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

December 2011 Archives

White Sox unload 'excited' Quentin for minor leaguers

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The White Sox trimmed about $7 million from their payroll Saturday by trading All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin to his hometown San Diego Padres for two minor-league pitchers, right-hander Simon Castro and left-hander Pedro Hernandez.

Castro, 23, was 7-8 with a 5.63 ERA over 115 innings combined last season between Class AA San Antonio and Class AAA Tucson in 2011.

Hernandez, 22, combined to go 10-3 with a 3.49 ERA over 116 innings last season between Class A Lake Elsinore, Tucson and San Antonio.

The 6-5 Castro is thought to have the higher upside. He was rated as the Padres' No. 3 prospect by Baseball America before taking a step back last season when he did not make the top-10 list. He pitched for the World Team at the All-Star Futures Game in 2010.

Quentin, 29, batted .254 with 31 doubles, 24 home runs and 77 RBI in 118 games with the Sox in 2011 and was named to his second American League All-Star Team. He missed 36 of the final 37 games with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. Quentin missed an average of 46 games his last three seasons because of injuries.

Quentin is a former high school athlete of the year in San Diego and he still considers San Diego his home.

"I woke up this morning to find out I was traded to San Diego, and I'm in San Diego,'' he said.

"I knew from how we had performed with the White Sox below expectations from the fan base and front office that pieces could me moved,'' Quentin said. "Wasn't sure when it would happen. I tried to keep my eyes off news publications to keep my mind off things I don't have control over.

"This is going to be a positive. I'm excited.''

Quentin is in his final arbitration year and will be eligible for free agency after the 2012 season. His place in right field will likely be filled by Dayan Viciedo.

The deal has been in the works for about 10 days.

"It's hard to give up pitching prospects,'' Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. "We like both those guys quite a bit but [we were able to add] a 20-homer bat and multiple All-Star who plays with a lot of intensity.

"He has huge power.''

"Castro twice has been a top 100 prospect. He scuffled at times. He has a quality changeup and slider [to go with his best pitch, a 90-plus fastball] and he's a great kid.''

Quentin said he will miss Chicago, especially his teammates.

"I've always given credit to the Chicago White Sox for making me an everyday player,'' Quentin said. "As far as leaving, I have a lot of emotions in my heart for teammates. We did under-achieve and most of the guys in the clubhouse will admit that.''

Danks' thoughts on his new deal, White Sox

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Thursday's conference call Q & A with White Sox pitcher John Danks, who signed a five-year, $65 million extension.

Surprised?

It really did come out of nowhere. My agent called me, we were both surprised and happy and it went fairly quick. It's exciting and I'm thrilled to death, for sure.

It comes off my worst year of my career, so yeah, I didn't expect this. At the time I wasn't worried about it (contract). More worried about righting the ship.

I've said all along I love Chicago and the people with the White Sox. This was my first choice and I've proven that.

Are you the anchor of this staff?

I don't know. I see myself being a big piece, but on any given day that guy has to pitch well. I like to think of myself as someone who can be depended on for 200 innings and giving us a chance to win. But it will take five of us and maybe more to get us where we want to be. I think of myself as a big piece of the rotation, maybe a guy who can be counted on a little more than some of the other guys. It's about Jake [Peavy] and the whole group for us to get where we want.

Were you prepared to be traded?

You hear a lot of stuff. I was working out and getting ready to come up and finish the year with the White Sox. You hear a lot but I took the attitude that until something happened I was going to be with the White Sox.

Want the ball on Opening Day now that Buehrle is gone?

If you don't want to pitch on Opening Day you are in the wrong profession.

Strange with Buehrle gone?

It will be different, my first time without him being around. He was a great mentor. We will miss him, I wish we would have had him here, but it's a business.

With the team as it stands now, are you good enough to win the division?

I like our chances, I really do. I'm not just saying that. There were a lot of guys, including myself, who underperformed. There are guys with great, long track records who had down years. It was a perfect storm. We have a lot of the same guys back who are very capable of doing the opposite of what we did last year.

Does big contract put pressure on you or take it away?

A little bit of both. I bet on myself the last few years [by not signing long-term deals]. I had no problem doing that, I'm a confident guy. I'm being counted on to help us win. I'm going to do that regardless. It does take a little pressure off because you don't have to worry about it but at the end of the day my job is to win ballgames, contract or no contract.

Sox announce Danks extension: Five years, $65 million

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The White Sox made their five-year contract extension for left-hander John Danks official on Thursday.

Danks, 26, will receive $8 million in 2012, which would have been his final year of arbitration eligibility, and $14.5 million in each of the 2013-16 seasons, the team announced.

Danks was 8-12 with a 4.33 ERA in a topsy-turvy 2011 season. After losing his first eight decisions, Danks was 8-4 with a 3.69 ERA over his final 16 starts. Danks is 54-56 lifetime with a 4.03 ERA.

The extension was first reported on Dec. 21. It was made official after Danks passed a physical.

"We've tried to get John signed to a multiyear deal for a number of years,'' general manager Ken Williams said.

"We went into the winter meetings, as I tried to explain, looking at all options. This was one of them.

"We explored the trade market, we explored the value there and obviously decided on doing this instead.''

Williams was willing to deal Danks, and still may be in trade mode for right-hander Gavin Floyd, left-hander Matt Thornton and outfielder Carlos Quentin, but only if the price is right on his return.

Williams reportedly asked for two of the Yankees' top prospects for Danks but the Yankees were not listening.

"Of course there was interest [in Danks],'' Williams said. "We consider ourselves fortunate to sign John and John proved that he likes Chicago, likes the organization and wants to be part of putting a winner on the field. What I asked for on the trade market, some things you have to keep in-house, but suffice to say we weren't going to give John Danks away. As I tried to articulate to everyone, the only way we would move any of our impact players is if we got impact players, young players back. So we are still in win mode, but yeah, you can still be in a little bit of a rebuilding phase.

