GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If theres a word to describe White Sox spring training in 2012, thats easy.
The manager is different.
Jake Peavy feels different.
Chris Sale even looks different. Sort of.
It looks like he put on a pound or two, joked AJ Pierzynski. Hes at 150 now.
Speaking of weight, the 20-ton boulder that the 2011 team carried last year is officially gone, currently residing in Lakeland, Fla., spring training site of the Detroit Tigers, who are picked by everyone on the planet to win the American League Central -- quite possibly in a landslide.
For the White Sox to change that, the results will have to be much different when the two meet face-to-face. The Tigers owned the series last season, winning 13 of 18 games, outscoring the White Sox 111-to-62.
It wasnt so much that we lost to them. They embarrassed us numerous times, Matt Thornton said frankly. They hung 18, 14, I dont even know what the numbers were.
Actually Matt, youre correct on both. They scored 18 and 14 against the White Sox in separate games. Safe to say those losses have stuck in Thorntons mind.
You walk off the field and youre embarrassed about it, and it kind of hangs around all off-season for you, added Thornton. Theyre the favorites right now, they have a great team, and I look forward to facing them.
So what kind of team can the Tigers and the rest of the American League expect to see from the White Sox?
I think you have a lot of young hungry guys, a lot of veterans that want to prove themselves again, and show that we can still do it, and that were better than people think, said Jake Peavy, who arrived at spring training feeling like the Jake Peavy of old as opposed to an old Jake Peavy. Hes now 19 months removed from his experimental latissimus dorsi muscle surgery.
This is the first time Ive been like this in quite a few springs, just to come in and not have to answer injury questions, and questions I didnt even know how to answer because nobody had ever done what I had done, Peavy said.
If Kenny Williams could change the past, and make things different, hed likely go back to the end of 2005 and try this all over again. One playoff appearance and one playoff victory in seven years is not what he or anybody expected after they paraded down LaSalle Street as World Series champions.
Sitting in a golf cart, watching Robin Ventura take the field for his first practice on Thursday, Williams reflected on how his team got to this point, failing to meet expectations, not just last season, but the last several combined.
I said it the day that I was assigned to this position, I wanted to win a couple World Series titles during the time that I had, however long that was. That hasnt happened, Williams said. At this point it is a disappointing run for me personally.
To change his fortunes, certain things will need to be -- different. Comeback seasons by the likes of Peavy, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham will have to occur. The pieces are there. But will they all come together?
Its a question everyone is asking, including Williams who, despite the predictions of gloom and doom on the South Side, remains optimistic about his teams chances.
We look at the players on the field, and a lot of teams cant say, If this happens, this happens, and this happens, we can be right in there, Williams said. As long as we can look out there and you can dream and you can imagine the positive things happening, thats not a bad place to be. There are a lot of GMs that I talk to that dont have the luxury to dream like that.
Inside the White Sox clubhouse, a couple lockers down from Paul Konerkos sits a vacant locker that reads Lost and Found. Its reserved for misplaced clothing and equipment, but might as well be a symbol to what has happened to the White Sox.
In 2011, they were lost.
In 2012, will they be found?
Every year in baseball we expect the unexpected.
And this year is no different.