09/28/11 6:21 PM ET
Put it on the board! Hawk gets four-year deal
By Scott Merkin and Paul Casella / MLB.com
Longtime announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, whose contract was set to expire at the end of the 2011 campaign, agreed to a four-year extension through 2015, as announced Wednesday. Next season will mark Harrelson's 22nd consecutive year in the White Sox broadcasting booth, and his 27th season overall as a Sox broadcaster.
"The White Sox are thrilled to have Hawk back in the booth for the next four seasons," Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of marketing and sales said in a statement. "Hawk is deservingly recognized as one of the game's great broadcasters, and his overall passion for the White Sox has made him a very popular legend among our devoted fans."
Harrelson has twice been selected as Illinois Sportscaster of the Year and has won five Emmy awards for his work. He was nominated for the Ford C. Frick Award in 2007 and is up for the honor again this year.
Buehrle not sure what path offseason holds
CHICAGO -- When Mark Buehrle provides a less-than-certain response concerning his upcoming free agency, it's not an attempt by the veteran southpaw to play coy about his future.
This offseason marks Buehrle's first foray into the process, and he isn't sure what exactly to expect. He would like to play for a contender and has an idea of teams that are of high interest. In the long run, Buehrle wants to extend his 12-year run with the White Sox, but isn't sure what the team has in mind.
"Similar to Paul Konerko last year, I'm not sure. We don't know where we're going with our plan just yet," said White Sox general manager Ken Williams. "We don't know where our payroll is going to be. Mark's probably got to explore the free-agent market, similar to how Paul did last year. And on the other side of it, we'll all have a better idea of where we stand."
"I don't know if I'll call in or they'll let me know, 'Hey we're not coming after you and you can go elsewhere,'" Buehrle said. "So I have no idea when the phone will start ringing. I'll start working out and get ready for next year like I planned."
Buehrle intends to keep all options open, not knowing where the best offer or best fit will come from. He also won't be soured on the White Sox if they don't make an offer or go in a different direction. It's the franchise that gave him a chance to be a Major Leaguer and set up his family for life.
Asked what he has left in terms of good seasons, in true self-deprecating Buehrle form, he answered, "Probably zero." Not exactly the best lead for a free-agent pitch. But 11 straight seasons of at least 30 starts, 200 innings pitched and double-digit wins sort of speak for themselves.
"I'll try to trick them," Buehrle said with a wry smile. "No, obviously, I feel good. I'm healthy. I could go out the first start of next year and blow out. I have no idea. I can't foresee the future. A couple more years, I think I can keep going. We'll see."
Santos proves he can handle closing duties
CHICAGO -- Sergio Santos took a big step forward in his career during the 2011 season. Now, he's hoping to find a little more stability.
While Santos was unexpectedly thrust into the team's closer role early in the season, he seemed to flourish there. With lefty Chris Sale exerting some dominance out of the bullpen as well, though, Santos' hold on the closer's role became much more situational down the stretch under former manager Ozzie Guillen.
It got to the point where Santos said he knew that his ninth-inning role would be determined by whether the opposing team had predominantly lefties or righties due up in the final inning. The 22-year-old Sale could potentially be moving into the starting rotation next year, and Santos is hoping that the White Sox new manager -- whoever that may be -- gives him the exclusive reins on closing out games.
"Yeah, obviously you'd like to have that definitive role and be like, 'All right, if it's the ninth inning, I don't care if there's three lefties up, I'm the closer, I'm coming in, I'm getting the outs,'" Santos said. "It just helps you prepare a little more, but like I said, we were kind of figuring it out as we went along, and it got to the point where we were thinking along the same lines [as Guillen]."
Guillen consistently touted Santos as having the exact makeup needed to be a successful closer, but chose to take advantage of lefty-righty matchups more in the closing months. Interim manager and pitching coach Don Cooper, though, said that even with the uncertainty surrounding Santos' specific role this season, the 28-year-old right-hander proved that he's more than ready to be the club's full-time closer.
"If a closer has a bad day, it's a bad day for the team. And that's a big responsibility," Cooper said. "But he handled it well. Heck, he's got 30 saves in his first year and he probably wasn't the closer for I don't know how long early in the year."
Quentin focusing on recovery, not offseason
CHICAGO -- Carlos Quentin doesn't know for sure what uniform he'll be wearing while patrolling the outfield next season. Right now, his only focus is the ongoing recovery from the shoulder injury that has bothered him for more than a month.
The right fielder sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder while making a diving catch on Aug. 20 and has played in just one game since. With so many unknowns looming in the offseason -- like Quentin being arbitration-eligible for a final time prior to free agency and the recent emergence of young outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo -- there's no guarantee that Quentin will be back with the White Sox in 2012.
Before he addresses that situation in the offseason, though, Quentin will first resume normal workout activity in the next few weeks and progress from there. As it stands now, he hasn't attempted to swing a bat in about a week, but he hopes to change that over the next month or so.
"I'm looking forward to bouncing back really well," Quentin said. "A couple of weeks from now, I'll start resuming upper body activity, and then a week or two from there, swinging to get a gauge. Hopefully, knock on wood, it's all back and better."
Cooper enjoying the manager's life
CHICAGO -- White Sox players admitted to having fun with Don Cooper's first night as interim manager Tuesday, questioning a move or two and prodding him to argue a controversial call.
Cooper reiterated Wednesday that being manager is a job he could handle, but he doesn't expect a formal interview for the vacancy. Not with the White Sox already knowing him for 25 years and having just extended his contract by four years as pitching coach.
"Listen, I think they have some things in mind. What they have in mind is for me to continue what I've been doing," Cooper said. "I have a lot of fun and believe I can do it, but I'm here to work for whoever they decide to bring in, and I believe I can work with anybody."
Third to first
The White Sox finished the season with a better record on the road (43-38) than at home (36-45).
Juan Pierre struck out twice in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, the left fielder's first multi-strikeout game since July 29, a span of 57 games.
The White Sox lost nine games this season when leading after eight innings.
Chicago is just 8-23 in its past 31 meetings with Toronto.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.