"I tried to articulate it wouldn't be a true rebuilding because we have too many veterans, good ones, who are looking to bounce back. We've filtered in our fair share of minor league players as we've gone along. It was never going to be that traditional rebuilding anyway.''

Danks said he was surprised that the deal got done.

"It came out of nowhere,'' he said.

"My agent called me and we were both surprised and happy.''

Danks reportedly agrees to extension with White Sox

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White Sox left-hander John Danks reportedly is close to signing an extension.

The deal is said to be worth $65 million over five years for the 26-year-old, who is a leading candidate to replace Mark Buehrle as the Opening Day starter in Texas on April 6.

A Sox source wouldn't shoot down the reports but also said an announcement has not been scheduled. Danks would have to pass a physical before the deal would become official.

Danks was set to earn about $8-9 million in arbitration and would have been eligible for free agency after the 2012 season, which made him a tradeable commodity.

Danks' best season was 2010 when he was 15-11 with a 3.72 ERA while topping 195 innings for the third consecutive season. He started horribly last season with eight straight losses in his first 11 starts before rebounding to finish 8-12 with a 4.33 ERA.

The Sox believe Danks, whose career record is 54-56 with a 4.03 ERA in five seasons with the Sox, is ready to assume Buehrle's role as staff leader.

The Sox lost Buehrle to free agency two weeks ago. The fan favorite and close friend of Danks signed a four-year, $58 million deal with the Miami Marlins.


White Sox to tender contracts to Danks, Quentin

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The White Sox tendered contracts to left-hander John Danks and right fielder Carlos Quentin before Monday's 11 p.m. deadline. Both are eligible for arbitration, and because they can become free agents after next season, the Sox are fielding trade offers for each player.

The moves were expected. An unsigned player who isn't tendered a contract by their team can become a free agent.

Danks is expected to earn about $8 million and Quentin about $7 million next season. There's a good chance the Sox will sign them before going to arbitration if they are not traded. Salary arbitration figures are exchanged on Jan. 18. Arbitration hearings begin Feb. 1.

The Sox have made attempts to sign Danks to a long-term deal. Their interest in doing the same for Quentin doesn't appear as strong.

Twins pick White Sox prospect Doyle in Rule V draft

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The Minnesota Twins plucked White Sox minor league right-hander Terry Doyle, who made an impressive showing during the Arizona Fall League, in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

The Sox did not select any prospects in the draft.

Doyle, 26, was 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA for the Mesa Solar Sox this fall. The Twins drafted Doyle second overall and paid the mandatory $50,000 fee for Rule V picks. If he doesn't stay with the Twins the entire 2012 season, Doyle must be offered back to the Sox for $25,000. Despite Doyle's strong performance in Arizona, the Sox did not protect him on their 40-man roster.

Doyle was a 37th-round Sox pick in the 2008 June draft. In 2011, he was 8-10 with a 3.07 ERA in 173 innings between Class A (high) Winston-Salem and AA Birmingham.

Buehrle goes to Marlins for four years, $58M

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DALLAS -- Mark Buehrle's storied White Sox career officially came to an end on Wednesday when the free-agent left-hander agreed to a reported four-year, $58 million contract with the Miami Marlins.

The deal reunites the popular and remarkably consistent 32-year-old with Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, whose new team introduced shortstop Jose Reyes on Wednesday. The Marlins, easily the biggest players in this year's free-agent market, also signed Heath Bell.

"If that happened, I'm very happy to have this kid,'' said Guillen, who received the news during a media interview session at the winter meetings.

Guillen pumped his fist when the session was over.

"That means we're showing people they want to play for us, for me," Guillen said.

The White Sox, who are looking to cut payroll, had been pessimistic all along about their chances of signing Buehrle, who pitched a no-hitter, perfect game and helped the Sox win a World Series in 2005.

"Like I said, he will be missed,'' Williams said Wednesday. "I just told the Marlins owner he has one great pitcher but a better person. I'm happy for [Buehrle] but we have to move forward. I wish he and the Marlins well.''

Buehrle had hinted at possibly retiring after his Sox deal ran out, then proved he can still pitch with a run of 18 consecutive starts allowing three or fewer runs this past season, when he reached the 30-start plateau with 200 innings and double-digit wins for a 12th straight year.

Buehrle, who has played his entire career in Chicago, ranks fifth among White Sox all-time in strikeouts, sixth in starts and eighth in wins and innings.

Buehrle's agent, Jeff Berry, came back to Williams with the Marlins offer and Williams said "congratulations.''

"I think people will be just as unhappy as I am,'' Williams said. "Listen, given my druthers I would druther have him here than not. Two words probably best sums it up: It sucks. But this is part of sports. It's part of the business. Your favorite players and my favorite players will come and they will go.''

Robin Ventura interview

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Robin Ventura media session at Winter Meetings on Tuesday

Q. Who is your closer?
ROBIN VENTURA: I knew yesterday, when I talked to you, I knew who it was. But obviously, you know, right now you're going to wait and see how the rest of this week goes and figure it out from there.

Q. Do you much about Addison Reed who is the young guy that came up last year?
ROBIN VENTURA: Yeah, obviously we're going to, at this point, you're going in and getting it from within. So you're looking at some young kids that will be able to have a shot to do it and try and make it work. You feel like you have the talent there to do it and fill that slot.
So you get rid of a guy that's a good player and you're hoping you get something that fills a need with a quality player.

Q. You talked about it's not ‑‑ you're going to take what you get. You're not going to have if I want to be here, I want to guy or that guy. Is it tougher starting to lose these guys instead of getting back the established veterans?
ROBIN VENTURA: I think a little bit. I think you would look at it on the outside and think that. But it's not like we are not going to have 25 guys, and they're going to be good players. We still have a good nucleus of guys, and I feel like they're going to have a better year this year than last year. What that is, nobody knows. But I know they are coming in motivated and ready to go.

