White Sox GM: Thomas signed with A's, then dissed us
CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Ken Williams wanted the team's winter convention to be a celebration. He hoped to reflect on how the team he put together won the franchise's first World Series title in 88 years.
He expected to go over the major moves he made in the offseason in an effort to win another championship.
Instead, Williams was talking Friday about a player no longer with the team -- Frank Thomas.
"It's a shame, here we are in a celebratory atmosphere, that we even have to address such issues," Williams said.
In his introductory news conference Thursday after signing with the Oakland Athletics, Thomas came out swinging.
He claimed he never received a courtesy call from White Sox officials to tell him he was no longer in their plans after 16 seasons, or a physical to evaluate his health after an injury-filled 2005 season.
"I just think I deserved better, some closure, in Chicago," Thomas said. "If they'd just said they were going in a different direction, it would be fine, but no one gave me any heads up about what was going on."
Thomas also said Jim Thome, acquired by Chicago in a trade to give the team some punch at designated hitter, had more injuries than he did last season and is not a better hitter.
"I guess the best way I can put it is I was surprised, but I wasn't surprised," Williams said of Thomas' candid criticism.
"All I would say is we took great pains to make sure his legacy was intact over the last couple of years and tried to make some gestures along the lines to make sure he felt when the time came he would be going out in a first-class manner. Obviously we fell short in his eyes."
Thomas, whose season was ended by recurring ankle problems that limited him to 34 games, was recognized at the team's victory parade and threw out a first pitch. But the two-time MVP said he would never have done it if he knew he was leaving.
During last month's winter meetings in Dallas, the White Sox declined to offer him salary arbitration, ending the long relationship. Thomas is 52 homers shy of 500 and is a lifetime .307 hitter.
Williams hinted that Thomas would not have been willing to sign the same one-year, $500,000 deal with the White Sox that he did with Oakland. The deal includes up to $2.6 million in performance bonuses.
"Quite honestly, even with that type of deal, I feel we could be positioned better with Jim Thome in that position than Frank at this point," Williams said. "If that offends or if he is stung by that, so be it."
Thome didn't have much to say about Thomas' comments.
"I'd rather not get into it," Thome said. "For me to comment is out of line. Frank has been a tremendous player. Just leave it at that."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wasn't happy with the organization either when his 13-year stint with the team ended after the 1997 season.
"I know the situation. I went through it. I went through it the same way," Guillen said. "We tried to treat him the best we could. It's not easy when you play that many years in one city and all of a sudden your life changes. Your feelings are hurt -- no matter how you leave."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press