Williams would like to hear from Uribe

Williams would like to hear from Uribe

Kenny Williams had nothing new to report on the troublesome legal situation involving Juan Uribe in the Dominican Republic.

He would have liked to explain how Uribe's comments Friday concerning the possibility of him sitting out the 2007 season might have been taken out of context. The White Sox general manager also would have liked to confirm Uribe's about-face in an article posted Saturday on ESPN.com, in which Uribe expressed confidence in his situation clearing up soon and his desire to report to Spring Training on time on Feb. 22.

But as of late Saturday night, Williams had tried to reach out to Uribe and had been unable to connect with him. One point where Williams left absolutely no doubt is the direction the White Sox would move if the Uribe legal issue remains murky.

"Very simply, if it turns out he is in more trouble than we originally thought, decides not to report, or is distracted and can't play at a championship level, Alex will take his job," Williams said via e-mail Saturday night.

Of course, the Alex referred to in Williams' text is Alex Cintron, recently signed to a one-year, $1.9 million deal that avoided arbitration with the White Sox. Cintron played in 91 games last year and started 64, but his versatility was his true value. The switch-hitter made 35 starts at shortstop, 23 at second base and six behind Joe Crede at third base. For his career, Cintron has started 286 games at shortstop, 74 at second base and 39 at third base.

Cintron received everyday playing time during two seasons with Arizona, hitting .317 with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs over 448 at-bats in 2003 and then dipping to .262 with four home runs and 49 RBIs over 564 at-bats the following year. Cintron came to the White Sox last Spring Training in exchange for reliever Jeff Bajenaru.

On Friday, Cintron looked to possibly be in play, along with rookie Andy Gonzalez in a potential utility role, when the Associated Press quoted Uribe as saying, "I am going to decide if I am playing in the Major Leagues or not this year." The basic gist of the quote seemed to indicate Uribe wanted to get his final legal matters straightened out before moving on to baseball.

The case involves Uribe, his brother and a friend, who were all questioned following a shooting that took place Oct. 13 that wounded a Dominican farmer in the city of Juan Baron. Antonio Gonzalez Perez, the farmer in question, claims Uribe pulled out a pistol and began to fire after a dispute. An Italian naval officer assigned to the base in The Kettles, Bani, Uribe's hometown, also was shot but elected not to file charges.

District Attorney Robert Lugo said in November that he had no evidence Uribe was involved, but a judge decided to move forth with the case last month. Per Friday's order, Uribe, who has claimed innocence from the very start of this case, must appear in Dominican court on the 15th and 30th of every month until the case is resolved. A defense motion to prevent the baseball player from leaving the country was denied, although Uribe said Friday the case was likely to force him to miss the start of Spring Training.

Uribe's point of view seemed to change drastically in the course of 24 hours.

"I'm confident that this will clear up soon and will not affect my plans to be on time to the Sox camp from day one," Uribe told ESPNdeportes.com from his home in the Dominican Republic. "I'm innocent and I will prove that in court.

"I hope that this can be solved very soon to [clear] my name, and my family can relax," Uribe added.

Monday stands as a big day for Uribe, according to his explanation in the article, in that the accuser is going to present the alleged witnesses against the White Sox shortstop. Uribe claimed nobody could testify against him because he is innocent and was at home with his father at the time of the shooting.

"There are a bunch of people that can corroborate my version. Nobody saw me [at] that place during the shooting," Uribe said. "Better yet, the Dominican police found out that my gun was not discharged, and the parafin tests on me were also negative."

Williams has been in Uribe's corner both during the case and in regard to Uribe as a player, even after a slip in production for Uribe during the 2006 campaign. Uribe was quoted Saturday as saying the White Sox knew all about the case.

But through his e-mail, Williams appears to be in need of a bit more information.

"Now would be a good time to reach out to me," Williams said in his e-mail.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.