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With home runs, Rios’ bat is doing the talking

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



GLENDALE, Ariz. — When an upbeat Alex Rios proclaimed the White Sox were “the team to beat” in the American League Central on his first day in camp, nobody made a big deal about it, although Rios said he heard some comments in the clubhouse about his bravado.

Talk is cheap; let your game do the talking was the general sentiment.

Rios is backing it up. He hit his second and third home runs of the spring, including a tape-measure blast in the Sox’ split-squad game against the Cleveland Indians that ended 16-16. Rios drove in five runs.

“I’m glad he believes that,’’ catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “You’ll never hear me say that. We have as good a chance as anybody. That’s how it is.’’

Pierzynski’s cautionary tone stems from the Sox’ 5-13 record against the AL Central champion Twins last season.

“I always think you should err on the side of caution’’ when it comes to talk, Pierzynski said. “It’s good to have expectations, good to have people saying you should win because that means you have a chance. But once the season begins, that all goes out the window. Minnesota is the team to beat because they won it last year.’’

Tough pitch to handle

Manager Ozzie Guillen caught one of the ceremonial first pitches from 11-year-old Dallas Green before the Sox’ game against the Diamondbacks in Tucson. Proceeds for the game went to the memorial fund for Green’s 9-year-old sister, Christina-Taylor Green, who was killed in a shooting tragedy.

“Well, I’m not the kind of guy who chokes up too often,” Guillen said. “I talked to him early before we went to the field about it. It was kind of, I got tears in my eyes when those kids come up and shake my hands. I’m the father of three kids. I know, you can’t put yourself in his shoes because you don’t know how to react.”

Notes

Mark Teahen committed his third and fourth throwing errors, further cementing rookie Brent Morel’s grip on the starting third- base job.

◆ Prized outfield prospect Jared Mitchell, who’s not in major-league camp, suited up and lined an RBI single in the eighth against the Indians. The 2009 first-round pick is on the comeback trail from an ankle injury.

◆ In a game featuring 39 hits, Sox farmhand Brandon Hynick struck out all three Indians he faced. Hynick, who came from the Rockies in the Jose Contreras trade in 2009, has four strikeouts in two innings without giving up a hit.

◆ Starter Lucas Harrell, who came to camp with his best chance of making an Opening Day roster, gave up hits to five of the first six hitters he faced, including a homer by Nick Weglarz. He failed to finish the second, allowing eight hits, including two homers.

◆ On the 40th anniversary of his first fight with Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali will visit the clubhouse this morning to promote his charity, Athletes For Hope. AFH works to educate pro athletes about philanthropy, connect them with charitable causes and inspire others to get involved in the community. Its focus is on athletes’ time, not their money.



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