01/27/08 10:33 PM ET
Notes: Sox made push for righty Colon
Veteran hurler turned down incentive-laden contract offer
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
General manager Ken Williams admitted during Sunday's final SoxFest Town Hall Meeting at the Palmer House Hilton that he sent manager Ozzie Guillen to the Dominican Republic recently in order to watch Colon on the mound. Guillen came away impressed enough for the team to make Colon "an incentive-based offer, with a low-base salary," according to Williams, which could increase if Colon got healthy and pitched close to his vast capabilities.
The intrigue began, though, after the offer was made.
"We couldn't find him. His agent couldn't find him," said Williams of Colon, 34, who posted a 15-13 record and a career-high nine complete games during his lone season with the White Sox in 2003. "The offer was designed to get him into the mix and create some competition -- not saying he would get the job. He didn't seem very interested in such a deal."
Williams also was questioned by one particular fan about pursuing other high-end available pitchers, such as Baltimore's Erik Bedard or Oakland's Joe Blanton. According to Williams, a Blanton deal would have demanded a higher bounty than the three top prospects he shipped away for Nick Swisher.
As for Bedard, Williams addressed Baltimore's ace southpaw without violating any Major League tampering rules.
"A guy who pitched like Erik Bedard would absolutely fit the equation and I probably would have gone after him full board to try to get him," said Williams, allowing White Sox fans to read between the lines in this particular hypothetical pursuit, without directly mentioning Bedard.
Fans first: Jim Thome was unable to make an appearance at SoxFest Sunday, as originally planned, after attending a family wedding Saturday night in the Peoria area. But keeping with the classy way in which Thome has handled his long career, fans who wanted to obtain Thome's signature won't go away empty-handed.
Four hundred photos will be signed by Thome, 100 more than he was scheduled to sign Sunday, and those pictures will be randomly given out to fans who were in attendance Sunday.
"Jim talked to us last night and told us how he didn't want to disappoint the fans," said White Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert of Thome. "You know him. We told him with all the complications and the logistics, don't come.
"We went back and forth as to whether to even put him on the schedule," added Reifert of Thome, whose young daughter was part of Saturday night's wedding. "But you know Jim. He wanted to be here. So, put it on us. We said 'Don't come and we'll take care of the fans.'"
Thome and his father, Chuck, will bring the ball he launched for career home run No. 500 to Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Feb. 7. Will Stewart, the 28-year-old accountant from Texas who caught Thome's momentous drive and returned it to the slugger, also will be flown in for the event.
Hello, old friends: Guillen continued to encourage former players for the White Sox to visit Spring Training and help out the family, so to speak. Guillen made special mention of Robin Ventura and Carlton Fisk, former teammates and close friends.
"Robin is more than welcome and so is Pudge," Guillen said. "The way we do stuff this year, former players are more than welcome. I asked Walt Hriniak to come out and join us.
"It would be great to see those guys back in camp. I hope Robin can stay with us for months, but I know he can't because of his family. I beg him every year to spend time with us."
Spring is in the air: Over the next few weeks, Guillen plans to make a trip back to Venezuela, watch his youngest son, Ozney, exhibit his vast skills on the baseball field and finish up Spring Training preparation with bench coach Joey Cora.
"I have a better idea how we are going to use Spring Training," Guillen said. "I talked to a few players about how we are going to run Spring Training. Some like it and some don't like it. It's not going to be a boot camp, but it will b a different camp."
Chicago in January: Jerry Owens, a California native, got a true taste of Chicago winter upon his arrival to a minus-20 wind chill on Wednesday.
"If it's 50 degrees in California, we don't go outside," Owens said. "Luckily, I'm mostly indoors here."
Owens and Josh Fields were stranded in the cold Wednesday night while waiting for a cab at the United Center following a Bulls game.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.