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Here's what we learned about the Sox this spring
By Scot Gregor | Daily Herald Columnist

Chicago White Sox's Chris Getz follows through on an RBI hit in the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during a spring training baseball game in Tucson, Ariz., Sunday, March 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

 

Chris Getz

 

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Published: 4/4/2009 11:36 PM

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White Sox general manager Kenny Williams is a lot of things. Intense. Driven. Competitive. Angry. Intellectual.

Bubbly is an adjective rarely linked with Williams, who celebrates his 45th birthday Monday, the same day the Sox open the 2009 regular season with a 1:05 p.m. game against the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field.

But two weeks ago, before the White Sox played a spring training game against the Oakland A's in Phoenix, the GM was just that.

"There are so many positives that it is almost beginning to worry me," Williams said. "And I know that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Both on the major-league side and in the minor leagues, there are just so many positives that it's cause for concern for some reason."

After infusing the Sox' barren farm system with young talent like Gordon Beckham, Dayan Viciedo, Aaron Poreda, Tyler Flowers, Brandon Allen and Jordan Danks, the future has turned brighter on the South Side.

But what about the varsity club and the prospects for the upcoming season? Here's what we learned this spring:

They can hit

The White Sox have made some big lineup changes, notably Dewayne Wise and Chris Getz at the top of the order.

After that, it's Carlos Quentin, Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, Alexei Ramirez and new third baseman Josh Fields.

Once again, expect the home runs to come in bunches, especially when the wind is blowing out at the Cell over the summer.

Manager Ozzie Guillen wants to see the Sox manufacture more runs this season, but he'll settle for home runs with men on base. In 2008, the Sox hit 190 HRs and 111 were solo shots.

They can pitch, with a caveat

Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and John Danks stack up as the best trio of starters in the division, and they could combine for 45 wins this season.

After that, Jose Contreras and Bartolo Colon are major concerns. Neither veteran pitched with extended success in spring training, and the two youngsters tabbed as insurance policies - Clayton Richard and Jeff Marquez - didn't show much, either.

They can't catch

With Guillen, defense is even more important than manufacturing runs. That's why the erstwhile slick-fielding shortstop has got to be worried about the way the White Sox performed in spring training.

In 35 Cactus League games, the Sox made a whopping 45 errors. Utility infielder Brent Lillibridge led the way with 5, followed by Fields, Ramirez and Wilson Betemit, who made 4 each.

As a rule of thumb, it's not wise to put too much emphasis on statistics from spring training. But the White Sox clearly need to tighten it up on defense.

He can play

Looking for one guy that went to camp with an opportunity to win a job and wound up stepping up and grabbing it? Look at Getz.

"Chris responded," Williams said. "He's just one of those guys; he's not going to make your eyeballs pop out, but each and every day he's going to do something to help your team win, and he'll be a steady presence, both on defense and offense."

Getz, who might move up the leadoff spot if Wise struggles, batted .324 with a .387 on-base percentage in 22 Cactus League games. He made only 2 errors.

At 6-foot, 185-pounds, Getz looks more like a bat boy than a ballplayer, but the 25-year-old infielder performs with a veteran flair.

Can he lead?

Wise comes across as pressure proof, most likely because he's spent the majority of his 12 pro seasons in the minor leagues and nearly signed with the Somerset (N.J.) Patriots of the independent Atlantic League last year.

He's a survivor, but the 31-year-old center fielder is also a career .214 major-league hitter with a .254 on-base percentage.

The Sox, obviously, are hoping Wise is a late bloomer.