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

January 2012 Archives

What Williams said at SoxFest

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Here what White Sox general manager Ken Williams had to say at SoxFest over the weekend:


"The boos?"
"I thought you meant the booze."
"It kind of comes with the territory. When the team plays well, the players and the coaching staff get the accolades. That's great. It's it should be. When the team plays poorly, it's the GM and owner's fault. It is what it is. It's part of the deal.
But every time it happens. It seems like it's happened only two other times. In 2004 and 2007.

"You never know. Maybe the third time is a charm."

Parent ready to work on defending the run

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Give credit to White Sox first-year bench coach Mark Parent for setting the tone early. There's work to be done and things to be fixed when spring training opens Feb. 22. And that goes for everyone, veterans included.

Parent, a 13-year veteran catcher who managed the Phillies' AA Reading club before joining the Sox to be first-year manager Robin Ventura's bench coach, was an imposing physical presence on the SoxFest stage over the weekend. He talked about Sox pitchers retaliating when Sox hitters get hit by pitches, and he addressed veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski's shortcomings against would-be base stealers

"A.J. has struggled behind the plate with the running game," Parent said to a SoxFest crowd over the weekend. "We're going to try to do things to help out, either with his mechanics, his release, his release times, throwing over, having pickoff [plays]."

 How Pierzynski, 35, responds to extra work during spring training, is worth watching. He's been an ironman behind the plate -- he caught 1,000 innings for the 10th consecutive season in 2011 -- who prides himself on fitness and workout routines and no doubt is comfortable with his normal routines. He is also highly regarded for calling a good game.

Sox pitchers had issues holding runners, and shortstop Alexei Ramirez has required work around second base making tags. But Pierzynski has never possessed a gun for an arm and he had trouble at at times transferring the ball from his mitt to his throwing hand.

The Sox threw out 37 runners last season while allowing 135 stolen bases, which ranked last in the American League. One of two holdovers from the 2005 World Series championship team, Pierzynski's willingness to spend extra time with new staff on throwing and blocking drills during spring training would demonstrate the kind of veteran leadership rookie manager Robin Ventura and his staff need.

Opponents stole 94 bases in 118 attempts (80 percent) with Pierzynski catching. Of those 24 caught stealings, 11 were on pickoffs by Sox pitchers. Pierzynski threw out 13 runners, and Sox catchers won't have Mark Buehrle around to shut down would-be base stealers for them.

Tyler Flowers, 26, who showed flashes of good things when Pierzynski went on the disabled list for the first time in his career, figures to play more behind the plate. It makes sense for a team trying to inject some youth while giving the veteran Pierzynski more breaks, especially with Pierzynski in the final year of a contract paying him $6 million this season. A career .284 hitter, the left-handed hitting Pierzynski was a designated hitter seven times last season and might DH more this season.

Flowers hit five homers in 110 at-bats, but he batted .209. Baserunners were slightly less successful on 76 percent of steal attempts with Flowers catching. He has shown signs of promise, but needs to show more.

Coy Williams: Sox GM on Cespedes et al

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General manager Ken Williams was coy when asked about prize Cuban free agent outfielders Yeonis Cespedes and Jorge Soler and lefthander Gerardo Concepcion.

It was hard to know if Williams thought the Sox were in the mix for their services and wanted to lay low or whether he knew the Sox wouldn't be able to afford one or all of them. The Sox are known to have interest and are considered to be one of the teams in the mix for Cespedes, although many consider the Cubs to be front-runners.

"I don't know who you are talking about,'' Williams told reporters when asked about the Cubans.

You know, Cespedes, the five-tool Bo Jackson type center fielder.

"Those are all just rumors,'' Williams said. "I don't know what you guys are talking about.''

Huh?

"Who were these guys? Where are they from?''

Cuba. Someone said you watched Concepcion in person.

"Somebody said I was there,'' Williams said.

"I don't know what you are talking about.''

Reporters laugh, and Williams almost almost spits out his water suppressing a chuckle. Cespedes is the guy who might cost you $50 million.

"Is that the left-handed pitcher?''

No, that's Concepcion. Cespedes is the 26-year-old Bo Jackson. The one Dayan Viciedo is recruiting.

"You think I should check into them?''

