Sox make adjustments to staff, payroll during SoxFest weekend

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Sox make adjustments to staff, payroll during SoxFest weekend

White Sox manager Robin Ventura joked Saturday that Harold Baines is the new assistant hitting coach because his first-base coach duties bored him.

While Baines agreed theres some truth to Venturas humor, and the move will benefit his sore knees, but mostly hes excited that the role will tap into one of his true strengths -- the art of hitting.

A six-time All-Star, Baines finished his 22-season career with 2,866 hits and 384 home runs.

Im just trying to give what Ive learned from people like (Greg) Luzinski that taught me when I came up, Baines said. Im just trying to give back the information that was given to me. I like talking about hitting. The little bit that I can give, if it helps one person, thats something too.

Hitting coach Jeff Manto said in November that Baines should provide a significant boost to the teams operation. The two are friends from a season spent together in Baltimore in 1995 and already speak the same language, which means White Sox hitters will hear the same message even if its said in a different way.

Thats what coaches are for, Baines said. Were just trying to get them on the right path. Its something new for me, but I think Im going to enjoy it.

Payroll still flexible

The signing of Matt Lindstrom on Friday increases the White Sox payroll to 100.7 million, with at least another 8 million or so due to Dayan Viciedo and 10 players who are on one-year contracts. Even though the teams starting payroll should be 12 million more than last years opening day mark of 96.7 million, general manager Rick Hahn believes he will have flexibility to add players should the White Sox contend for a playoff spot.

Based on (owner Jerry Reinsdorfs) history, absolutely, Hahn said.

Morel still in mix

Brent Morel isnt out of the White Sox plans, Ventura said Saturday. Morel was limited to 35 games last season with a sore back, but Ventura said he recently saw the third baseman at U.S. Cellular Field and Morel feels good. Morel hit eight home runs in September 2011 and gave the White Sox high hopes about his future.

Even though his 2012 season was lost, the White Sox havent forgotten about him.

Theres no reason for us to push him away, Ventura said.

Williams grills Hahn

Friday's first SoxFest seminar featured a few fans grilling Hahn about the departure of A.J. Pierzynski, but perhaps the toughest inquest came from the guy Hahn replaced.

As Friday's session wrapped up, ex-GM Kenny Williams casually took his place in line behind a fan to ask Hahn and Ventura a question. Williams asked: "Do you think you're going to do a better or a worse job than the last guy?"

Hahn, who's worked with the White Sox for over a decade, had a quick retort: "That's not fair. The last guy had a better support staff."

Paciorek on LaRussa

During a Saturday seminar, former White Sox player and announcer Tom Paciorek said manager Tony La Russa once held him out of a game for health reasons. Paciorek told LaRussa he felt fine and the manager acknowledged the fact before he noted: Every time you play, I get sick.

Staff writer JJ Stankevitz contributed to this article.

President Obama on Joe Maddon: 'Not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy'

President Obama on Joe Maddon: 'Not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy'

As one of the cooler presidents ever, President Obama knows cool when he sees it.

The president talked about numerous members of the Cubs during the team's visit to the White House on Monday, but he only offered the "cool" label to manager Joe Maddon, who most folks can agree is probably the coolest person to ever manage the Cubs.

"Let's face it, there are not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy. Look how he looks right now," Obama said, pointing out Maddon's non-traditional suit. "That's cool."

The president also praised Maddon's unique style, with his themed road trips and visits from zoo animals, as well as his on-field prowess, throwing in a joke about something the skipper couldn't control during the World Series.

"He's got a lot tricks to motivate. But he's also a master of tactics and knows how to make the right move at the right time: when to pinch hit, when to pinch run, when to make it rain in Game 7 of the World Series. It was masterful."

Maybe President Obama really does admire Maddon's style. Or maybe he's just extending his bromance with Vice President Biden to other famous Joes.

Check out the video above for more from the president.

At Cubs' White House visit, President Obama touts Michelle Obama's Cubs fandom, shouts out Jose Cardenal

At Cubs' White House visit, President Obama touts Michelle Obama's Cubs fandom, shouts out Jose Cardenal

Unlike her husband, Michelle Obama hasn't made a big deal out of her baseball fandom over the past eight years.

But as President Obama mentioned while he honored the World Series champion Cubs on Monday at the White House, it turns out the First Lady is a pretty big Cubs fan and watching the Cubs win the World Series meant an awful lot to her.

"It is no secret that there's a certain South Side team that has my loyalty," the president said. "So I can't claim that I have the same visceral joy of some in this White House. But FLOTUS is a lifelong Cubs fan, and I will tell you ... in the eight years that I've been here, we've hosted at least 50 teams. Football, baseball, basketball, soccer, you name it. Michelle has never come to a single event celebrating a champion until today. She came and shook hands and met with every one of these members of the Cubs organization and told a story about what it meant for her to be able to see them win. She remembers coming home from school, and her dad would be watching a Cubs game, and the bond and the family, the meaning that the Cubs had for her in terms of connecting with her father and why it meant so much to her. And I almost choked up listening to it. And it spoke, I think, to how people feel about this organization and that it's been passed on generation after generation. It's more than just sports."

And one ex-Cub even got a special invite to the White House so the First Lady could meet her all-time favorite player. That was former pitcher Jose Cardenal, once famous for his large afro. According to President Obama, his wife used to try and wear her hat over her afro just like Cardenal did.

So while President Obama was presented with a lifetime pass to Wrigley Field, perhaps it's Michelle who will get more use out of it.

Check out more from the president in the video above.