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Williams still working to strengthen White Sox

When Ken Williams was asked during Sunday’s conference call as to whether more White Sox trades were possible before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver deadline, the team’s general manager answered with one word.

“Yes,” Williams said.

That reply was followed by silence, a sort of dramatic pause.

Williams already has done major work on a White Sox team that surprised people even without the new additions. But when third baseman Brent Morel developed back issues and veteran Orlando Hudson wasn’t a fit at a position where he previously never had played, Williams went out and acquired Kevin Youkilis from Boston on June 24.

When he needed a veteran reliever to help his youthful bullpen, Williams picked up Brett Myers from Houston. And when the White Sox needed another quality, frontline starter to also help lessen the workload on young rotation members such as Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, Williams added Francisco Liriano Saturday night from the Twins. Utility infielder Eduardo Escobar appeared to be the only player given up in these three deals combined who still figured prominently in the White Sox future.

So, what’s left for Williams and the White Sox?

He still could add to the bench, with Rey Olmedo taking Escobar’s place as utility infielder and rookie Jordan Danks serving as the extra outfielder. Williams also could pursue another left-handed reliever to complete a veteran southpaw tandem with Matt Thornton.

Then again, where Williams and pushing toward the ultimate prize of winning a World Series is concerned, no trade, big or small, becomes unexpected at this time of year.

“You plot out a course and go down that course and try to take action,” Williams said. “If you lose out on one, turn the page and move on to the next.”

Scott Merkin

White Sox have seven experiencing Opening Day first

Nate Jones had his wife, agent and a couple of friends, including the best man at his wedding, on hand for Friday’s season opener at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Fellow rookie reliever Addison Reed had a couple of friends he went to school with, who now live in Texas, in attendance.

These two are part of a group of seven on the White Sox roster experiencing their first Opening Day, joined by Tyler Flowers, Eduardo Escobar, Hector Santiago, Zach Stewart and Dayan Viciedo. It’s the culmination of a dream for these young men, feeling more real with each passing moment.

“In Spring Training, there was really not a 100 percent guarantee I was on the team,” Reed said. “The whole time that was my main focus. It’s an awesome feeling and I can’t wait to get this season underway and get it going.”

“Anyway that you can get here is awesome,” Jones said. “I know during spring, I had to fight for it and I just wanted to keep throwing strikes and it paid off. I’m just excited to be here.”

Rasmus could be on White Sox radar

According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, trade talks between the White Sox and Cardinals centering on left-handed hitting outfielder Colby Rasmus have “accelerated” in recent days.

The report talked about right-handed starter Edwin Jackson, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season, or left-handed reliever Matt Thornton as potential St. Louis targets. Jackson could be moved without weakening the current rotation, as the White Sox are working with six quality starters, despite Philip Humber’s brief move to the bullpen.

Thornton agreed to a two-year, $12-million extension, with a 2014 club option, during Spring Training. The White Sox have three lefties in the bullpen, with Thornton, Chris Sale and Will Ohman, and were impressed with the work turned in by southpaw Hector Santiago during his short 2011 Major League stint. They already are loaded in the outfield, though, as shown by the lack of room to promote hot-hitting Dayan Viciedo from Triple-A Charlotte.

Adding a talent such as the 24-year-old Rasmus would not lessen the White Sox pursuit in a very winnable American League Central but also could help fortify their future base.

When asked for comment Sunday about the matter, general manager Ken Williams told MLB.com via e-mail he will be available to chat on Monday after Ozzie Guillen’s pregame press session. Jackson, who earned the win in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over the Indians, already had heard the rumor but took the trade rumblings in stride.

“My name is in trade rumors every year,” said Jackson, who has been traded four times. “It’s been like this for the last five years. It’s definitely nothing I worry about. I can’t control it. I just want to play wherever I’m wanted to play.”

The Cardinals know that even in a down year, Rasmus has significant value, and it’s difficult to envision them moving just to move him. His challenges in adjusting to the pressures of being the most hailed Cardinals prospect in ages are well-covered, but even so, he’s a young, high-ceiling, cost-controlled player at a premium position that has value.

Thus, while St. Louis is surely listening on Rasmus, actively shopping him is a separate question. And in any deal where Rasmus was moved, it’s hard to imagine the Cards wouldn’t get more than a rental starting pitcher. They would almost certainly need to get some kind of significant prospect or young, team-controlled player who could be a solution somewhere for a few years.

Still, Rasmus’ playing time has diminished as a result of his slump, and the Cardinals appear more and more comfortable with Jon Jay in center field. They also have Allen Craig on the mend from a knee injury, and though Craig is certainly not a center fielder, he would replenish the team’s outfield depth in the event of a move.

– Matthew Leach and Scott Merkin

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