Notes: Pods in the mix for Opening Day
Left fielder now expects to be ready for season opener
TUCSON, Ariz. -- There's no checklist in Scott Podsednik's locker with goals printed representing each step in his rehabilitation process from late January sports hernia surgery.
But if such a checklist did exist, the only thing left for Podsednik to mark off would be the ultimate target of being ready for Opening Day. Following Podsednik's Cactus League debut during the White Sox 7-6 victory over the Cubs on Friday at Tucson Electric Park, Ozzie Guillen believes his leadoff man has that accomplishment well within reach.
"We should count on him for Opening Day. We should talk about him," said Guillen of Podsednik. "The way he is right now, he's going to be on the 25-man roster. I don't think he's going to be on the [disabled list]. If everything stays the same, he should be on the team."
Podsednik didn't really address thoughts on being ready for the season opener at home against Cleveland, but certainly was brimming with confidence after finishing 1-for-2 with an RBI. Getting caught stealing by Cubs catcher Henry Blanco in the first inning didn't diminish the effort in Podsednik's mind, as he pointed to the lack of acceleration and explosion he possesses right now, which Podsednik said usually comes last in the training process.
After starting and playing without pain as the designated hitter in Minor League games over the past two days, Podsednik wondered how he would respond in front of 11,746 at Tucson Electric on Friday. It took a slick sliding catch on Mark DeRosa's one-out pop fly to left in the third to put Podsednik at ease.
"That's when I settled down a little bit," said Podsednik of the catch. "That's when I said, 'Maybe this isn't as hard as you think this is out here.' I got to the ball, made the catch.
"One of the things I really want to work on is my footwork out in the outfield. My jumps haven't been as efficient as they could be, that's all footwork. I've been working on that stuff during batting practice and I felt like I got a pretty good jump towards that ball. Maybe that's a positive step, a step in the right direction."
Saturday is an off-day on Podsednik's pain-free comeback trail. When the White Sox embark Sunday on a three-game road trip to Peoria, Surprise and Phoenix, Podsednik is going to stay back in Tucson with Jim Thome and get quite a few at-bats during Minor League games.
Now that the hoopla has died down over Podsednik's return, coming one week ahead of his original schedule, he can simply focus on baseball and checking off another Opening Day appearance with the White Sox.
"It's always good to get that first one out of the way," Podsednik said. "Now, we can concentrate on the skill stuff -- get some bunts down, get some good reads at the plate or out in the outfield, get some good jumps on the basepaths or things of that sort."
Marked improvement: After giving up 10 hits to the first 15 batters he faced in a "B" game against Arizona last Sunday, Javier Vazquez pitched with much greater urgency and intensity from the start during his 4 2/3 innings against the Cubs. The right-hander struck out six and allowed three runs on five hits, but still felt as if last Sunday's blip was more part of the Spring Training process than a disastrous effort.
"But I felt I should have done a better job last time on going out there and focusing a little better than I did the first couple innings," said Vazquez, who has three more spring starts, including one of the closing exhibition games in Atlanta. "You learn from that. That's what Spring Training is for, to get better.
The injury did not require X-rays, and Iguchi said he would be ready to play Saturday at home against the Angels.
"I was very fortunate I was wearing a wristband with a pad where I got hit," said Iguchi through translator David Yamamoto.
Paying tribute: White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf issued a statement Friday expressing condolences on Thursday's death of Bowie Kuhn, who presided over baseball as Commissioner from 1969-1984.
"He really led baseball through a very difficult time and he did it with a lot of class and dignity," Reinsdorf said. "I liked Bowie a lot. If it wasn't for Bowie, I wouldn't be in the game of baseball."
Reinsdorf's group assumed ownership in 1981, after Kuhn turned down Ed DeBartolo Sr.'s bid to buy the White Sox in 1980.
It's closing time: Bobby Jenks' first closing situation of the spring didn't exactly go as planned Friday, as the right-hander allowed three runs on two hits and two walks and was unable to protect a 6-3 lead in the ninth. The good news was that Jenks felt great, both physically and mechanics-wise.
"It just kind of fell apart early," Jenks said of his ninth-inning effort against the Cubs. "I just made a couple of mistakes, left the ball up and they capitalized on them. Once they scored those three runs, I made better pitches and got outs. If I had had that approach coming it, it would have been a different result."
Around the horn: Guillen met with his team Friday morning and told the players they were going to start playing as they would during the regular season. Guillen had set the day after Thursday's off-day as the target date for that increase in intensity. ... Eduardo Perez, who suffered a strained right calf after hitting a home run Wednesday against Milwaukee, will be out of action for another two or three days, according to Guillen. ... After Guzman finished his 3 1/3 innings of work on Friday, Guillen talked briefly to the Cubs hurler and fellow native of Venezuela and expressed words of encouragement in his battle for the fifth starter's spot. ... Despite Juan Uribe's Dominican court case being postponed Friday until July in order to give the prosecution more time to find evidence, Uribe believes he will not have to return for any further proceedings.
Up next: Jose Contreras, the White Sox Opening Day starter, makes his fourth spring start Saturday at home against the Angels.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.