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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Spring Hopes!

As I look out at the snow on this blustery Saturday Morning in mid-February, about the only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that spring training is about to begin.† By the time you read this pitchers and catchers will have report to the Sox camp in Tucson, and in less than two weeks the Cactus League season will start.†

Spring training is a time of hope, even for fans of clubs that have no hope.† Just ask any Cubs fan.† But this year there really does seem to be hope for Sox fans.

For once the pitching staff doesnít seem to be held together by bailing wire and sealing wax.† All of the arms appear to be healthy, and the staff is now led by a veteran ace who may be overweight but who doesnít have a history of back problems.† Bartolo Colon was 20-8 last year, and is in the prime of his career.† By renting him for the year, the Sox may have just guaranteed themselves a division championship.†

Of course the games have to be played, and thatís where it helps to have a guy like Mark Buehrle as the number two starter.† Despite the flap over Buehrleís supposed desire to pitch for his hometown team in St. Louis, Buehrle isnít going anywhere for a few more years.† He is also arbitration eligible after this season.† He has a lot of incentive to pitch well for the Sox.†

Jon Garland and Danny Wright have another year under their belts.† It seems as if Garland had been around forever, but the truth is that he is just 23 years old.† He was much improved last year, especially after the arrival of Don Cooper as pitching coach.† The same is true of Wright, who should have a breakout year if only he can overcome his propensity for giving up the big inning.† Thatís another place where Cooper can help.†

The only question mark is who will be the fifth starter.† Rumors were flying recently that it would be Kenny Rogers, but Rogersí agent is Scott Boras.† Nothing more need be said.† Boras and Sox management do not get along.† Rogers will not be here.† This makes the favorite for the spot Jon Rauch, who is a year removed from his surgery.† With Cooper to guide him, Rauch might just be ready.†

One thing we can expect this year from the pitching staff is that they wonít blow up every time the pitching coach comes to the mound.† That alone should be good for at least ten more Sox victories this year.†

The bull pen looks strong.† Every appearance by Billy Koch may be an adventure, but he does get the job done.† Unlike Keith Foulke, Koch will not lose his out pitch once a season and go for a period of weeks trying to get it back.† That doesnít happen with power pitchers.†

Antonio Osuna wonít be around to set up Koch, but the Sox still have Damaso Marte.† In Rick White and Tom Gordon, the middle relief and set up jobs should be in decent hands.† Kelly Wunsch is still around as the guy to get lefties out.† With Matt Ginter and Gary Glover rounding out the pitchers who should get a lot of work in, the Sox pitching staff is very strong.†

We all know the Sox are capable of scoring a lot of runs.† For once it looks as if the pitching staff will be able to keep the opposition from scoring more runs more often than not.†

As one who has been critical of Sox management over a long period of time, it is good to be able to say that during this off-season, the Sox improved at least enough if the breaks go their way to catch up and surpass the Twins.†

Of course that should only be the start.† What the Sox need is a team that is capable of catching up and surpassing everyone else in the American League.† It has been 44 years since the Sox have been to a World Series.† The Sox still arenít good enough to make their first appearance there since the 1950s, but for the first time under their current GM, they seem to be moving in that direction.

Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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