CHICAGO -- Tadahito Iguchi did his homework.
Upon joining the White Sox on Thursday, he dropped the name of a
well-known Chicago second baseman of the past: Nellie Fox.
"Back in the 50s, there was a player called Mr. Fox who was
probably very famous," Iguchi said through a translator.
Iguchi made no promises about how famous he would become with
the White Sox following eight years with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks.
Like countryman Shingo Takatsu who joined the White Sox a year
ago, he'd like to get his transition to a new culture out of the
way as quickly as he can and just help Chicago win.
Iguchi will make $2.3 million this year and $2.4 million in 2006
as part of an agreement completed Thursday. Chicago has a $3.25
million option for 2007 with a $250,000 buyout.
"We're not looking for another superstar to come in here,"
general manager Ken Williams said. "This is about a fit, a piece.
I told him earlier today, 'I don't care at the end of the year what
your numbers are, just go out and play the game the way you've
always played it and things will take care of themselves.' "
The 30-year-old Iguchi batted .333 with 24 homers and 89 RBI
last season. He's won two stolen base titles, three Gold Glove
awards and been a four-time All-Star. His presence is expected to
send Willie Harris to the White Sox bench.
Iguchi has 149 homers and 159 stolen bases to go with a .271
average in his eight-year career.
"I've been doing this style for eight years. There is really no
intention to change that," he said. "However the batting average
and the speed I would like to work on more than I did in Japan. ...
When I was in Japan, I was somewhat of a home-run hitter. I would
like to dedicate myself to speed and batting average before
anything. I want to get on base and in scoring position."
That's Chicago's new way following an offseason overhaul that
has seen the White Sox lose power hitters Carlos Lee and Magglio
Ordonez. Chicago added center fielder Scott Podsednik, right
fielder Jermaine Dye, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and pitchers Dustin
Hermanson, Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino.
Harris is the fastest player on the team, but Williams was not
convinced he was the best option at second base despite a .262
batting average in 129 games last year.
"Show me I'm wrong," was Williams' advice to Harris.
Williams got tape of Iguchi, talked to scouts who had seem play
and did his own analysis. He was convinced that Iguchi's swing was
ready for the major leagues and his style would be conducive to
what the team is trying to accomplish under second-year manager
"He's a guy who can hit it the opposite way. If you make a
mistake, he can pull it out of the park. He can beat you with his
legs and his glove," Williams added.
Takatsu was 6-4 with a 2.31 ERA and 19 saves in his first season
a year ago after a shaky start. He sent Iguchi a congratulatory
message Thursday, saying the two should shoot for the World Series,
somewhere the White Sox haven't been since 1959 when Fox was the
American League MVP.
Takatsu's presence and popularity should help Iguchi adapt more
"It should be a little bit easier than it was for Shingo for
sure," Williams said.
Iguchi has visited the United States 10 times and said he first
became interested in the prospect of playing in the majors while
competing in the Atlanta Olympics, where Japan won a silver medal
in baseball nine years ago.