Big Hurt part of White Sox TV coverage
Slugger to do pregame and postgame coverage on CSN
CHICAGO -- Frank Thomas will work between 65-70 White Sox home games as part of the Comcast SportsNet pregame and postgame coverage team. The part-time move to Chicago also presents Thomas the chance to see his son, Sterling, play baseball in his senior year of high school.
Along with his official broadcast capacity, Thomas certainly won't be afraid to give out occasional hitting advice if he sees something amiss in a swing or two. Lending a helping hand won't undercut the work being done on a daily basis by hitting coach Greg Walker, according to the club's all-time most prolific hitter.
"I'm not crossing the line. Walk and I are on the same page. We are disciples of Walt [Hriniak]," Thomas said. "If I see something, we'll talk about it. [Walker] is a good man and we understand where we are trying to go and where the team is trying to go. We've always been friends and had that sort of relationship.
"I'll be watching them on a daily basis, and when they go through tough times, believe me, I'll pick up the phone and give them a call. It's a good thing. I wish when I was playing I had enough people around, people who know me and who knew my swing, who did the same thing."
Big Hurt expects Rios to bounce back
CHICAGO -- Frank Thomas played alongside Alex Rios in Toronto during the 2007 season and part of 2008, when the talented outfielder was putting up big numbers across the board.
So, Thomas would be considered a firsthand authority when talking about Rios' ability to bounce back from last year's dismal 41-game run with the White Sox. And Thomas expects major 2010 results from Rios, much as Ozzie Guillen predicted in his recent Q&A with MLB.com
"There's no doubt about it. He was a fish out of water [in Chicago] after being the man over there in Toronto," said Thomas, who attended Sunday's workout at U.S. Cellular Field as part of his new broadcasting job with Comcast SportsNet in Chicago. "He was the player to be traded knowing that he signed the big contract, and I'm sure in his mind it was, 'What the heck is going on?'
"He really didn't want to sign that contract. They forced it on him. It was a good deal, but I was there when they forced it on him. He could be a five-tool player any day of the week. He's a real good player."
Rios joined the White Sox through an Aug. 10, 2009, waiver claim from Toronto and brought with him the contract talked about by Thomas that pays him $59.7 million over the next five years. Rios also brings with him the speed and extra-base power that should fit nicely within the South Siders' more aggressive approach on offense.
At least, Thomas expects to see such a significant performance from the center fielder.
"I've seen him at his best: doubles, triples, stolen bases, prodigious power like any other home run hitter and a tremendous arm," Thomas said. "He can do it all. His mind is clear now, he's having fun and he knows his teammates."
Garcia gets clean slate from Cooper
CHICAGO -- Pitching coach Don Cooper offered up a defense of Freddy Garcia's disastrous final two Cactus League starts, even before the question could be finished on Sunday morning.
"A lot of our guys had difficulty out there," said Cooper of pitching in Arizona. "That stuff doesn't count, it doesn't count.
"We are going to go from here. If somebody is not getting the job done, regardless of the name, we will look at that. Right now, they are all getting the job done. Go on this: We are foolish to think about Spring Training in any other light other than it's about preparation through innings and the pitches."
Garcia, who will start Saturday against Minnesota, yielded 17 runs on 23 hits in 8 2/3 innings covering his final two Cactus League efforts.
A normal case of the jitters
The fact that Mark Buehrle is scheduled to make his eighth Opening Day start Monday, breaking a tie with Billy Pierce and setting a franchise record, doesn't have the left-hander any more nervous than usual. But those nerves show the competitive juices flowing.
"I get nervous every start," Buehrle said. "No matter who it is, who you are playing. Once you stop getting nervous, it's time to step away from the game."
Third to first
Monday's Opening Day lineup features Juan Pierre in left field, Gordon Beckham at second base, Carlos Quentin in right field, Paul Konerko at first base, Mark Kotsay at designated hitter, Alex Rios in center, A.J. Pierzynski behind the plate, Mark Teahen at third base and Alexei Ramirez at shortstop. Konerko makes his 10th straight Opening Day start at first for the White Sox and 12th straight Opening Day start overall for the South Siders. ... Manager Ozzie Guillen's aggressive approach being preached this spring has Konerko gunning for two stolen bases. Pierzynski doesn't see that goal being achieved. "There's no way Paul gets two stolen bases," said Pierzynski, who declared he could outrun the first baseman, whose has a career high in stolen bases of two, in 2008. "He usually sneaks in one a year when the catcher has a heart attack. It's hard for him to get two." ... Guillen had an approximately 30-minute meeting with the team prior to Sunday's workout. ... Pierre stayed about 10 minutes after Sunday's workout to work solely on his bunting.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.