White Sox VP Ken Williams happy to be off stage
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org January 22, 2013 10:45PM
Sox hitter Tyler Flowers (R) fist bumps Jake Peavy after hitting a solo homerun in the fifth inning of the Chicago White Sox 6-0 win over the Chicago Cubs Sunday May 20, 2012 at Wrigley Field. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times
Updated: January 22, 2013 10:46PM
Ken Williams looked rested and relaxed, and why wouldn’t he? It’s been three months since he moved upstairs from the high-stress general manager’s chair and into a more comfy executive vice-president’s seat, and a few weeks since he got engaged over the holidays to CNN morning anchor Zoraida Sambolin.
Not that he doesn’t miss his old job.
“I sleep a lot better,’’ Williams said Tuesday. “Honestly, I have more of a life, but I do miss being in the mix to a greater degree, and I’ll have to find some balance that way to make sure I don’t drive myself crazy.’’
Williams and Bulls GM Gar Forman talked with 12 male students at Hyde Park High School to support the Bulls and White Sox’ partnership with the Youth Guidance B.A.M. (Becoming A Man) program.
‘‘I’ve felt such a lull because it has been the offseason and I’m used to having conversations with all the other general managers and in some cases owners and all of the various people that make up or compose your organization,’’ he said. “I’m there for [new GM] Rick [Hahn], and he reaches out often, but that’s just a small part of the day. So I’ve got to fill some other time some kind of way.’’
Besides re-signing right-hander Jake Peavy, Hahn has added free-agent infielder Jeff Keppinger to play third base and right-hander Matt Lindstrom to bolster the bullpen. Solid additions, but not exactly the big splash fans were hoping for. Williams is glad it’s Hahn and not him answering questions this weekend at SoxFest.
“Fans can expect not to see me on the stage,’’ Williams said, grinning. “That’s somebody else’s job right now. Good luck.’’
Hahn prioritized Peavy ahead of catcher A.J. Pierzynski because it’s always about the pitching. And “if you got pitching, you have a chance,’’ Williams said. “That’s still going to be the determining factor in baseball. What we need to do is expect some of the same performances from some of our guys last year and some growth in some other guys. And I think we’ll be in the mix.
‘‘Because if you have pitching, it automatically puts you in the mix.’’
Williams said the Sox will miss Pierzynski, but he is high on Tyler Flowers, whom he traded for, as an every-day replacement.
‘‘When he is on, you’ll see an approach where he drives the ball to right-center field,’’ Williams said. “He has power to all fields, but he also has the ability to have a good, solid at-bat.
“In a short spurt when A.J. went down last year, you saw him get a little more consistent with the bat and have those better at-bats. He’s going to continue to improve offensively to where he could be something special, and defensively all you have to do is talk to our pitchers for five minutes and they’ll tell you how enjoyable it is for them to throw to him and the job he does behind home plate.’’
That Flowers is a good catcher to throw to has been a recurring pitch from Hahn and Sox pitchers.
“He gives a good, comfortable target on both sides of the plate,’’ Williams said.
“And he studies. His pregame preparation is about as good as it gets, so the pitchers know he’s invested in them and their success.’’