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Williams likes signs of life
By Scot Gregor | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/22/2010 10:50 PM

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When he last spoke to reporters at U.S. Cellular Field, just two weeks ago, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams was dressed in black and had a funereal feel.

Williams' somber mood wasn't surprising, considering the Sox were 24-33 and 91/2 games out of first place in the AL Central.

Before Tuesday night's win 9-6 over the Braves - the White Sox' sixth straight and 11th in their last 12 games - Williams was much more relaxed and in a completely different mood.

That's not saying the GM was completely satisfied.

"No. We are in third place," Williams said. "You know how I feel about that. I'll be happier when we get to first place, somewhat happier."

The Sox still have a long ways to go before they get past the second-place Tigers and first-place Twins in the AL Central, but at least they are both within striking distance now.

"I'm certainly more encouraged than the last time we all spoke and got together here," Williams said. "But this is still a work in progress. Fortunately we are on the upswing right now and I just hope we can continue with the momentum we built up, get excitement back into the city and the stands and get our fans on board with the way we feel about ourselves, and take it from there."

As long as the rotation holds up - White Sox starters are now 10-1 with a 2.12 ERA in the last 13 games - it should be an interesting summer.

"The most obvious thing is the pitching," Williams said. "It's not anything we didn't expect from the beginning but it certainly is nice to see it surface now when it hasn't been there to this level up to this point.

"I think that's the thing that obviously hits you. The subtleties of the game such as running the bases a little better, being a little bit more aggressive in certain hitting counts to drive runs in, defensively you can't ask for much more than what we have gotten. There are a lot of things that have taken a long time to come together, but I'm encouraged."

And so, unlike June 9, Williams is no longer accepting calls from fellow general managers looking to pounce.

"It's like sharks in the water and buzzards hovering over," Williams said. "I'm usually one of the buzzards hovering over. It has been an interesting experience to be on the opposite end. I can't say I have enjoyed it. I didn't expect us to be back to .500 this quickly so this team has responded and showed some resiliency. At this time, those efforts should be commended and acknowledged in the form that, 'OK, they are going to keep pushing, we have to see what the possibilities are out there to help them out.'

"There's a lot to weigh in, and I think over the next number of weeks, this team will show me more of either consistent play or show more of the inconsistent play that has been prevalent. To me, you keep pushing and trying to add to the puzzle until you are forced not to."