Q. When you were a player, when you were a veteran player, when you heard the word rebuilding, did it make you cringe a bit?
ROBIN VENTURA: Retooling, I think is the same ‑‑ I think you can use that same word. When you're looking at who is still on the roster and the guys that you have, you know, I've been through the rebuilding and looking at our roster, it's not the same as what I went through as a player. But I still feel confident with what we have.

Q. Matt Thornton struggled in the closer out of the gate. With a new manager is it a clean slate with anybody?
ROBIN VENTURA: I still think he's a great pitcher and he'll be able to handle that. Year to year to me isn't what they did last year, is really last year. So I'm going to give them a clean slate to be able to obviously show that they can handle different things and have another shot at it.

Q. This whole experience of being with all the managers here at one time, what have you picked up out of it over the last couple of days now?
ROBIN VENTURA: You know, it's nice just to be able to talk with them and stories back and forth. Most of them I know anyway, from having played. So it's just nice to see them again and talk on a common level.

Q. With the closer situation, you obviously will be looking for one guy to step up. You don't want to get in one of those closer by committee things?
ROBIN VENTURA: No, if you have to, you know, it is a possibility, but I would rather have one guy. Even though this happened a few hours ago, it's not set in stone that now we have to find the guy. I think again you're going to look through the week and see what happens. And we're obviously trying to get talented players. We're getting younger players, but talent.

Q. Was it an idea that Buehrle could be gone maybe a guy like Carlos gets strayed. We know Sergio is gone. White Sox fans say this is bumming me out. Is there a ray of hope that you can give them?
ROBIN VENTURA: I think for Mark, that's a situation, you know, that's a spot he's earned by what he's done. And he deserves the ability to look around and see what's out there.
Trading guys away you're not just letting them go, you're trying for get talent back, good talent that is either you're going to use this year or even the following year, but you're definitely motivated by getting a young talent back.

Q. Molina, will he get a chance? He's obviously still young, a Double‑A guy, will he get a decent look in Spring Training?
ROBIN VENTURA: I'll get a good look at him. I can guarantee you that. We don't know quite yet by watching him if he's going to get that shot to be able to break camp. But obviously we'll be watching him close.

Q. I know the trade just happened, did you know anything about him before the trade happened?
ROBIN VENTURA: Who is that?

Q. Molina?
ROBIN VENTURA: No. And again, in my position I'm trusting what we had as our scouting department and the guys we have that do that job, you're trusting what you get back is going to be a good player.

Q. Today as a manager for you, any other days that now you have the personnel change to deal with ‑‑
ROBIN VENTURA: A little bit. This is different, obviously getting asked questions about personnel and not having gone through a year yet, so it's not like I know all of them all that well.
But, yeah, with the trade it's different because having gotten the job and then going forward you're expecting a guy like Sergio to be there and you can kind of put that over here. But when things start changing you're obviously ‑‑ you start looking down different avenues of what's there on the team.

Q. You said as a veteran player you went through both rebuilding or retooling. As you said, when you were going through that as a veteran player, was there a different feeling on your part as you started the season?
ROBIN VENTURA: Not really. You're still going out there trying to win games. As a player it's different because I guess you're more of a teacher, you're helping guys out, kind of coaching more than you are just playing. And I don't see that, that's what's different about it. I don't see that with our team. We have young guys, but they're not first year guys.

Q. Anything you see with Adam Dunn that you could help him with for next year?
ROBIN VENTURA: I just want Adam not to think about baseball right now. I'd rather him just get away. He's been successful in the past. I don't look at that one year as that's going to define him. He's a motivated guy, ready to come back and prove the player that he is. And I'm not going to sit down with him and go over last year's video. We're going with what he comes in with this year.

Q. Any plans to play him in the field a little bit more?
ROBIN VENTURA: He'll probably get out in the field, I see that.

Q. Are you anticipating more players to be moved in the next day or two?
ROBIN VENTURA: You know, by this one, we probably weren't expecting, you would think so. But in doing that, you're going to have to get the right people. And it's not always that easy to get what you're looking for from the other side to be able to move them. It's a question mark, just like it was yesterday.

Q. Have you talked to Ozzie at all since you've been down here?
ROBIN VENTURA: I haven't seen him. I thought I heard him when I was walking down here.

Q. Do you want to?
ROBIN VENTURA: Yeah, I don't mind, I'll talk to him.

Q. What appealed to you most about managing?
ROBIN VENTURA: Well, one, it's the team, you know, I'm passionate about the White Sox and baseball and the city of Chicago. But the people that I'm working with, and that's important to me is that I know, you know, from Jerry to Kenny and everybody else in the front office, who I'm dealing with and who I'm talking to on a daily basis. And the opportunity is just a great challenge that I'm willing to take on.

Q. Kenny mentioned that maybe he doesn't trade a starter now, but we've all seen Kenny can sometimes turn on a dime. Are you thinking that those are your five days that are in rotation?
ROBIN VENTURA: Yeah, but again like you, I didn't know about the Sergio one, until later. But he's ‑‑ there's a lot of stuff going on right now. And who knows, you know, really? But I do know that he's not going to just give these guys away for nobody. If you're going to trade them you're going to trade them for some quality talent and it would be a retooling, but you're trying to get them all in that same little window.

Q. With all those offers to all those different guys, is it shocking to see it from the management side to see how it works?
ROBIN VENTURA: Yeah, it's an eye opener to see it. As a player you're just sitting back and you don't know what is happening.
I think for a player to come in this, in general, the Winter Meetings, is pretty crazy.

Q. How do you view the relationship from manager and front office when it comes to lineups and specific strategies?
ROBIN VENTURA: You know, I believe we're supposed to work together in putting the team together. I would like to see that, that we work together. And lineup is going to be more of the baseball staff that does that, the staff puts that together.
So I will do that. And talking with our staff that's in uniform. But obviously Kenny will have input and ideas, too. But in the end that's what we think is best to try to win games.

