CHICAGO -- Brent Lillibridge isn't considered a starter going into the 2012 season, but he's the sort of valuable player any contending team needs to have. Although he's considered the best defensive outfielder on the team, the versatile super-sub reiterated his end-of-season comments to MLB.com concerning getting back to the infield during SoxFest.
But the 28-year-old veteran doesn't want his role to increase at the expense of starting middle infielders Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham.
"I respect Alexei and I respect Gordon. He's come amazingly far as a second baseman," said Lillibridge, who listed Beckham as the American League's best defensive second baseman. "But I've never wished anything but him having success.
"If I do well, it doesn't matter. If he does well, it won't hurt my chances. I'll play one way or the other."
Lillibridge competed for the starting second-base job coming out of Spring Training in 2009, but lost out to Chris Getz. He played 31 games on the infield during that season and 32 in 2010, but only played six games there last year if his 2011 first-base stint is not counted.
Adding the infield glove into the mix, especially with Omar Vizquel gone, simply makes Lillibridge more valuable to the team and moves him toward his ultimate full-time goal.
"I've said it before that, at one point, I do want to get a chance to be an everyday starter," Lillibridge said. "I finally made a little bit of a quake offensively or whatever you want to say.
"The defense has always been there. Personally, I perform at a high level and play sporadically and still contribute and do damage offensively."
Closer candidates not consumed by role
CHICAGO -- The 2011 departure of Bobby Jenks left a 173-save sized hole for the White Sox bullpen to fill.
It was a debate that played out in the court of public opinion almost from the time the White Sox non-tendered the burly right-hander. Should it be Matt Thornton, an All-Star setup man the year before, or rookie sensation Chris Sale? How about right-handers Sergio Santos or Jesse Crain, targeted more as setup men?
Well, that issue is about to take center stage once again going into Spring Training. But Matt Thornton and Addison Reed, joining Crain as the main closing candidates, aren't about to plead their respective cases through the press or start looking over their shoulders to see if the other guys are gaining ground.
"Whatever they decide to do, it's all their choice," said Thornton during SoxFest festivities at the Palmer House Hilton. "Jesse was great late in the game last year. Addison Reed, he only had five or six games in the big leagues, but has great stuff and was a closer in college. It's one of those decisions where you go out, evaluate guys throughout Spring Training, and then they'll make their choice."
"Honestly, I'm not saying that I'm going to be the closer," Reed said. "My No. 1 goal is to make the team out of Spring Training and then whatever happens after that happens."
Last spring, Thornton earned the nod over Sale and then proceeded to blow four saves in his first four opportunities. That lack of success, which included some bad luck behind the hard-throwing southpaw, hasn't solely driven Thornton to want the closer's job once again. It's more about the veteran never losing belief in his ability.
"Results weren't there with those four save opportunities, but at the same time, things didn't go my way," Thornton said. "It's really out of the pitchers' hands. It's up to [White Sox manager] Robin [Ventura], [pitching coach Don] Cooper and [general manager] Kenny [Williams].
"We went through it last year with the debate and talking about it in the offseason. But I really prepare the same way all the time."
GM Williams optimistic in face of low expectations
CHICAGO -- Sunday's SoxFest conclusion left those attendees at the Palmer House Hilton filled with optimism for the 2012 season as February approaches. Count White Sox general manager Ken Williams among those optimists, one of the many in the organization who hasn't been shaken by low preseason predictions for his team.
"[Prognosticators] picked us [to finish] first for a lot of years and unfortunately, we didn't hold up our end of the bargain," Williams said. "In 2008, they picked us third.
"Where are we now? Third or fourth? Good. They're never right. They're wrong more than me."
Dunn not a believer in 'needing to fail'
CHICAGO -- If it's really true that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, then Adam Dunn's trying White Sox debut in 2011 should give him the strength of 10 men in 2012. But the powerful designated hitter doesn't believe handling last year's failure with such grace necessarily translates into success this season.
"I don't buy into the, 'You need to fail,'" Dunn said. "All that stuff. Like when everyone said the Packers needed to lose a game to go into the playoffs.
"Why? You want to win them all. I want to be as good as I can every single year for 20 years or for however long I play. I'm going in this year feeling as good as I've felt in a long time and just ready to get started and quit talking about it every ... .
"It doesn't matter where you go, everyone is talking about it," Dunn said. "I realize that comes with that, but I really can't wait for Opening Day."