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Ken Williams: White Sox must execute fundamentals to compete

Sox General Manager Kenny Williams has chwith Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry before Cross Town Classic series pitting Chicago Cubs

Sox General Manager Kenny Williams has a chat with Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry before the Cross Town Classic series pitting the Chicago Cubs at the Chicago White Sox Monday June 20, 2011 at US Cellular Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 24, 2011 12:23AM



Here’s the thing about the long ball: Like good shooting in basketball, it can cover up a multitude of sins.

Before his team was beaten 6-3 by the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night, general manager Ken Williams called his White Sox out for lack of execution, including allowing too many stolen bases, ­hitting into too many double plays and not scoring runners from third with fewer than two outs.

The Sox then went out and gave up a stolen base on a pitchout and watched No. 3 hitter Carlos Quentin pop out to short right field with a runner on third and one out. Alex Rios hit into his 11th double play, an inning-ender in the fourth.

“When you’re fighting tooth and nail for every ballgame, those little things become very glaring,’’ Williams said.

Paul Konerko hit his fourth homer in four days in the first inning, a two-run shot that give the Sox a 3-0 lead. But starter Gavin Floyd (6-7) gave up homers to Starlin Castro and Carlos Pena and couldn’t hold the lead, and the Sox were handcuffed by Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano for the next seven innings before 36,005 — the smallest crowd to witness a Cubs-Sox interleague game.

Ozzie Guillen, who was ejected for the 27th time in his career in the sixth inning, touched on the same subject of fundamentals last week.

“With runners on first and third and less than two outs, we didn’t do the job,’’ Guillen said Monday.

“I started some runners because we hit too many ground balls that turn into double plays. I try to do something about it.’’

Williams chimed in.

‘‘Listen, if you’re going to play championship baseball, you have to be fundamentally sound,’’ he said. “You have to catch the ball, you have to execute. The double plays, the pickoff plays . . . the running game has to be slowed, certainly to a greater degree. We have to get runners in with less than two outs at a greater clip.’’

The Sox were better in wins against Arizona over the weekend. Then they relapsed.

“There are a number of things,’’ Williams said.

Offensively, the problems are more involved than Rios and Adam Dunn having subpar years, said ­Williams, who watched Dunn strike out three times before flying out to the warning track in right.

“We have to play fundamentally better baseball,” Williams said.

And if they don’t, Williams might as well find a way to make room for Dayan Viciedo, who has impressed with his big bat and improved defense in right field with Class AAA Charlotte.

“I admire the focus, hard work and the thought that he knows he’s put himself in a position where he’s ready and going to be a major contributor,’’ Williams said, “but also in keeping his focus on the job at hand and keeping his head and a-- in Charlotte vs. having his head in ­Chicago. And that’s not easy to do all the time. I admire him for that.

“But right now we’re going to hold tight. Ozzie likes the team he’s ­running out there every day. If it turns out he wants a little more ­offense and change up the mix a little bit, we know we can tap into him at a moment’s notice. And he knows he can get him at a moment’s notice if he wants to change up the mix.”

A large part of the fan base would like to see Juan Pierre, who followed a two-hit day Sunday with a 1-for-5 and run scored, replaced at a ­moment’s notice with Quentin in left and Viciedo in right.

Because of the Sox’ commitment with a $127 million payroll, the only upgrades would come from trades in which salary isn’t added or from the minor leagues, Williams said.

“To a large degree, we got what we got,’’ Williams said. “We went out and tried to make us as strong as we possibly could to start the season off in a better way than what we have. And we hoped that would result in better play, thereby better support to give us more flexibility.

“But the fact of the matter is, if the deadline were today, we just don’t have the wherewithal to go out and do anything.’’



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