Notes: Crede's back feeling good
Third baseman glad he chose intense therapy over surgery
TUCSON, Ariz. -- For those pundits who doubt the durability of Joe Crede and his balky back, the burgeoning White Sox star at third base points to one important statistic from 2006 to quickly quell those potential concerns.
"It's the situation last year where I played 150 games, second most on the team behind [Paul] Konerko's 152. I think that's pretty good," said Crede, a few minutes after reporting to Spring Training on Tuesday morning. "I felt that I played a pretty significant amount compared to how many games we played."
Crede further explained how four or five of those absences from the field followed cortisone shots when his back pain flared up, with two days being the recommended amount of inactivity after such an injection. It was this sort of durability that served as one of the reasons why a back specialist in Dallas -- a second opinion sought out by Crede after surgery was the option picked by the first doctor who examined him -- pushed instead for a program of intense physical therapy in order to help solve the problem.
This new program was put together by Steve Odgers, a former White Sox conditioning coach who now works for Scott Boras, Crede's agent. Crede said the current program is very similar to the one the White Sox already had in place, with it being a little stricter and focusing more on the muscles around the back, featuring different exercises set for 30-to-45 minute workouts each day.
The changes seem to have agreed with Crede, although the program still needs to survive under the test of Cactus League and regular season action. But Crede sees no reason to hold back with on-field activity and has no regrets in regard to choosing the therapy over the surgery.
"I went with the second opinion and he said, 'I'd rather see you go with a stricter program than having to go in there and cutting your back,'" Crede said. "He told me it's not guaranteed the pain is going away, plus I could have a little scar tissue there. He said, 'I'd rather see you do the stricter workout, a full-body, core workout.'
"I'm ready to go and feel good where we're at right now. There's nothing going to hold me back. I don't anticipate there being as many problems as there were last year, even though there didn't really seem to be that many problems. I don't feel it was as much of a problem as it was made out to be."
New location? Tadahito Iguchi has a new translator in David Yamamoto, but whether he will exit Arizona with a new spot in the batting order should be decided over the next five weeks. Manager Ozzie Guillen tried to move Iguchi down in the order last spring, with Juan Uribe getting bumped to the second slot, but both players struggled in their new roles and Guillen switched Iguchi back to his familiar lineup location.
Upon arriving in camp Tuesday, Iguchi pointed to last year's spring struggles as a by-product of trying to do too much reinventing with his swing and not due to him batting sixth or seventh.
"Last year, I tried to upgrade my skills and I was trying new things," said Iguchi through Yamamoto. "But this year, I'm more prepared to leave a better mark in Spring Training."
Guillen could take advantage of Iguchi's power and speed at a lower point in the order if Darin Erstad and Scott Podsednik are in the same lineup at the top. Of course, a great deal depends on Podsednik's health and how Brian Anderson performs during Spring Training.
Iguchi didn't show any real concern over where he could end up, just as he didn't seem worried by impending free agency after the 2007 season. Like many Japanese players coming to the United States, Iguchi has a contractual clause where he could become a free agent in early November if the White Sox don't sign him to a new deal. But his focus remains on baseball.
"That's something not for me to think about," said Iguchi, concerning a potential new contract. "I just want to produce here. The overall goal is to win a championship once again with the White Sox, and that's all I'm really thinking about."
Retaining the title: Konerko will serve as White Sox team captain for the 2007 season, a question that doesn't need to be addressed again as long as the White Sox first baseman and Guillen are together.
"He will be my captain as long as Ozzie Guillen is managing this ballclub," said Guillen of Konerko.
Familiar foe: When Iguchi suited up for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, he had a number of face-to-face meetings with Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Seibu Lions. Iguchi could have the chance to go against Boston's newest high-profile starter, with both former Japanese stars now playing integral roles in the United States.
"I did like facing him, but he's a very great pitcher," Iguchi said. "He's probably the best pitcher in Japan, and I expect him to perform well here."
Around the horn: Guillen plans to give his state-of-the-team address Thursday, when the full roster is scheduled to be in camp. ... With Iguchi hitting only .252 against left-handers in 2006, Guillen is still leaning toward using Pablo Ozuna at the leadoff spot when facing tough southpaws.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.