Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
By Chuck Garfien
GLENDALE, Ariz -- A gentle breeze blew through Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. And heres some breaking news for you:
It was Carlos Quentin.
The ultra-focused outfielder who has spent the last two seasons playing baseball with an internal tornado whizzing through his head, arrived at spring training looking a whole lot lighter.
Some physically, but mostly mentally.
I just worked on some things to come back...and enjoy this game a little better, Quentin said. I would be foolish not to learn from things that Ive consistently repeated in my life and baseball career. Its been a consistent process for me and Im going to keep going with it.
No baseball player beats himself up more than Quentin, who seems to put himself through a 15-round heavyweight fight every time he takes the field. Spread that over the course of an entire baseball season, and Quentin ended the year with more stress and tension than the Golden Gate Bridge.
Something had to give.
Pressure has always been something that has been self-inflicted by myself. So its something Ive worked on to lighten up and enjoy this game this off-season, Quentin said. I talked with Ozzie (Guillen) a lot about last year and things I want to be accountable for. Things I need to be more accountable for. I feel like if I perform well, Ill be able to help this team.
Despite his mental struggles, plus injuries to his left hamstring and left knee, Quentin still finished with 26 home runs and 87 RBIs in 131 games last season. Surprising.
One of Quentins teammates who also reported for duty on Tuesday can relate to his internal battles, because they once nearly bulldozed his own career.
His name is Paul Konerko.
Ive done a wrong a million times. The potential is always there to do a wrong again, Konerko said. Its a day in and day out thing. Some guys have it naturally built in to do it the right way. I dont. And I dont think Carlos does. It took me a lot longer than it should have. Hopefully with him, its going to take less time than that.
If Tuesday was any indication, Quentin is headed in the right direction. The key, however, is to stay there.
I think hes on the right page now, but we all got to fight that fight once the season starts, Konerko said. Its not easy, but its in there. Everybody believes in him, otherwise he wouldnt be back here. They would have done something.
They is Kenny Williams who would like nothing more than to see Quentin recapture his MVP form of 2008.
This is a pretty special player, said the White Sox GM. And sometimes I think he loses sight of that and just tries to do too much and tries to carry too much weight. On this team I dont believe he needs to carry that much weight, and thats one of the things we tried to do is to allow him now to drop in the order a little bit. His responsibilities are lessened. All he has to do, forget about the home runs, is just get on base, because hes an on-base percentage machine.
Right now, Quentin is smiling and laughing, even hamming it up Tuesday with our CSN camera. Its the Carlos weve all been waiting to see. But this is spring training. Once the regular season begins, the White Sox will be watching Quentin closely to see how he reacts when things go south.
Because in baseball, they always do.
The real test comes in April when youve gone 2-3 games and you dont have a hit and youve lost all three games, Williams said. Thats the real test of when youre going to put those newly developed skills to the test. So well see. Hell find out and well find out together.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.