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Article updated: 8/14/2013 12:14 AM

Williams likes look of White Sox pitching

White Sox starting pitcher Hector Santiago delivers during the second inning Tuesday night against the Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field.

White Sox starting pitcher Hector Santiago delivers during the second inning Tuesday night against the Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field.

 

Associated Press

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Since he's in his first year as general manager, Rick Hahn has been hit with any blame for what could be the White Sox' worst season since 1970, when they went 56-106.

To many, Hahn simply inherited a mess left by former GM Kenny Williams, whom the Sox promoted to executive vice president following the 2012 season.

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In addition to leaving Hahn with a suspect minor-league system, Williams also has been accused of swinging and missing on acquisitions such as Adam Dunn, Tyler Flowers, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy, the latter two recently traded by Hahn.

Williams has blocked out the criticism and kept his focus on helping get the White Sox back to a competitive level as quickly as possible.

He echoed Hahn when looking at the future.

"Obviously, we had greater expectations," Williams said before the Sox played the Tigers on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. The White Sox won 4-3 in 11 innings.

"We thought that first and foremost we'd catch the ball better. We thought we would execute offensively better and be a little bit more diverse with the offense, and it just hasn't manifested in that way.

"But where there is bad news along those lines, there's good news in terms of being able to bounce back, because what you look for, and I think it's similar to 2007 with us, does a club have the necessary pitching to compete?

"And I think we absolutely have that moving forward."

But what about the offense, which has been among baseball's worst all season? Looking to 2014, only second baseman Gordon Beckham and new right fielder Avisail Garcia look to be locks as starters.

The White Sox saved roughly $37 million in salaries when they traded Peavy and Rios, and Hahn indicated much of that savings would be spent on the draft and international talent.

As for adding some proven bats next season, it's going to be a challenge.

"We have to find some left-handed hitting somewhere to complement some of these right-handers," Williams said. "Pitchers we face get locked into a release spot, a certain pitch that makes them more dangerous with so many right-handers in the lineup.

"That breaking ball, they can find that spot. A left-hander can break that up. But a left-hander has to fit a position we need and be a guy who can hit some line drives, hit some doubles and get on base.

"We have to figure out a way to get an on-base percentage in the .350 range if we're going to be a playoff team."

Heading into Tuesday, the White Sox had a .302 on-base percentage.

•Paul Konerko reportedly has cleared waivers and could be traded before Sept. 1, even though he could block any deal since he is a 10-5 player. The Baltimore Orioles are rumored to be interested.

"I haven't even thought about it," Konerko said. "If it pops up or someone talks to me, I'll think about it. As a player you're just trained that you hear stuff all the time. People in the street say something to you. A guy in a restaurant will say something to you.

"You don't really hear it. I was traded two times by the time I was 22, so that stuff doesn't really get in there. I learned early on how to deal with that stuff."

Williams seriously doubts Konerko will be moved before the end of the month.

"Everybody goes through waivers," Williams said. "Can you say he'll be here until the end of the year? I can't say I'll be here until the end of the year.

"Assuming all natural things, yeah, I would be surprised (if Konerko was traded)."

sgregor@dailyherald.com

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