Q. How much importance do you put on statistical analysis and probability in making decisions?
ROBIN VENTURA: I think everything goes into that, your gut and what you see with guys. I think in talking to players, of what they need and what you expect out of them, there's a lot that you can see in a guy's eyes and there's a lot that you can see on paper. So I think you use both of them.

Q. Brent was happy that you were coming over, learn from a great third baseman, have you talked to him?
ROBIN VENTURA: I have seen him. He actually lives out by me. He's a good, young player, and excited to see him, obviously in the future you get better and grow.

Q. Any aspect of your job you're not completely comfortable yet with and you think you will be by the end of Spring Training?
ROBIN VENTURA: There's a lot of stuff right now that you're kind of learning on the fly and doing different things. But that's what you signed up for. And I feel the ability to handle it and to do it. But there's a lot of things that I'm doing for the first time, as far as, you know, preparing for Spring Training.

Q. Is there a specific one or two things in Spring Training you're going to want to check out for yourself?
ROBIN VENTURA: As far as getting the plan together for what we're doing. As a staff we're confident of what we're going forward with and what we plan on putting in and doing. So it's not ‑‑ I'm not worried for me, as much, as getting that plan down and being ready to go when the first day shows up.

Q. Do you see yourself as a guy who grinds them pretty hard?
ROBIN VENTURA: Loud, crazy. I have principals of things I like and a policy of the way things should be done. It might not be as loud, but I'm very persistent with how I like to do things and the way I see it being done. I don't see that changing. I'm not going to necessarily be a loud person, but it will get done.

Q. You know Sox fans pretty well and there's a certain doom and gloom that they tend to jump towards. Are you concerned about that as an organization, especially if there's more pieces moved, how do you win these people back? They're not going to take a leap of faith. You guys would have to prove something first.
ROBIN VENTURA: I think that's going to have to happen. But I get what you're saying. You see the players that are there. Everybody would like to sign ten new guys to high contracts and everything else, as a fan base, to be more excited. But that's just not the way it's going. We're going to have to win them over by the way we play and putting up wins.

Q. Mike Matheny, do you know him and have you two talked about how comparable your circumstances are?
ROBIN VENTURA: Yeah, I did send him a text after he got his thing that I'm glad I took all the arrows for the first time manager.
No, he's a great guy. I've known him for a while. I have a lot of respect for Mike and what he's done in the game. Obviously I'm going to watch it from a far but wish him luck until we play.

Q. You talked about your passion for the White Sox in Chicago. Now, you played with other teams?
ROBIN VENTURA: Right.

Q. You weren't a lifer with the White Sox?
ROBIN VENTURA: Right.

Q. Why this continual ‑‑
ROBIN VENTURA: Drafted by the White Sox. I saw the team turnaround. When I got called up we were, I think, 30 games out of first place my first year. So when you go through that kind of transformation, there's something there, I think when you go through your system and that's the way you grow up.
But it's more, I think, you're in a city that on a certain hand nationally you have kind of the idea that it's a Cubs town. So there is a bit of ‑‑ I guess it's a chip or something else, but having gone to Oklahoma State, you have the same thing with Oklahoma.
So there's that thing that you have to have passion and understand the position that you're in and the team that you're with and what it means to the people that come to the ballpark. And I've always felt that.

Q. Is there any similarity in direction from when you came up as a player to what it looks like, the direction the team might be going now with you as a manager?
ROBIN VENTURA: No, that was a little different. There's better players here now than at that time. That's why I say it's more, I guess, you would say it's more retooling than you would rebuilding. The other one was just a turnover.

Q. Should the White Sox ‑‑ any idea what your outfield would look like if everybody is healthy?
ROBIN VENTURA: Well, I think Carlos would be in there. You have De Aza, Viciedo, Adam, he'd play a little outfield, Rios playing in the outfield.
You're just going to go with the guys getting it done, and be able to move them around. They can play different spots. Those are the guys who will be playing out there. I'm not going to put Paul out there.

Q. I think you said earlier, too, that something about Adam maybe playing out in the field a little bit more. Is that something that's being considered?
ROBIN VENTURA: Yeah, absolutely. I think for him playing in the National League for so long and the DH is a different ‑‑ it's a different position. And it's a position. It's just not a throw a guy over there and it's going to be easy. I would like to see him just ‑‑ I think there's some guys that play better by being on the field and get a better feel of the game and maybe at‑bats by just being on the field. If that's something that he would want to do I would entertain that, I would promote it.

Q. Is it an organizational thought or is that something from you?
ROBIN VENTURA: A little of both, I guess. But I've seen it with Jason Giambi in New York, that he'd like to be on the field and part of the action, and I get it. And times in the past I've Dhd I didn't really like it, because you just ‑‑ it's just a different position. And I get it.
So if he's wanting to do that I can entertain that.

Q. Is that also designed because he is not getting any younger, he's 37 next year?
ROBIN VENTURA: Yeah, it would be a way to get Paul days off, and have a guy get in there that he can see it and plan for it and see what's there. Yeah, I mean it would free up some flexibility to move guys around a little bit.

Q. You mentioned De Aza, do you think it's his time, to step up and play every day?
ROBIN VENTURA: You would hope so. You would expect him to have a good spring and go from there, but, you know, he is of an age that you expect him to make a move right now.

Q. Should the White Sox be in the playoffs next year? Are we really looking at 13 and 14?
ROBIN VENTURA: I mean, logically you're looking at it, when you're moving pieces, you're losing a Buehrle, you're probably saying, no. Is it possible? Yeah. Anything's possible. But by the retooling that you're doing, you are looking for the future, you're guarding that future.

Q. What's it going to be like managing against Bobby Valentine?
ROBIN VENTURA: It will be fine. I think managing against people ‑‑ I'm not worried about the other manager. If we were both having to go hit, it would be something. But ‑‑ or run the bases. But managing, I've been around him. He's a great manager. He'll do fine in Boston. I kind of worry about my guys and what we're doing.

