08/04/09 8:36 PM ET
Podsednik's play fosters options
Offensive catalyst prefers to return to White Sox in 2010
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
In the process, Podsednik has turned himself into quite a valuable commodity for not just the remaining 56 games in 2009 but on the open market for the 2010 season and beyond. Although Podsednik remains focused on the job at hand, serving as the offensive catalyst in getting the White Sox to the postseason, he can't help but think about what his future holds and whether that future might play out in Chicago for the next year or two.
"You want to focus on the last  games, but a guy in my position, who was at home at the beginning of the season, you can't help but think about your family and career and the business side of it," Podsednik told MLB.com prior to Tuesday night's series opener against the Angels. "It has entered my mind, but those are thoughts you want to put off until the offseason and the bottom line is making it to the playoffs."
Podsednik, 33, enters the Angels series as the top candidate for American League Comeback Player of the Year. He's hitting .302, which is the fifth highest average among AL leadoff men, with four home runs and 32 RBIs. He has formed a formidable one-two punch at the top of the lineup with Alexei Ramirez and now Gordon Beckham, becoming a potent leadoff hitter the White Sox have been looking for since ... well, since Podsednik was on the South Side in 2005.
Although a pure leadoff man doesn't stand as a necessity for the White Sox to win, it's fairly obvious that the team functions at optimum production level with a competent one in place.
"Well, you've heard me say in the past that it all starts at the top," said Podsednik, who is batting .300 in the 70 games he has started at the top of the order, and the White Sox have a 38-32 record in those games. "On any given day, you can pick up the USA Today and look at what the one and two hitters do on any ballclub and kind of predict what their team did on that particular night."
The White Sox have Jordan Danks quickly coming up through their Minor League system as a potential center field/leadoff candidate, currently hitting .279 with Double-A Birmingham. But Jared Mitchell, the team's top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, would be the logical replacement for Podsednik in both his roles on offense and defense.
Serving as a tutor for these young players stands as something Podsednik said he would enjoy over the next year or two. But with Podsednik playing as well as he has and with talented leadoff hitters classified as a rare commodity, he just might be weighing other interesting offseason offers from teams around baseball.
"A funny thing about this game, after the year he have, you don't know how much money or how many years he want," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "When you play good for a ballclub, you always want to bring him back. It depends which stage we be in next year and who's out there."
Ultimately, Podsednik said, he "would like to come back here and play. Obviously, I have some history here. I feel comfortable with the staff, the organization, the city. I have a really good working relationship with [assistant hitting coach Mike] Gellinger and [hitting coach] Greg Walker. I finally have figured out what they have been trying to get me to do from an offensive standpoint, in terms of staying consistent.
"That will help, coming back to play, in regard to personal success. The passion to want to win is here. I don't know what the organization is thinking or what Kenny [Williams, general manager] is thinking, but I simply like it here."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.