Sox Notebook: Richar arrives; heart-to-heart for Contreras; Konerko back in lineup.
White Sox fans have warmed up to Frank Thomas this weekend - the new member of the 500 home run club received a standing ovation Friday - but his feud with Sox general manager Ken Williams shows no signs of a thaw any time soon.
While Thomas and board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf broke the ice with conversations in the last year, Williams said he had no intentions of speaking with the former Sox slugger again.
“I have no relationship with Frank Thomas,” Williams told the Daily Southtown. “There is no reason for me to have one. I have no intention to talk with him now or in the future. I don’t mind if my feelings are on the record.”
Asked to elaborate, Williams said, “I know much more about what went on behind the scenes with Frank here than anyone else. That’s all I have to say. I’ll just leave it at that.”
His future in doubt at the time because of a left ankle injury, Thomas parted ways with the team after the 2005 season. He played for Oakland last year and is now a Toronto Blue Jay.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say there’s good vibes between me and management now, but at least Jerry (Reinsdorf) and I have talked,” Thomas said. “Our relationship is better than what it was a few years ago.”
Thomas believes management should retire his uniform No. 35 eventually.
“Honestly, what kind of question is that?” said Thomas, the franchise’s career leader in home runs, RBI, runs scored, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. “For the way that I played and all I did for the organization, I’m worthy of it. I hope that it happens, but it’s not my call.”
In the meantime, Thomas was grateful for the fan response this weekend.
“It feels like home,” Thomas said. “It’s always nice to come back where you started. I’m very appreciative of the fans here. They’ve been great to me through good and bad times.”
One day after the Tadahito Iguchi trade opened a spot for him, second baseman Danny Richar started his first major league game, batting last in the order.
“I’m ready for this,” said Richar, who hit .346 and reached base in his last 22 games at Triple-A Charlotte. “I love baseball. I’ve played it all my life, and this is my dream. Now I have to make sure that I don’t try too hard but just play my game.”
“I don’t have expectations to see Roberto Alomar and Rickey Henderson and all those things together,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of Richar. “But we’ll see an exciting player, and I look forward to him playing the game the way it should be played and doing what he’s supposed to do.”
Richar stole only four bases in 32 games, but believes he’ll be capable of 40 or more eventually.
“I have to work on that part of my game,” said Richar, considered to be an adept bunter. “I have to learn how to read pitchers and get good jumps, but it will come soon.”
Richar, 24, was promoted on the recommendations of minor league infield instructor Manny Trillo as well as Darin Erstad and Scott Podsednik, who had rehab stints at Charlotte.
“The situation we’re in right now is the optimal position for a young guy to try to break in,” Williams said. “If we were in another mode, I might be forced to fill those needs with a veteran-type guy for a playoff push.”
Convinced Jose Contreras has no physical problems to speak of, Guillen planned to have a heart-to-heart with the pitcher before his next scheduled start. Barring an unlikely trade, Contreras will take a 5-13 record and 6.22 ERA into the game vs. the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
“I want to know how he is mentally,” Guillen said. “He grew up to (be) tough. If you grew up where he grew up, you have to be tough mentally. The problem with Jose is he doesn’t want to be embarrassed and feel like he let people down and let Kenny down. That’s why he has too much stuff in his head.”
Guillen said the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline also may have had an effect on Contreras’ performance.
“It bothers everyone,” Guillen said. “It bothers me, and I won’t get traded.”
First baseman Paul Konerko returned to the lineup but will not start the series finale today. He requested a day off because of a slow bat in recent days.
“This guy plays every day,” Guillen said. “You can almost see that he needs a day off when he walks around. For him to ask me for a break, he never does that. He never likes to come out of the game.”
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