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White Sox’ brutal season weighing on Williams

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Updated: August 14, 2013 12:10AM



If you think watching the 2013 White Sox has taken something out of your hide, get in line behind executive vice president Ken Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

Williams knows Reinsdorf hates to lose, so he has made a point of keeping his distance from him, although they did stay out late
recently sharing each other’s pain.

‘‘How has Jerry dealt with it? He’s not a happy man,’’ Williams said before the Sox’ 4-3, 11-inning victory Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers at U.S. Cellular Field. ‘‘He’s as competitive as they come. We all are, and there are times where neither one of us can stand to be around each other, and there are times where we’ll go sit near where we live and smoke a couple of
cigars, like we did two weeks ago until 1:30 in the morning. They closed down the park on us we were out there so long, lamenting what has transpired.’’

In his first year upstairs in the front office after his assistant, Rick Hahn, took the general manager’s job, Williams met with the
media in the Sox’ dugout before the game against the Tigers.

Williams shares Hahn’s view that the future isn’t bleak because of the Sox’ pitching — the only thing that softens the blow of this horrendous season.

‘‘You know, it’s been difficult. It’s been difficult,’’ said Williams, whose team trails the Tigers by 23 games in the American League Central. ‘‘We haven’t had one of these seasons . . . as bad as 2007 was, it wasn’t like this.’’

Grinders and fighters always have had a place on Williams’ teams, and he hasn’t seen enough of them to satisfy. If asked, he’ll advise Hahn to toughen up the roster.

‘‘You’ve got to have an edge about you as a team and a grind about
you that is relentless,’’ he said. ‘‘I have not seen that.

‘‘You need a few guys in your dugout that are going to push. They may not be the most popular guy around, but they’ll push some of the other guys or they’ll keep it light. Some guys you have to have around to keep it light, so that when you do struggle, there isn’t a panic situation.’’

Asked how active the Sox will be in free agency during the offseason, Williams said, ‘‘If there’s somebody out there that fits that bill, that fits in with a younger core for an
extended period of time, why not?’’

He has seen video of slugging 26-year-old first baseman Jose Abreu, the next big thing in the Cuban defector sweepstakes, who will demand a huge contract. Too big for the Sox? They’ve cut payroll significantly with recent trades. While saying he wants to see more video, Williams didn’t rule out Abreu, who probably will get at least $50 million.

‘‘If it’s big money, it’s big money,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Can we fit it into our equation? We’ve gone out and spent money before at given times. It has to fit into the current equation and our three-year look. But I need to see more video.’’

Other highlights:

† Williams wants more left-handed hitting, preferably a line-drive hitter ‘‘who can hit some doubles and get on base. We have to figure out a way to get an on-base percentage in the .350 range if we’re going to be a playoff team.’’

† It’s ‘‘too early to tell’’ what the lineup will look like next season.

‘‘What we’re looking at now is who is going to deserve from this group to be asked back,’’ Williams said. ‘‘Because this is not White Sox baseball in no way, shape or form.’’

† Williams said he’s healthier away from the GM job but finds himself tempted to be more than a sounding board with Hahn.

‘‘I’ve purposely tried to give as much breathing room as possible to everyone and just be there in a supporting role, but it’s difficult,’’ he said.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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