Earlier, Williams said the Sox money supply is tapped. He doesn't have cash for a free-agent utility infielder, he said. Soler, 19, and Concepcion, 18, will come cheaper and would help replenish a farm system in need of an injection of talent.

The Cubans came up later during question-and-answer time with fans. It was more of the same from Williams.

"Who are they? Are they any good?'' he asked.

With that, new manger Robin Ventura turned toward Williams and said, "Should we be scouting them?"


White Sox' Floyd learns to deal with trade rumors

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There were those who would have wagered a tidy sum that right-hander Gavin Floyd wouldn't have been around for SoxFest.

His named has been tossed around in numerous trade rumors ever since general manager Ken Williams said the Sox were going to rebuild or tweak their roster to get younger. He is signed through this season with a club option for 2013. His value as a middle of the rotation starter makes him a valuable piece for buyers and sellers.

"You know it's happening [trade talk] but you have zero control over it so to think about it for a second is a waste of your time,'' Floyd said. "When i got traded to the White Sox [by the Phillies) it caught me by complete surprise. I got called while watching a TV show in December. You have no control over it. You listen to it, you anticipate, but there is nothing you can do.''

Floyd has no desire to leave.

"I love Chicago, I want to be here,'' he said. "I've been part of this organization for four or five years. I feel like I've grown and gotten better every year and established relationships I'll cherish the rest of my life. We love Chicago. I try not to think of it too much.''

Players are often kept in the dark when it comes to trade discussion.

"The only time they said something was last year when my name was coming up,'' Floyd said. "[General manager] Kenny told me, 'Dont worry, nothing is happening.''

Floyd hasn't heard that this year, though.

"No, no," he said with a chuckle.

Thornton White Sox closer? That's news to Coop

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A day or so after White Sox manager Robin Ventura said that lefthander Matt Thornton was probably the leading candidate to close games, pitching coach Don Cooper expressed surprise at the first-year manager's statement.

"Who said that? You're giving me news,'' Cooper told the Mully and Hanley Show on Friday morning. "It's news to me.''

After Cooper, who was en route to SoxFest at the Palmer House, listened to Ventura's comments, he said, "Well, you got more info than me.''

Righthander Jesse Crain has expressed a desire to have a shot at the job and was thought be many to be the leading candidate until Ventura cited Thornton. Thornton was given first crack last year and lost the job to Sergio Santos, who was traded during the offseason.

"Like I said, Matt is certainly capable,'' Cooper said. "You have [prized rookie righthander] Addison Reed is a kid who has to work into it. You can't name him. You got Jesse Crain -- he is a guy who is more than capable. We'll figure it out. Nobody said Santos last year. I'm a believer in they'll show you who needs to be in there at that time.''

Ventura by no means named Thornton the closer. And it may be Cooper, who has a new four-year contract, who has the final say, anyhow. Crain let Cooper know he'd like an opportunity.

"Coaches have an idea going in who they want,'' Crain said. "I just wanted to let Coop know because I have been in the big leagues for eight years and never had that opportunity. One save situation last year. I'd like to get an opportunity to see what I can do.

"That's not taking anything away from Matt and Reed. I just would like an opportunity. Until I got in the big leagues, from 10 years old through college I was a closer. Joe Nathan was with the Twins when I was there, one of the best in the game. I have confidence in myself. It just takes an opportunity. I've really learned a lot and matured the last couple of years. I think I can do it.''

White Sox' Rios could be backed into a corner

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Alejandro De Aza was the White Sox' best center fielder last season, hands down. He got good jumps, took good angles to fly balls in the gaps and played the position with some life.

Alex Rios, on the other hand, took a step back not only with his bat but in the field, as well. And we're not talking about how he played so deep in center. It was a curious development for a center fielder who has been an adequate glove man for most of his career.

So it comes as no surprise that manager Robin Ventura and general manager Ken Williams have been talking up De Aza as a leadoff man and center fielder. Ventura said Thursday that Rios could see time in left field -- no surprise there, either.

"As of now he could be moving to left field, he could be in center. We don't have concrete plans,'' Ventura said. "I know I will want him to play. He's a talented kid and when we get going I want him to be in the middle of it. He's a talent that hopefully will show this year.''

Rios, who is signed through 2014, is playing on a seven-year, $69.84 million contract. He batted .227 with 13 homers in 44 RBI in 537 at-bats. His recent history is bouncing back after bad years. Ventura's fingers are crossed.

