04/13/12 3:21 PM ET
GM Williams likes early look of White Sox
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
But from listening to White Sox general manager Ken Williams' comments before Friday's home opener against Detroit, it sounds as if he believes the team is constructed to move in that hard-nosed direction made famous by the 2005 World Series champions.
"I wouldn't be surprised if someone wore a hard hat out of here instead of a baseball cap," said Williams with a smile. "I'm just fooling around, just because it's that kind of mentality, and one I can appreciate and put my arms around.
"We committed early on in Spring Training to a kind of grind it out mentality. That's true whether it be from the offensive side or defensive work they put in."
Williams pointed out that even an early negative can be viewed as a positive for the White Sox offense.
Entering Friday's contest, the White Sox had fanned 42 times. That's too many for Williams' liking, but he appreciates the approach taken by the team even in those swings and misses.
"Many of them have come with eight, nine pitch at-bats, where you wear down a pitcher," Williams said. "Those are positive signs in terms of team baseball and ultimately playing winning baseball. There are a lot of positives I see but obviously a long way to go."
While numerous publications picked the 2012 team for a fourth- or fifth-place finish and Sports Illustrated even had the White Sox pegged for 95 losses, those within the organization liked the team's overall direction exiting Spring Training. They liked the stability and quiet confidence instilled by new manager Robin Ventura and his staff, and liked the young players such as Hector Santiago, Addison Reed and even Nate Jones being infused into greater Major League roles, complementing veterans such as Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy looking for bounce-back efforts.
There's no question the White Sox were taking a chance through this modified rebuilding program. Kosuke Fukudome became the only free agent signed to a Major League contract by the White Sox, making for an interesting offseason for the usually active Williams.
"Boring," said Williams, choosing another way to describe the Hot Stove period. "But it was good exercise in patience, a much-needed exercise in patience. Discipline, too.
"Like I said, it was boring with a few exceptions. Bringing Robin on board, and the newness of that and the optimism in regards to things we could get accomplished along those lines. But not to be involved in the free-agent market or really the trade market to the degree we generally are, it was just a strange offseason.
"At the same time we were confident in our young players," Williams said. "We were still feeling around that veteran deal, something that could bring it all together. It was just different. Not as active. My phone bill was lower."
Ideally, the White Sox would like to go into the free-agent market, building a foundation and then building from within. But Williams understands the White Sox unique situation, needing to win to bring fans to U.S. Cellular Field and sustain a payroll at $100 million or above.
Through the season's first week, Williams likes what he sees. He hopes the White Sox fan base feels the same throughout the season.
"The only thing that matters to White Sox fans is what's on that field," Williams said. "And the effort that our guys put forth. The fight that they have, the hustling they see, the drive to win they have.
"We've got some talent, but it means nothing if guys don't go across those lines and put it all together. But anything I have to say, I learned a long time ago it doesn't matter too much."