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WSI News - News Watch

Sox trade Singleton to O's

January 29th, from the Associated Press

The White Sox couldn't pass on the chance to get a versatile player with the speed and offensive skills to create a threat at the top of the order.

The White Sox shipped outfielder Chris Singleton to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday for Willie Harris, a minor leaguer who plays second base and center field, and is loaded with potential.

"Harris was the motivating factor in this," White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. "He's got the ability to get on base and steal bases. He hits line drives to all fields and ... has above-average speed and arm strength.

"On top of all of that, he has worked himself into prospect status from a low-round draft pick with determination and character. The people and the scouts in baseball just can't say enough about this guy."

Harris, 23, spent most of last season at Double-A Bowie, and was just 3-for-24 in nine games as a September call-up with the Orioles. But two of those hits came off Mike Mussina.

And he showcased his speed against the Yankees when he singled, took third on a hit to left and scored on a short fly ball to right.

"In all likelihood, he'll start in Triple-A," Williams said. "But like I said to Willie today, 'Come ready to play and show us what you can do."'

The Orioles selected Harris in the 24th round of the 1999 amateur draft. He earned the Brooks Robinson Award as the organization's top position player after batting .305 for with 54 stolen bases and 49 RBIs in Double-A. He was second in the Eastern League in steals, and sixth in batting.

He played 90 games at second and 40 in center field.

"We hate to give up Willie Harris, who will be a very fine player, but the chance to get a young outfielder with Chris Singleton's ability was something we could not pass on at this time," said Syd Thrift, the Orioles' vice president for baseball operations.

Singleton, 29, hit .283 with 35 homers and 175 RBIs in three seasons with the White Sox. He hit .298 with seven homers and 45 RBIs last season.

He had a .991 fielding percentage last year, and committed just three errors.

"Chris Singleton is a .300 hitter who has outstanding range in center field," Thrift said. "His defense strengthens us up the middle and will be a great asset to our pitching staff."

An ordained minister, Singleton is also a solid presence in the clubhouse. When the White Sox gathered on the day of remembrance for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, his teammates asked him to lead them in prayer rather than just having a moment of silence.

"It's difficult to trade an individual like Chris because of the quality of the man and the way he went about his job," Williams said. "The professionalism he shows is refreshing."

But with Aaron Rowand and Brian Simmons around, Singleton was also expendable. Rowand, a highly touted prospect himself, hit .293 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 63 games last year.

Simmons, who came back to the White Sox in a waiver deal with Toronto in November, batted just .178 last year but he's a switch hitter.

"They're going to get an opportunity to establish themselves out there. Each brings a different kind of style and game," Williams said. "We'll see who deserves the bulk of the playing time, but it'll probably be Aaron's at the start to lose."

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