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posted: 1/25/2010 12:01 AM

White Sox 'Odd Couple' get the job done

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  • White Sox annual SoxFest in Chicago.

      White Sox annual SoxFest in Chicago.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Kenny Williams often come across as the "Odd Couple."

Guillen never finished high school in his native Venezuela. Williams matriculated at Stanford, the "Ivy League of the West."

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Guillen will say anything at any time. Williams has become increasingly tight-lipped under a growing crush of media.

Two exact peas in a pod they are not, but this weekend's SoxFest showed how well the duo works together.

As Guillen's boss, Williams has the right to shape the Sox' roster as he sees fit.

And he has certainly done that in past years, adding players like Carlos Quentin and Gavin Floyd without the manager's 100 percent endorsement.

But the GM has also been flexible enough to allow Guillen to add players he's more comfortable with. This off-season has been a prime example.

Guillen is a huge Andruw Jones fan, and he is on the White Sox' roster. So is another veteran player Guillen has long admired - 42-year-old infielder Omar Vizquel.

It's a solid give-and-take, and that's why the Jim Thome situation is so interesting.

Guillen and Williams are big Thome admirers, and the natural inclination is to bring back the 39-year-old designated hitter for one more season.

Guillen gave himself a Sunday deadline to make a final decision on the matter, and that has come and gone. The respect for Thome, however, is always going to be there.

Williams, meanwhile, wanted to add a big bat in the middle of the lineup, be it Thome, Russell Branyan or Hank Blalock.

But Williams listened to Guillen's plan to use a rotating DH this season and gave the OK. We'll see how it plays out.

Here are some other thoughts from SoxFest:

• I drew Williams' wrath at the start of last season for picking the White Sox third in AL Central.

That's exactly where they finished, but let the record show I picked the woeful Royals to finish second.

This year, I am picking the Sox to win the AL Central, but they are going to have to edge out the Twins in the final week of the season.

Sure, the White Sox don't have a proven DH to go along with a questionable offense, but they have the best pitching in the division, especially the starting five.

With Jake Peavy at the top of the rotation and Freddy Garcia at the bottom, sandwiching Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and John Danks, maybe the Sox really don't need a proven designated hitter.

• Two players in the spotlight heading into the season?

How about Scott Linebrink and Andruw Jones?

The Sox' bullpen looks good at the back with slimmed-down Bobby Jenks, Matt Thornton and newcomer J.J. Putz.

If Linebrink's shoulder is completely healthy, and he said Friday it is, watch out.

As for Jones, he wasn't at SoxFest, but the veteran outfielder is reportedly in great shape and motivated to play for Ozzie, his teammate with the Atlanta Braves in 1998-99.

He's seemingly been playing forever, but the 32-year-old Jones broke in with the Braves when he was just 19.

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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