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updated: 6/4/2011 12:39 AM

Sox GM Williams covers all the bases

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  • GM Kenny Williams says he thought the Sox would be better, but there's still time to make hay in the division.

      GM Kenny Williams says he thought the Sox would be better, but there's still time to make hay in the division.
    Associated Press

 
By Scott Gregor

By design, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams is keeping an even lower profile than usual this season.

"It's not that I'm not accessible," Williams said before the Sox opened a 10-game homestand Friday night against the Detroit Tigers. "I'm here every day. You guys (media) see me.

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"I'm not anxious to talk to anyone because I don't think that anything I say matters."

That could very well be code for Williams, meaning there's still not much to say about a White Sox team that does look to be recovering -- slowly -- from an abysmal start.

But the GM did field questions, and here are some of the highlights:

Q: How disappointed are you with the slow (27-31 through Thursday) start?

A: When we started this season I originally thought if we were four or five games over .500 come this homestand, I'd be satisfied with where we were.

Obviously we'd like to be better, but realistically, looking at the schedule and what we were up against, I thought if we came out of that in the fashion I just described then we'd be positioned in these next two months, June and July, to make some hay in the division.

We're behind that and we've certainly gotten here in a very interesting way. But we're still in position and primed to make some hay in these next few months. I'm optimistic.

Q: With a $125-plus million payroll, are you disappointed with the average crowd of 22,424 before Friday?

A: The fact of the matter is we haven't earned our fans' patronage up to this point in the fashion that we played, and the weather hasn't helped as well, so we're a little behind the 8-ball financially.

But hopefully, now that we're home for 23 out of the next 35, we can play well and well enough to get people's attention and get fan interest in us to the point that people come out the ballpark and support us.

Q: If the fans do come out, could you add a piece or two before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline?

A: We have sat and deliberated over the last couple of months about what we potentially need, what we can do. We can't envision about going out and getting better realistically than what we have on the field right now. So it's a very precarious situation.

Q: Any regrets about adding payroll in the off-season instead of going young?

A: I can't remember exactly what the payroll was when I assumed this position (after the 2000 season). I want to say mid-$50 (million). I told (chairman Jerry Reinsdorf), 'I envision a day when we get up into the $100s, but we are going to have to earn it. We are going to have to push the envelope from time to time.'

"Part of our conversation last year was, let's take ourselves to yet another level. Let's be representative of one of the type of teams that can go out and dream about any possibility or any acquisition. That comes with risks and certain challenges we are a little uncomfortable with.

And we are out on a limb. It is what it is. At the end of the day, we are either going to be right in our decision to push it a little bit or we are going to be wrong and have to try to make do the best we can.

Q: What do you make of Adam Dunn's struggles?

A: Listen, this guy has been one of the most productive players over the course of the last seven years. If you just look at the raw numbers, he's amongst Alex Rodriguez and (Albert) Pujols and (Mark) Teixeira. I mean these guys are run producers. This is the worst two months of his career.

If we abandon the thought that we go out and get a productive player and one of those top-caliber players, particularly in the summer months now that we're home, again 23 out of 35 with the weather turning … I'm all about staying positive with all of our guys because we know what we have in terms of talent.

Q: Same go for Alex Rios, another White Sox fan unfavorite?

A: The funny thing is we have a few players, Alex Rios, Brent Morel, early on as well, Gordon Beckham to a degree early on, they got into slumps by hitting the living (crud) out of the ball. They hit balls right at people and then changed, and then tried to make a tweak here or there and then got off-kilter.

They have not gotten back. You see signs of Gordon and Rios, and Brent just continues to hit the ball hard, but he hits the ball hard a lot of times right at people. That has a way of balancing itself out.

Q: Thoughts on Ozzie's latest rant, last weekend in Toronto?

A: Not to differentiate from my normal reaction when he says something a little unusual: 'What?' I leaned over to him on the plane and asked him, 'OK, you know what's going on?' And he didn't know. And I said, 'OK, this is what's going on.' He says, 'Well, you know what? Listen to the tape. It's not how they're saying I said it.'

"And I didn't bother listening to the tape because I trusted the man at his word because usually that's the case. But I had to remind him -- and I got some angry fan letters -- but I think it's a mischaracterization of what the actual comments were. Now can you take a piece of that comment and work it however you'd like to? Absolutely.

And I've tried to talk to him, not as general manager to manager but as friend to friend, and explain to him this has happened before. 'You have to understand that you are a lightning rod, that you are going to be dissected in every way, shape, because you sell papers, you sell TV time, you sell radio time. And then you've got to deal with me and I don't want to do that.'

Q: Is Ozzie safe as manager?

A: "I've got one of the best managers in the big leagues right now and I have one of the best coaching staffs in the big leagues. Any speculation contrary to that is just people talking and people not really being in the know. I'm sorry."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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