"When I had a year that I didn't feel was my best I felt obligated in the offseason to do things differently and try things,'' Ventura said. "You come in with a different mindset than in other years. These guys are competitors.

"It can make guys press. But there seems to be a feeling that they can prove last year was an aberration. Going into spring training there is motivation in that direction and I like that.''

Rios never recovered from a tough-luck start when he hit into a lot of hard-hit outs. Frustration set in, followed by a bona fide slump. And he seemed to take it with him in the field.

"Rios never looked ready to throw,'' an American League scout said. "He was stylish, so safe and so sure, playing not to make a mistake.''

Rios, who turns 31 in September, did show signs in September that he can still hit, going 23-for-75 (.307) with an .875 OPS, five homers, 11 RBI and 12 runs scored. Granted, the games didn't matter much, but it beat the alternative.

De Aza played in 54 games after his mid-season callup, batting .327 with four homers, 23 RBI and 29 runs scored. He stole 12 bases in 17 attempts. He had 11 doubles and a .400 on-base percentage.

"Alejandro De Aza played his tail off as far as I'm concerned,'' Williams said. "Did you watch him? He's pretty good.''

White Sox Cactus League TV schedule

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The White Sox will televise six Cactus League games (five on Comcast SportsNet and one on WGN) this spring. WSCR radio will broadast nine games on radio, four of which are interactive broadcasts. An additional 12 games will be webcast free on whitesox.com, up from nine in 2011.

On Channel 9:
vs. Cubs, March 9, 2:05 p.m.

On ComcastSportsNet

vs. Diamondbacks, March 23, 9 p.m.
vs. Giants, March 25, 3 p.m.
vs. Dodgers, March 29, 3 p.m.
at Reds, April 1, 3 p.m.
at Astros (Minute Maid Park, Houston), April 3, 7 p.m.


Additional information regarding spring training broadcasts, tickets and Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., can be found at whitesox.com/spring.


White Sox sign Scott Olsen to minor-league deal

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The White Sox signed former Florida Marlins and Washington National left-handed starter Scott Olsen to a minor league contract on Wednesday. Olsen, who is 37-49, with 4.85 ERA in his career, had shoulder problems and was released by the Pirates last May. He did not pitch for Pittsburgh.
Olsen's deal includes a big-league option for 2013 but does not include an invitation to big-league camp this spring, a Sox official said.
Olsen, 28, was a sixth-round Marlins draft pick out of Crystal Lake South High School in 2002. He made 31 or more starts for the Marlins in 2006, '07 and '08.

White Sox tickets on sale Feb. 3

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White Sox Media Relations

Internet Pre-Sales Give Opportunity to Purchase Tickets Early; Dynamic Pricing Will Offer Chance to Buy Tickets 30 Percent Off Regular Prices, When Purchasing Before February 11


Individual-game tickets to 2012 Chicago White Sox home games at U.S. Cellular Field go on sale to the general public on Friday, February 3 at 10 a.m. on whitesox.com, by phone at (866) SOX-GAME and at Ticketmaster locations throughout Chicagoland.

Tickets will be sold at Bacardi at the Park, near Gate 5 of U.S. Cellular Field, on February 4 beginning at 10:00 a.m., and at the U.S. Cellular Field box offices near Gate 4 beginning February 5.

Prior to the general on sale date, White Sox season ticket holders (81, 27 and 14-game plans) will be the first to have access to individual-game tickets through an online pre-sale on Tuesday, January 31.

Members of the Sox Pride Club, the official online fan club of the White Sox, will have a special online pre-sale on Wednesday, February 1. Members of the Black List, the free and official whitesox.com fan headquarters, will have access to an online presale on Thursday, February 2. Full details on all individual-game ticket presales can be found at whitesox.com/presale.

The White Sox will implement dynamic ticket pricing throughout the entire ballpark for all 81 home games in 2012, providing fans the opportunity to save up to 30 percent off regular prices on select seats by purchasing prior to February 11. Ticket prices will be based on a variety of market factors, and fans are encouraged to buy early for high demand games, as ticket prices are expected to increase as the season progresses. The entire 2012 White Sox schedule, including the promotional schedule, can be found at whitesox.com.

