White Sox move on without J.D.'s

White Sox move on without J.D.'s

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- On the day when White Sox pitchers and catchers reported for their official workout, a good deal of the discussion taking place at Camelback Ranch centered on two veteran players who weren't there and probably won't be.

Johnny Damon, a free-agent pursuit of the White Sox over the past 10 days, has agreed to a one-year deal with the South Siders' American League Central rival from Detroit. And Jermaine Dye, a hugely important staple for the White Sox over the past four years, also drew some notice from general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen as one of the many talented players remaining without a team.

"I am shocked that Jermaine Dye is still out there," said Williams of the Most Valuable Player in the clubs' 2005 World Series sweep of Houston. "Somebody is going to get a [good] player. You are talking about one of the best guys, one of the most positive influences you can have on a club."

"He's a special guy," said Guillen of Dye. "I think the market is not going too well for players. You can put it that way. Maybe some people don't need him. But it surprised me a few guys signed before him. As soon as we didn't sign him, I thought he'd have a job the next day."

This surprise was strong enough for Williams that he thought about how Dye might fit with the 2010 White Sox, even though the White Sox declined their $12 million option on Dye after the 2009 campaign. With the White Sox firmly committed to the designated hitter-by-committee plan and the team needing a left-handed bat more than a right-handed hitter, Williams couldn't see how Dye would work in the current alignment.

In the same sense, Williams hopes there are no retirement plans in the 36-year-old's future if he doesn't eventually get the desired deal at this time.

"You look at his numbers over the course of the last five to six years and compare him against some of the best power hitters in the game, and you are going to see that he's ranked one and two in a lot of categories," said Williams of Dye, who hit 164 home runs and drove in 459 during his time with the White Sox, ranking him first among American League outfielders in both categories.

"Again, I just don't get it, why he's still out there," Williams said. "This guy hit 27 home runs last year. So, he had a bad six or seven weeks (finishing with a .250 average)?"

As for the Damon saga, Williams quipped that if he would have known how important training in Florida was to the outfielder, then the White Sox would have moved their Spring Training camp back from Arizona.

"It was a little too late for that," said Williams with a laugh. "We had everyone here."

Williams did not get into specific monetary value for the offer made to Damon. He quickly added that he's comfortable with the DH-by- committee dictated by matchups but that the team is constantly trying to get better, meaning another move could come in April, May or at the July non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"Would we have been better? Perhaps," said Williams of the potential Damon addition. "But sometimes, one of the things I've learned over the years, sometimes the things you don't do or aren't able to do, turn out to be your better decisions. We go in with what Ozzie felt comfortable with anyway."

A number of the White Sox players asked about Damon were surprised he was offered a contract, with the roster apparently set. They joked about A.J. Pierzynski not doing a great recruiting job after the catcher and White Sox play-by-play television announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson played a round of golf with Damon last Monday.

Pierzynski, on the other hand, didn't consider his recruiting mission an epic failure.

"No, I look at it as a positive that we got as close as we could to getting Damon," said Pierzynski. "Knowing him and knowing that he would not want to leave Florida for Spring Training, to get him to entertain the idea was a huge step.

"So, we did everything we could and in our power to get him here. Family won out. He has four young kids and he didn't want to uproot and move them. We like what we have as a club. We added a lot of pieces."

According to Jake Peavy, though, adding one more piece would have been nice.

"I wanted him on my team. Johnny Damon is a winner," Peavy said. "Johnny going to Detroit makes Detroit quite a bit better. It probably takes an inexperienced guy out of their lineup in front of [Miguel] Cabrera, [Magglio] Ordonez and [Carlos] Guillen."

"We aren't going to worry about things we don't have," Pierzynski said. "We will worry about what we have and go from there."

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