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White Sox Spring Training Fan Giude

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  • White Sox Spring Training Fan Giude

    Fan Guide: Chicago White Sox
    Tucson Electric Park, Tucson, Ariz.
    By Scott Merkin /

    Since 1998, when the White Sox moved their Spring Training base from Sarasota, Fla., to Tucson, the team has arrived out west with just one American League Central title in hand, that after the 2000 campaign. Winning the franchise's first World Series title since 1917 this past season should turn the White Sox into one of the hottest tickets in Arizona come this March.

    While a championship team now will be on display, a few of the familiar faces have moved on to other organizations. Frank Thomas, the centerpiece of the franchise for close to two decades, no longer is with the team, while popular center fielder Aaron Rowand was moved to Philadelphia in an offseason trade.

    But fans still can watch mainstays such as slugging first baseman Paul Konerko, third baseman Joe Crede and catcher A.J. Pierzynski, not to mention newcomers such as Jim Thome and Rob Mackowiak. Manager Ozzie Guillen also makes liberal use of his young players, meaning Minor League standouts such as outfielder Ryan Sweeney and third baseman Josh Fields also will be on display.

    In Guillen's second year as manager, the White Sox finished one win short of equaling the club record for victories with 99. They followed up that effort with 11 wins in 12 post-season games, sweeping the Astros for the World Series title. The White Sox enter 2006 with 16 wins in their last 17 games and are coming off of a 14-18 Cactus League record with an overall home attendance of 76,874 over 15 games in 2005.

    As White Sox fans continue the celebration of their championship and prepare for the 2006 effort to repeat, here are some questions and answers that should help:

    When do the White Sox arrive at camp?
    White Sox pitchers are scheduled to report on Fri., Feb. 17, with the first workout coming on Saturday. Thome also has been cleared by Major League Baseball to report early with the pitchers. Position players report on Wed., Feb. 22, with the first full-team workout on Thurs., Feb. 23.

    When do games start?
    The first game of Cactus League action begins with the White Sox playing host to Colorado at Tucson Electric Park on March 1 at 1:05 p.m. MT. The team's only split-squad action of the spring takes place the following day, with half the team at Hi Corbett Field to play the Rockies and the other half at home against the Diamondbacks. Guillen's crew only has nine games out of the Tucson area, including a stop at HoHoKam Park on Mon., March 27. The White Sox play host to the Cubs on Sat., March 18.

    How do I get tickets?
    Tickets for White Sox Cactus League contests went on sale on Jan. 14, and they can be purchased at the Tucson Electric Park box office, by calling (520) 434-1111 or (866) 672-1343 (toll free), by mail order to the TEP box office or online at

    Tucson Electric Park has a capacity of 11,500, including 3,000 lawn seats in the outfield, and a great view of the Catalina Mountains. There also are 3,800 parking spots on site, and the complex is conveniently located near Tucson International Airport. The concession stands feature various options, from pizza to Mexican food.

    Where is Tucson, and how do I get there?
    If you are flying in from Chicago, Tucson Electric Park actually is located just 10 minutes away from Tucson International Airport. There are plenty of non-stop flights from Chicago to Tucson, on airlines varying from American to Southwest, departing out of both O'Hare and Midway. The flight covers about four hours, picking up one hour on the trip out West. Flights also exist with stopovers in Las Vegas, for those who are interested.

    Another option is to fly into Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport and then make the 90-minute to two-hour drive into Tucson, depending on the traffic. To get to Tucson Electric Park, stay on I-10 and exit at Ajo Parkway. The complex, which is shared by the White Sox and the Diamondbacks, is located just minutes off the highway. Ample parking is available outside the ballpark.

    How can I watch the team work out?
    Most of the White Sox pre-Cactus League workouts start at 9 a.m. and last until about 12:30 or 1 p.m. Guillen's philosophy is to get his team in and out very quickly, taking care of business but not wasting any time. The workouts take place on the Minor League fields behind the White Sox facility at the Kino Sports Complex, and fans can get very close to the field, although they're separated by a guard rope.

    Workouts are free, but once the games begin, they are generally limited to Minor League participants. These back fields also are the location for "B" Games, which feature a combination of Minor Leaguers and veterans the team wants to get a little extra action outside of the Cactus League games. These "B" Games usually take place in the morning.

    Where can I get some autographs?
    The best way to get autographs before Cactus League play begins is get the players' attention before they actually leave the back fields. Remember to be polite and do a little homework of your own beforehand. Screaming out, "Hey, No. 24. Can I have your autograph?" won't get quite the same response as calling Joe Crede by name.

    Once the games begin, there is a walkway between the White Sox complex and Tucson Electric Park where the players exit after they are done for the day. There's a fence separating the fans from the players, but you can still squeeze a baseball or a baseball card or two through the openings.

    What else is there to do in Tucson?
    Tucson is a very picturesque area, offering wide-ranging entertainment options to satisfy even the pickiest of fans. There are high-end steakhouses, such as McMahon's on Swan, and there are great sports bars/restaurants such as Fox and Hound and Risky Business, which are prime locations to watch NCAA Tournament games.

    There is plenty of good shopping in this college town, which features the University of Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico, is just a short one-hour trip from Tucson. There are even some casinos -- the Desert Diamond, Casino Del Sol and Casino of the Sun -- for those who want to play a few hands of blackjack in between White Sox games.

    For more information on Tucson, visit the city's convention and visitors bureau's web site.:

    When do the White Sox open the regular season?
    It seems only fitting that the defending World Series champion plays the first game of the 2006 regular season, as the White Sox host their chief American League Central competitors from Cleveland on Sun., April 2, at 7:05 p.m. The ring ceremony will take place on Tues., April 4, at 1:05 p.m., prior to the team's first day game.

    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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