Ken Williams looked rested and relaxed, and why shouldn't he? It's been three months since he moved upstairs from the high-stress general manager's chair and into the executive vice president's seat, and a few weeks since he got engaged over the holidays to CNN morning anchor Zoraida Sambolin.
Not that he doesn't miss his old job.
"I sleep a lot better,'' Williams said Tuesday. "Honestly, I have more of a life, but I do miss being in the mix to a greater degree and I'll have to find some balance that way to make sure I don't drive myself crazy.''
Williams spent time Tuesday alongside Bulls GM Gar Forman at Hyde Park High School, talking to 12 male students to support the Bulls and White Sox's partnership with Youth Guidance's B.A.M. (Becoming A Man) program.
"I've felt such a lull because it has been the offseason and I'm used to having conversations with all the other general managers and in some cases owners and all of the various people that make up or compose your organization,'' he said. "I'm there for [new GM] Rick [Hahn] and he reaches out often but that's just a small part of the day. So, I've got to fill some other time some kind of way.''
Besides re-signing Jake Peavy, Hahn hasn't made a big splash aside from adding free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger to play third base and middle reliever Matt Lindstrom. While Sox fans have concerns about the everyday lineup, Williams seems to have few with a pitching staff that looks solid.
"If you got pitching, you have a chance,'' he said. "That's still going to be the determining factor in baseball. What we need to do is expect some of the same performances from some of our guys last year and some growth in some other guys. And I think we'll be in the mix.
"Because you have pitching, it automatically puts you in the mix.''
Williams said the Sox will miss catcher A.J. Pierzynski but he is high on Tyler Flowers, whom he traded for, as an everyday replacement.
"Listen, AJ has got a lot of big hits for us over the years,'' he said. "We are going to miss his left-handed presence in our lineup and his fight. He fouled off a lot of balls before sometimes he got into that hitter's count. I think those kind of things are infectious and we'll miss a little bit of that.
"We have Adam Dunn, we have Konerko, we've got Viciedo that can hit the ball a long way but none of them can hit the ball as far as Tyler Flowers. It will be interesting to see what he can do over the course of a season.
"He actually was in a really good spot when he was in AA when we made the trade for him, then lost his way for about a year and a half trying some different things. When he is on you'll see a right-center approach where he drives the ball to right center field, and it took him a while to get back to that. He has power to all fields but he also has the ability to have a good solid at-bat.
"In a short spurt when A.J. went down last year you saw him get a little more consistent with the bat and have those better at-bats. He's going to continue to improve offensively to where he could be something special and defensively all you have to do is talk to our pitchers for five minutes and they'll tell you how enjoyable it is for them to throw to him and the job he does behind home plate.''
That Flowers is a good catcher to throw to has been a recurring pitch from Hahn and Sox pitchers.
"He gives a good comfortable target on both sides of the plate,'' Williams said. "The center of his body where he'll move left, move right. He'll move back. He'll give a target where it's known where he wants it. Down or up. And he studies. His pregame preparation is about as good as it gets, so the pitchers know he's invested in them and their success.''
SoxFest is this weekend at the Palmer House, where fans will undoubtedly express some levels of displeasure over Pierzynski not being re-signed. Williams won't miss having to answer such questions.
"Fans can expect not to see me on the stage, that's what they can expect,'' he said. "That's somebody else's job right now. Good luck.''