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Columnist
There's a side of Frank we never knew
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/29/2010 8:54 PM

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Frank Thomas Day was memorable for many reasons and on several levels that any White Sox fan would appreciate.

But there was nothing more stunning than the admission by Thomas that he probably should have found a way sooner in his career to lighten up and have more fun, and in turn enjoy the attention from - and interaction with - the fans.

"It's easy to say now, but I wish I had learned early in my playing days to have fun," Thomas said, when I spoke to him following a press box news conference Sunday afternoon on the South Side. "It's not easy when you're in the middle of it, working your butt off, trying to be the very best you can be every day.

"Some guys can do that and laugh and joke and be the center of attention - and there's nothing wrong with that - but my focus was strictly on bringing my best game to the park every day, and it took a lot of work on my part to be that player."

It's a glimpse into what made Thomas tick, a peek at his private thoughts, and similar to statements Ryne Sandberg has made since he retired.

"I guess I was afraid to relax and have fun," Thomas said. "Fear was a big part of my success. I pushed myself hard because I was afraid of failure, and I was concentrating hard on being the player I wanted to be.

"That doesn't give you a lot of energy for goofing around."

It might also help explain the occasional public-relations mishap for a guy who didn't arrive at the park thinking about what the writers might ask him, a skill some players have perfected.

"It never occurred to me (to think about) what someone might ask or what I would say," Thomas said. "I didn't care. Maybe that's wrong, but I didn't think about it. I was busy trying to be a great player for my teammates, for the fans and for myself.

"I wasn't trying to be aloof or arrogant or any of that stuff they called me. I was working my butt off to bring my A-game to the park every day."

Many wondered why Frank sometimes did or said the things he did, but Sunday Thomas shared a look at his career that might alter significantly how that time period is viewed.

He's been a Hall of Famer in my book for a long time, but he also was perceived as angry and distant, and less than interested in being a fan favorite.

Turns out, he was simply too busy being great to worry about anything other than playing great.

"I didn't really give anyone a chance," Thomas said. "I understand the perception."

But that was all forgotten Sunday as 39,433 showed up well in advance of the pregame ceremony to pay tribute to the best player in White Sox history.

"When you play in one place as long as I did, there's gonna be some ups and downs," Thomas said. "I had broad shoulders and I had to get broader shoulders.

"Some days I went in and cried and wondered why it was so hard.

"But these fans and this organization have done so much for me and I'm so grateful.

"This is the proudest day of my life."

Peavy's rehab

Jake Peavy is back with the club and out of a sling, and he joins the team for this road trip.

While there's been talk he'll be ready for spring training, Peavy did not go so far as to predict anything that optimistic.

"I should be able to play catch by about the first of the year, but after that we don't know," Peavy said. "I'm hopeful, but nobody's done rehab (from a torn lat) like this before."

Big trip

The White Sox left Sunday night on a trip through Cleveland (3), Boston (3) and Detroit (4), knowing they can't lose any more ground. While the Sox are gone, the Twins will host Detroit (3), Texas (3) and K.C. (3).

That's gold

It never hurts to perform in front of the national media if you're trying to win an award, and Alexei Ramirez did nothing to hurt his Gold Glove chances this weekend.

The defensive play of the series came in the top of the second Sunday when Ramirez went far to his left on a hard-hit ball, dove and while stretched out on the ground flipped the ball from his glove to Gordon Beckham, who fired to first for the double play.

Sight seen

Between innings or when the Yanks are at bat, Joe Girardi can frequently be seen leaning on the dugout railing and conversing with Derek Jeter.

So there's that, and then there's the thought of managing someone like, say, Aramis Ramirez.

That's a real tossup.

Oddest moment

Yankees rookie starter Ivan Nova, who pitched very well in a victory Sunday, denied a report that he's under investigation by MLB for getting B12 injections from a teammate while pitching for Trenton (AA) last season. The shots are not banned but are often contaminated with PEDs.

Biggest ovation

Other than Frank Thomas, it was for World Series MVP Jermaine Dye, when he was introduced during the pregame ceremony.

And finally -

Ozzie Guillen on Paul Konerko hitting .319: "You don't see that many guys with his speed hitting .300."

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.