Camp Day 1
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Cold and Wet in Tucson
No one wants to hear about it, but record rains, hail and even snow buffeted Tucson overnight. It was 39 degrees this morning as I drove down from the foothills to camp. I arrived at 6:45 am, hoping to work out before the day started, and there already were two dozen cars in the lot.
Medical physicals led off the day, with our media room converted to a mini MASH triage. Guys received shots and gave blood before moving on to the ortho station. My turn will be on Thursday when Herm Schneider’s doctors do their best to find something else wrong with me.
The Chicago media turned out in force, with all the local television stations attending the first day of camp.
When the clubhouse opened at 8:30 am, Joe Crede — who came in early looking fit after spending the last month working out in Phoenix in preparation for spring training — was first in line to discuss how he felt and his contract status with the club.
With Joe’s comments in hand, the Chicago media approached KW.
"I talked to Joe this morning," said KW, who also connected with Crede for a longer conversation later in the day. "I told him that at this stage, it’s best to just let him go out and get healthy."
Williams was asked about the Sox interest in an extension with Crede last summer.
"We called just to see if they were open to the idea," Williams recalled, saying the conversation with Crede’s representatives came while the team was in Detroit and after Crede had been sidelined with the back injury. "I was told point-blank that he was going to try free agency."
So what are his feelings as camp opens …
"I can’t say right now what the makeup of the club will be," Williams said, jokingly saying he would love to be able to play two third basemen. "This is a good situation. They (Joe and Josh Fields) just need to come in here and compete. I’m in no rush on this."
Ozzie Guillen delivered his annual closed door speech in the clubhouse prior to the 11 am workout. He laughed that he would record it sometime to play for his wife. I wasn’t sure that was such a good idea.
The speeches are classic, and I’ve often thought how great it would be for others to hear them, but then again …
Ozzie’s promise to be more of himself was a topic for discussion, with one interpretation having that mean he would be more outspoken and controversial (I’m not sure how you can be more outspoken, but anyway …).
Ozzie basically repeated his plan to be himself in 2008, and if that meant he offended his players at times (and perhaps others), so be it. He needed to be true to himself.
"He’s a little different," Williams admitted, "but it’s good that he’s a little different."
Williams said he and Ozzie had talked about his approach.
"For me, he’s talking more about the clubhouse and on the bench, having energy and keeping his foot on the pedal," Williams said.
"You try and grow in these jobs, but ultimately, you need to decide who you are. You don’t want to change this guy at his core. That’s the man that I hired. At the same time, we are very much in the public eye and there’s a certain responsibility that goes along with that."
After spending the morning talking about Crede and Guillen, Williams left the media room, saying, "I think we have a good team … by the way."
Guillen and Williams sported Northern Illinois University baseball caps during the day’s workout in memory of the victims and survivors of this week’s on-campus shooting and murders.
"It’s our way of showing support and understanding," said Williams, who mentioned his niece and several friends attended NIU.
"The lines between right and wrong are getting blurred," he stressed, talking about the violence in our society, even in video games targeted at youth.
"Four of my five kids have been to or are in college, and I just can’t imagine getting that phone call."
Guillen also expressed his support for the NIU community, talking about how something like this on a college campus makes everyone and everything seem less secure.
And of course, Ozzie added his own twist as only Ozzie can …
"I have two kids in college … at least I think they’re in college, I pay the bills," he said, "and I can’t even think about something like this happening."
Our prayers continue to be with the NIU community …