Dye moves in to Ordonez's spot, looks for healthy season

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ Jermaine Dye is settling in with another new team, mindful that as the White Sox&#39;s right fielder he&#39;s taking over for the once popular and productive Magglio Ordonez. <br/><br/>Ordonez

Friday, February 25th 2005, 6:29 pm

By: News On 6

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ Jermaine Dye is settling in with another new team, mindful that as the White Sox's right fielder he's taking over for the once popular and productive Magglio Ordonez.

Ordonez left as a free agent following an injury-filled season a year ago and wound up with the Detroit Tigers, meaning he'll be facing Dye and his former team numerous times since both are in the AL Central.

Comparisons might be inevitable. Dye doesn't care.

``You can't go around and try to replace any player,'' Dye said. ``This is a business and players change teams all the time.''

Dye, who broke in with Atlanta in 1996, is joining his fourth team, and the White Sox are hoping for the standout seasons he produced for Kansas City in 1999 and 2000 when he combined for 60 homers and 237 RBIs.

Dye could supply some of the offensive punch lost by the departures of Ordonez and Carlos Lee and with Frank Thomas recovering from ankle surgery.

That is, if he can stay healthy.

With Oakland, Dye started the 2002 season on the DL after breaking his leg in the playoffs the year before and then battled shoulder and knee problems in 2003 when he played in just 65 games.

He managed to bat .265 last season with 23 homers and 80 RBIs in 137 games but struck out a career-high 128 times, missing 22 of the final 54 games with a thumb injury.

``Dye is a guy who has always broken something,'' White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. ``I'm going to take care of him the most I can. I just want him to be ready for the season.''

Dye is learning about his new teammates and their tendencies in a White Sox outfield that is totally reconfigured. Scott Podsednik also joined the White Sox in a trade for Lee, while Aaron Rowand is the only returning starter.

``It should be fun. It just takes time to get used to each other, figure out how each other plays,'' Dye said.

Dye said he's already enjoying Guillen's approach that features plenty of laughs and running commentary from the talkative second-year manager.

``He keeps you loose. He makes it easier to play. He's played the game and understands what the players go through,'' Dye said.

``Even with all the joking around, each player knows he still has to go out there and perform.''


THOMAS STILL OUT: DH Frank Thomas is working out in Las Vegas as he recovers from ankle surgery and will visit his surgeon next week in southern California to chart his progress and find out when he might be able to report to camp. White Sox trainer Herm Schneider said Friday he spoke with Thomas Thursday night and said he was in high spirits.

``He was laughing and joking around. He's been biting at the bit to come down. He needs to do what he needs to do,'' Schneider said.

Guillen was asked if it would be nice to have Thomas, one of the club's leaders, with the rest of his teammates.

``I want Frank here when he's ready to go,'' Guillen said. ``I'm not saying we don't need it. We want it. But if you aren't going to do anything with us and you are just going to hang around and get depressed and give the media something to talk about, that's different. It's not necessary to have him here when he can't do anything about it.''

Notes: Veteran RHP Orlando Hernandez knocked down rookie Casey Rogowski with a pitch during live batting practice Friday. It was an apparent retaliation for Rogowski hitting a ball up the middle at Hernandez earlier in the week and not apologizing. ... Reliever Jon Adkins is slated to start the Sox's exhibition opener against the Rockies on March 2. The Sox will have intrasquad games Sunday and Monday.

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