White Sox

Sox Drawer: 'Trader Kenny' has returned

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Sox Drawer: 'Trader Kenny' has returned

Monday, June 28, 201011:59 AM

By Chuck GarfienCSNChicago.com
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Twins and Tigers, heres a message coming from the front office at U.S. Cellular Field:

"Trader Kenny" is back.

All it took was that incredible 11-game win streak which not only got the Sox back into contention at lightning speed, but allowed Kenny Williams -- one of the most vigorous GMs in baseball -- to do a complete 180.

Two weeks ago he was selling. Now, as Williams tells Comcast SportsNet, he is ready to buy. They are words every White Sox fan wants to hear around this time of year. And now, theyve got them.

"At this point now, obviously we have climbed back into it," Williams said. "Well go back to taking the aggressive stance that weve had previously and have conversations of how we can get better.

And how can they?

The two biggest names out there, in terms of stature, fit, availability and clothing size are left-handed power hitters Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder. Theres also switch-hitting first baseman Lance Berkman and, of course, Adrian Gonzalez.

Back in spring training, Williams admitted that he entered the season concerned about the Sox lack of thump from the left side of the plate. He still does. Is that something hed go after?

"I think its something you have to take a look at," Williams said.

But before you pencil in one of those burly bats between Alex Rios and Paul Konerko in the Sox lineup, Williams continues to support the wishes of Ozzie Guillen, who has told his boss that he can win with this team and doesnt feel the need for a full-time DH.

Just because you have a name player, for instance, who comes in, if the players and Ozzie dont believe in the fit, if that particular player needs to play every day to keep his timing and Ozzie has different plans for mixing and matching the way he has, and thats been successful, I think you have to defer to that, and I also think you have to consider all of the peripheral things that go into the equation.

So far the combination of Mark Kotsay (.213 batting average) and Andruw Jones (.203) have not equaled production at the platoon DH position. In fact, Jones has been M.I.A. for the last month. If their struggles at the plate continue, Williams may be compelled to make a move.

Last week White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said that if the team got back in contention, and the right deal came around, hed allow Williams to add salary. But despite the Sox hot streak, that didnt stop opposing general managers from calling Williams a few days ago to see if he was still considering selling.

I got a few phone calls as a matter of fact saying, You still thinking about doing something? I said, Ahhh, were going to sit tight for a minute, run this out and see what happens.

Despite rumors of imminent deals during the Sox struggles, Williams declares that he never got close to making any trades.

Simply because it takes two to tango, the Sox GM said. And you have a number of teams deciding if theyre in it or not in it. You can only begin the process. But the realities started slapping us in the face with the way we were playing. So I fully admit to you and the public that selling started being a consideration.

After sweeping the Braves in three games last week, veteran slugger Chipper Jones said the White Sox are the best team weve played all month. Meaningful words when you consider the Braves had faced the Twins, Rays, Phillies and Dodgers.

What does Williams think about Jones statement?

I wish hed communicate that to the Twins and Tigers so they could start believing that. But I suspect that they dont believe that, so I think were going to have to go out and prove it. And lets face it, we havent played as consistently as the other clubs, so we have to prove it to a greater degree.

So while every Chicago sports fan focuses this week on the Bulls and their quest for the greatest offseason 1-2 punch in the history of Chicago sports (Lebron James and Chris Bosh), rest assured that Williams will be deep inside his bunker, likely not coming out much until he has something to announce.

What will it be? Who and when?

Stay tuned.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

With Jose Abreu playing in the All-Star Game, we asked some of his American League teammates about the White Sox first baseman. Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel and Michael Brantley rave about Abreu, explaining why he’s such a great hitter and a tough out for pitchers. 

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: