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Notes: Ozuna returns after broken leg

Notes: Ozuna returns after leg break

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Pablo Ozuna sat bare-chested at his locker stall Sunday. He'd just finished his pregame routine, and like his White Sox teammates, Ozuna was waiting for the Cactus League game to begin.

After days and days of drills, Ozuna was looking forward to playing, which is a much better option for a ballplayer to look forward to than whether he can play at all.

For the 33-year-old Ozuna, who went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored in Sunday's game against the D-backs, that's not much of a question anymore. But for a while, he didn't know for certain how he'd be as he thought about what happened to him May 27, 2007.

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Trying to leg out a double, Ozuna slid safely into second base. It was the last time he'd play that season.

On the play, he fractured a bone in his right leg and tore ligaments in his right ankle. Two days later, he had season-ending surgery. He's been trying to recover ever since.

He has.

"I don't think about the injury," said Ozuna, who played 24 games in the Dominican Winter League this offseason. "I think about 2008. I think about my numbers."

The White Sox should give Ozuna, the quintessential utility player, plenty of chances to put up good numbers. His versatility lets manager Ozzie Guillen shuffle him into various roles either at third, short and second to left field and DH.

To Ozuna, it doesn't matter where.

"[If] they give me an opportunity to play every day, I'll be happy for it," he said. "I just want to play; I don't care what position."

Sox success: The baseball experts predict the Tigers and the Indians will be the teams to beat in the American League Central, and Guillen can see why the "experts" might think so. The Tigers and Indians do have good ballclubs, he said.

But so do the White Sox, Guillen insisted.

Nobody knows this ballclub better than he does, he said. Nobody can see the talent he, along with general manager Kenny Williams, has assembled any better than he does, Guillen said.

Sure, the team has decisions to make about a position or two between now and Opening Day, but Guillen likes his ballclub a lot, regardless of who wins whatever position.

"Everybody talks about everybody's lineup, and all of a sudden, they're not talking about our lineup," Guillen said. "But if you see this team that Kenny put together, from the top to the bottom, it's pretty scary."

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Crede watch: A lot of eyes are on Joe Crede, a free agent at season's end. Several ballclubs have shown an interest in Crede, who might be a spare piece that Williams can deal for help elsewhere.

The emergence of Josh Fields at third base last season makes such a trade thinkable, even if it means sending a man who has been so identified with the White Sox somewhere else.

But that's part of baseball, Guillen said.

"I was with this organization for 14 years, and they kicked my butt out of here, and I was better than him," Guillen said.

He was joking, of course. Guillen has too much respect for Crede -- who's trying to recover from back surgery -- and what he's meant to the White Sox to not acknowledge just how good Crede still is.

But sometimes a change has to be made. The past can't trump the present, and Fields seems more the present, various reports about the White Sox say.

"He knows what Chicago is, and he feels like a Chicago guy," Guillen said of Crede. "I told him, 'Don't worry anything about it. Everything you hear out there, and you read out there, don't let it bother you.

"'Let Kenny Williams and myself and whoever is involved do their job, and you do yours.'"

Did you know: Since 2004, Paul Konerko is tied with Andruw Jones for fifth in the Majors for most home runs. Konerko and Jones have totaled 147 home runs. David Ortiz sits atop the list with 177.

Around the horn: When the White Sox and Diamondbacks played on Sunday in Hermosillo, Mexico, it was the first time Major League teams have played there since the Diamondbacks and the Royals met each other on March 16, 2003. The last time the Sox played an exhibition game outside the United States came in 1989, when they met the Rangers in the Roberto Clemente Series in Puerto Rico. ... Minor League prospect Wes Whisler struggled Sunday. The 24-year-old left-hander took over for Javier Vazquez with one out in the third and gave up four runs in 1 2/3 innings. ... The White Sox-Diamondbacks game drew 7,361 fans to Tucson Electric Park.

Up next: The White Sox travel to Surprise, Ariz., on Monday to take on the Royals. Left-hander John Danks will start, and Danks will face Royals left-hander John Bale in a game set for 2:05 p.m. CT.

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

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