Monday, March 7, 2011
By Brett Ballantini
The Chicago White Sox are making service an early theme of their 2011 Cactus League season. On Monday, they played a game in Tucson vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fund, while Tuesday morning will find them in the presence of The Greatest.
Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali visits with the team tomorrow, addressing his Athletes for Hope foundation, which asks that players give their time rather than money.
Its a great inspiration for a lot of people, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said after the White Soxs 12-1 win over Arizona. I met him before, a few times. A lot of kids are in camp and they will have a chance to meet, I dont want to say one of the greatest boxers in history, but one of the greatest men ever born in this country. Those kids should be proud to meet him, and to the White Sox organization, its an honor to have him in camp.
It will be an honor to have him in our clubhouse, said Scott Reifert, White Sox vice president of communications. In a major-league clubhouse, you always have different cultures and nationalities, but when you tell players Muhammad Ali is coming, you get the same reaction from everybody: lots of respect, lots of excitement. It will be exciting for the guys to meet him tomorrow.
As a result of the extra travel to Tucson for Mondays game and the visit from Ali, the White Sox wont work out before their afternoon game hosting the Rockies. Tuesdays game vs. Colorado is what Guillen had circled as a starting point for real competition from and performance by his club.
Today is the last day of our vacation, Guillen said. Its time to start playing the game right. From tomorrow on, we are going to put more emphasis on the ballclub.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.