Ballantini: Active first day for Sox GM Williams

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Ballantini: Active first day for Sox GM Williams

Monday, December 6, 2010
7:10 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. It was just a matter of a weekend after his triumphant signing of slugger Adam Dunn, but ebullience begat fatigue for Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams on Monday evening.

After a couple of monosyllabic responses to questions about retaining Paul Konerko (Nope. Yep.) set a tone of dread for the day, Williams did correct perceptions and acknowledge that the bloom is off the pre-Winter Meetings rose.

Maybe its just because its been a long day, but there is no reason to feel like Konerko is staying or going, Williams said. Todays talks were just an initial conversation that we had, which leads to other conversations.

As you might imagine, the GMs session was relatively brief. The blow-by-blow:

Konerko

Williams laughed off the idea that Konerko might have come to terms with the White Sox before the meetings even officially began.

It just doesnt happen that way, Williams said. Certainly not in conversation No. 1, day one. Absolutely not.

Williams said that more talks were scheduled with Greg Landis, Konerkos agent, and was frank in assessing that Konerko might have to settle for less money than he originally anticipated.

Its a market that has numerous first basemen in it, Williams said. Konerko is coming off a great year, but teams have options, so I dont know that he will get to the salary level maybe he originally hoped for. ButIm surprised all the time. Ive been surprised in the last few days at some deals, so well see.

Otherwise, Williams was expectedly cloaked in his remarks about Konerko, the player hes unabashedly declared as the final big-ticket item on his wish list:

Im not going to take you through a blow-by-blow of our private conversations.
Im not optimistic or pessimistic, just going through the dialogue.
Im not leaning one way or the other on how I feel.
We always have a contingency plan.
Its business as usual at the Winter Meetings. Its 20 hours a day of dialogue with teams and agents, and so forth. You just go through it.
Conversations have to take place and representatives have to go back to him.
Its just a process.
Ive learned not to get too up or too down.

But as patient as hes attempting to be with Konerko (other people call me impatient, but Im patient, to a pointI recognize Konerko is a special case and I need to be even more patient than I think I usually am), the time frame is finite.

Theres a fine line, when you do risk losing your plan B and C in favor of trying to be as patient as you can with your plan A, Williams said. We will wait as long as we can, because Ive pretty much said on the record that Konerko is the guy we want.

Tough Bacon

Prior to Williams session, a rumor inflamed the Twitterverse, identifying the White Sox as the runner-up in the Adrian Gonzalez sweepstakesincluding the news that Gordon Beckham was the centerpiece of the proposal.

Williams was initially coy about the rumor, saying, I cant really talk about it. All I can say is that its always been business as usual for us. We try to go after impact players every year. But Im not going to get into the particulars of those types of things.

Later, Williams again underscored Beckhams untouchable status within the organization, praising the second sacker even in light of a sophomore year marked by slumps and injuries.

Im more confident in Beckham now that he has gone through some struggles as a big leaguer and come out of it on the other side, he said. Its just unfortunate that he had the hand injuryhe was having quite a second half. That Chicago tough I talk about? He showed a little bit of it in doing what he did through injuries.

Bullpen Notes

Williams forecasted the news that J.J. Putz apparently signed with Arizona to become the Diamondbacks closer, saying, We wanted him back, but Putz is headed elsewhere.

As for the recently non-tendered Bobby Jenks, Williams remained open to a return by his five-year closer, with logical hesitation: Hes new to the market, and hes got to flesh some things out before he gets back to us.

With holes in the pen (just Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos, and possibly Chris Sale and Tony Pena project as holdovers in 2011), Williams knows he needs at least one recognizable addition in the trenches.

A trade is quite possibly the way we might have to go because weve taken ourselves toor beyondour payroll limits, he said. I might have to get a little creative with tradesbut I dont think a reliever is going to come at these meetings for us. That will be after.

Future Prospects

Williams has never met a deal he didnt want to strike instantaneously, so forgive his fatigue for today.

The priority was to get as much done as we could, as quickly as we could, said the GM without remorse or rancor. Then see if I could get some sleep.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

Veteran outfielder Peter Bourjos eyes role with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- As he surveyed the landscape this offseason, Peter Bourjos thought he and the White Sox would make for a good fit.

