GLENDALE, Ariz. - Not quite sure what to expect from the White Sox' offense this season? Get in line.
"I think this offense, we don't know what we've got yet," hitting coach Greg Walker said Monday at rainy and cold Camelback Ranch. "We think we do, but time will tell."
Here is what the Sox are hoping to get: a lineup that doesn't live and die with home runs. Since taking over as manager in 2004, Ozzie Guillen has been pushing for a more athletic team capable of making consistent contact.
It looks like Guillen finally got his wish.
"I think Ozzie's probably more excited about this team offensively than he's been since he's been here," Walker said. "Everybody goes back to 2005 and how we played small ball, but, really, we only played small ball with a couple of guys.
"This team's got a chance to play small ball with more guys than any time since I've been here, so it's going to be fun to watch."
Walker watched the White Sox consistently swing for the fences last season and fail. They tied for last in the American League with a .258 batting average and third to last with 724 runs scored.
Two of the thumpers in last year's lineup, Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye, are gone because they didn't fit the Sox' new-look style.
"Over the years, I think everybody looked at me as a guy that liked power," Walker said. "I do like power, if that's who you have. If you have a Jim Thome, you better maximize on power, same with Jermaine Dye. There's nothing wrong with the home run, but you have to be able to be a consistent offense.
"You have to be able to score runs when you're not hitting home runs, and there have been years where we just hit home runs year round and were a really good offensive team. There have been years when we didn't and became somewhat inconsistent."
With the addition of Juan Pierre, Mark Teahen and even Andruw Jones, the White Sox might be able to score from first base on a double for a change.
"On paper, we've got a chance of maybe not hitting as many home runs as we have in the past, but this team should hit for a higher average," Walker said. "We're just going to coach them and get them to make consistent contact. Try to hit as many line drives as we can and be baseball players. We love to see guys run bases.
"What's been very frustrating for me the last few years is us getting hits and not scoring runs because of our lack of speed. It puts more pressure on the offense. I think this team, from 1 through 9, has a chance to be pretty solid. We know we've got pitching, so we're all excited."
Since 2003, the Sox have hit the most home runs (1,507) in the league. Guillen appreciates the power he has received from players such as Thome, Dye, Paul Konerko, Frank Thomas and Carlos Lee, but he became increasingly frustrated with the hit-or-miss approach.
The White Sox have been criticized for failing to add a left-handed power bat and their plan to rotate the designated hitter. Guillen said any uneasiness with the revamped offense is understandable.
"A lot of people are going to feel weird in spring training the first couple days," Guillen said. "They don't see the powerhouse there was in the past. We need 25 guys on the roster to have the year they're supposed to have, and I think we'll be fine.
"We're not going to lean on Konerko. If (Carlos) Quentin doesn't have the same year he had two years ago? We don't have to do that. Everybody has to do what they have to do. They don't have to have super years. They'll be fine, I believe so.''