Notes: Guillen has high hopes for Uribe
White Sox manager talks about expectations for shortstop
TUCSON, Ariz. -- There hasn't been much contact between Ozzie Guillen and Juan Uribe during his shortstop's turbulent offseason. But the White Sox manager, a proud native of Venezuela, has a little bit of knowledge as to the ongoing legal process Uribe is dealing with in the Dominican Republic.
With that personal understanding in mind, Guillen has one request for Uribe when he arrives in Tucson sometime next week: Come to Spring Training in good physical condition.
"The only thing I'm concerned about with Juan is how good of shape he's going to show up in," said Guillen on Monday from his office at the Kino Sports Complex, addressing the media for the first time during Spring Training 2007.
"Besides that, we all know of the troubles in Latin America," Guillen added. "Here, if you do something, you're in jail or you're not. Over there, it's money, people pushing you one way. There's so many different ways to go around. We don't know what's going on."
Guillen wouldn't toss accusations of guilt or claims of innocence in regard to Uribe, his brother and a friend in a reported shooting incident with a farmer in Juan Baron, a seaside city in the Dominican Republic. But Guillen appeared fatherly toward his shortstop, saying that he will protect Uribe once he appears. Guillen spoke Friday of having the White Sox media relations department organize a press conference involving Uribe instead of having him go through countless interviews concerning the same topic.
Uribe could be challenged by switch-hitting reserve Alex Cintron if he shows up out of shape. As of Friday morning, though, Uribe still was holding down a starting spot up the middle on the infield.
"Right now, Uribe is my shortstop," Guillen said. "In the meanwhile, this is a big year for us, like every year, and I want him to be in shape.
"You get paid to be in shape. You get paid to do what you're supposed to do. You've got to remember, when he got here, he was a backup player. I'm not saying we make him do it. He made himself [good enough] to sign a three-year deal and make himself the everyday shortstop.
"Well, make a commitment to keep it," added Guillen of Uribe, who hit .235 in 2006 and seemed to lose a step defensively with his increased girth.
Solving the puzzle: It was a busy flight from Florida to Tucson for Guillen, as he pieced together seven different lineups depending on the players who occupy the final roster spots. Guillen still is entertaining thoughts of breaking camp with 12 pitchers, meaning there would be just four bench spots available, but that extra arm might not be needed with eight off-days spread out over the first two months of the season.
Guillen has one lineup with Tadahito Iguchi hitting second and another lineup with Iguchi hitting seventh and A.J. Pierzynski hitting eighth for a righty-lefty balance. There also are decisions to be made concerning Brian Anderson's quest to hold down the starting center field job and whether free agent acquisitions such as Luis Terrero or Eduardo Perez give the White Sox a more viable right-handed option off the bench as the 25th man, rather then carrying an extra arm.
"Before, it was the fifth starter," said Guillen of Spring Training decisions. "Now, it's going to be who is playing the outfield. Does Anderson make the team? Who is the fourth or fifth outfielder? This Spring Training is going to be fun."
Regardless of the player who wins out as the 25th man, Guillen stressed production from the first, second, eighth and ninth spots in the order as key to the offense's success.
"That's simple," Guillen said. "If we are not good in [those areas], it will be hard for us to compete."
Champing at the bit: Andrew Sisco doesn't want to cast aspersions toward his former employer. But the move from the bottom of the American League Central in Kansas City to postseason contention in Chicago has left him ready for the start of Spring Training since late December.
"There's such a bright light at the end of the tunnel here," said Sisco, who was traded to the White Sox in exchange for popular first baseman/outfielder Ross Gload. "It has been such a good offseason and the [trade] news in December changed my preparation and gave me that second wind. It refueled me."
The 6-foot-10 left-hander is coming off a very rough 2006 season, featuring a 7.10 ERA and 116 baserunners allowed in 58 1/3 innings. Sisco figures to contend for a White Sox starting spot sometime in the not-too-distant future, but for now, he's simply satisfied to pitch effectively once again in relief.
"There were times where I pitched well, and others were frustrating," Sisco said. "For the most part, having a consistent performance day in and day out as a reliever is my No. 1 goal. [I will let] Ozzie know when he calls on me, he can expect a certain amount of quality from my appearances."
Gone but not forgotten: Reading about the Indians' signing of Cliff Politte to a Minor League deal brought a great deal of personal satisfaction for Guillen. Even though former players such as Politte, Neal Cotts and Freddy Garcia are pitching for other teams, Guillen hasn't forgotten them.
He's even supporting Cotts' chances for success with the White Sox crosstown rivals.
"I hope Neal does really good for the Cubs," Guillen said. "I know good for the Cubs sounds weird, but I want Neal to do well for whatever team he plays. He did a lot of nice stuff for me. The same with Freddy. We tried to figure out the other night how Freddy is going to win 20 games."
Around the horn: Charlie Haeger got a laugh from pitching coach Don Cooper upon asking Friday if he already was cut since his name was not listed among any of the various throwing groups. Haeger's name was quickly added. ... Guillen had no medical update in regard to Scott Podsednik's recovery from January sports hernia surgery. ... Jim Thome and Anderson checked in Friday, well ahead of Thursday's position players' report date.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.