Joe Namath has been quoted as saying, and I paraphrase, that anytime something bad happened in his life, alcohol was involved.
So, using that as an example, it was refreshing news that Sox closer Bobby Jenks not only came to camp about 25 pounds lighter, but that he’s given up drinking “cold turkey” as well. By Jenks’ own admission, the alcohol was contributing to him heading in the wrong direction.
It goes without saying that a fit, focused Jenks along with a rejuvenated J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton gives the Sox a back end of a bullpen that is among the very elite. Combine that with one of the top starting staffs in baseball and pitching is without question the club’s strength.
Under any circumstances, Jenks is a key to the entire staff and his newly-found discipline can only mean good things for the Sox.
Putz and Jenks: Two Keys to the Sox Success
There will be more to come later today detailing the first glimpse of the Sox in spring training, but before we focus on the present and future, here’s a look at a sample of Pale Hose spring training past. I’m proud to say that I was present in Sarasota, FL for both eras–the Bill Veeck 1970s and the excitement of watching the world’s greatest basketball player live out his dream on the diamond in the 1990s.
OK Sox fans, the pursuit of Johnny Damon is officially over. Time to move on.
“It has become clear to us in our recent negotiations that the money that we were offering was not going to be good enough for Johnny at this time.”
–Kenny Williams to Bruce Levine of
ESPNChicago.com this afternoon
P.S.– Since Damon’s agent Scott Boras is still haggling with the Tigers, I guess “never say never,” but for now the prospect of the Sox getting Damon seems like a longshot.
My final weekly offseason musings on the White Sox and more. In just two days, four hours and 56 minutes, pitchers and catchers officially report and the 2010 season will be underway.
My Random Thoughts Heading into Spring Training:
* He’s coming, he’s not coming, he’s coming, he’s not coming, he’s…That’s basically what we’ve been through this week with Johnny Damon. I’m through guessing what will happen. We’ll just have to wait and see and deal with the decision when it comes down. And it very well could be determined before you read this. Who knows?
* As I look ahead to the 2010 Sox, I can’t help but think that the two keys to whether or not we make the playoffs will be Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios. While the personality of the team will change, putting a priority on pitching, speed, versatility and defense, there still needs to be some significant power now that Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome are no longer on the South Side. Quentin and Rios must rebound from last year whether or not the other factors listed above prove successful.
* Speaking of Jermaine, it’s painful to see he’s still on the outside, looking for a decent
deal. Despite his horrible second half in 2009, you have to think he can help someone. Here’s hoping the news of him signing is imminent. Dye, like the other 2005 guys, holds a special place for us. Even more special for Jermaine, considering he was the World Series MVP.
* I’m looking forward to seeing Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell in spring training. It doesn’t seem like either outfielder will make the 25-man roster, but Danks is right on the cusp and actually could make the jump at some point this year. Mitchell is a couple of years away, but inviting him to major league camp is a smart idea–he’ll get a jump start on getting acclimated to major league life.
* I love this. Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen will be featured in The Club, an original reality series on the MLB Network The show will follow the Sox braintrust to provide “unprecedented behind-the-scenes access” to a major league front office. The Club premieres Sunday, July 4 at 8:00pm, ET.
* By the way, has Damon signed yet?
It’s been a long time since A.J. Pierzynski and Johnny Damon were teammates at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, FL. Since then each has had an All-Star career capped off by a World Series ring (in Damon’s case, two). They’ve never played together in the major leagues, but that could change very soon with A.J. having a key role in making it happen.
In an effort to convince free agent Damon to sign with the Sox, Pierzynski and broadcaster Hawk Harrelson hit the links on Tuesday with their target presumably to sell him on the fact that joining the Sox would give him the best shot at a third ring. Another intriguing development is that Damon and his wife are looking for a more cosmopolitan city than Detroit, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.
Will the A.J./Hawk sales pitch work? There’s really no telling at this point. It has been reported that the Tigers have made offers of $7 million for one year, $14 million for two and the Sox are not budging from their original one-year $4 million offer. That’s only what’s been reported. We really can’t believe what agent Scott Boras says because leveraging is his middle name. And we know full well that Kenny Williams likes to work under the radar–with great success I might add.
With pitchers and catchers now reporting throughout Arizona and Florida, Damon will likely make a decision in the next few days. The only thing we know for sure is that the Sox are still in the running for what I believe would be a major piece in a championship puzzle.
With five days, four hours, 34 minutes (and counting) until White Sox pitchers and catchers report, seeing uniforms in lockers at Camelback Ranch on a snowy work-day morning here in the Northeast is a wonderful sight.