White Sox open camp a changed team

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White Sox open camp a changed team

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If theres a word to describe White Sox spring training in 2012, thats easy.

Different.

The manager is different.

Jake Peavy feels different.

Chris Sale even looks different. Sort of.

It looks like he put on a pound or two, joked AJ Pierzynski. Hes at 150 now.

Speaking of weight, the 20-ton boulder that the 2011 team carried last year is officially gone, currently residing in Lakeland, Fla., spring training site of the Detroit Tigers, who are picked by everyone on the planet to win the American League Central -- quite possibly in a landslide.

For the White Sox to change that, the results will have to be much different when the two meet face-to-face. The Tigers owned the series last season, winning 13 of 18 games, outscoring the White Sox 111-to-62.

It wasnt so much that we lost to them. They embarrassed us numerous times, Matt Thornton said frankly. They hung 18, 14, I dont even know what the numbers were.

Actually Matt, youre correct on both. They scored 18 and 14 against the White Sox in separate games. Safe to say those losses have stuck in Thorntons mind.

You walk off the field and youre embarrassed about it, and it kind of hangs around all off-season for you, added Thornton. Theyre the favorites right now, they have a great team, and I look forward to facing them.

So what kind of team can the Tigers and the rest of the American League expect to see from the White Sox?

I think you have a lot of young hungry guys, a lot of veterans that want to prove themselves again, and show that we can still do it, and that were better than people think, said Jake Peavy, who arrived at spring training feeling like the Jake Peavy of old as opposed to an old Jake Peavy. Hes now 19 months removed from his experimental latissimus dorsi muscle surgery.

This is the first time Ive been like this in quite a few springs, just to come in and not have to answer injury questions, and questions I didnt even know how to answer because nobody had ever done what I had done, Peavy said.

If Kenny Williams could change the past, and make things different, hed likely go back to the end of 2005 and try this all over again. One playoff appearance and one playoff victory in seven years is not what he or anybody expected after they paraded down LaSalle Street as World Series champions.

Sitting in a golf cart, watching Robin Ventura take the field for his first practice on Thursday, Williams reflected on how his team got to this point, failing to meet expectations, not just last season, but the last several combined.

I said it the day that I was assigned to this position, I wanted to win a couple World Series titles during the time that I had, however long that was. That hasnt happened, Williams said. At this point it is a disappointing run for me personally.

To change his fortunes, certain things will need to be -- different. Comeback seasons by the likes of Peavy, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham will have to occur. The pieces are there. But will they all come together?

Its a question everyone is asking, including Williams who, despite the predictions of gloom and doom on the South Side, remains optimistic about his teams chances.

We look at the players on the field, and a lot of teams cant say, If this happens, this happens, and this happens, we can be right in there, Williams said. As long as we can look out there and you can dream and you can imagine the positive things happening, thats not a bad place to be. There are a lot of GMs that I talk to that dont have the luxury to dream like that.

Inside the White Sox clubhouse, a couple lockers down from Paul Konerkos sits a vacant locker that reads Lost and Found. Its reserved for misplaced clothing and equipment, but might as well be a symbol to what has happened to the White Sox.

In 2011, they were lost.

In 2012, will they be found?

Every year in baseball we expect the unexpected.

And this year is no different.

Tim Anderson's birthday present from home plate umpire was first major-league ejection

Tim Anderson's birthday present from home plate umpire was first major-league ejection

On his 24th birthday, Tim Anderson’s present from home plate umpire Jim Wolf was his first major-league ejection.

In the fifth inning of the White Sox 3-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics, Anderson fouled off a pitch that landed in the opposing batter’s box. But A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell picked it up in what was ruled to be fair territory and threw the ball to first for the out.

Anderson pleaded his case saying the ball went foul. Wolf agreed, according to Anderson, which only further confused the White Sox shortstop.

“I told him that was BS,” Anderson said. “And he tossed me.”

Anderson said that he was surprised to be ejected so fast. So was manager Rick Renteria, who was thrown out moments after Anderson.

“I don’t want to get in trouble,” Renteria said. “The players having emotion, they are battling. I just think we need to grow a little thicker skin.”

Anderson said that he was appreciative of his manager coming to his defense.

“He kinda had a point and let me know he had my back,” Anderson said of Renteria. “Speaks a lot of him.”

A day after scoring nine runs on 18 hits, the White Sox failed to generate any offense on Friday. The team’s best chance came in the ninth inning.

But with runners at the corners and two outs, Matt Davidson put a good rip on the ball to center field, only to fly out at the warning track.

Anderson and Renteria were watching the game together in the clubhouse, and both believed the White Sox had tied the ballgame.

“We all jumped up and were excited but it kind of fell short,” Anderson said.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Mark Buehrle

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Exclusive interview with Mark Buehrle

On the latest edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien goes 1-on-1 with the star of the weekend, Mark Buehrle.

Buehrle tells an absolutely amazing bachelor party story and discloses why he wore No. 56.

Take a trip down memory lane and listen to the White Sox Talk Podcast here