Q. What did you learn from him during your time with the Mets?
ROBIN VENTURA: He's a task master. I think he looks at every part of the game. He's very creative, positive. There's a lot of things that he did. In my career, you take things from guys that you've played for. And there will be things that I do that are similar to what he does, because I believe in a lot of the same things he does.

Q. Have you talked to him at all since you got the job?
ROBIN VENTURA: I did see him here, so that was the first time.

Ventura says Dunn will play more in field in 2012

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DALLAS -- There is no doubt Adam Dunn is something of a defensive liability at first base or in the outfield. But drastic times call for drastic measures, so manager Robin Ventura will consider playing Dunn in the field more than he did last season.

"He'll probably get out in the field, I see that," Ventura said at his news conference with national media on Tuesday at baseball's Winter Meetings.

"I think there's some guys that play better by being on the field and get a better feel of the game and maybe [better] at-bats by just being on the field," Ventura said. "If that's something that he would want to do I would entertain that."

Dunn admitted that adjusting to the DH role after spending all of his career in the National League before coming to the White Sox last season. The transition he made to not playing in the field was one of several reasons speculated for his poor season. First baseman Paul Konerko, who is a much better fielder than Dunn, is 37 and might be at the point in his career where more off days in the field would be welcome.

"I've seen it with Jason Giambi in New York, that he'd like to be on the field and part of the action, and I get it," Ventura said. "And times in the past I've DHed I didn't really like it, because you just it's just a different position. And I get it. So if he's wanting to do that I can entertain that."

Dunn played 35 games at first last season and two in right field. He's probably best suited for left.


Williams on Buehrle: He'll be missed ...

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DALLAS -- White Sox general manager Ken Williams spoke with free agent Mark Buehrle last week and told him how much he is appreciated in Chicago.

After discussing the Sox' somewhat surprising trade of closer Sergio Santos and characterizing the Sox plan for 2012 as a rebuilding phase, Williams had this to say of Buehrle: "I hear he is a very popular man and he's going to be richer than he is.''

And the chances of a return to the South Side for Buehrle, who is expected to receive at least a three-year deal at about $14 million per season from one of many suitors at these winter meetings?

"It's possible. It's possible,'' Williams said with little enthusiasm. "Mark and I had a good conversation last week when I expressed to him how much he is valued in Chicago. At this point, it's strictly finances over the desire not to have him.

"Who wouldn't want to have this guy. Two hundred innings, and 200 good innings you can put in the book. [He gives you] so many peripheral things. On the bus, off the bus, on and off the plane, off the field. We don't know who can catch the first pitch any more.

"It's not often a guy can accomplish all the things he did and be able to humble himself the way he did and have fun with things. So he'll be missed unless something happens that is unforeseen right now.''

White Sox trade closer Sergio Santos for prospect Molina

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DALLAS -- Using the "rebuilding" word for the first time during his 12-year tenure as White Sox general manager, Ken Williams traded closer Sergio Santos to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday for highly-regarded prospect Nestor Molina, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher.

"It is the start of a rebuilding," Williams said. "And you guys know I have not used that word in 12 years. But it is the start of a rebuilding. Now, is it the start of falling-domino rebuilding? No. Absolutely not.''

Molina, 22, combined to go 12-3 with a 2.21 ERA over 130 innings between the Class A and AA levels. He walked only 18 while striking out 148 in 26 games (23 starts) last season between Class A Dunedin and Class AA New Haven. In his first full season as a starter, he averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings with an 8.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He held opponents to a .234 average and allowed three earned runs or less in 20 of his 23 starts.

"He has a 90-96 mph fastball that bores in on right-handed hitters, he keeps the ball down, can hit the outside corner, inside corner, take it upstairs if he needs to -- he has a swing-and-miss type splitter that drops off the table, a plus slider and an equally effective changeup,'' Williams said.

"We are very happy that we were able to acquire him. I did not anticipate that it would take Sergio to do it. I was thinking it would take starting pitching but the opportunity presented itself.''

Moving Santos was not a salary dumping move. He recently signed for three more years at $8.75 million in a deal that included three options. Williams said Santos was stunned but took it professionally.

Williams indicated that his relief pitching depth with Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and others allowed him to make the deal.

Williams said he hasn't been satisfied with what he's been offered for starters John Danks and Gavin Floyd and suggested he might not trade them. He qualified that by saying "as of today."

"I want to be very clear when I say 'as of today this is where I sit,' '' Williams said. "Because a lot of things can change at these meetings as evidenced by this move.

"We still have interest in some of our position players and we're going to listen. We still have to do some things payroll wise but unless we get back what we need to continue the rebuilding process we'll just go into the season to compete as the same time rebuild. Not so differently from what we've done in the past but maybe a little more aggressive.''

Molina could, because of his command, make the Sox rotation in 2012, although he said he would prefer to bring him along slowly.

Molina is 27-7 with a 2.21 ERA and 277 strikeouts in 103 games and 294 innings (27 starts) over six seasons in the Blue Jays minor-league system.

Santos, 28, went 4-5 with a 3.55 ERA, 30 saves and 92 strikeouts in 63 relief appearances with the White Sox in 2011.


White Sox spring training schedule announced

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White Sox pitchers and catchers report to manager Robin Ventura's first spring training on Feb. 23, and the Sox open their game schedule on March 5 as the home team against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., the team announced Monday.

The Sox play 16 home games in Glendale, including one against the Cubs on March 9. The Sox play the Cubs in Mesa on March 18.

The Sox exhibition schedule concludes with two games against the Astros at Houston's Minute Maid Park on April 3 and 4. Their season opener is April 6 against the AL champion Rangers in Arlington, Texas. The Sox home opener is April 13 against the Detroit Tigers.

All White Sox spring training information and ticket information is available at whitesox.com/spring.

Monday March 5 LA DODGERS GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday March 6 LA Angels Tempe 1:05 p.m.

