10/04/09 1:21 PM EST
Podsednik open-minded about market
Outfielder likes Chicago, but will explore free agency
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
On the other hand, with Podsednik entering free agency in the best position of his career, the outfielder doesn't intend to simply take Chicago's first offer and run with it.
"No, we are going to wait it out and see what happens," Podsednik said concerning his foray into free agency. "If they want to try to bring me back, then we will entertain that idea and go from there. But this is all kind of a new process to me. I'm going to seek counsel from my representation and do what we feel is best.
"I really don't know what to expect and what kind of market there's going to be for me, but I'm going into it open-minded. I'm going to learn as much about the process as I possibly can."
Podsednik, 33, has been a revelation on offense for the White Sox during the 2009 season. He carried a .306 average, seven home runs, 48 RBIs and 30 stolen bases into the season finale Sunday at Comerica Park, although he didn't play his first game with the South Siders this year until May 1.
There have been a few baserunning and defensive hiccups along the way, but in looking over his entire body of work, Podsednik ranks as the team's most pleasant surprise if not its Most Valuable Player with the bat. The question now for Podsednik and his current employer is whether he has done enough to be brought back into the 2010 fold.
The name of Chone Figgins already has been thrown out in the rumor mill as the top leadoff man available on the open market, and the White Sox have been linked to that rumor. While Figgins provides an interesting option for just about any team in need of a quality presence at the top, his eventual asking price in terms of years and salary could make the ultimate difference for various teams.
"Would we like to have players like him? Everybody does," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Figgins. "But this kid is going to cost you a lot of money. If we figure out this guy is going to solve our problem, then [White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] will take a shot, because Jerry wants to win.
"Jerry wants to win. [White Sox general manager] Kenny [Williams] wants to win. I want to win. Everybody wants to win. In the meanwhile, Kenny is going to go see the market and we are going to see how ... I would love to have Podsednik back, but that's not my call. It's between Podsednik's agent and Kenny and the White Sox, but we just need someone. That was our problem this year. Our center-field problem was pretty deep."
A deep problem, that is, until Podsednik arrived through a Minor League deal to help alleviate some of the stress. Alex Rios will take care of the center-field issue for the 2010 season, and a healthy Carlos Quentin will flank Rios in either left or right. That pairing leaves one outfield spot open, a spot Podsednik would like to fill.
When asked to analyze what might be the major knock against him, Podsednik pointed to his ability to stay healthy as a perceived negative. But Podsednik also feels as if he's turned the corner in that area through a new workout regimen that had him ready for 2009 success.
"I've put in hard work to counter things I was having problems with in the past," Podsednik said. "I haven't felt any muscle strains, aches, pulls, anything close to some of the stuff in the past. I feel I have a good working program and can keep my body healthy for a full season.
"I don't know what those guys are planning here. To be honest, I don't know if they know at this point. We will have to wait and see. Go home and relax, watch the postseason and see how things carry out from there.
"I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun, an exciting time," Podsednik said. "I just hope that after all is said and done, I find myself in someone's starting lineup to start the 2010 season."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.