder from White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
After a 6-1 loss to San Diego on Wednesday, Guillen let his players know that they need to pick it up the final days of Cactus League play, rather than relying on flipping the intensity switch on Monday.
"I think when we look around, everyone looks the same way because of how long spring training was, but in the meanwhile, you can't just flip the switch,'' Guillen said. "Maybe in the next couple of days we can pick it up.
"I think over all, we need to play better defense. We look real shaky in the field, and we have to be better than that. I think everyone in general, get up in the morning, go practice and then go play, it's not easy for a long period of time. I think the guys are looking forward to the start of the season.''

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