GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In 2003, Frank Thomas was a dangerous designated hitter for the Chicago White Sox, and the future Hall of Famer hit 42 home runs and piled up 105 RBI under then rookie manager Ozzie Guillen.
At SoxFest last month, the 48-year-old Thomas still looked like he could swing the bat, and he even joked about coming out of retirement.
If Thomas was serious, the White Sox might have offered him a tryout.
Since the "Big Hurt" made a messy exit following the 2005 season, the Sox have looked high and low for a replacement.
Future Hall of Famer Jim Thome actually did a good job replacing Thomas, but neither Adam Dunn nor Adam LaRoche were productive designated hitters after Thome.
The White Sox have been forced to use a rotating group of players at DH, and that's going to continue this season under new manager Rick Renteria.
"We are going to use that slot to kind of alleviate being in that both sides of the ball situation," Renteria said. "I'm not afraid to use that slot for any number of our guys to help them out a little bit."
First baseman Jose Abreu will DH when he needs a break, as will third baseman Todd Frazier, right fielder Avisail Garcia and left fielder Melky Cabrera.
Last season, Garcia was the Sox's primary designated hitter and he struggled in that role.
"It's not my position, but last year I tried to handle that situation," Garcia said. "I did my best, but I think my real position is in the outfield. I feel better there. I don't like DH but I don't have control of that, so I just go to do my job."
For the most part, manager Rick Renteria liked what he saw from Zach Burdi's batting practice session on Tuesday.
"Pretty impressive," Renteria said of the hard-throwing reliever. "He had a couple of balls get away in the total sequence, which gets hairy. But for the most part, down in the zone, both sides of the plate. Mixed in some changeups, which for him are still high velocity. He looked good."
Veteran starter James Shields' nickname is "Big Game James," but the Sox's right-hander says the tag never was a good fit.
"I never really was Big Game James," Shields said. "That's Big Game James Worthy, man. I've been telling the media that since Day 1. I guess if you have a nickname it's all good, but that's his nickname."