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updated: 3/17/2014 8:32 PM

White Sox victims of bad timing -- again

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Any inkling of legitimate hope for Chicago baseball is welcome.

Cubs fans probably wish that our diabolical winter means summer will be snowed out.

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White Sox fans probably pray that another boatload of Cubans will arrive to fill out their roster.

Better keep hoping, wishing and praying. Nothing fortuitous is on the horizon for the Sox and Cubs.

Even the encouraging is discouraging for the Sox.

Encouraging: The Tigers might be leaving the door to the American League Central title open ever so slightly.

Discouraging: The Sox aren't ready to burst through.

Timing never seems to be right for the Sox, except for that single serendipitous World Series championship season in 2005.

If Kate Upton asked the Sox for directions to Comiskey Park, she'd be headed out of town before they could get the forks full of sausage out of their mouths to respond.

So what's wrong with the timing here and now?

Well, though the Sox never use the "R" word, they're rebuilding when it would be a good time to be rebuilt already.

The AL Central still is the exclusive lakefront property of the free-spending Tigers, who ruled the division for the past few years.

However, the Tigers are suffering little dinks and dents to their dynasty despite remaining heavy favorites to stay on top.

The latest setback is a shin injury to shortstop Jose Iglesias, who was supposed to further nudge the Tigers away from clumsy defense.

Meanwhile, pitching ace Justin Verlander is returning from off-season surgery. Co-ace Max Scherzer has to prove that his arm will hold up after carrying the innings load on the way to last season's Cy Young Award.

The Tigers traded Prince Fielder to Texas for Ian Kinsler in an effort to become better rounded both offensively and defensively.

Then there's the Tigers' most profound change: Manager Jim Leyland retired and Brad Ausmus replaced him.

Leyland was one of baseball's best managers for nearly three decades. Ausmus never managed anywhere, much less in the major leagues, much less for a team aspiring to win a World Series.

The Tigers must believe change is progress. If they're wrong, other AL Central teams have a shot at unseating them.

Maybe the Royals -- not the Sox -- are the team ready to ascend.

Kansas City has been executing an eternal rebuilding project and finally appears primed to move up to the next level.

Frustrating about the White Sox is that they failed to capitalize on winning the World Series nine years ago.

The Sox have been to the playoffs only once since that glorious season and not since 2008.

Instead of building a quality farm system that would sustain success, the Sox tried to patch this hole and mend that tear and cover those stains.

Now the Sox are doing what they should have done three or four years ago: begin to rebuild.

Second-year general manager Rick Hahn is patching, mending and cleaning, but with younger prospects instead of older suspects.

The fresh makeover comes too late for the Sox to catch and pass Detroit in 2014, so they're destined to compete essentially against themselves.

Being interesting is the Sox' primary goal for now with newcomers Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson, along with relative newcomer Avisail Garcia.

The Tigers' issues might be moot for the rest of the division because there's a possibility their tinkering will make them better instead of worse.

But how discouraging for Sox fans would it be if the Tigers went backward and the Royals, of all teams, replaced them as the AL Central's dominant force?

The feeling would be like someone slamming a window of opportunity on your head.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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