- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- Scott Podsednik's offseason wasn't exactly what he expected, especially after batting .304 for the Chicago White Soxlast year and then venturing out to the free-agent market. Initially, Podsednik's agents were seeking a three-year deal. Instead, after several months of frustrating negotiations, Podsednik signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Kansas City Royals which also has a club option for 2011.
Podsednik is off to another great start, batting .323. In the minds of some White Sox fans, Podsednik will always be a White Sox player.
"The '05 season was what you play for," Podsednik said of the White Sox's World Series season. "It's why you grind everyday. You do it to win a championship. It's really hard not to revisit those memories coming back to this city and [U.S. Cellular Field]. When you win, you create special bonds with people that you work with and grind with, and ultimately do something special with. That makes this place pretty special to me."
I asked Podsednik if he was surprised he did not get a multi-year offer from the White Sox.
"I wouldn't use the word 'surprised,' " Podsednik said. "I've been around awhile. I know what free agency is like. I know what it's like to be traded. Unfortunately, there is a business side to baseball. It doesn't always work in favor of what you want. But it's no secret that I wanted t come back to Chicago. This is where I wanted to be, but I'm happy with the Royals and how things turned out. I thought it would be another great fit for me to come back here and play again, not only personally but for the team as well. They wanted to improve their club. Deep down, they had other interests."
The White Sox's interest in Podsednik ended on Dec. 15 when they ended negotiations with Podsednik and traded two minor-league pitchers for Juan Pierre.
"I thank [White Sox general manager] Kenny Williams for going out and giving me a chance last year when I was at home with no job," Podsednik said. "So in a sense it worked out for both sides."
The White Sox's lukewarm interest in Podsednik was based on things he didn't do well, namely run the bases. The 34-year Podsednik had a tendency to get picked off first and second base much too often. Also his play in the outfield as well as his arm strength were well below average. Ironically, in trading for Pierre, the White Sox got another lead-off man type whose outfield play is not a strength. There are other similarities between the two lead-off men, including that they both stole 30 bases in 2009 [Podsednik in 537 at-bats, Pierre in 380 at-bats].
Pierre will cost the White Sox $3 million this season. In analyzing the first five weeks of his season, it appears the Royals have had a more productive player in Podsednik than the White Sox have had in Pierre. But after talking to several baseball scouts, their conclusion is both players are very similar and they really couldn't choose between the two when asked which player they would recommend.
"Bottom line is [the White Sox] got the player they wanted," Podsednik said. "I got another opportunity to play with the Royals."
Podsednik's walkoff home run in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series will always make him a South Side icon in the heart and soul of the fan base.
"That's the one moment that will always stand out for me," Podsednik said. "The timing of it was kind of magical for the city, for the organization and for me. I'm pretty sure there will always be that bond."
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