Saturday, January 22, 2011
Notes, observations from SoxFest 2011
By Doug Padilla
Here are some more White Sox observations and musings from the first two days of SoxFest:
Paul Konerko looks to have slimmed down this offseason, but he denied it saying it couldn’t be more than a pound either way. Perhaps it was his dark slacks and dark sweater that gave a slimming effect. As long as his quick bat speed is there, his weight doesn’t figure to make too much of a difference. Manager Ozzie Guillen wants to get Konerko more off days, or at least more designated hitter days than he did in 2010.
Mark Teahen definitely appears to have bulked up during the offseason. The much-maligned acquisition from last winter said his mindset has always been that he would battle for the third base spot this spring and then consider what roles the club might for him only if he doesn’t end up with the 3B job.
Mark Buehrle is still as carefree as ever as he heads into the final season of his White Sox contract. Buehrle said he still doesn’t know if he will retire or continue to play after this season. He doesn’t even know if his agent and GM Kenny Williams have talked contract extension. But with Adam Dunn and Konerko around for a few more seasons, he would be interested in staying. But he also mentioned Albert Pujols while talking about signing a new contract so perhaps pitching for his hometown Cardinals is still on his mind.
Talking about the lineup, Konerko spent time discussing the importance of Juan Pierre at the leadoff spot. Pierre said he embraces the idea of being an important part of the offense and that if he gets on base, the RBI guys can do their thing. He said that just being comfortable with his teammates and his surroundings after coming to the White Sox in 2010 should help him avoid a the slow start that hampered him last year.
Young players figure to be anxious as spring training approaches. Not Brent Morel. The leading candidate to be the starting third baseman in 2011 said he has no butterflies with spring training a month away and the 3B job his to lose. The kid doesn’t have a whole lot to say, which is fine by the White Sox if he can deliver with his glove and produce a steady amount of offense from the No. 9 hole.
Jordan Danks will get a chance to show his stuff in big-league camp this spring, but he doesn’t have much of a chance of making the big-league roster. Williams said Danks, the younger brother of John Danks, still needs to play every day and the current OF spots are set with Pierre, Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin. As for Morel, Williams thinks he could still be useful playing four times a week with the big-league team, which seems to suggest a Morel/Teahen 3B platoon, at least at the start of the season.
As for Quentin, Guillen boldly predicted that the high-intensity run producer will have a season like he did in 2008 when he was an MVP candidate before a late-season hand injury. Perhaps it was Guillen’s way of saying that Quentin will be expected to deliver up to his potential, something he will only be able to do by staying healthy.