All fans still have the opportunity to join the Sox Pride Club at www.soxprideclub.com or whitesox.com. Fans may become members of the Black List, at no charge, by visiting whitesox.com.

Full and partial season plans are available now, starting as low as $73, and along with group tickets and party areas can be purchased by visiting whitesox.com or calling (312) 674-1000.

Reinsdorf issues statement on Guillen's departure

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Apparently looking to snuff out what potentially could turn into an escalating "he-said, she-said" back and forth between Ozzie Guillen and current members of the White Sox, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf issued issued the following statement on Monday regarding the departure of Ozzie Guillen as manager last September 26.

"Regarding Ozzie Guillen's departure as White Sox manager last September, I want to make it clear that he left with our organization's blessing and at my urging. Ozzie told me he wanted to finish out the year, the Marlins really wanted him in Miami for the conclusion of the season, and I told him that he had no choice but to go given the excitement surrounding the opening of their new stadium and the unveiling of their new uniforms. Ozzie needed to be in Miami at the end of the season for the Marlins.

"We will always be grateful for the 21 seasons Ozzie spent in a White Sox uniform as a player and coach, especially his role in helping us win the 2005 World Series championship. We wish him nothing but the best."

White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy recently implied during a radio interview that Guillen quit on the team with two games left in the season. Peavy, plodding his way toward the end of the season with a tired shoulder, was uneasy with the insinuation that he quit with three seasons left.

Guillen fired off a series of tweets last week suggesting he would have his say before long:

"When i get to chitown lets make one thing clear what happen last day whit the sox stay tune"

"I am out the country now but i never quit in anything yes be ready when i talk going to be fun"

"I will kill peoples fellings no mercy i turn the page but they no let me a long then get ready going to be bad"

"People want me to look bad but I so honest i wiil say the real true put u seat belt on"

With two games left in the season, the Sox announced that Guillen would be let out of the final year of his contract.

White Sox add 18 to spring training roster

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Six players with major league experience, including right-hander Brian Bruney and infielder Dallas McPherson, were among the 18 players added to the White Sox spring training roster on Monday.

Bruney pitched in 23 games for the Sox last season. McPherson also had a brief stay with the Sox. Left-hander Eric Stults (Dodgers, Rockies), catcher Hector Giminez (Astros, Dodgers), infielder Ray Olmedo (Reds, Blue Jays) and outfielder Delwyn Young (Dodgers, Pirates) have played in the big leagues.

Players from the Sox minor-league system invited to big-league camp include right-handers Brian Omogrosso and Jacob Petricka, catchers Michael Blanke and Josh Phegley, infielders Jim Gallagher and Tyler Kuhn and outfielders Jordan Danks, Trayce Thompson, Jared Mitchell and Brandon Short.

Danks, generally considered the best defensive outfielder in the Sox organization, is the younger brother of Sox lefthander John Danks. He batted .257 with 14 homers and 65 RBI at AAA Charlotte last season.

Mitchell was the Sox first-round pick in 2009. Rated by Baseball America as the Best Athlete in the organization, he batted .222 with 183 strikeouts in 129 games for Class A Winston-Salem last season after missing the 2010 season following surgery on his broken left ankle. Before the injury, he was rated as the Sox' best in the organization by Baseball America.

Thompson, 20, is considered the best power-hitting prospect in the organization. He batted .241 with 24 homers and 87 RBI for Class A Kannapolis last season. A second-round pick in the 2009 draft, Thompson is the son of former NBA No. 1 pick Mychal Thompson. His brothers Klay (Golden State Warriors) and Mychel (Cleveland Cavaliers) currently play in the NBA.

Kuhn, 25, put up good numbers between AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte in 2011, batting .333 with 32 doubles, 11 triples and 70 runs scored over 130 games. A 15th-round pick in 2008, Kuhn led all Sox minor leaguers in hits and triples and ranked second in average in 2011.

Sox pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 23. Position players report Feb. 28 for the first full-squad workout under first-year manager Robin Ventura.

White Sox promote Buddy Bell

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The White Sox promoted farm director Buddy Bell to vice president, player development and special assignments on Monday. Minor league field coordinator Nick Capra will assume Bell's responsibilities as director of player development, and Kirk Champion was promoted to minor league field coordinator.

