Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

November 2010 Archives

jj-putz1.jpgJ.J. Putz closed the door on the White Sox offering him arbitration before Tuesday's deadline, but didn't necessarily close it on the possibility of returning to the South Side if the team comes up with a deal that suits the right-handed reliever and his family.
According to one Sox source - and to the surprise of almost no one - Paul Konerko also declined arbitration and will push forward in free agency.
So now what for the Sox? Therein could be the problem.
Unless general manager Ken Williams happens to find about $60 million lying around 35th and Shields in the next few weeks - which just so happens to be the reported asking price free agent Adam Dunn is looking for over the next four years - the Sox need to try and work out a deal for Konerko, become hostages to the trade market or let Dayan Viciedo have first crack at first base.
The bullpen situation is just as cloudy, with the team likely non-tendering Bobby Jenks by Thursday's deadline, leaving Matt Thornton as the only real proven reliever down there with a track record. Sergio Santos showed promise, as did Chris Sale, but Sale will start spring camp in the starting rotation.
Putz said in a phone interview that while he made the obvious decision by declining arbitration, he's taking all calls. That means from the Sox, as well.
"Honestly, I'm just sitting back and listening,'' Putz said.
Asked where the Sox fit in he replied, "I would say they're still in play, we've had dialogue. We've had dialogue with other teams too.''
Putz did say that he would have to do what's best for his family, but heading into a winning situation is a priority.
And as far as the Thornton and Putz "Bromance'' playing a part in his decision again? Not this time.
"Obviously we're good friends and we're working out together three times a week,'' Putz said. "We talk, but Matt is doing his thing.''

file-a-j-_pierzynski_april_2009.jpgLet the offseason posturing begin.
The White Sox announced before Tuesday's 11 p.m. deadline that they offered salary arbitration to free agents Paul Konerko and J.J. Putz, but declined that same offer to catcher A.J. Pierzynski and designated hitter Manny Ramirez.
What does it mean for the 2011 Opening Day roster? Well, actually nothing yet. All it means is that if Konerko or Putz sign elsewhere, the Sox are compensated with draft picks - two for Konerko, one for Putz. It does show their hand a bit, however, with the team counting on the fact that Konerko and Putz will draw enough interest from other organizations on a multi-year deal. Nether player seemed real interested in working out a one-year contract with the Sox, especially not at this point in their careers.
Konerko, who also found out he finished fifth in the American League MVP balloting on Tuesday, was very specific in that he was hoping that his next deal might be his last.
As for Pierzynski, the two sides seem to be tangled in a game of chicken. The Sox can still negotiate with Pierzynski, but have taken an arbitrator out of the mix if it came to that. Even with free agent catcher Victor Martinez now joining the Tigers, the Sox are hoping that there won't be a swell of interest for Pierzynski and the two sides can find mutual ground.
Big gamble.
Pierzynski has maintained all along that his priority since coming to the South Side in 2005 was to stay on the South Side, but business is business.
"There are 30 teams out there,'' Pierzynski said. "Everyone knows how I feel about the White Sox. We'll take it from there.''
As far as the decision with Konerko, Pierzynski was hoping it meant the Sox are taking steps in re-signing their team captain.
"I love Paul to death,'' Pierzynski added. "I can't see the White Sox without Paul considering what he's done for them and what he's meant. The White Sox won't be the same without him.''

'The Missile' talks Silver Slugger

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Chicago+White+Sox+v+Chicago+Cubs+Mnre2DcqrbNl.jpgThere were many that questioned the sanity of Ozzie Guillen when the White Sox manager insisted two years ago that Alexei Ramirez would not only be one of the best shortstops in the American League, but also better than Guillen in his own playing days.
It seems like once again Guillen knows what he's talking about.
One day after it was announced that Ramirez - nicked named "The Missile'' by Guillen - received his first career AL Silver Slugger Award, Ramirez spoke about it on Friday.
"I'm thrilled,'' Ramirez said through interpreter Lou Hernandez. "I'm not sure if I'm the first or second Cuban to accomplish this, but I'm really proud of the honor.''
Thanks to Rafael Palmeiro he's the second, but what Ramirez has become is the first shortstop in Sox history to win the award, which is presented by Louisville Slugger and honors the best offensive performers at every position in each league as voted on by managers and coaches.
All Ramirez did for the Sox in '10 was hit .282 with 29 doubles, 18 home runs and 70 RBI in 156 games with the Sox in 2010. His .282 average marked the fourth-highest by a shortstop in club history, and his 18 home runs were the sixth-most. He also led all AL shortstops in average, slugging percentage (.431), home runs and total bases (252), ranked second in RBI, third in hits and tied for third in doubles.
This latest honor came just a week after he was named the shortstop on The Sporting News AL All-Star Team, joining Luis Aparicio (1968, '70) and Luke Appling (1936, '40 and '43) as the only three Sox shortstops to garner the honor.
Still missing from that trophy case, however, was a Gold Glove that Derek Jeter was once again given last week.
"It's just an honor to be mentioned in the Gold Glove conversation,'' Ramirez said of Jeter earning the honor. "I always say that it's not in my control.''
What Ramirez is trying to control is preparing himself for at least six months of baseball, as well as putting an end to the trend of playing like a no-show in the month of April. In the past three years, Ramirez is a .205 hitter in April with just two homers.
"I feel like the baseball season is six months of competition and every player will have that one bad month,'' Ramirez said. "My bad month unfortunately is early in the year. I'm doing my conditioning now to make sure I'm prepared for all six months.''

Omar Vizquel is back for $1.75 million in 2011

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Cleveland+Indians+v+Chicago+White+Sox+tWvbAwXKnZql.jpgOmar Vizquel admitted on Tuesday that he entered last spring training with the mindset that 2010 would be his final season as a major-league player.
Thanks to some unexpected quality playing time with the White Sox, however, as well as another 1.75 million reasons to give it one more go around, Vizquel and the club announced that the veteran would return for one more year, with the 43-year-old resuming his role as a key backup at third, second and shortstop.
"I came back and had an opportunity to play and really convinced myself that I can come back and be productive,'' Vizquel explained. "That's why I came back.
"I'm clear about my situation. I know my job is going to be that as a back-up player. Whatever happens this year I will take it in and enjoy it like it's going to be my last year again.''
Vizquel went from reserve to an almost every day player after Mark Teahen was injured in late May. He took over the third base duties and kept a majority of the playing time until late September when the Sox wanted to look at rookie Brent Morel.
The 11-time Gold Glover hit .276 with 11 doubles, two homers and 30 RBI in 108 games, making 62 starts at third, 19 at second and eight at shortstop.
"No, there wasn't any kind of wear and tear,'' Vizquel said, when asked if his age was a concern considering the amount of playing time he got last year. "My body responded awesome. The challenge was great and the way I prepared myself in the offseason I was up to the challenge of the year.''
While Vizquel expects to once again be a calming force for what could be a very young Sox infield this season, he also admitted that one more year in the game is yet another chance to get some on the job training for after his playing career is over.
"Yes, I'm really preparing myself [to be a manger],'' Vizquel said. "I would like to manage as soon as possible. I think I have the experience, the knowledge. I can't wait for the opportunity to do it.''
He definitely has the right guy to learn from in Ozzie Guillen.
"It was really different because Oz is a different guy,'' Vizquel said of the Guillen experience. "He knows how to push your buttons.''

Cora is coming back

Joey Cora will be back as the Sox bench coach in 2011, after the Sun-Times first reported on Tuesday that Milwaukee named Ron Roenicke to their managerial vacancy.
Cora was a finalist for the position, after interviewing several times with the Brewers and ownership last week.

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