GLENDALE, Ariz. _ Watching the White Sox play the Angels at Camelback Ranch Monday night and thinking I'll be at U.S. Cellular Field in a week for Opening Day vs. the Indians.
I'm sticking to my pick _ the Sox edge the Joe Nathan-less Twins in the AL Central and go to the playoffs for the third time in six years under Ozzie.
It's not going to be easy, but I still say the White Sox' huge edge in pitching wins them the flag.
Camp is winding down _ the White Sox head for an exhibition game vs. Class AAA Charlotte at the crack of dawn on Thursday. Here are some of my likes and dislikes from spring training:
Like: Scouts during spring training. They're always around, but they seem to be more relaxed, and talkative, in March.
Here is what one respected scout told me the other day about Jake Peavy, who threw all fastballs during a Cactus League loss vs. the Royals last week:
“He lost confidence in his fastball when he was with the Padres last year. He was just throwing sliders and cutters. They're both great pitches and he gets a lot of movement with them. But he's got to get the fastball back.”
Dislike: All of the twitter stuff this spring. Maybe that's because I just don't get twitter in the first place.
Like: Andruw Jones emerging from the scrapheap and playing a lot like the superstar he was with the Braves a decade ago. This guy is motivated and if he lets off the gas, Ozzie knows how to get his foot back on the pedal.
Dislike: Mark Teahen's throwing arm at third base. Maybe he's just working out some kinks, but Teahen got the ball across the diamond a lot better when he was with Kansas City.
Like: Don Cooper's rabid optimism about the pitching staff. Here is what Coop told me before Monday night's game: “I believe in my heart, if our pitching staff stays healthy we're going to be good. And if we get hot, watch out.”
Dislike: Hitting coach Greg Walker again being set up to take the fall if the Sox don't hit this season.
You won't find a harder worker, or better guy, in baseball than Walk.
Like: Mark Kotsay. Just a class act, and a darn good old-school baseball player.
Dislike: Spring training night games.
Like: Sergio Santos admitting he was on a competitive dance team in junior high school, performing under the name of Mr. Wizard. Of course, Santos' little secret was exposed by Teahen.
Dislike: Seeing my last spring training game in Tucson Saturday. Can't believe there won't by anymore baseball in the Old Pueblo next year.