Wednesday March 7 MILWAUKEE GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Thursday March 8 Texas Surprise 1:05 p.m.

Friday March 9 CUBS GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Saturday March 10 TEXAS (ss) GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

LA DODGERS (ss) GLENDALE 7:05 p.m.

Sunday March 11 Colorado Salt River Fields 1:10 p.m.

Monday March 12 OAKLAND GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday March 13 San Diego Peoria 1:05 p.m.

Wednesday March 14 LA ANGELS GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Thursday March 15 Cleveland Goodyear 1:05 p.m.

Friday March 16 Arizona Salt River Fields 1:10 p.m.

Saturday March 17 SEATTLE GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Sunday March 18 Cubs Mesa 1:05 p.m.

Monday March 19 CINCINNATI GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday March 20 OFF DAY

Wednesday March 21 Seattle Peoria 1:05 p.m.

Thursday March 22 KANSAS CITY GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Friday March 23 ARIZONA GLENDALE 7:05 p.m.

Saturday March 24 Milwaukee Maryvale 1:05 p.m.

Sunday March 25 SAN FRANCISCO GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Monday March 26 LA Dodgers Glendale 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday March 27 CLEVELAND GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Wednesday March 28 SAN DIEGO (ss) GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Colorado (ss) Salt River Fields 1:10 p.m.

Thursday March 29 LA Dodgers Glendale 1:05 p.m.

Friday March 30 Kansas City Surprise 6:05 p.m.

Saturday March 31 COLORADO GLENDALE 1:05 p.m.

Sunday April 1 Cincinnati Goodyear 1:05 p.m.

Monday April 2 MILWAUKEE GLENDALE 12:05 p.m.

Tuesday April 3 Houston Minute Maid Park 7:05 p.m.

Wednesday April 4 Houston Minute Maid Park 1:05 p.m.

Minoso falls short of Hall of Fame

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DALLAS -- White Sox great Minnie Minoso fell three votes short of being elected to the Hall of Fame.

Results of the Golden Era Ballot announced Monday morning, with 12 votes needed for election (75 percent): Ron Santo (15 votes, 93.75%); Jim Kaat (10 votes, 62.5%); Gil Hodges (9 votes, 56.25%); Minnie Minoso (9 votes, 56.25%); Tony Oliva (8 votes, 50%); Buzzie Bavasi, Ken Boyer, Charlie Finley, Allie Reynolds and Luis Tiant each received less than three votes.

Santo, a nine-time All-Star with the Cubs who hit 342 home runs, finished his career with the White Sox in 1974.

From 1951 to '61, Minoso ranked second in the American League in hits, runs, triples, extra-base hits and total bases - sandwiched between Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Nellie Fox and Yogi Bera in each of those categories. Minoso was selected to nine AL All-Star teams and finished in the top four of the American League MVP voting four times. He broke the White Sox color barrier, becoming the first black player in franchise history.

While most baseball people saw Minoso as a moderate long shot, Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said he was "stunned" that Minoso did not get in.

"I really thought he'd get 16 votes,'' Reinsdorf said.

The 16-member Golden Era Committee was comprised of Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Pat Gillick, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal, Brooks Robinson and Billy Williams; major league executives Paul Beeston, Bill DeWitt, Roland Hemond, Gene Michael and Al Rosen; and veteran media Dick Kaegel, Jack O'Connell and Dave van Dyck. Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board Jane Forbes Clark served as non-voting chairman of the Golden Era Committee.

"I wasn't in the room. I didn't hear the deliberations," Reinsdorf said. "It's hard to criticize the people who were there when I wasn't there myself. I don't understand it

"His numbers jump off the page at you. His accomplishments are incredible," Reinsdorf said. "I wonder if this business of coming back in different decades hurt him in some way. I don't know.''

Reinsdorf called Minoso after the announcement and said Minoso remained upbeat in typical Minoso fashion.

"Obviously, I'm going to try to talk to people on the committee and find out what went wrong, although they're not supposed to tell you how they voted. I know last year people tried to pump me for how I voted, and I wouldn't tell anybody."

Are Buehrle's White Sox days numbered? Some betting not

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DALLAS - Mark Buehrle is quite the attractive free agent, and, coupled with the White Sox' readiness to implement a retooling plan and cost-effective policy that accompanies it, his days as a South Sider appear to be numbered.

Or are they?

Here's why it looks that way as the winter meetings -- which could be action-packed for the Sox -- begin Monday. The remarkably consistent and reliable Buehrle has a reported 14 teams buzzing around his agent to some degree or another, has received at least one three-year offer from Ozzie Guillen's Miami Marlins and at 32 doesn't look the part of a pitcher the Sox want in a get-younger plan. Buehrle made $56 million over his last four seasons and will likely get close to the $14 million annual salary with his next contract for at least three years.

And while Buehrle proved he can still pitch with his run of 18 starts allowing three or fewer runs this past season, he did benefit from extra rest during the Sox' six-man rotation. Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has never been fond of giving lengthy contracts to pitchers, and he was reminded why after he inherited Jake Peavy's. For what it's worth, Bill James projects Buehrle to go 12-11 with a 3.98 ERA while making 30 starts and throw 200 innings a 12th straight year in 2012.

Will Reinsforf pay Buehrle and/or be willing to gie him more than two years?

Despite the odds against it, there are more than a couple voices in baseball betting he will, including some from within the organization. They are looking at Buehrle's Midwestern roots, family matters and content nature and finding it hard to visualize him on the East coast or on South Beach. Buehrle, who reportedly asked Miami for a no-trade clause they might not want to give, is making the rounds, will see what's offered and bring it back to Reinsdorf to make the final call.

"Despite the huge interest in Buehrle from many other teams, I don't think it's a slam dunk he is leaving,'' an American League source said. "But for him to stay in Chicago he will most certainly have to give the Sox a home team discount, which he says he won't do.''