This will be the fifth season in the organization for Bell, who has had an increasingly greater voice in Sox decisions. Robin Ventura, who served under Bell last season, was named to replace Ozzie Guillen as manager in October, and Bell had considerable input in helping Ventura assemble his coaching staff.

"Since he rejoined the White Sox, Buddy's role in the organization has continually evolved and expanded," Sox general manager Ken Williams said. "Buddy and his staff have played an integral part in developing our young talent, and he has been a great resource for me on special scouting assignments as well. This move reflects the confidence we have in Buddy, as well as Nick and Kirk, who have been very successful and have been well-respected members of our organization for many years."

Bell was director of player development from 2009-11 and director of minor league instruction in 2008. He will continue to oversee the Sox player development and minor league system.

Capra begins his 17th season in the organization. His last three were as minor-league field coordinator. He was assistant director of minor-league instruction under Bell in 2008 and minor-league hitting coordinator from 2006-07.

Champion has spent the last nine seasons as the Sox minor-league pitching coordinator. He was a pitching coach in the player development system for 14 years from 1989-2002.


Here is the updated listing of the Sox Player Development staff:

Player Development Instructors

Buddy Bell - Vice President, Player Development and Special Assignments

Nick Capra - Director, Player Development

Kirk Champion - Field Coordinator

Curt Hasler - Pitching Coordinator

Tim Laker - Hitting Coordinator

Daryl Boston - Outfield Instructor

Ever Magallanes - Infield Instructor

John Orton - Catching Instructor

Devon White - Baserunning Instructor

Scott Takao - Minor League Medical/Rehab. Coordinator

Dale Torborg - Conditioning Coordinator

Geronimo Mendoza - Latin Culture Coordinator

Robbie Cummings, Jerry Hairston, Chet DiEmidio - Coaching Assistants

Harrelson optimistic about Dunn, Ventura, White Sox

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Caught up with broadcaster Ken Harrelson recently as he was making his way to a first tee somewhere in sunny Florida. He warmed up for his round of golf by talking White Sox baseball. As you might expect, the Hawk is optimistic about the 2012 season.

S-T: Hawk, give Sox fans something to be optimistic about. This payroll-slashing, replenishing phase general manager Ken Williams is taking them through after last year's all-out "all in" bust is depressing them.

Hawk: First of all, [the roster is] not set yet. I'm very optimistic. We have some situations with a big upside -- Adam Dunn literally and figuratively. Hopefully [Alex] Rios, and hopefully [Jake] Peavy is healthy. [Gordon] Beckham I think is going to come back. One of the big things is going to be the attitude. [New manager] Robin [Ventura] is going to be fantastic, I really do think so.

S-T: More moves to be made in your view?

Hawk: Kenny is not done yet, I know that. Even if we trade one or two of our veteran players, I'm still optimistic because we have some good young talent out there. And let's face it, last year was probably the worst defensive outfield play I've seen in a major league outfield. It was horrendous. That's going to be turned around and we're going to have a good defensive outfield. [Dayan] Viciedo has a chance to be a monster. And Tyler Flowers, looks like he's going to be a good player. So there is a lot to be optimistic about.

S-T: Should De Aza play CF?

Hawk: That's going to be up to Robin. It will work itself out at spring training. I'd like to see De Aza. To me, he's made himself into a big league center fielder. Alex, I think he'll be more comfortable in left field.

S-T: Are the Sox still trimming payroll?

Hawk: I don't think Kenny is done yet. And I'm not talking about trimming, I'm talking about one way or the other. [But] I wouldn't expect them to go out and sign a huge free agent.

S-T: What do you like about this team?

Look at the September [Brent] Morel had last year. With Ramirez, Beckham and Konerko that's a pretty damn good infield. With improved outfield play, it's a different looking ballclub. The most important thing we have on our team is your pitching, and the way you protect your pitching is by catching the ball. You have to catch the ball. It's that simple. And we didn't catch the ball last year. That puts a lot of pressure on the pitching staff and that in turn puts a lot of pressure on the offense. Again, I'm ready to go. Ready to go right now.

S-T: With Santos shipped off to Toronto for pitching prospect Nestor Molina, who is going to close?

Hawk: Well, it would be unfair to say Addison Reed will be the closer. That will work itself out. We have a lot of games in spring training for Robin to make up his mind.

S-T:
Was it time for a [managerial] change?

