On Jerry Owens:
"Listen, the fact of the matter is this: I have confidence in the players we're bringing back. Obviously, a couple of them had setbacks. But in my opinion, Josh Fields, Jerry Owens - we're talking about those two players in particular. It's very simple - they were battling injuries. I'm not going to hold that against them. I know the type of talent that they have, possess. And I think they're going to be assets to us. It's just that simple.''
On Brian Anderson:
"We can go round and round about this stuff every day. I'm going to keep saying the same thing I've always said - I believe in Brian Anderson. The talent and the ballplayer is there. Now he's got an attitude as such that he gets it now. He's working hard. He had a great attitude last year, and I think performed. I think if he had a full season of at-bats underneath him last year, he'd had hit you 25 home runs and driven in 80-plus runs. On the average side, you guys know I'm less concerned with average than on-base percentage. I'd like to see him cut down on strikeouts and pound the ball to right center a little more. Other than that, we're talking about some talented players that I'm not going to give up on. I believe in that.''
On payroll constraints:
"I think it has a great affect on it. It is what it is. I've used the line before you can't give someone a dollar when you don't have 50 cents. And we're in a position where I don't want to minimize any of the support we get because we've come a long way from where we were in fan support, and the last number of years we've been a top tier payroll team. So it's not a matter of our willingness to spend money. It has to come within a consistency with a plan of winning, that it will help us take the next step. And in this particular point in time, we're in a state where we have to give some of these young players an opportunity, assess where we are, and if there's opportunity, we're in position where we have enough support, we'll take advantage of it when the time is right. Don't worry about that. The aggressiveness has gone anywhere to how we're going to operate.''
Owens was acquired in 2005 with the purpose of replacing Scott Podsednik at the top of the order. He became a forgotten guy in 2008 when a series of groin injuries during Spring Training zapped his season before it began. Williams still remembers Owens’ capabilities, on display when he hit .267 with 32 stolen bases over 93 games in 2007.
“I’m not so quick to forget guys who have a lot of potential but fall off for whatever reason,” Williams said. “We made a pretty good living by taking advantage of those situations. If I didn’t say the name and said we could acquire the guy who would hit .275, run the ball down in the outfield and steal you 40 bases, he might not be a .350 on-base guy but .335 or .340, you would be pretty happy.”
Getz, a more prototypical No. 2 hitter, also is in play as a leadoff candidate, as is Lillibridge. In fact, if Lillibridge was coming off a better year than his rough 2008 showing, Williams believes that he could be immediately labeled as the prime leadoff contender.
Fans or various media members might want Williams to look for a more accomplished name to hit atop the White Sox order. But accomplished leadoff men are hard to find in the game from the outset, and Williams likes his options as much as or better than the veterans who are available.