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irish rover
01-16-2002, 10:18 AM
By CHRIS DAHL

Frank Thomas (Allsport Photo)

The Big Hurt isn't hurting anymore, which is another reason for optimism this winter on the South
Side of Chicago. Frank Thomas told us on Thursday that the torn right biceps tendon that caused
him to miss all but the first 20 games last season has healed completely and that he expects to
return to his typical production level from the No. 3 hole in the White Sox lineup this season.

"I'd say I'm probably back to 100 percent at this point," Thomas said. "The final test will come in
spring training when I begin getting used to making solid contact against 90-mph fastballs again."

Thomas, whose arms are the size of an average man's legs, reported that he's been taking batting
practice "a couple times a week" without pain or problem. Following months of rehab that
included a lot of work on small muscles with light weights, stretching and whirlpool treatments,
he is back to doing his curls, pull-downs and extensions with the heavier weights that have
always been part of his workout routine.

"I've been laying low and just getting my work in," Thomas said, noting that he hadn't been on any
vacations or engaging in many extracurricular activities during the offseason.

Sitting out in 2001 was an even more painful experience than the injury and subsequent surgery
for Thomas, who had averaged 147 games over his previous 10 full seasons in the majors.

The big first baseman and designated hitter was coming off a 2000 season in which he achieved
career highs in home runs (43) and RBIs (143), led the White Sox to their first playoff
appearance in seven years and narrowly missed winning his third MVP Award.

Without Thomas in the lineup, Chicago fell to third place in the AL Central, eight games behind
Cleveland and two in back of upstart Minnesota.

Preseason prognosticators are already touting Chicago (along with Minnesota) as
well-positioned to battle Cleveland for first place in the division, especially considering the
Indians' losses of Roberto Alomar, Juan Gonzalez and Kenny Lofton. Thomas, however, wasn't
ready to make predictions about his club's chances.

"Being away so long, I feel a little detached, so I'm going to take a wait-and-see approach,"
Thomas said. "I don't know very much about (Todd) Ritchie, but I do know we've lost some key
veteran players. Guys like James Baldwin and Sean Lowe are going to be missed, not just on the
field but in the clubhouse, too."



Crowley from the southtown

White Sox head trainer Herm Schneider would like to give slugger Frank Thomas the "thumbs
up" for the start of spring training next month. He would like to tell Manager Jerry Manuel that
the fifth-year skipper will have his main offensive weapon back in the lineup.

But, the fact is, Schneider can't do that.

No one can right now.

Thomas underwent season-ending surgery last May 15 to repair a torn right triceps, and was
under the Sox's watchful eye until early November. Since then, however, Schneider has not heard
from nor seen Thomas.

While injured pitchers Jim Parque, Kelly Wunsch, Antonio Osuna, Bob Howry, Jon Rauch and
Lorenzo Barcelo have been regular visitors to the new training facility the Sox opened in Lisle
this offseason, Thomas showed up once in early November and hasn't been seen since.

"This winter has been tremendous," Schneider said when asked about the new hands-on approach
the Sox have taken with their injured players. "To monitor the players and see their progress over
the winter, instead of hearing about it or getting their opinion over the phone, is a huge benefit.

"We were able to bring them in (for a week once a month) and give them homework to do, so to
speak. In the past, we usually just had to take their word for it."

Schneider can't even take Thomas' word on his progress. The only ones who have spoken to
Thomas, as far as Schneider knows, are board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager
Ken Williams.

"We saw that he had gained his full range of motion back (in early November) and we couldn't
do anymore with him," Schneider said. "It was up to him to swing a bat and get his baseball
movements back. He's off on his own direction."

So whether Thomas is ready for spring training or not basically falls on the shoulders of the
33-year-old veteran.

"He's expected to be OK," Schneider said. "We're expecting him to be OK. We haven't seen him,
so it's hard to say. With the direction he's chosen, though, we expect him ready for spring training
with no limitations."

As for the aforementioned pitchers, Schneider is pleased with their progress. Barcelo (shoulder),
Parque (shoulder) and Wunsch (shoulder) each threw off the mound last week for the first time
since surgery, while Osuna (shoulder) has been in spring training form most of the offseason.

Howry was a concern early this offseason, but that's no longer the case. After undergoing
offseason shoulder surgery after the 2000 season, Howry struggled with his velocity in 2001. The
Sox figured rest this offseason would be the cure, but they were wrong.

"We took the approach that he had basically been working for two years straight, so we would
give him a rest after the (2001) season ended," Schneider said. "After a month and a half of not
doing a thing basically sitting on the couch he got up from that couch expecting to be rested
and pain free. He wasn't.

"We're finding out that rest is not a good thing for him. Even if he's not throwing he's a guy that
has to at least be on a program to strengthen his shoulder."

Howry, who is a key set-up man in the bullpen, is also expected to be on track when pitchers and
catchers report to Tucson, Ariz., next month.

"(Pitching coach) Nardi (Contreras) is expecting the pitchers to throw two sets of 25 (pitches)
that first day of camp, and these guys should be no exception," Schneider said.

The Sox are counting on Osuna, Barcelo and Wunsch being in the bullpen this year, while Parque
will challenge for the No. 3 or 4 spot in the starting rotation.

The only pitcher that is a slight concern right now is last year's No. 1 draft pick, Kris Honel. The
former Providence High School standout has been experiencing pain in his right elbow and is on
a throwing program.

"He could be facing surgery if the episodes continue," Schneider said. "There's no inflammation
there. He just has to distinguish the difference between pain and muscle soreness. We might have
to help him work through that

Jerry_Manuel
01-16-2002, 12:38 PM
Originally posted by irish rover
The Big Hurt isn't hurting anymore, which is another reason for optimism this winter on the South
Side of Chicago.

Maybe Chris Dahl can pass some of the "optimism" my way. I'm in full, negative, "this year is going to suck yet again" mode. But that's just me.

RichH55
01-16-2002, 02:25 PM
Originally posted by Jerry_Manuel


Maybe Chris Dahl can pass some of the "optimism" my way. I'm in full, negative, "this year is going to suck yet again" mode. But that's just me.

I'm expecting Frank to come back and come back strong.....the news on Howry is worse than what I was hoping for.....Hey does Kermit or any of the stat heads have numbers on pitchers returning the year after an arm surgery? I would like to know what we can expect from the returning injured pitchers this year....that is my biggest worry...hitters who are hurt generally come back strong no matter how bad the influence...Kendall came back well after that horrible injury so I have no worries on Frank