Sox Drawer: Infield Gets New Look

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Sox Drawer: Infield Gets New Look

Friday, November 6

When Kenny Williams hopped on a conference call Friday morning with the media, he didnt just break news, he smashed it into many pieces. And yes, there were some surprises.

Lets begin with Gordon Beckham. With Chris Getz going to Kansas City, Kenny said that his prized rookie from 2009 is now the White Sox new second baseman. Beckhams experience there is limited. He played second in the Arizona Fall League two years ago, but compared to his previous time at third base before the Sox put him there last season (zero), hes already got a head start. Williams said that moving Beckham to second was a priority. Interesting.

The move is a surprise since there are some who believe that Beckham should go back to his natural position (shortstop), and move Alexei Ramirez back to second base. But apparently, the White Sox are willing to give Ramirez another shot.

Mark Teahen becomes the Sox starting third baseman, a move which along with Beckham going to second, makes us better defensively across the board, said Williams. Teahen started at three different positions last year with the Royals, but made the most starts at third (99).

Its huge, Teahen said. The past three years I havent known what position Id play, and over the past 24 hours I havent known what city I was going to play in, so its huge. I came through the minors as a third baseman, and its my No. 1 position.

You might look at Teahens stats from last year (.271, 12 HR. 50 RBIs, 123 Ks), and not be impressed. But Williams said you cant evaluate the deal on raw numbers. Teahen played last season with two jammed thumbs, a sore elbow, and in our ballpark, he wont be pitched around as much. Williams added that hes a tough-nosed ballplayer who the Sox kept their eye on for the last couple years. In fact, they inquired about Teahen last season. When you consider his numbers against the Sox (12 of his 59 career home runs have come vs. the Sox), its no surprise.

Using that logic, maybe Kenny should trade for Placido Polanco, Miguel Olivo, Nick Punto, Jason Kubel, and every single Minnesota Twin who has crushed the Sox over the years. At least they dont have to worry about Carlos Gomez anymore. He was traded today to Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy. Wait until I tell Bill Melton. Itll make his day.

Moving to the outfield, it seems like the Scott Podsednik sequel is over. When asked about Pods, who is a free agent, Williams said weve already had talks. Some back-and-forth dialogue. I think re-signing him is not likely based on what he wants. Well have to keep getting after it in other areas.

That means the White Sox need a leadoff hitter. Who might that be? Can you say the name Jordan Danks?

Thats right. John Danks younger brother has leaped into the conversation. Hes been tearing up the Arizona Fall League, batting close to .400, leading Williams to say on the conference call, Jordan Danks is certainly making things interesting, and giving reason for us to pause as to whether we aggressively pursue a veteran-type guy or not in the outfield.

Danks is 6-foot-4, hes considered the best athlete in the Sox farm system, as well as their top defensive outfielder. The lefty prefers to play center field, but has played all three outfield positions. He mainly batted second in the Fall League, but led off last season at Double-A Birmingham.

As for Jermaine Dye, the White Sox bought out the mutual option for 2010 for just under 1 million, making him a free agent. Williams said, I spoke to Jermaine this morning. I played around with some deals to possibly create some space to fit J.D. at this point. Obviously, that didnt happen, or couldnt happen at this juncture. But Kenny left open the possibility of re-signing Dye, saying, I dont think you can rule it out because its a long offseason.

And finally, the other big surprise: Jim Thome. Many figured that he was not in the White Sox plans for 2010, but Williams said, I have the ultimate respect for Jimmy, so we might have to revisit that at some point in time.

Some might interpret that comment as a token nod from Williams to the future Hall of Famer, but I actually believe the feeling is genuine. Thome made 15 million last season, and saw his numbers drop in all categories. Not playing much with the Dodgers had a lot to do with it. Still, if the Sox can get him at a hometown discount, which could be in the cards, its a distinct possibility.

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The Blackhawks were finally getting healthy and now may be missing a key player once again. That depends on how Niklas Hjalmarsson feels after suffering an upper-body injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.

It was certainly the toughest part of the Blackhawks' victory, a 6-3 triumph that has the Blackhawks closing in on the Wild. We'll see what the Hjalmarsson update is over the weekend. Until then, let's look at the notables from this one.

What Worked: The offense. We'll give an honorable mention to the penalty kill, which snuffed out all of the Coyotes' chances including a double minor that overlapped the second and third periods. But the offense was just buzzing again. Here's another shocker: the top line is still working just fine. The trio got things started with Nick Schmaltz's goal just 37 seconds into the game (Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik assisted). And much like in their meeting with the Coyotes earlier this month, the Blackhawks needed just about every bit of that offense. While we're on this topic...

What Didn't Work: The first-period defense. The Blackhawks looked like they were in good shape up 3-1 but then they gave up two goals within a minute late in the period. Michal Rozsival had a rough start in his first game since Jan. 15, but overall, the Blackhawks' defense through that first period looked discombobulated. Obviously, it didn't help that the Blackhawks lost Hjalmarsson during the first, either.

[RELATED: Patrick Kane nets hat trick as Blackhawks cruise past Coyotes]

Star of the game: Patrick Kane. One game after Jonathan Toews recorded a hat trick Kane did the same, scoring his 21st, 22nd and 23rd goals of the season. On a night in which the Blackhawks dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, Kane got a little extra playing time. His first goal came on a first-period shift with Ryan Hartman and Tanner Kero, the second off a long pass from Brent Seabrook and the third with his usual line mates.

He Said It: "I didn't play much before I got hurt, then I missed four weeks with my injury. It wasn't easy but definitely the way the team's playing now, it made it easier for me. It felt like the first game of the season for me but glad we got the victory and glad I was back playing. I enjoyed it." — Michal Rozsival on returning to the Blackhawks' lineup. 

By the Numbers: 

6 – Number of times, in their last eight games, the Blackhawks have scored five or more goals.

342 – Assists for Jonathan Toews, who tied Dennis Hull for 12th all-time in franchise history in that category.

35 – Combined points for the Blackhawks' top liners Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik in their nine games together. The breakdown in those nine games: Toews has 16 points, Panik 10 and Schmaltz nine.

1997 – The last time the Blackhawks had hat tricks in back-to-back regular-season games. Alexei Zhamnov and Eric Daze had them on April 11 and April 13, 1997, respectively.