New season gives Dye, Sox fresh start

New season gives Dye, Sox fresh start

CLEVELAND -- When a player turns in the best season of his already stellar career, let's say a .315 average with 44 home runs and 120 RBIs as Jermaine Dye produced in 2006, it would be easy for him to rely on said success for years to come.

That year, though, was as quickly forgotten by the White Sox right fielder as was his dismal 2007 first half, which led to a subpar .254 showing. For Dye, once a season comes to a close, good or bad, it's time to move forward.

The White Sox would do well to adopt this same sort of attitude, following last year's 72-90 debacle.

"Basically, you have to look toward the future and continue to get better," Dye said.

"You don't win divisions in the paper. You win because you play good," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen added. "We have to go out there and prove people wrong."

In all honesty, Dye has nothing to prove on a personal level. He entered the 2008 campaign with a .275 career average and 264 home runs, not to mention a new two-year, $22 million contract, with a mutual option for 2010.

His start to the 2007 season was as bad as the veteran can ever remember, batting .214 at the All-Star break. But Dye put such a showing behind him and finished with a .298 average after the Midsummer Classic.

Nagging injuries played a part in Dye's early downfall, but he wouldn't use such maladies as an excuse. Instead, he learned from the experience and took that bundle of knowledge into Monday's season opener at Progressive Field.

"Every year is different, and a lot of things change," said Dye, before knocking out three hits, including a ninth-inning home run, while scoring two runs. "Pitchers change and your body changes. You just have to take some of the things that went wrong and eliminate them if you come across them again.

"Take some of the positive things and try to remember what you were doing when going good. But I don't look back on the good years I have. Even as soon as we won the World Series, that year was over."

Dye's theory seems to ring true for the White Sox where 2008 is concerned, despite Monday's rough start in Cleveland. General manager Ken Williams talked before the game as to how he was ready for the season to start so some of the numerous questions concerning the White Sox could be answered on the field.

Of course, Mark Buehrle's abbreviated outing and Octavio Dotel's failure in the eighth inning could bring up a new line of concern for the White Sox.

One game does not a season make, just as Dye's numbers dipping in 2007 doesn't mean they won't return in 2008. The same holds true for a team that finished in fourth place last year, with their sights set on competing in baseball's toughest division.

"It was a bad year all around for everyone," Dye said. "But if you don't make it to the playoffs, it becomes a bad year. As far as I'm concerned and in talking to everyone else, that year is over."

"Let me tell you something," Williams added. "On the bus heading away from Minute Maid Field [in 2005 after a World Series championship], I still had questions about maybe we should have did this or done that. For me, that's just part of who I am. You have to question yourself and keep that competitive edge so you keep your team at a high level of play. Last year, I was embarrassed. I've waited a long time for this day, so we can start anew."

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