Hawk: I think so, yeah. And Ozzie felt the same way. Ozzie, the first five years he was here were terrific. People forget if we don't lose Maggs [Ordonez] and then [Framk] Thomas we probably would have won it that year. His second year we won the world championship. But the last three years have not been the same.

Any time you say something good toward the new manager it's something negative toward the old manager. Robin is a breath of fresh air.

S-T:
You were a Comeback Player of the Year (1968). You have said you believe Dunn will be the Comeback Player of the Year. Did you see anything physically wrong or was it all mental?

Hawk: I said I hope he will and I think he can be Comeback Player of the Year. [His bad 2011] performance was self induced. He got into a position where it got worse, got deeper and deeper. He's going to really enjoy Robin Ventura. Robin his first year went 0-for-41 and he grew in stature in the eyes of his of teammates. And Adam, I told him that was the worst season I've seen anyone have. I said I had some bad ones but nothing like that ... he laughed, but he handled the adversity it well, like a real solid professional and teammate. If a guy like Albert Belle struggles like that, so what. But a guy like Adam, that's when it hurts more.

S-T: Will new hitting coach Jeff Manto make a difference?

Hawk: The toughest uniform job in baseball. Toughest job in baseball is the general manager. Second toughest is the hitting coach. Thirteen guys to take care of. You're not going to connect with all of them. Greg Walker is going to be happy [in Atlanta] and I think our hitters will. A lot of guys will miss Walk. I will because I love him like a second son. That's not the issue, though. The issue is was it time for a change and the answer probably is yes.

S-T:
Does Robin know what he's in for? The next game he manages will be his first.

Hawk: Like Ozzie did as a player, every game he played in he managed. Look what they did in St. Louis [hiring Mike Matheny), a guy who never managed, either. That to me is not an issue. It's the individual and we know Robin very well. Kenny and I were talking in his office, I guess three or four weeks to go in the season. He told me who he was thinking about. He prefaced it by saying he never managed before. When he said "Robin Ventura" I said 'Kenny, you just made my winter.' I knew Ozzie was going and I thought it was going to be a critical decision who they brought in. With the exception of one (current) other guy, nobody would have been better.''

S-T: Nobody will pick the Sox to win the AL Central. Why do they have a chance?

Hawk:
There are so many positive things that can happen. There's not too much more downside for some of those guys -- Adam, Alex, Beckham. This has a chance to be a helluva ballclub. The Tigers took a big hit (Victor Martinez injury). And Mr. Expectation is a horrible a guy. He will jerk you around and kill you if you allow him to. That's what happened to us a little bit last year.

S-T: When did the red flag go up for you last season?

Hawk: I took my wife to the airport with a week left in spring training. I said, 'I think we're in trouble.' She said, "why?" I said, 'the last two years we had flat spring trainings, we came out flat and it did not get any better. The thing is happening right now. We're flat and we're not playing well. Our outfield defense is going to be terrible. I don't think we're going to get it done even though our talent is as good a talent as anybody if not more. Sometimes talent is overrated and attitude is underrated. And the attitude the last three years has just not been there. There are reasons to be optimistic.

S-T: Robin has to get this team, with its many veterans, to buy into what he's doing.

Hawk: For Robin it will take time because he's not an in-your-face guy like Bobby Valentine.

S-T:
You mentioned Tyler Flowers. Will we see less of A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate?

Hawk: I'd like to see A.J. rested a little more, yeah. A.J. still puts the best numbers down [calling pitches] in the American League. But Tyler is emerging. Is he ready, I don't know. As long as A.J. is around, he's your No. 1.

SoxFest 2012 schedule

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Chicago White Sox Media Relations

January 27-29 at the Palmer House Hilton

The White Sox announced a few of the highlights from the 2012 SoxFest schedule at the Palmer House Hilton January 27-29, including many of the autograph sessions, photo stage sessions and seminars:

Day: Friday, January 27:

4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.