Adam Eaton had been traded and Austin Jackson departed via free agency, leaving the White Sox with Melky Cabrera and several young players to man a thin outfield. Bourjos, who lived in Chicago until second grade, pursued the White Sox and last month agreed to terms on a minor-league deal in hopes of earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Bourjos, who was born in Chicago, hit .251/.292/.389 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 383 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I always liked playing in Chicago,” Bourjos said. “It was a good fit and then spring training is here. I have two young kids. So packing them up and going to Florida wasn’t something I wanted to do either.

“We definitely look at all those options on paper. Evaluate what might be the best chance of making a team and this is definitely one of them. It seems like a good fit on paper.”

If he’s healthy enough, Charlie Tilson will get the first crack at the everyday job in center field. Tilson, who missed the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring, is currently sidelined for 10 days with foot problems. Beyond Tilson, the White Sox have prospects Adam Engel and Jacob May with Cabrera slated to start in left field and Avisail Garcia pegged for right. Leury Garcia is also in the mix.

But there still appears to be a good shot for Bourjos to make the club and manager Rick Renteria likes his veteran presence for the young group. Bourjos has accrued six seasons of service time between the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and St. Louis Cardinals.

“Bourjy has been around,” Renteria said. “He knows what it takes. He understands the little nuances of major-league camp and how we have so many players and we want to give them all a look. We want to see Bourjos, we want to see him out there.”

Bourjos, who turns 30 in March, has an idea what he wants to do with his chance. A slick defensive outfielder, Bourjos wants to prove he’s a better hitter than his .243/.300/.382 slash line would suggest. He said it’s all about being relaxed.

“Offensively just slow everything down and not try to do too much,” Bourjos said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it hasn’t translated. I think last year I got in a spot where I just tried to relax in the batter’s box and let everything go and what happened happened. I had success with that.

“I now realize what that feels like and it doesn’t work. Just take a deep breath and be relaxed in the box and good things are going to happen.”

Gio, Geo and Gio: White Sox spring training has its own version of 'Who's on First?'

Gio, Geo and Gio: White Sox spring training has its own version of 'Who's on First?'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Giovanni Soto pitched to Geovany Soto at White Sox camp on Monday morning, and the Internet loved it.

The veteran catcher and rookie pitcher, who share similar names and have been friends for two years, worked together during live batting practice. The unrelated pair, who both hail from Puerto Rico, said they’ve been confused for each other several times since reporting to camp last week. Each has also heard the other’s name being called out and thought it was for them, which has led to more confusion. But those mix-ups haven’t limited their enjoyment of the situation, either.

“It’s kind of surreal that he has the same name, last name,” Geovany Soto said. “It’s kind of weird calling him Gio and he’s calling me Geo. It’s kind of weird.

“With the physicals, doctors, the people for the drug testing, we’ve been confused in all three of those. I’m expecting that to happen. Hopefully I can get a big check on his name and cash it.”

The social media world isn’t alone in its enjoyment of the topic as both players smiled while discussing it on Monday.

Giovanni Soto said the players met two seasons ago when he pitched for the Cleveland Indians and the catcher was in his first stint with the White Sox. They grew up about 20 minutes apart from each other in Puerto Rico and now spend time together in the offseason. But what has made the scenario even more confusing is that White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito is seated only a few stalls away from Giovanni Soto in the clubhouse.

“It’s kind of weird, especially in the clubhouse and on the field because when someone says Geo, we turn around to see if it’s for him or for me,” Giovanni Soto said. “And we also have Giolito, and people call him Gio. It’s weird, but it’s funny too.”

Both Sotos could make the team’s Opening Day roster.

Geovany Soto, who signed a minor league contract in January, is the most experienced catcher in camp and is favored to win a job. Giovanni Soto, who was claimed off waivers from the Cubs in November, is one of several relievers competing for a spot and could make the club if the White Sox decide to carry two left-handers in the bullpen. And while Giolito is expected to start the season at Triple-A, he could reach the majors at some point causing more pandemonium.

“There’s a lot of Geo going on with Giolito, Giovanni and then me,” Geovany Soto said. “And can get pretty hectic. But yeah, it’s fun for us.”