Sox' lack of fire bothers Kenny Williams
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Even though he's no longer White Sox general manager, Kenny Williams still has a big say on roster decisions.
Looking ahead to next season, Williams, who now serves as the Sox' executive vice president, has already identified what he wants on the offensive side.
White Sox scouting report
White Sox vs. Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field
TV: WCIU today; Comcast SportsNet Tuesday and Wednesday
Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Pitching matchups: The Sox' Andre Rienzo (1-0) vs. Brett Oberholtzer (3-1) today; Jose Quintana (7-4) vs. TBA Tuesday; Chris Sale (9-12) vs. Jarred Cosart (1-1) Wednesday. All games start at 7:10 p.m.
At a glance: The White Sox are playing their best baseball of the season, but they still have the third-worst record in the majors at 54-75. The Astros own the worst record at 43-86. Houston won three of four against the Sox at home in mid-June. Over his last 12 appearances, White Sox closer Addison Reed has allowed 1 run in 14 while saving nine games.
Next: Boston Red Sox, Friday-Sunday at Fenway Park
— Scot Gregor
"One of the things we certainly have to have is a little bit more of that edge," Williams said. "You've got to have an edge about you as a team and a grind about you that is relentless. I have not seen that."
Williams said he saw the edge and grind last year, and used Orlando Hudson as an example.
"A lot of people didn't understand last year why a guy like Orlando Hudson was kept around even though he wasn't performing up to his past levels," Williams said. "If you would have taken that guy — even though he wasn't playing — off of that team we wouldn't have led for 118 games or been in first place for 118 games or whatever we were, because I think we needed that edge."
Maybe it was oversight, but Williams failed to include another edgy player who is no longer with the White Sox — A.J. Pierzynski.
The workhorse catcher was back in town over the weekend with his new team, the first-place Texas Rangers.
Few players in major-league history have played with a sharper edge than Pierzynski, who can be likened to a modern day Ty Cobb minus 2,000 or so hits.
The Sox let Pierzynski exit as a free agent for two reasons — he is 36 years old with a lot of mileage and Tyler Flowers was supposed to be ready to take over as the No. 1 catcher.
Well, Pierzynski is showing he is still a factor in a younger man's game with a .281 batting average, 14 home runs and 53 RBI.
He might play again next season, or he might not. As for further down the road, Pierzynski jokingly said he might wind up in the White Sox' TV broadcast booth. "Maybe I can take over for Hawk (Harrelson) if he ever decides to step down," Pierzynski said.
As for the Sox' current situation at catcher, Flowers was clearly not the answer over the first three months of the season, and now Josh Phegley is getting his shot.
As his .218 batting average indicates, Phegley hasn't been much better than Flowers (.190).
But Phegley does bring some of the edge Williams was talking about, and he is hardly lacking confidence.
"The offense is going to come," said Phegley, who has cooled considerably since coming up from Class AAA Charlotte in early July and hitting 3 homers and driving in 8 runs in his first five games with the White Sox. "I'm not real worried about it."
Phegley appears to be heating back up as the Sox draw closer to the final month of the season.
The 25-year-old catcher delivered his first game-winning hit with a two-out single in the ninth inning Saturday night.
On Sunday, Phegley went deep in the seventh inning, his first home run since July 11.
"It's a work in progress for Phegley," manager Robin Ventura said. "He started out pretty good and hit a rut. The last couple of days he's swung it all right."
• Follow Scot's White Sox and baseball reports on Twitter@scotgregor, and check out his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.
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