Autographs: Gordon Beckham, Joe Crede, John Danks, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzysnki, Dayan Viciedo

Photo Stage: A.J. Pierzynski, Gordon Beckham

Seminars: State of the Game with Commissioner Bud Selig and "Hawk" Harrelson; Your 2012 White Sox with Ken Williams and Robin Ventura; View from the Infield with Gordon Beckham, Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez

Saturday, January 28

9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Autographs: Joe Crede, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Brent Morel, A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Dayan Viciedo

Photo stage: John Danks, Brent Morel, Alexei Ramirez

Seminars: Your 2012 White Sox with Robin Ventura and his coaching staff; World Series Memories with members of the 2005 White Sox; Arms Race with Philip Humber, John Danks and Chris Sale

Sunday, January 29

9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Autographs: Joe Crede, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Brent Morel, Jake Peavy, Alexei Ramirez, Robin Ventura, Dayan Viciedo

Photo stage: Jake Peavy, Frank Thomas, Dayan Viciedo

Seminars: Your 2012 White Sox with Robin Ventura and his coaching staff; World Series Memories with members of the 2005 White Sox; From the Draft to the Big Leagues with Rick Hahn, Buddy Bell and Doug Laumann; White Sox Sluggers with Joe Crede, Ron Kittle, Bill Melton and Frank Thomas.


SoxFest 2012 is presented by Miller Lite and Pepsi and will be held Friday, January 27, Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29, 2012. A finalized schedule with a complete listing of autograph sessions, photo sessions and seminars will be posted on whitesox.com/soxfest next week.

SoxFest hotel packages at the Palmer House Hilton for SoxFest 2012 still are available for purchase at whitesox.com. Fans who purchase, or have purchased, a two-night stay at SoxFest will be entered into a drawing where one lucky winner will have the chance to throw a ceremonial first pitch before a White Sox home game. The special SoxFest hotel rate is $316 (which includes tax) for a two-night stay.

Weekend passes ($75/pass) are available only to fans who purchase a two-night stay at the hotel. Fans who purchase a weekend pass will receive an exclusive, limited-edition SoxFest Joe Crede bobblehead doll - one per weekend pass purchased.

Fans now also can book just one night at the Palmer House Hilton. The special SoxFest one-night rate is $181 (which includes tax) for either Friday night or Saturday night. Friday night of SoxFest will be open only to SoxFest hotel guests with weekend passes. Along with a one-night reservation, fans may purchase either a two-day, Saturday-Sunday pass for $70, a Saturday-only pass for $50 or a Sunday-only pass for $35. Those interested in booking one night at the Palmer House during SoxFest should call (312) 674-1000.


© 2012 Chicago White Sox

Trades add to White Sox' thin top prospects list

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Down on the farm, there isn't much for Sox fans to feel good about when it comes to their team's future.

At least, that's what the experts who evaluate such things say, anyway.

It doesn't say much about what the Sox are developing when their No. 2-rated prospect behind right-hander Addison Reed is Nestor Molina, whom general manager Ken Williams added to the system by trading closer Sergio Santos. And Molina doesn't even have eye-opening stuff. He does, however, throw strikes and there's a lot to be said for that. Right-hander Simon Castro, acquired from San Diego in the Carlos Quentin trade, is also rated in the Sox' top five by one evaluator. Several others in the Sox' top 20 were acquired in trades over the last four months.

The Sox do have a new man in place, Marco Paddy, to oversee a Latin American scouting operation left in shambles by the Dave Wilder scandal. Jerry Krause gave it a go before throwing his hands up and getting out of Dodge to go work for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Maybe Paddy can do better -- he recommended Molina and recently signed a 17-year-old Venezuelan prospect (right-hander Luis Martinez) to a sizable $250,000 bonus, an encouraging indication that the Sox' mending of Latin American fences is beginning.

This is the time of year when teams' prospects are evaluated. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus sized up the White Sox top 20 list this way:

Four-star prospects: Reed.

Three-star: Molina, outfielder Trayce Thompson, right-hander Jake Petricka, Castro, outfielder Keenyn Walker.

Two-star: shortstop Eduard Escobar, right-hander Jhan Marinez, right-hander Myles Jaye, shortstop Tyler Saladino, right-hander Andre Rienzo:

Others: Juan Silverio, 3B; Jared Mitchell, OF; Brandon Short, OF; Pedro Hernandez, LHP; Gregory Infante, RHP; Erik Johnson, RHP; Michael Blanke, C; Dylan Axelrod, RHP; Ozzie Martinez, SS.

If that last name rings a bell, it's not only because he's Sox shortstop named Ozzie. He's the player the Sox received from the Miami Marlins - along with Marinez -- in their trade for manager Ozzie Guillen.

