Plan B: Williams prepares farewell to Paulie

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Plan B: Williams prepares farewell to Paulie

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
5:25 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams was characteristically enthusiastic in his media session on Tuesday, in spite of his confirmation that talks to bring back All-Star first baseman Paul Konerko had reached the dire stage.

While that sounds like a contradiction, consider that Williams has been itching to improve his team since arriving in Florida, and has nothing to show for itheld up, in some part, by Konerko. With or without the team captain, soon the GM will be able to announce a new addition to the club (if not Paulie)opining that quite possibly there would be an acquisition to discuss on Wednesday evening.

I have other agents now calling me to find out which direction Im heading, Williams said. I was hoping it wouldnt necessarily come down to us really getting serious with our other options, but we have no choice at this point.

Theres no lack of desire by either party to get a deal done, but with just three days to substantially mold the 2011 White Sox, the clock is ticking.

You can go through Day 1 down here and try to flush some things out, but when youre toward the end of Day 2 and youre talking to other free agents and some of the more impact guys, you better get serious with them, Williams said. We have other agents we have put off until now, and they are asking me to get serious. I have no choice but to get serious with them.

The malaise Williams felt over being stuck waiting for Konerkoyesterday leading Williams to philosophize about how patient a man he washad lifted. His so-called Plans B and C are assumed to be completely intact, talks that could quickly advance as his targets likely have a strong desire to play in Chicago. Tonight, he plans to meet with his other targets with the idea in mind to get a deal done.

One option that the GM wont be exploring is keeping his wallet in his pocket. When the notion of not spending the extra cash owner Jerry Reinsdorf freed up for himor saving it for a rainy trade deadline dayWilliams dismissed it out of hand, like a teenager who was mistakenly slipped a 20 instead of a 10 for the movies: Thats not in my head. When Jerry gives me some money, Im spending it.

It was both a sobering and exhilarating media outing for Williams. There was plenty of remorse at how muddled talks with Konerko had become: I was very hopeful coming down here. Im less hopeful nowI want the man back, but you dont always get what you want.

Yet if Konerko decides to sign with another club, Paul makes his decision for his own reasons. There will be no hard feelings on our part. And out of respect for Konerko, Williams refused to identify which sticking point(s) were holding up a deal.

The sobering conclusion entering the final day of the Winter Meetings is that indeed Konerko may have played his final game with the White Sox. While Williams could do little to dispel that encroaching reality, the stolid exec couldnt help but offer a sliver of hope: I know that we did reach out one more time to see if we can have one more round of dialogue, and if it works, it works.

And if the 11th-hour negotiation doesnt work?

If it doesnt, we cant stop the train.

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

Rick Renteria's morning meetings a hit with White Sox players

Rick Renteria's morning meetings a hit with White Sox players

MESA, Ariz. -- Zack Collins talked about fishing to a roomful of teammates in Monday's morning meeting in what has become a staple of many spring training clubhouses.

The White Sox catching prospect and several others young players addressed a room full of players, coaches and staff to discuss what they believe to be the best fishing lures and reels. The presentation is part of a series of team-building exercises newly incorporated by manager Rick Renteria that has ties to methods long used by Los Angeles Angels skipper Mike Scioscia that have been passed down over the years.

The goal is simple: bring together a room full of unfamiliar players through a series of off-beat productions to break up the monotony of the daily meetings.

"They're good," third baseman Todd Frazier said. "They're upbeat. It's bringing the team closer together. Just some fun stuff going on and Rick knows what he's doing. There's a method to his madness. You're getting all these young guys to step out of their comfort zone and it makes for a fun morning.

"It makes for a good morning right before we go out and stretch and get after it. Kind of breaks everything down and makes everything better."

Renteria is the latest manager to employ the technique in a tree with branches attached to Scioscia. Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black has featured sessions ranging from basketball skills contests to fly fishing competitions from the outset of his tenure as manager of the San Diego Padres in 2007. Cubs manager Joe Maddon, a member of Scioscia's staff from 2000-05, started his own variation in Tampa Bay that now includes magic shows and petting zoos, among others.

Renteria worked with Black in San Diego for six seasons and has added his own wrinkle.

This spring's adaptations from White Sox camp have included Collins' fishing lesson, acting from pitcher Lucas Giolito (whose family includes Hollywood actors and directors) and a WWE impersonation by reliever Tommy Kahnle, who walked into the clubhouse dressed as The Ultimate Warrior.

"They are getting to connect in different ways," Renteria said. "But that's what anybody does. You just try to help your club bond, get to know each other as quickly as possible and then they go out there and play.

"The more comfortable you feel within the environment and with your working, obviously when you go out into the field, it makes it a little easier. A lot of the things we talk about in there are just relaxing, staying focused, playing the game and having fun, preparing, knowing that their preparation is going to be useful in their ability to go out and do their job on any given day. They have been a lot of fun."

They've also been helpful for the younger players and a clubhouse full of new faces. Of the 61 players in White Sox camp, 27 weren't in camp last spring, including seven of the club's eight top prospects. Giolito said the uncomfortable nature of performing for teammates makes it easier for players to communicate with each other afterward.

"One of the best things about it is it puts you out of your comfort zone," Giolito said. "You're making new friends, you're working with new guys and you're doing something that you're not really comfortable doing, which our presentation was acting, trying to be funny, obnoxious. Other guys might have to do research projects. They might have to interview other players about their life. It kind of gets everyone closer and involved. Coming out of your comfort zone is huge because it opens you up to new experiences and kind of makes you a better person in a way, not just a better player."

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Quintana and Miguel Gonzalez looked like a pair of pitchers who began their offseasons earlier to prep for the World Baseball Classic.

Both White Sox starting pitchers looked sharp as they made their spring debuts in a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Camelback Ranch on Sunday afternoon. Team USA relievers David Robertson and Nate Jones also pitched a scoreless inning each in the win. Prospect Zack Burdi also pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

Gonzalez, who is on the Team Mexico roster, only allowed a single on a dropped pop up on the infield in two scoreless innings.

“I’m a little ahead of the game right now,” Gonzalez said. “I started a little earlier this year in the offseason to work out, thinking I wanted to go to the WBC and get ready for that. But I think the most important thing right now is getting ready for April 1 with the White Sox. That’s my goal, and you don’t get these opportunities every year. To represent Mexico, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great.”

Quintana, who will start for Colombia in their March 10 opener against the United States, allowed a run and a hit in two innings. He struck out one and hit a batter.

“I feel good,” Quintana said. “I think for the first day I feel comfortable. I hit the glove. I feel good. A couple of pitches spinning were good and I feel really good.”

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Robertson is throwing much earlier than normal in anticipation of his March 6 departure for Miami, where Team USA begins its tournament. The club’s closer normally wouldn’t appear in a game until the calendar turns to March. Robertson said he usually only needs 5-6 spring outings to get in shape for the regular season. Though he felt a little rusty, the right-hander was pleased with several changeups and fastballs he threw.

“I wouldn’t say it was smooth but I got through it,” Robertson said. “I had a few bad pitches that were just not competitive. … All in all I got through what seemed like a tough inning for a first outing.

“I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to go down there and put the ‘USA’ across my chest and have a chance to win something for our country. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m excited to play with a group of guys I’ve been playing against my whole life.”

Eddie Alvarez had a three-run double for the White Sox while Tyler Saladino collected two hits in three trips. Catcher Roberto Pena went 2-for-2 with an RBI.