Notes: Sox in control of Crede's future
Guillen mandates better conditioning; Ozuna avoids arbitration
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Surrounded by 150 to 200 media members, depending on the precise moment, Scott Boras held court Tuesday night in the lobby of the Swan and Dolphin Resort on the Disney World grounds.
Boras fielded questions regarding players he represented ranging from J.D. Drew to Daisuke Matsuzaka and back to Barry Zito. Actually, there were quite a few questions relating to the talented left-handed starter.
But when Boras was asked about a contract extension for Joe Crede, his remaining White Sox client, and recent comments from general manager Ken Williams indicating a multi-year deal wasn't in the offing for Crede because of the current condition of the market, Boras chose to take a diplomatic route in response.
"When a club has control over a player for a couple of more years, I don't find that unusual," said Boras of Williams' current approach to a long-term deal for Crede, who becomes a free agent after the 2008 campaign. "It's not something that most of my clients do explore."
Crede, the AL Silver Slugger winner at third base and a Gold Glove-caliber defensive player, joins Alex Cintron and Mike MacDougal as the only three remaining arbitration-eligible players on the White Sox roster. Despite persistent rumors concerning Crede's impending movement in the weeks leading up to the Winter Meetings, his name has hardly been mentioned since they began on Monday.
Manager Ozzie Guillen did bring up Crede and his continued rise as one of the AL's true impact players Tuesday, in response to questions regarding the possible acquisition of Alex Rodriguez from the Yankees.
"We have a pretty good third baseman, a real good one, and this kid has got a great future," said Guillen of Crede.
Whether Crede's future develops in Chicago seems to rest currently in the hands of the White Sox, at least according to Boras' point of view on Tuesday.
"I know Joe enjoys playing in Chicago. It's a very fine franchise," Boras said. "He likes his manager. He likes his teammates. Obviously, we follow the direction of what Kenny or [chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] want to do with the players.
"If they want to talk about [an extension], we are willing to. If they don't, we understand the rules of the game and go forward. We are fine."
Shape of things to come: During his interview session with the media Tuesday, Guillen stressed improved conditioning for pitchers such as Mark Buehrle and Freddy Garcia and shortstop Juan Uribe. Guillen directly stated how he wanted Uribe to lose some weight, as he looked slow as he got bigger at the end of last year.
"They'd better be in shape," Guillen said. "I think the older you get, the harder it is to pitch or play this game. Guys have to understand that. You cannot pitch with ability anymore; you cannot pitch with what God gives you.
"Late in the season, Buehrle started to work out a little bit better. Freddy always works out. He's a big man. But Freddy is pretty good in his habits about working out."
With the money being thrown at starting pitchers, Guillen pointed out a pitcher who takes care of himself could make an extra "six, seven or eight million dollars." Williams reiterated how all of his pitchers will benefit from the extra rest brought about by missing the postseason, but he also believes a pitcher such as Buehrle will have a great deal of extra motivation in the last year of his contract.
"Buehrle might be picking up a weight or two this offseason," said Williams with a smile. "He might jog down by the hunting tree or by the hunting lodge a couple of times here or there.
"He hasn't been our most vigorous worker over the years, but he hasn't had to. Now, he's at the stage where he might see a little more value in that."
Sign on the dotted line: Pablo Ozuna and the White Sox avoided arbitration when the super-sub agreed Tuesday to a one-year, $800,000 contract. The White Sox love the versatility brought into play by Ozuna, in both the outfield and the infield, but Guillen doesn't see him in a possible leadoff platoon if Scott Podsednik's struggles continue.
"Our bench is stronger having Ozuna there, and I [don't] think we're going to change anything about it," Guillen said. "We've got to continue the same way."
Guillen added that Rob Mackowiak will not be used at all in center field during the 2007 season, instead reverting back to the utility role originally designed for him. Brian Anderson currently would receive the bulk of playing time in center, with Guillen preaching patience with the second-year player's development.
"We had the same situation with Neal Cotts, the same situation with Jon Garland, the same situation with Crede," Guillen said. "I think he has a chance to be one of those Credes and Garlands, and we have to be patient."
Meeting musings: Guillen confirmed that Mark Salas will take over for Man Soo Lee as White Sox bullpen catcher. Salas played for the White Sox in 1988. ... Williams made what he termed as his final comments Tuesday on the weeklong Brandon McCarthy mini-controversy. Sending McCarthy back to Triple-A Charlotte if no trade is made with a current starting pitcher has more to do with McCarthy's development and nothing to do with Williams' feelings about McCarthy as a pitcher or his Major League readiness.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.