White Sox manager Robin Ventura joked Saturday that Harold Baines is the new assistant hitting coach because his first-base coach duties bored him.
While Baines agreed theres some truth to Venturas humor, and the move will benefit his sore knees, but mostly hes excited that the role will tap into one of his true strengths -- the art of hitting.
A six-time All-Star, Baines finished his 22-season career with 2,866 hits and 384 home runs.
Im just trying to give what Ive learned from people like (Greg) Luzinski that taught me when I came up, Baines said. Im just trying to give back the information that was given to me. I like talking about hitting. The little bit that I can give, if it helps one person, thats something too.
Hitting coach Jeff Manto said in November that Baines should provide a significant boost to the teams operation. The two are friends from a season spent together in Baltimore in 1995 and already speak the same language, which means White Sox hitters will hear the same message even if its said in a different way.
Thats what coaches are for, Baines said. Were just trying to get them on the right path. Its something new for me, but I think Im going to enjoy it.
Payroll still flexible
The signing of Matt Lindstrom on Friday increases the White Sox payroll to 100.7 million, with at least another 8 million or so due to Dayan Viciedo and 10 players who are on one-year contracts. Even though the teams starting payroll should be 12 million more than last years opening day mark of 96.7 million, general manager Rick Hahn believes he will have flexibility to add players should the White Sox contend for a playoff spot.
Based on (owner Jerry Reinsdorfs) history, absolutely, Hahn said.
Morel still in mix
Brent Morel isnt out of the White Sox plans, Ventura said Saturday. Morel was limited to 35 games last season with a sore back, but Ventura said he recently saw the third baseman at U.S. Cellular Field and Morel feels good. Morel hit eight home runs in September 2011 and gave the White Sox high hopes about his future.
Even though his 2012 season was lost, the White Sox havent forgotten about him.
Theres no reason for us to push him away, Ventura said.
Williams grills Hahn
Friday's first SoxFest seminar featured a few fans grilling Hahn about the departure of A.J. Pierzynski, but perhaps the toughest inquest came from the guy Hahn replaced.
As Friday's session wrapped up, ex-GM Kenny Williams casually took his place in line behind a fan to ask Hahn and Ventura a question. Williams asked: "Do you think you're going to do a better or a worse job than the last guy?"
Hahn, who's worked with the White Sox for over a decade, had a quick retort: "That's not fair. The last guy had a better support staff."
Paciorek on LaRussa
During a Saturday seminar, former White Sox player and announcer Tom Paciorek said manager Tony La Russa once held him out of a game for health reasons. Paciorek told LaRussa he felt fine and the manager acknowledged the fact before he noted: Every time you play, I get sick.
Staff writer JJ Stankevitz contributed to this article.