Uribe expected on time to camp
Shortstop counted on to fill starting role at Spring Training
Despite Wednesday's ruling by a Dominican court concerning a specific future appearance for Juan Uribe, as reported by ESPNDeportes.com, the White Sox point of view remains unchanged in regard to their shortstop's status with the team.
The Dominican court set a Feb. 21 hearing date for Uribe for the defense team's "challenge for cause" in the case against Uribe. That date is scheduled one day before White Sox position players officially report to Tucson, Ariz.
But on Thursday evening, general manager Ken Williams told MLB.com that he expects Uribe to arrive on time to Spring Training and he will still be counted on to be the White Sox starting shortstop.
"As long as he shows up on time and focused," said Williams of the qualifications for Uribe to hold on to his lineup spot. "Make that, on time, in shape and focused."
Arriving on time with the rest of his teammates was an issue for Uribe in 2006, who showed up two days late as he tried to sort out travel visa problems. This year's issue clearly has a much more serious tone to it.
A case against Uribe, his brother Elpidio and a friend continues on in the Dominican, with the trio accused in a shooting where two men were wounded on Oct. 3 in Juan Baron, Dominican Republic. Dandolin Alessandro, an Italian naval officer, dropped all charges, but Antonio Gonzalez sued the group.
Back in January, Uribe was ordered by a judge to show up in Dominican court on the 15th and 30th of every month to show he's not trying to flee the situation. Uribe can still leave the country, but the twice per month departure could lead to a very disjointed Spring Training and possibly regular season.
Williams will not address any sort of possible problem with Uribe, though, until it actually arises. It's the same sort of stance Williams has maintained since the story first broke in October.
"I expect him to be at Spring Training on time, and if he isn't, then I'll deal with it then," Williams said. "If he's there, great. If he's focused, great. If he's not there or not focused, then Alex Cintron has a heck of a chance to play every day.
"Either way, our position has been the same since Day 1," Williams added.
Uribe's free-swinging ways led to a .257 on-base percentage during the 2006 campaign, the lowest at his position in the American League. He also hit 21 home runs and finished with 71 RBIs, but along with a certain level of focus, both Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen are serious about Uribe playing in better physical condition.
Guillen sardonically quipped that Uribe looked like "Albert Belle playing shortstop," taking a swipe at his increased size. The larger Uribe was a step slower in the field and on the basepaths.
In the present, Uribe is still trying to get through these on-going and ever-changing legal issues. But much like the White Sox view of Uribe, he has proclaimed his innocence from the beginning.
"I am innocent and I don't care if I have to face the ultimate consequences," Uribe told ESPNDeportes.com recently.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.