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Paulie Named Captain

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  • Paulie Named Captain

    Notes: Paulie warms to 'C'
    Konerko could accept captain role; Sox arms feel strong
    By Scott Merkin /

    CHICAGO -- The great White Sox captain's debate officially was put to rest Saturday morning, when Paul Konerko announced he officially would wear the "C" on his No. 14 jersey in 2006.

    Konerko's statement came as a response to a fan's question during a session focused on World Series memories, involving the White Sox first baseman, Joe Crede and Jon Garland, during the sold-out SoxFest festivities at the Hyatt Regency. The fan implored Konerko to accept the captain's role, stating that the "C" stood for all of the White Sox fans in the city.

    "I thought this question might come up," said Konerko with a smile. "It wasn't that I was against it or that I didn't think I deserved it. I just thought maybe it didn't have a place in baseball, in general.

    "It seemed kind of like a hockey thing," Konerko elaborated.

    With or without the official designation, Konerko is the White Sox leader. He is an unassuming superstar who doesn't exactly crave the spotlight, as evidenced by his humble reaction to the weekend standing ovations and constant chanting of his name by the fans. But he is the player who sets the tone for the team, both on and off the field.

    Manager Ozzie Guillen made it clear on Friday that he was not changing his mind, and Konerko would be the team captain in the upcoming season. Guillen made his thought process clear to Konerko during an informal chat later that evening.

    "It's Ozzie's team, and he will probably manage this team long after we are done playing for it," Konerko said. "He wants to start a tradition now, so I just happened to be the first guy he wants to wear it, and there will be guys after me.

    "When I heard it said in that context, I was like, 'Okay. It's his team and he can do what he wants.' If he wants me to wear it, I'm honored to wear it."

    The prolific slugger joked earlier this week that becoming a captain certainly won't mean he has to talk with officials on the field after a penalty, as often happens in hockey. He does understand the "C" will be a new source of derisive humor for his teammates during the upcoming campaign.

    "Basically, what it does is, for six months, it gives these guys one more thing to get on me about," Konerko joked. "I'll hear about this every single day. They will wear me out."

    Strong armed: Jon Garland threw a career-high 221 innings in 2005, not factoring in his All-Star appearance and postseason starts. But the right-hander, who recently agreed to a three-year deal to stay with the White Sox, said his arm feels the same as it has every other year he has pitched.

    "I'm right where I'm supposed to be," Garland said. "My arm and body feels good."

    The wear and tear placed on the White Sox pitching staff, especially the starters, has been a primary topic of conversation at SoxFest -- especially with sixth starter Brandon McCarthy in attendance. General manager Ken Williams reiterated Saturday that McCarthy not only could begin the season in the bullpen, but may also be used as a spot starter if one of the front five needs a break.

    Garland mentioned that he could have thrown a few more games at the end of the 2005 campaign if needed, although he didn't know if those efforts would have been of the spectacular variety. All pitchers go through dead-arm periods, according to Garland, including Mark Buehrle, whose comments during the World Series that he was having some arm soreness set off a slight wave of concern during the offseason.

    But Garland said Friday that his friend and teammate would be more than ready for 2006, without any restrictions.

    "I talked to him and he's not hurt. He's Mark. He will do his thing," Garland said of Buehrle. "It happens. You get tired. You play 162 games, 30 in Spring Training, and then the playoffs.

    "You are throwing every day, so you will get tired. It's going to happen."

    So long, farewell: Cleveland's trade of Coco Crisp to Boston has at least one major supporter in Guillen, who is glad to have the talented switch-hitter out of the American League Central.

    "I was quietly looking for that deal," said Guillen of Crisp, who has a .289 average with six home runs and 20 RBIs against the White Sox over the past three years. "Coco gives me one of the biggest headaches in our division.

    "[The Indians] bring in good players [in the trades]. But to have one of those guys who murder the White Sox in the past, it's nice to not see him over there."

    Familiar face: Although Darrin Jackson was not around for the White Sox drive to the World Series title, he certainly was paying close attention to the team's 11-1 postseason run.

    "I got to sit back and watch and enjoy the games like a fan," said Jackson, who returns as the team's television analyst for 2006. "I could not remember ever seeing so dominating of a performance in the World Series before. It was just fun to watch."

    Around the horn: Neither Guillen nor Jermaine Dye will take part in the final day of SoxFest, as they are traveling to New York for the Baseball Writers' Dinner. Guillen will be honored as Manager of the Year, while Dye will be recognized for winning the World Series Most Valuable Player. Both Roland Hemond and former White Sox hurler Orlando 'El Duque' Hernandez also are being recognized. "It's another part of my current caravan," said Guillen of his busy offseason. "But it's another nice trophy for this year. ... The World Series trophy made a stop at the Bulls game Saturday night, joined by a number of members of the organization, including Konerko, Crede and Garland. ... The White Sox sold $94,000 worth of merchandise through their garage sale Friday night alone, with all money going to White Sox Charities. Their total for the entire 2005 SoxFest checked in at $85,000.

    Scott Merkin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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