Notes: Fields in line for position switch
Hot White Sox prospect has Crede in front of him at third base
ANAHEIM -- In a strange twist of fate, Josh Fields' locker in the visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium is situated right next to that of Joe Crede. The slight bit of irony, of course, emanates from Crede's standing as the White Sox incumbent third baseman, currently turning in an All-Star caliber season, with Fields seemingly waiting in the wings as a possible replacement at the hot corner.
But Fields doesn't see an odd symbolism coming from the locker proximity, especially for a player as established as Crede. In fact, Crede became a mentor for the White Sox 2004 first-round draft pick when they worked together during the past two Spring Trainings.
"I've been up for one game, and I'm already learning things by watching Joe," said Fields, who was called up from Triple-A Charlotte prior to Sunday's contest, after hitting .305, with 19 home runs, 32 doubles, 70 RBIs and 28 stolen bases. "It's fun to talk with him and good to watch how he prepares to play third.
"I'm here to learn a lot from him," Fields added.
At the conclusion of this past Spring Training in Arizona, Ozzie Guillen pointed to Fields as a player who made more offensive improvement than any other individual in the organization from 2005 to 2006. Prior to Monday's series opener in Anaheim, Guillen added how impressed he was by Fields' development defensively at third.
"It makes you satisfied, it makes you happy, when those kids go down there and work and get better," Guillen said.
Even with those kind words, though, there's a chance Fields will be competing for a starting job other than third base during the spring of 2007. With Scott Podsednik arbitration-eligible next season and a question mark to return, Fields will be splitting his time between the outfield and third base during winter ball in Venezuela to prepare for a possible position change.
Talented youngsters such as Ryan Sweeney and Jerry Owens also are in the mix, as well as center field incumbent Brian Anderson. To make the point clear, Jermaine Dye basically is the only set outfield position heading into next season.
This particular outfield battle and possible move from third makes Fields smile when a Crede rivalry is mentioned.
"We play the same position, but if I were him, it wouldn't be weird for me," said Fields with a wry smile. "As good of a season as he's had, he's probably looking at me and saying, 'There's Josh, whatever. His position is getting moved, so I've got no problem. He'll be in his next position soon, and I'm just chilling.'"
Check your local listings: The Sept. 23 contest between the White Sox and Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field has been moved from a 6:05 p.m. CT start to a 12:25 p.m. start and will be televised by FOX. With that change, the Sept. 30 game between the White Sox and Twins at the Metrodome also now will be picked up on TV.
That particular contest starts at 11:10 a.m., in order to accommodate the Michigan-Minnesota college football contest at the Metrodome Saturday night. The White Sox game will be broadcast by an undisclosed network and also will be available on MLB.TV.
A warm winter: While Fields, Anderson and Sweeney already are confirmed to play some portion of La Guaira's winter schedule for manager Razor Shines in Venezuela, Owens said Monday that he might join the trio.
"Winter ball is a thought I had," Owens said. "I didn't know what would happen with the callup, and I didn't know I was going to the Fall League. I was kind of surprised I was going, since I've been there once already in 2004. But I'm looking forward to it.
"It's fun to play with the great prospects all around baseball, and you can measure yourself up against certain guys and see how you fit in. So, I'll see how it goes, and maybe I will still go to winter ball."
Owens hit .262 with 40 stolen bases for the Charlotte Knights this past season. But he probably learned more through a bit of adversity than his past completely successful campaigns.
"I learned how to deal with the failure," said Owens, who hit .331 for Double-A Birmingham last year and led the Southern League with 173 hits. "I had a guy tell me that you haven't played baseball until you failed. I learned to deal with that and learned to come out of it, so I felt like character has been built."
A pitch for MVP: With Johan Santana putting another notch on his victory belt Sunday, raising his record to 18-5 and lowering his ERA to an eye-popping 2.75, the American League Cy Young award seems to be a foregone conclusion for the Minnesota southpaw. Of course, strong cases could be made for both Jon Garland of the White Sox and Toronto's Roy Halladay, but they don't lead the AL in ERA, strikeouts (230), innings pitched (212 2/3), victories and opponents average (.212).
Those hurlers also haven't lead their team to a 25-6 record when they are on the mound, as Santana has done with the AL Wild Card leaders. Those numbers have caused a grass-roots campaign to begin in Minnesota for Santana as Most Valuable Player, but it's not a campaign Guillen fully supports. The White Sox manager believes the MVP should go to a position player, regardless of the pitcher's immense value.
"Some guys they deserve to be MVP because they can be MVP of the game," Guillen said. "But in the meanwhile, position players go out every day. Position players don't have the time to get rest. That's why I think position players should get a better opportunity to do that.
"No MVP. Cy Young, yes, between him and Garland. It should be 1-2," added Guillen of Santana. "Those are the two guys that performed the best. Halladay from Toronto has a chance. But Santana, the way he throws, it's going to be hard for anybody to beat that, what he's been doing all year long.
Third to first: Chicago's four through nine hitters finished 0-for-20 Sunday against Cleveland, with one walk and eight strikeouts. That group was a combined 19-for-50 (.380) in the preview two games ... Steve Perry, former lead singer of Journey, was in attendance Monday night. The group's "Don't Stop Believin" song became a rallying cry, of sorts, for the White Sox during their 11-1 playoff run last year.
Up next: Mark Buehrle (12-12, 4.80) was part of the White Sox four straight complete-game victories over the Angels during the 2005 American League Championship Series, but his start took place at U.S. Cellular. Buehrle takes the mound Tuesday with a 3-8 record and a 7.18 ERA over his past 13 starts and with a 1-1 record and 2.83 ERA lifetime at Angel Stadium.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.