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I have been a life long Sox fan, and their start came as a surprise to I'm sure everyone. Do you think the Sox can sustain this type of play, and why? -- Pete Everham, Bartlett
I think they'll contend as long as they stay healthy. It's important for their middle infielders, in particular, to stay healthy. The injuries sustained in Oakland last month exposed their lack of depth, but they have solid pitching and outfield reinforcements at Triple-A Charlotte. Their ability to win close games is a great sign, but they can't afford to keep relying on one clutch hit a game.
Is Jon Garland a free agent after this season? -- Jon Jacobs, Oakland Twp., Mich.
Jon is a few days short of free agency, so he will be arbitration eligible next season. And at the rate he's pitching, we're looking at a $5 million salary in 2006.
Has Jerry Reinsdorf finally learned his lesson and stopped trying to bring his Brooklyn roots and ideas to the South Side? --Butch Brzeski, Chicago
Oakland Raiders managing general partner Al Davis also is a Brooklyn native and LOVES speed, so it's possible that Jerry Reinsdorf learned from Mr. Davis and added more speed to the team. Actually, GM and Bay Area native Ken Williams deserves credit for emphasizing speed, defense and pitching.
I'm curious to know why Neal Cotts worked out of the stretch in the Saturday, May 7 game against Toronto. He entered the game after a home run off Jon Garland, leaving the bases empty. Still, he threw from the stretch then and did again to start the bottom half of the next inning. Why not pitch from the windup in those situations? -- Paul, Chicago
Good point. Neal has entered some games with runners on base, so it's quite possible that he feels more comfortable from the stretch, where his delivery is more compact.
What's the deal with Luis Vizcaino? This guy was supposed to be a "huge addition" to the Sox bullpen. And, why does Ozzie use him when the score is tied? He should be the mop-up pitcher until he figures out how to get hitters out. -- Clay Webb, Coal City
I thought Vizcaino would be the sleeper of the bullpen because of his ability to retire left-handed batters. But he's had a hard time getting untracked since he had to pitch a third inning against Cleveland on April 7. Now he's been rusty from the long layoff due to the success of the starters. His arm is too lively to be this ineffective. I still think he'll help the Sox down the stretch. If not, he can help some other team.
Do you think that the Sox will keep winning or is this all a luck? -- Michael Elmore, Fayetteville, N.C.
I don't think it's all luck, primarily because of their rebuilt pitching staff. But they need to start hitting because the pitching can't keep up this great run of success. The return of Frank Thomas will be huge if he can contribute.
I never thought I'd find myself saying this but the Sox really need Frank's bat, especially with Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye not living up to expectations just yet. Do you think he's learned a lesson from another fallen superstar from the other side of town? It became quite obvious that Sammy never caught on to the fact that it just wasn't his team anymore. -- Mike Jacklich, Chicago
I think Frank knows the team has won without him and that there's a lot at stake with him being out so long. I haven't been in town that long, but I take Frank at his word when he says he's going to do what's best for the team.
Hope you like Chicago it is a great place, I am watching the game tonight and Hawk mentioned that he use a 40 oz. bat when he played which reminded me of the former great Dick Allen. He had an MVP year in 72, and had big career numbers. Why is he not in the Hall of Fame? -- David Guido, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Great to hear from someone from my former residence. Dick Allen was a monster hitter during his one season with Los Angeles as well. I remember seeing him hit a three-run, opposite-field homer off Juan Marichal during the great 1971 pennant race with San Francisco. Unfortunately, Allen hit "only" 351 home runs, reaching the 40-mark only once and drove in 100 runs only three times.
As of this writing, Paul Konerko's batting average has slipped below .200. Yet his run production is second only to Carl Everett. What do you think Konerko's batting average will be by the end of the season. How many RBI's do you think he'll have? -- Michael Fleischhacker, Silver Spring, Md.
Paul has dug himself too deep a hole to get over the .250 mark. But he still has the time and potential to reach the 100-RBI mark. But he also needs protection and production from Carl Everett, Aaron Rowand and Jermaine Dye.