Whether John Danks and Gavin Floyd or both are traded and who Sox general manager Ken Williams gets in return could also factor into how sweet the Sox offer will be for Buehrle. Williams canceled a teleconference with local media on Saturday, sparking speculation he was too busy working the phones in advance of the meetings.

"Im just gathering information,'' Williams told FoxSports' Ken Rosenthal last week. "Who's interested in our players? Is the level of interest enough to consider going younger and building a new foundation?

"If opportunities don't present themselves, I could see us changing direction a little bit, try to be creative and add. We don't have the money go out and really add. We would have to get really creative. But I can see that route, too.

"The first domino that falls for us will kind of give you an indication one way or another, which way we're going. But we're not sure just yet.''

Sox manager Robin Ventura would take Buehrle either way.

"He's a great pitcher, a great person, a great teammate: really everything," Ventura said. "It's not always good when here in your first year, the guy that has been most the consistent player, the most consistent pitcher for them, he might not be back.

"I'm not happy about that necessarily. but I understand the game and the way it works. Would I love to have him? Yeah. But he deserves by doing well to be in this position and to have everyone want him on their team."

Ventura will play the pitchers he's dealt. They could be a much younger bunch than Guillen managed this past season.

"Sometimes, it's not about a particular individual player,'' Williams said. "It's about what you're doing as a whole, what the plan is for this year, 2013, 2014 - and what is the timing of these plans coming together. What is a guy's point of maximum value? Does that fit in terms of when you think you will be good?

"I'm a strong, strong believer in laying your foundation with starting pitching. The next wave . . . we've got Chris Sale. (Zach) Stewart showed he could do some things last year. [Minor leaguer Jacob] Petricka is going to be a good one. We've got a [left-habded] screwballer, [Hector] Santiago . . .

"When are these guys going to be ready to go 200 innings? When are they going to be throw 200 innings and give you quality starts? It's a timing thing as much as it is a talent thing. You can bring in a lot of talent at various times. But if they don't coincide . . .''

Ventura, Konerko, Dunn to attend SoxFest

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White Sox Media Relations

The White Sox announced the first group of attendees scheduled to appear at SoxFest 2012, which includes current players Adam Dunn, Tyler Flowers, Gavin Floyd, Phil Humber, Paul Konerko, Brent Lillibridge, Brent Morel, Alexei Ramirez, Sergio Santos, Matt Thornton and Dayan Viciedo, and new Sox manager Robin Ventura.

Also attending SoxFest are several members of the coaching staff, including: Harold Baines, Juan Nieves and Mark Salas, as well as new hitting coach Jeff Manto, new bench coach, Mark Parent and new third base coach, Joe McEwing.

Several members of the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox also are scheduled to attend, including Neal Cotts, Joe Crede, Pablo Ozuna, Cliff Politte, Frank Thomas and Chris Widger.

SoxFest 2012 is presented by Miller Lite and Pepsi. Additional coaches, players and former players scheduled to attend SoxFest will be announced in the coming weeks. SoxFest will be held Friday, January 27, Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29, 2012. Dates and times are: Friday, 4:00 to 9:00 p.m.; Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

A limited number of two-night hotel reservations at the Palmer House Hilton for SoxFest 2012 along with weekend passes to the event, remain available. The special SoxFest hotel rate is $316 (tax included) for a two-night stay. White Sox fans may purchase up to two rooms per reservation, and fans who purchase a two-night stay are eligible to purchase up to four SoxFest weekend passes at $75 each.

SoxFest hotel packages and weekend passes can again be purchased in the same online transaction at whitesox.com. Weekend passes are only available for purchase by fans who book the two-night stay. Friday night of SoxFest will be open only to SoxFest hotel guests with weekend passes.

For attendee updates, to book rooms at the Palmer House Hilton or purchase tickets to SoxFest, visit whitesox.com/SoxFest or contact the SoxFest hotline at (312) 609-1915.

Minnie Minoso's case for the Hall of Fame

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The White Sox recently hosted the "Minnie Minoso Hall of Fame Forum" at U.S. Cellular Field to celebrate Minoso's career and support his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A gathering of media, statisticians, historians and former players discussed Minoso's career to raise awareness for his worthy candidacy. ESPN's Pedro Gomez served as the moderator of the forum, with Minoso in attendance.

Here's a sampling of what they said:

Author and University of Illinois professor, Adrian Burgos Jr.: "Minnie Minoso achieved nothing but excellence in baseball despite segregation and a host of extraordinarily difficult circumstances.''

Author and president of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), Vince Gennaro: "The single, most important thing a batter can do is avoid making an out and get on base. Minoso did just that on an unparalleled level.''

Fellow Hall candidate Luis Tiant: "In the Latino culture, especially Cuba, Minnie Minoso was the biggest thing in the sport. I wanted to be just like him, and when I look at him now, I still want to be like him. I am so grateful for what he did for us."

Hall-of-Famer Tony Perez: "I will never forget how honored I was when Minnie was in the same locker room as me when I was a younger player in Cuba. And the only thing that could be better is if his plaque was in the same room as mine in Cooperstown."

Orlando Cepeda: "Orestes Minoso was the Jackie Robinson for all Latinos; the first star who opened doors for all Latin American players. He was everybody's hero. I wanted to be Minoso. Clemente wanted to be Minoso."

Minoso will be considered for enshrinement by the 16-member Golden Era Committee, which will meet Sunday to vote on the 10 candidates at the Winter Meetings in Dallas. The 16 members consist of eight Hall of Famers, five executives and historians and three media. Minoso needs 12 votes for the required 75 percent for induction.

A candidate must receive 75% support (12 votes) for induction. Committee members are allowed to vote for as many from the finalist list as they want. An announcement will be made Monday morning.

The nine others on the ballot: Ron Santo, Tony Oliva, Gil Hodges, Ken Boyer, Minnie Minoso, Jim Kaat, Tiant, Allie Reynolds, Buzzie Bavasi and Charles Finley.

