The White Sox, who used "winning ugly" as their rallying cry last year, actually won quite handsomely—by 20 games over Kansas City. So a face-lift was hardly needed. But this team isn't above making cosmetic changes, and some of them appear to be downright strange.
For instance, they will occasionally play Mike Squires, a lefthanded fielder, at third base. Britt Burns, a starter of enormous potential, will work out of the bullpen in April, and possibly beyond. Lawyer-manager Tony LaRussa will play fast and loose with the Laws: Rudy will be the regular centerfielder but Vance, normally the third baseman, will be in center against certain lefthanders. And the Sox upset a lot of people when they took Tom Seaver as compensation after losing free-agent pitcher Dennis Lamp, whom they seemed to need more. "We're not afraid to try things," says G.M. Roland Hemond.
The Squires Experiment is interesting, Veeckian almost, because, before he tried it for an inning last year, no other lefty had done it since Joe Kuhel of the 1936 Senators. The White Sox want him to play there—and do the best he can with bunts—because Vance Law batted .213 against righthanders last year. Squires, a deft first baseman, was also the last left-handed catcher, for two games in 1980.
Sending southpaw Burns to the bullpen is a radical change, though he seems to like the idea. "I think I'll enjoy the spontaneity of relieving," he says. "I also feel it's a good career move." Even without Burns, the White Sox have a formidable rotation of Cy Young winner LaMarr Hoyt, Rich Dotson, Floyd Bannister and Seaver. "This could be the best starting staff in the history of baseball," gushes co-owner Eddie Einhorn. However, there's already one cloud on the horizon. Hoyt developed blisters on his feet, altered his delivery and got pounded in spring training (0-4 with a 10.61 ERA through Sunday).
The only other problem the White Sox will have is finding enough playing time at first and in left for swingman Tom Paciorek. At one point last year, Paciorek's average dipped into the .240s, but after a dressing-down from LaRussa and a psyching-up from hypnotist Harvey Misel, Paciorek became more of a team player—and raised his average to boot, finishing at .307.
Misel better not do his job too well this season, however. The White Sox always get their best results when they are acting ugly.
The White Sox led the majors with 800 runs despite being 13th in batting (.262) and 11th in walks. Their "motion" offense, which often had runners on the go, saw them ground into only 111 double plays, a league low. After the All-Star Game, Harold Baines, Greg Luzinski and Carlton Fisk combined for 52 home runs and 170 RBIs.