CHICAGO -- Aaron Rowand has returned to the White Sox almost 10 years to the day that he was traded with pitcher Gio Gonzalez to the Phillies in a 2005 deal to acquire Jim Thome.
Actually, the center fielder from the '05 World Series champions and the gritty fan favorite who embodied the spirit of the popular Grinder Rules officially came back Monday when he was announced as the organization's new Minor League outfield and baserunning instructor. But after an 11-year-career that included another championship with the Giants, Rowand frequently has been associated with the South Siders.
Rowand was a guest instructor during Spring Training in 2015 and filled in for Steve Stone as the television analyst during a three-game set in Oakland last season. Rowand also stood as a major entertainment component during the team's 10-year-reunion celebration of the 11-1 World Series run.
Coaching is a passion for Rowand, who has worked with his son's Las Vegas Aces youth baseball program and even brought players from the program to White Sox Spring Training as a stop in between tournament action in Arizona. This new job allows Rowand to balance his love for baseball and his family, giving up playing after '11 so he could spend increased quality time with his daughter, who will enter high school next year, and his son, who will enter sixth grade.
"To be given the opportunity to go out and do what I really love doing, which is coaching, and also have the opportunity to still spend some time at home with my son, who is going through his baseball stuff right now at 11 years old, it's a blessing," said Rowand, who hit .283 with 54 homers and 255 runs scored over 579 games covering five years with the White Sox. "When this job came up and I was able to kind of be doing what I really enjoy doing in coaching and being around baseball, and also being able to do the father thing and be home during the season half the time, there's really not a better job in baseball than that."
Rowand replaced Doug Sisson, who left the organization after this past season and is now coaching baseball at Auburn. Rowand potentially envisions more full-time coaching duties when his kids get older, but this current job entails overseeing these two disciplines from big league Spring Training to Minor League camp to visiting the Minor League affiliates in-season to Instructional League in Arizona. Rowand praised the instructors he had from college through Gary Pettis, who was a mentor to him within the organization. Rowand is excited to pass on the information learned from those men, with communication being a key in teaching.
"As most of you know, I don't have much of a problem with that," said Rowand with a laugh. "If you can't relate and communicate to who you're trying to coach, it doesn't matter how much knowledge you have. You're not going to be a very good coach."
"White Sox fans have always reserved a special place for Aaron because of his all-out style of play and love for the game," White Sox director of player development Nick Capra said in a release. "So this is a great fit on many levels."