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If White Sox keep winning, fans will start believing

Seats are partially empty first inning U.S. Cellular Field Friday June 1 2012 Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Seats are partially empty in the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field Friday, June 1, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 7, 2012 4:32PM



Clergyman likely never came up as part of the job description for Ken Williams when he became the White Sox general manager.

Psychiatrist? Politician? Gambler? Those all go without saying. That’s the GM gig.

So excuse the good Father Kenny if he does his best in finding new ways to disguise the fact he’s again passing the plate around.

“Times being what they are, I can’t even have a conversation [about possible costly trades],’’ Williams said earlier this week. “There’s no crying about it. Some want to posture about it that way, but all I’ve ever done is answer the question. I’ve never wanted to mislead our fans.’’

Not exactly as catchy as the “I can’t spend a dollar if I only have 50 cents,’’ which Williams used to throw around in his early years. Call it now having more tact.

And far as misleading fans, that’s a little tougher to get away with on the South Side than it is, say 9.88 miles to the North.

That’s why there are still some reservations from a fan base that’s willing to date this team, even hold its hand, but marry it? Not yet. This will have to be a September wedding at the earliest.

It’s not skepticism as much as a certain reality Sox fans can see on the field.

First-place team or not, there are flaws which can’t be overlooked. Good enough to win the Central Division as is? Maybe. Good enough to get past the first-round of the playoffs? As Hawk would say, “Stretch!’’

Williams often talks about “being creative,’’ and now it’s time for him to once again show it. That plate he’s passing isn’t filling up anytime soon.

What the Sox can embrace is a one-two punch in the starting rotation that is as good as any other in the division. Yes, every pitch thrown by Jake Peavy and Chris Sale comes with a cringe, a deep breath and an, “OK, he’s not grabbing anything in pain’’ exhale, but after those two there is a big drop off that’s sinking further each week.

Philip Humber was a great story, becoming the 21st pitcher in league history to throw a perfect game, but his next accomplishment should be the first pitcher to pitch a perfect game in April and be in the bullpen by mid-June. Rookie Jose Quintana is just a better pitcher than Humber right now and should be treated as such.

Then there’s Gavin Floyd, who should have been traded yesterday. Floyd hit his ceiling two years ago, and is now just a study in frustration. Hector Santiago and Floyd to the Cubs for free agent-to-be Ryan Dempster and some cash? Done and done.

John Danks has not pitched like an Opening Day starter, but as far as a No. 3, most teams would gladly take him.

Then there’s the elephant in the room that is third base. Williams dropped the ball in not signing Brandon Inge when he cleared waivers, especially because the Sox knew that Brent Morel’s back problems weren’t getting any better, and now it looks like they’re stuck.

The hope is that when Morel does return from his rehab assignment he hits like the guy that went deep eight times last September.

Finally, the Sox want to really win the fans? Win the rest of June and into early July. As good as the Sox have looked the last month of play, there is really only one signature series that screams, “legit contender.’’ That was the sweep in Tampa Bay.

Starting next week, the Sox travel to St. Louis and Los Angeles to play the Dodgers, then close out the Break with four in New York, and a six-game homestand with Texas and Toronto.

If they’re still standing atop the Central at the All-Star Break, Williams shouldn’t have to beg fans to come to The Cell.

No, the fans will have something to truly believe in. Which is all they ever asked for on the South Side.



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