Kenny Williams pushing the positives
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The day he took over the Chicago White Sox's front office in October 2000, Kenny Williams wasn't bashful. That much hasn't changed.
Speaking with the assembled media Thursday for the first time since pitchers and catchers reported to Camelback Ranch to begin spring training, Williams recalled the first day he took the position. He said then that his goal was to win multiple World Series titles during that tenure. It hasn't happened. And as camp opens, the White Sox's 2005 championship is in the rearview mirror.
Williams admitted the past few seasons have made for a disappointing run on a personal level, but he still feels that this year's club has what it takes to continue competing on a high level. He readily acknowledged that if things don't get better, he might have to pay the price.
"I've always been fortunate, felt fortunate to be part of this whole equation," Williams said. "If there comes a time where [chairman Jerry Reinsdorf] believes that there's somebody that can do this job in a better way and provide him with a better chance to win and build an organization and do the things that it takes to build an organization, I'll be the first one to step up and say, 'you need to make this move.' And I won't be anything but grateful and thankful and move on my way or move into a different position if he were to suggest that.
"As long as you can look out there and you can dream and you can imagine the positive things out there, that's not a bad place to be," he said. "There's a lot of GMs I talked to that don't have that luxury to at least dream like that."
For the White Sox to remain competitive in a Central Division that includes the drastically-improved Detroit Tigers, they'll need key contributions from the starting rotation. And they'll need those contributions without franchise mainstay Mark Buehrle, who left for Miami as a free agent.
With John Danks looking to bounce back from a subpar season, Chris Sale entering the rotation, Gavin Floyd out to prove he deserves that $9.5 million club option and Phillip Humber looking to build on last season, the success of the rotation could hinge on Jake Peavy's ability to stay on the field.
Peavy has maintained that he's as healthy as he can be after being shut down toward the end of last season with arm fatigue. Whether or not he can regain some semblance of the form that earned him the Cy Young award in 2007 remains to be seen.
Williams' confidence in Peavy hasn't wavered.
"He's showed us glimpses of that when he first came back from his rehab last year so that's the guy I'd like to see," Williams said. "But mostly the guy I'd like to see is the guy who works off the mound with the lead in the eighth, ninth inning and i don't care how he does it. And he's one of the few guys who can get it done even when he's not at the top of his game."
Naturally, Williams is very high on first-year manger Ventura, saying the former third baseman hasn't disappointed early on in his approach to spring training and the message he's delivering. During Thursday's first official coaches meeting, Williams alluded to the fact that he won't take a hands-on approach with the first-year manager.
"I want to certainly interject some things I feel we need, but i don't want to do so at the risk of stifling everyone else's ideas and some of the ideas that they bring to the table that we may have been missing," Williams said. "One of the things I hate the most is when people say things like, 'because we've done things this way, this is how we're going to do it.' I don't think it allows for creativity. I don't think it allows for people to get the most out of their staff.
"We've got some good baseball people here and i want them to tap into it and tap into without thinking that because I express an opinion of something that that is the overriding decision we're going to make. I don't want that. I'm in a position that I'm going to do a lot more listening in the beginning and I'll interject when I think it's necessary and express my opinion. But he was hired for a reason, and that's to run this ball club as he sees fit."