I have arrived in Arizona, where the temperature was immediately about 65 degrees warmer than Chicago.
Of course, for most of this glorious winter in the aptly named Windy City, temperatures were significantly warmer elsewhere.
White Sox pitchers and catchers report on Saturday, so check out whitesox.com and MLB.com for extensive, daily Spring Training coverage. And if you make the trip to Arizona for baseball action, stop and introduce yourself. It's good to put a face with the tweet or email. Now, on to the questions.
Do the White Sox assist their Latin ballplayers, particularly the Cuban players, in learning the English language? Whenever I see a quote from one of these players, it is usually translated by a front-office person. This seems odd to me, especially from those players who have been in the organization for a number of years such as Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo.
-- Robert, Chicago
Opportunities and programs to learn English are offered by the White Sox to players with English as a second language. Many of these players have conversations in English, such as Ramirez, Jose Quintana and Viciedo, but choose to do interviews in Spanish with the help of an interpreter, such as coach Lino Diaz or director of public relations Lou Hernandez.
Communicating through the media and having those words accurately portrayed is important to both the White Sox and their players. So, it makes sense that players want to make their point in a language where they feel most comfortable. I took five years of Spanish in high school and college and still couldn't translate an interview fluently, so I can imagine how tough it is for these players adjusting to life in a new country while learning a new language.
Could the White Sox trade Ramirez and/or Alejandro De Aza either before Opening Day or the Trade Deadline?
-- Demetri, Arlington Heights, Ill.
There aren't a great deal of major trades that take place during Spring Training, and that's certainly not meant to diminish the acquisition of either Matt Thornton, Conor Gillaspie or Timo Perez. But those deals are more about finding that extra player or two to balance the roster. So, I don't expect anything to happen with Ramirez, but I could see De Aza getting moved because of the roster issues to be addressed that I detailed on Tuesday.
As far as the July 31 Trade Deadline goes, Chris Sale, Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu and most likely Quintana stand as the only untouchables on this roster -- it's a song you've all heard before. The status of the White Sox in late May and June will dictate whether they are looking to build on the core or help find pieces for a contender.
Do you think Garcia is closer to the player who batted below .250 with Detroit last season or the guy who tore it up with the White Sox last year?
-- Brennan, Orlando, Fla.
Garcia could end up becoming the biggest acquisition of the Rick Hahn era, even if Hahn does this job for the next 20 years. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, as who knows what future moves Hahn has in store. But Garcia's short time of everyday work with the White Sox last year showed off his five-tool potential and gave them an elite young player on offense that they sorely needed.
There's still work to be done for Garcia -- he's certainly not a finished product at 22. But this is a cornerstone-type player who the White Sox reshaping can be built around.
I'm hoping for a comeback year for Gordon Beckham but if he struggles, do you see Marcus Semien becoming the everyday second baseman?
-- Steve, Chicago
Beckham is the White Sox second baseman, unless he's not with the team anymore or injured. A healthy Beckham appears primed for a solid offensive campaign, but it is an important year for him as the White Sox do have viable infield options in their system with Semien, Micah Johnson and Carlos Sanchez.
Any word on if the White Sox will wear throwback uniforms on Sundays like past years? If yes, which ones?
-- Jaime, Chicago
I've heard an announcement will come soon in regard to this topic but have not been told any specifics. If they did a throwback jersey again, does anyone have a preference? The 1983 jerseys appeared to be very popular.
Suppose Paul Konerko has just an awful spring. Can you see that he calls it quits so he does not take a roster spot for one of young stars that would make the team?
-- Brian, Buffalo Grove, Ill.
Nobody has ever reached the Hall of Fame based on hitting .400 in Arizona or been denied overall success because of an awful Cactus League stint. It's all about the process for an accomplished veteran such as Konerko, just trying to get that feel for the regular season. He'll be with the White Sox in '14, playing an important part-time role on the field and closer to a full-time mentoring role.
Although it's old news, I join the chorus in praising the White Sox for bringing Konerko back! I would love to see Konerko, Viciedo, and De Aza in a three-way platoon, with Viciedo spelling Konerko at DH and De Aza filling out LF on Konerko's rest days.
Obviously, this would mean moving Adam Dunn. I think Dunn is a great person and teammate, but he really doesn't fit the White Sox makeup at this point. I know this has been asked before, but given the three-way platoon option, is there any chance the White Sox eat his salary and move him before or early in the season?
-- Michael, Adelphi, Md.
I agree that bringing back Konerko for this 16th and final season with the White Sox is a strong move. Dunn will begin the 2014 campaign as the White Sox designated hitter, but I think Hahn has some roster tweaks to make before the team breaks camp not necessarily involving the slugger.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.