White Sox go with speed, defense

Updated: January 14, 2005, 8:19 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Ozzie Guillen wanted to transform the Chicago White Sox from a power-reliant team to a club with speed, better defense and stronger pitching.

The second-year manager was filled with enthusiasm Friday at the start of the team's winter convention because most of his offseason wish list has been filled.

"I needed a leadoff guy. We have it. I needed a catcher. We have it. I needed a better bullpen and we got better. I could not be more pleased," Guillen said.

Chicago didn't get Omar Vizquel, as Guillen had hoped, but general manager Ken Williams was busy signing other free agents. The White Sox added right fielder Jermaine Dye, reliever Dustin Hermanson, right-hander Orlando Hernandez and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. They also obtained leadoff hitter/outfielder Scott Podsednik and reliever Luis Vizcaino in a trade with Milwaukee for Carlos Lee.

"Do I think we have a better team? Yes," Guillen said, acknowledging there are a lot of questions about losing proven run producers in Lee and star right fielder Magglio Ordonez, who was not re-signed after a knee injury shortened his season.

"The only reason we traded Carlos was we needed a leadoff guy. We needed more speed on the bases and need to get on base," Guillen added. "It wasn't easy to trade Carlos Lee, but it makes the bullpen stronger and the leadoff spot better."

Podsednik batted .314 as a rookie two years ago, then slumped last season to .244, although he did lead the majors with 70 stolen bases.

Lee batted .305 with 31 homers and 99 RBIss last season for Chicago and didn't make an error in left field.

"Carlos Lee was a tremendous asset to this club and did some great things. Comparing his game to my game is kind of like comparing apples to oranges," Podsednik said.

Not only are Lee and Ordonez gone, but Frank Thomas still is recovering from ankle surgery. Guillen thinks the two-time AL MVP might not be ready to play until June.

"Right now we're waiting for Frank to get healthy. We need Frank on this team," Guillen said. "I haven't talked to Frank or the doctors or (trainer) Herm (Schneider), that's just my view. I don't want to say Frank will come back in April and, boom, he's not there."

Paul Konerko, who hit 41 homers and had 117 RBIss last season, acknowledged that the philosophy has changed from three-run homers to manufacturing runs and playing better defense with consistent pitching.

Chicago has what would appear to be a solid starting rotation with Freddy Garcia, Mark Buehrle, Hernandez, Jose Contreras and Jon Garland.

"Losing Magglio, he's one of the best players in the game, there's no doubt that hurts," Konerko said. "Carlos was a clutch hitter and I'm not going to sit here and say losing guys like that doesn't weaken your offense. It's a matter of what these other guys do to step in and the guys who are here, what they do and how they perform. With the pitching we have, we might not have to do as much as in the past."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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