49ers should keep ex-GM Williams busy

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49ers should keep ex-GM Williams busy

The less-than-hectic pace of Kenny Williams new role offers him ample time to enjoy life -- perhaps too much, he admits.

Fortunately for him, the ex-White Sox general manager and current executive vice president of baseball operations has two more weeks of football to keep him occupied before spring training begins.

Williams son, Kyle, plays for the San Francisco 49ers, who on Sunday earned a trip to the Super Bowl with a 28-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Though Williams wont attend the Feb. 3 contest against the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans because his son is out for the season with an injury, the event promises to have his full attention.

As for the office, Williams said Tuesday he hasnt totally adjusted to the first offseason since October 2000 in which he hasnt constructed the White Sox roster.

I sleep a lot better, Williams said at Hyde Park High School after he and Bulls GM Gar Forman spoke to a dozen at-risk young men as part of the BAM (Becoming A Man) program. I honestly have more of a life, but I do miss being in the mix to a greater degree and I'll have to find some balance that way to make sure I don't drive myself crazy.

Williams has been involved in the White Sox decisions this offseason, Rick Hahns first as GM. Hahn still turns to Williams, who was the GM for 12 seasons, for advice and input on personnel decisions. But it isnt quite the same, said Williams, who led the White Sox a .500-or-better record in nine of 12 seasons and a World Series title in 2005.

I think that's been why I've felt such of a lull because it's been the offseason and I'm used to being, used to having conversations with all the other GMs and in some cases, owners, and all the various people that compose an organization, Williams said. I'm there for Rick and he reaches out often, but that's just a small part of the day, so I've got to fill some other time some kind of way.

Williams has taken advantage of his new-found spare time to become engaged to CNN anchor Zoraida Sambolin. He also has enjoyed keeping up with the 49ers, though less so after Kyle tore a ligament in his left knee at New Orleans on Nov. 25.

Williams had 14 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown through 11 games this season and was likely to surpass last seasons 20 grabs with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback.

Though Williams has been relegated to the sideline since he underwent season-ending surgery, his father is proud of the way he has shown leadership in other ways even though hed prefer to be preparing for the Super Bowl. One outlet has been Twitter, where the younger Williams has become his teams biggest cheerleader.

He feels good about his contribution while on the field but realizes he has leadership value to his to his team even though he is still unable to play, Williams said. Im proud of him for that.

As for the game, Williams said he told his son he would attend if he were playing but informed him I'm not gonna go watch to see you standing on the sideline.

That wont reduce Williams rooting interest, however. Even though he has indicated loyalty in the past to the Oakland Raiders, Williams has assumed a seat on the 49ers bandwagon.

It would be kind of unique to have a World Series and Super Bowl ring in the family, Williams said. Not sure there are many, if any, that can say that.

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Having experienced a playoff-like atmosphere at the World Baseball Classic, David Robertson and Nate Jones already feel prepared for the regular season. 

The two relievers returned to White Sox camp on Friday morning bearing gold medals from a Team USA WBC title run that concluded on Wednesday night with an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Robertson, who recorded the final three outs of the clinching victory, said he's glad to be back and won't need much of a tune-up to be ready for the April 3 season opener.

"Back up to speed?" Robertson said. "More like slow down and get ready for the season. I'll probably play catch (Friday). I didn't throw (Thursday), I spent the day traveling. Probably play catch today, and be ready to throw (Saturday). If I needed to throw today, I could. I feel like I'm season ready right now."

"It feels good to be back. It's been a long trip doing this WBC, so it's good to be back and relax a little bit. Have a couple days before we start the season."

Both Jones and Robertson appeared four times each for Team USA with similar results. Each allowed a solo home run but nothing else. Jones said he brought his gold medal back to camp because he isn't yet ready to put it in his safety deposit box. His favorite moments of the tournament were brought on by raucous crowds.

"Once you get a crowd chanting USA that was a pretty cool moment," Jones said. "You're proud of representing your country, and once they did that, it all kind of set in, like, ‘Wow, this is happening.'

"It's just pure excitement, everybody going crazy."

Jones and Robertson said they're pleased to have returned to the relative tranquility of White Sox camp after they lived out of a suitcase for the previous 18 days. Both were set to meet with pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Rick Renteria to discuss their upcoming schedule. Jones said he expected to throw a side session on Friday in front of Cooper to have his mechanics reviewed. Robertson last pitched on Wednesday and didn't know when he'd throw again.

"They've been busy, obviously, with Robbie finishing up the last game," Renteria said. "We'll see how the schedule lines up in terms of their usage for the remaining 9-10 days."

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Robertson is pretty sure he won't need much work. Whereas the team's closer normally waits until the first week of March to appear in a game, Robertson has pitched in plenty this spring. Each of the last four has had a ton more intensity than any normal Cactus League work.

"It felt like playoff baseball really early in the year," Robertson said. "Just coming from Miami, trying to win a couple days in there was really hard. Fans were really loud. That place was a very intense environment, and it didn't feel like you were the home team at all.

"It felt like (a home game) when we were in San Diego We were the home team there, and when we got to L.A., same thing. Although, I will say that when we were playing the Japanese, it erupted a couple times when they had some big moments in their game. It was just a lot of fun to play in this whole event. It was definitely more than I expected."

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana has been named the Opening Day starter — for the White Sox.

While many are surprised he still hasn't been traded, few should be shocked by the news manager Rick Renteria delivered on Friday, when he announced Quintana would pitch the April 3 opener.

With Chris Sale gone to Boston, Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016, has been the odds-on favorite to take over as the team's ace. The only question seemed to be whether or not he'd still be in a White Sox uniform when the season began. But the club made it clear Friday that Quintana is their guy and he'll face the Detroit Tigers in the first game of 2017. The only one who seemed a little taken aback about the news is Quintana.

"I was surprised," Quintana said. "I knew I may get the ball for that day, but they didn't say nothing, so you didn't know. I just kept going and doing my workouts and all my stuff. I'm really, really happy with this opportunity. It's huge for me. I can't wait for that day to come.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity. It's a huge honor for me to have the ball for Opening Day the first time in my life. And I think it's a once-in-a-life opportunity."

Asked about the announcement earlier in the week, Renteria said he needed more time. Many speculated that it meant the White Sox were continuing to listen to offers for Quintana, who has drawn constant interest since the team began its rebuild in December.

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Quintana, who went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings last season, has looked fantastic all spring. Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts on Thursday, Quintana made his first Cactus League appearance in a month and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander also put on a brilliant performance for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Team USA hitters he faced before allowing a hit.

"He's very happy about it," Renteria said. "He has obviously earned it.

"I don't know if he was surprised as much as he was elated and proud to be given the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter. It's a privilege."

Quintana's resume of consistency made him a clear-cut choice for the nod. He heads into 2017 having pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. In that span, he's produced a 3.32 ERA and 18.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. That figure represents the seventh-highest WAR total among all big league pitchers in that span.

Even though he's viewed as the staff ace, Quintana — who potentially has four years and $36.85 million left on his current contract — said he was surprised by the news because the club hadn't yet informed him of the honor.

"It means a lot for me, especially after last year when you make the All-Star team and this year the opportunity to play in the WBC and now you have the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day," Quintana said. "That's a lot of things happening for me now and I'm happy. And really blessed. You just try to do all my things every time.

"Maybe they don't know what it means for me, but it's a big thing."