White Sox show signs of movement in Latin America

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Marco Paddy's first imprint on the White Sox was Nestor Molina, the prospect acquired by general manager Ken Williams in the Sergio Santos trade.

His latest is right-handed Venezuelan pitching prospect Luis Martinez, who turns 17 on Jan. 29. Martinez signed for $250,000, which makes him a significant international Sox signing.

A 6-4, 195-pounder with a 90-mph fastball to go with an upper-70s curveball and changeup, Martinez projects to fill out and add pop to his heater. He's the first major signing by Paddy, who recommended Molina -- considered one of the top three Sox prospects by at least one prospects evaluator -- after getting hired away from the Toronto Blue Jays to run the Sox Latin American scouting operation after the 2011 season.

The Sox Latin American scouting has lagged behind since former director of player personnel Dave Wilder and two scouts were involved in a kickback scheme targeting players from impoverished parts of Latin America. According to Baseball America, the Sox ranked near the bottom among teams signing international amateurs the last two years. In 2010 they spent $345,000. Before they signed Martinez in December, they were slightly above that mark in 2011.

Another round of Bud (Selig)

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Bud Selig will take questions from fans during opening ceremonies at SoxFest on Jan. 27. One might go something like, "why keep doing this when you've repeatedly said you'd step down after your contract expires?"

Selig, 77, made it official on Thursday to stay on as MLB commissioner for another two years. Selig has been something of a polarizing figure for baseball's fan base, but he has a tidy list of accomplishments and is thought highly of by those in ownership circles, including Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Owners approved Selig by a 29-1 vote.

Selig will make an appearance at SoxFest to present Reinsdorf with a prestigious honor, the 2011 Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence. The White Sox Volunteer Corps, created after President Obama's inauguration-day call to service, has contributed more than $1 million through volunteer work hours, service events, materials and services.

The Friday night segment of SoxFest is open only to Palmer House Hilton hotel guests with weekend passes, so if you have a question or beef for Bud, well, get a room.

New manager Robin Ventura will be joined throughout the weekend by Sox players Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, John Danks, Adam Dunn, Jake Peavy, Alexei Ramirez, Gavin Floyd, Philip Humber, Jesse Crain, Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge, Brent Morel, Chris Sale, Matt Thornton and Dayan Viciedo. Expected to attend from the 2005 World Series championship team: Joe Crede, Neal Cotts, Cliff Politte, Pablo Ozuna and Frank Thomas.

In a statement from the owners meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz., Selig said, "This is an extraordinary era for Major League Baseball."

"I am very humbled by the request to stay on, and I look forward to building on the great momentum our game has seen in recent years,'' Selig said.

"It is an honor to be asked to continue to serve the game of baseball, and I thank the clubs for their confidence in the direction in which we have taken the game.''

White Sox trade Frasor for minor league pitchers

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The White Sox continued to trim payroll and re-supply their farm system with prospects on Sunday by trading veteran right-handed reliever Jason Frasor back to the Toronto Blue Jays for right-handed minor leaguers Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb.

Jaye, 20, pitched for Advanced Rookie Bluefield of the Appalachian League in 2011, going 3-3 with a 3.00 ERA over 54 innings. He had 49 strikeouts in 13 appearances, including nine starts. Jaye is 6-3, 170 pounds. He was a 17th round pick in the 2010 draft.

Webb, 22, spent most of the 2011 season with Class A Lansing in the Midwest League. He went 4-5 with a 5.59 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 66 innings. Webb is 6-3, 210 pound pounds. Webb was an 18th round pick in the 2009 draft. He is 5-12, 5.11 over 136 innings in two seasons in the minors.

Frasor, 34, was 3-3 with a 3.60 ERA with the Sox and Jays last season. He was acquired from Toronto with pitcher Zach Stewart on July 27 in the trade for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen. Frasor was 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA for the Sox, who picked up his $3.75 million option for 2012 on Oct. 31.

The trade comes a day after the Sox dealt outfielder Carlos Quentin to the San Diego Padres for two minor league pitchers. In two days, the Sox have probably trimmed $11 million from their payroll by dealing Quentin and Frasor. The White Sox payroll was an all-time high $127 million last year. As it stands now, their obligations for 2012 are probably around $105 million.

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