One of the most compelling cases for Minoso's enshrinement comes from Stuart Miller, in a recently published story in the New York Times. Miller points to more modern statistical analysis which emphasizes on-base percentage, wins above replacement and wins probability to make a strong argument for Minoso.

Here is a sampling:

"In a 10-year span beginning in 1951, Minoso finished in the top 10 in batting average eight times, and in the top 10 in steals nine times (leading the league three of those years and finishing second another three times). But he was no mere singles hitter -- he was top 10 in doubles eight times (leading the AL once) and top 10 in triples six times (leading three times); he even finished 10th in homers twice. Similarly, while he was top 10 in runs scored nine times, he also landed in the top 10 in RBI five times. And while I believe Gold Gloves are often handed out for the wrong reasons, he did manage to add three to his mantel.

"But the more modern statistics paint an even more vivid picture of Minoso as an overlooked Hall of Famer. For starters, he had five years with an on-base percentage over .400, he was always at .374 or higher, and only once in the decade was he not in the top 10. His mix of walks and gap power meant he was in the top 10 in O.P.S. (on-base plus slugging) eight times in 10 years. (And Minoso would do whatever it took to get on base. As I wrote in The Times in 2010, in the early years of integration, minorities were victimized by beanballs at a dispiriting rate. But Minoso, who took 192 for the team in his career, was far and away the tops-he was hit more than any batter in the AL every year but one from 1951 through 1961. It wasn't just prejudice, Minoso crowded the plate and was skilled at leaning in and taking a ball in the side to get on.)

"Looking at Baseball Reference's Wins Above Replacement -- the statistic that analyzes how many more wins a player brings his team than a replacement-level minor leaguer -- buffs Minoso's credentials and potential Hall plaque to a bright finish. Seven times he was among the top five in the American League for WAR among position players, and twice -- in 1954 and 1959 -- he ranked first. (His numbers are nearly as impressive--top 10 instead of top 5--for Wins Probability Added.)''

From 1951 to '61, Minoso ranked second in the American League in hits, runs, triples, extra-base hits and total bases - sandwiched between Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Nellie Fox and Yogi Bera in each of those categories.

Minoso was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1951, was selected to nine AL All-Star teams and finished in the top four of the American League MVP voting four times.

Minoso broke the White Sox color barrier, becoming the first black player in franchise history.

Ventura: Winter meetings will chart White Sox course

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New White Sox manager Robin Ventura talked to the media on a conference call Thursday in advance of the winter meetings in Dallas next week.

Saying the direction of the team will likely be charted at the meetings, where general manager Ken Williams will be looking to see what he can get in return for his movable players -- Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Matt Thornton, Carlos Quentin top the list because of their contract status -- Ventura said there's no guarantee there will be a big turnover. But he understands the nature of the baseball business and is prepared for any scenario.

Here's what Ventura had to say:

"I think [the direction of the team in 2012] it will be decided there [in Dallas]. I've kept in contact with Kenny when different things come up. Obviously I would love to hand the ball to John Danks 30-plus times and Gavin Floyd the same thing. That's kind of a wish list, but that's not always going to be able to happen. I don't think [Williams] know. That's the interesting thing about giong there.

"It doesn't make any sense to go over personnel when we don't know what it's going to be.''

On high-priced outfielder Alex Rios and designated Adam Dunn, whose poor seasons were largely to blame for last season's disappointing 79-83 record [Ventura hasn't spoken to them yet]:

"It would be nice to have them come back and playing in the way they expect to play. I'm not tying everything to them but they want to do well, too.''

"I haven't talked to [Dunn] yet but he's been working out -- I heard that from Kenny and [conditioning coordinator Allen Thomas]. I don't feel the need to call him up and give him a pep talk. He's ready to go. He's motivated. That's all. When we get closer I'll call him but right now I don't want him to worry about baseball. I rather he just work out. Most guys start in January anyway. I'd rather he get in shape than worry about baseball stuff.''


On the planned approach to spring training:

"We're going to spring training how we'd like to, not necessarily with what was there in the past and how they did things. How we'd like to to see things get done. [Pitching coach Don Cooper] is doing the pitching stuff. I'm not looking at what they did last year or any reasoning for why they started slow. We'll be doing things we're comfortable with in what it takes to get the team ready.''

On whether he's resigned to losing free agent pitcher Mark Buehrle:

"Not yet. Obviously, he's a great pitcher, teammate, everything. Buehrle is a guy who has been the most consistent player for them for a long time and he might not be back. That's something I'm not necessarily happy about but I understand the game and how it works. Do I want him back on the team? Yeah. But by doing well he deserves to be in the position of having everybody wanting him to be on their team.''

On being prospect of the team losing veterans in trades and "going young.''

"I haven't really got into that. You sit there and think it could be this or could be that. But I don't sit and mentally prepare for it. There will be plenty of time. You kind of go into it with a 'wait and see' over these next two weeks of what goes down.

"There is a business side of the game that isn't always fun when a season like last year happens. That's part of the game. Guys being wanted by other teams, that will come up. You look at it two ways. For me in my situation it's nice that people are calling asking about players. That means you have good players.

"I realize who we have and hope we have a lot of them back. But if there is a time in Dallas when we talk about certain players and it's worth making that move, I will definitely voice an opinion."

On progress of outfielder Alejandro De Aza, whom Williams touted as a leadoff hitter at the GM meetings.

"De Aza was doing big-league things the way he prepared and played the game. His plan and all of those kinds of things. He seems to be big-league ready.''

On the possibility of Alex Rios moving to left field to make room for De Aza in center:

"No [decision], a lot depends on what goes on the next few weeks. Until there's a move made and how guys fit in, it's tough to move guys around.''

On the possibility of a lot of trades:

"It's possible (big turnover) but again it's not guaranteed. Just because names are out there doesn't mean it's guaranteed. It's one thing say we're going to trade them, it's another to actually do it because we all realize their value. We know how good they are.''

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