01/23/10 3:42 PM EST
Quentin focused on swing, not injuries
White Sox outfielder preparing for bounceback season
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
Then again, maybe it was the ovation Quentin received from the fans waiting to get his autograph at the Palmer House Hilton that had him in such an upbeat mood. Whatever the explanation, even the usually intense White Sox outfielder had to laugh when asked by a media member about his happy disposition.
"It's the offseason. It's a little different," Quentin said. "You guys know it. You're smiling, too."
There was an even better reason for Quentin to be downright giddy as the 2010 season approaches, centering on the positive report concerning the 27-year-old's overall health. After battling through an injury-plagued 2009 campaign during which he suffered from plantar fasciitis in his left foot and tendinitis in his right knee and dealt with the hampering effects of having a wire remaining in his surgically repaired right wrist, Quentin gave the all-clear sign on Saturday.
That wire has been removed, possibly aiding his stroke at the plate in the near future and helping improve on his .236 average, 21 home runs and 56 RBIs from last season.
"I felt a little restricted, and you put that in the back of your mind as a hitter," said Quentin of his right wrist. "Your hands are very important in the swing. But I'm more focused on how much better it feels now. It makes me excited. This offseason I've been hitting and been satisfied with my swing.
"My body feels well. The foot feels great. The knee feels good. The wrist feels 10 times better having the hardware out. The old injuries that were in the past feel great."
All of that information should make the White Sox feel tremendous. Couple this glowing report with Quentin's excitement about moving from left field back to his natural position of right field, and the White Sox could have a middle-of-the-lineup presence more along the lines of Quentin's 36-home run, 100-RBI breakthrough campaign of 2008.
But general manager Ken Williams refuses to put that sort of extra pressure on Quentin or anyone else on the team, for that matter.
"Our pitching will take care of itself from one through 12," Williams said. "The way we feel from an offensive standpoint is that if everyone does what they are capable of doing, then things should fall into place. We just need Carlos to be healthy, not necessarily a Most Valuable Player candidate."
Hitting coach Greg Walker already has made one visit to Quentin's California home to make sure everything was on track with his swing. Walker said a few adjustments were made in regard to mechanics but returned with rave reviews for how Quentin looked.
"We've put our heads together and attacked every issue we need to in the offseason," said Quentin of his work with Walker. "It's great to have him on your side, thinking new ideas."
The two continue to stay in contact, with Quentin sending Walker videos of his swing. Quentin also has switched his offseason workout in Santa Barbara to a more injury preventative focus.
As one can see, there are plenty of reasons for Quentin to be so joyful.
To be honest, Quentin is far from a dour clubhouse presence -- a competitive part of his persona that is a bit overplayed, at times. He's positive but extremely intense, a player who doesn't like to let anything alter his gameday focus. Saturday's brief glimpse just might have shown Quentin is entering 2010 with a slightly more relaxed demeanor.
"Every year I've gotten better, and it's because of the guys around me," Quentin said. "Obviously Walker and Ozzie, we've talked about the whole issue. I try to get better and as I grow as a person, it will continue to get better. When the season starts, it's serious and I never forget that."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.