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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Spring Tinkering!

Spring training musings: 

Although he made the statement over a week ago, we just couldn’t let this go by.  Speaking about how he planned on managing his bench, Gen. Disarray (aka Jerry Manuel) acknowledged that he didn’t utilize his reserves adequately in 2002.  Apparently the general did hear the complaints raised by former bench warmer Jeff Liefer that he was being underutilized last year. 

So what lesson has the general learned from all of this?  “I concentrated too much on getting off to a good start,” he said. 

Does this mean we can look forward to an April and May in which the manager once again changes the starting lineup day in and day out as he did in 2001?  Does this mean that he will play his bench at the expense of winning games? 

Would someone please tell this man that wins in April are just as important as wins in September?  Would someone also point out that the April-May schedule favors the Sox getting off to a terrific start, one in which they could build an insurmountable lead?  Would someone tell this guy that his incessant tinkering has driven the fans who follow this team closely out of their minds? 

Aaron Rowand, who broke a shoulder blade and a couple of ribs in a motorcycle accident in the offseason, now has a gash in his right middle finger that required several stitches to close.  Sound like another Sox outfielder of a few years back? 

Rowand’s injury could be the worst thing that ever happened to hot prospect Joe Borchard.  Borchard has been tearing the cover off the ball this early spring.  He had a pretty good September.  This could lead him to think that he’s actually ready to take over in centerfield now that Aaron Rowand is out for awhile. 

The consensus among those who have observed Borchard in the minor leagues is that he still has a lot to learn.  He still strikes out far too much.  This is an indication that he needs to learn at least one of the following:   the strike zone, to become a more patient hitter, to stop swinging for the fences, that he has a weak spot that pitchers have figured out and how to compensate for that. 

It’s better that he learn whatever he has to in Charlotte than in Chicago.  Unfortunately Rowand’s injury means it will probably be the latter. 

Danny Wright suffered two consecutive bad outings, and in each case was a victim of a big inning by the opposition.  It turns out that he has an inflamed elbow.  Gen. Disarray says he doesn’t think the injury is serious. 

The Sox have a terrible record in diagnosing injuries to his players.  Remember how Frank Thomas was sent home in 1999 because he’d “quit the team” when in fact he had a walnut-sized bone spur in his ankle?   Remember how Frank Thomas’s torn triceps was a minor injury?  Remember all the torn labrums that were initially diagnosed as tendonitis?   

Sox fans are certainly aware of this track record, and on certain message boards the dreaded phrase “Tommy John surgery” came up within hours of the announcement that Wright had been scratched as Saturday’s starter. 

After comments by Ryan Klesko that Sox second baseman D’Angelo Jimenez was the laziest player he’d ever seen, it has been reported that Prof. Chaos is keeping an eye on the situation.  Thus far Sox players have had nothing bad to say about Jimenez’s behavior, so let’s hope that Klesko was shooting off his mouth or if he wasn’t that Jimenez has matured.  One thing is certain.  With Jose Valentin standing Jimenez’s left every day, he’ll have somebody in his ear if he seems to slack off. 

With opening day U.S. Cellular Field less than four weeks away, there is snow on the ground in Chicago.  This brings up the perennial question:  Why doesn’t major league baseball wise up and play the first three weeks in warm weather cities and domed stadiums.   

Of course there would be a disadvantage for a number of clubs.  By spending three weeks on the road before coming home, clubs like Detroit would end up drawing 5000 for opening day because they’d already be out of the race. 

Some of us don’t need to worry about opening day.  My extended hospital stay a year ago served to deplete my sick days at my real job.  I’ll have to settle for going to the second home game of the season. 

This reminds me of a story of a former co-worker.  He somehow always managed to miss work on opening day, and rumor had it that his annual excuse was the death of a relative.  One year he was amazingly present on opening day, and the following conversation between two of his co-workers. 

“What happened?  Chris is actually here on opening day?” 

“He ran out of relatives.”


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 hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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