Can the Sox Overtake the Twins?

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    WASHINGTON - JUNE 18: Gavin Floyd #34 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on June 18, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

    The Chicago White Sox are calling their decision go for it in the AL Central "All In" and they spent the offseason, well, spending.

    Now it's time to see if a payroll beefed up to perhaps around $125 million produces a winner for general manager Ken Williams, who has patched up his sometimes-rocky relationship with manager Ozzie Guillen.

    "We have a good ball club. We are paying a lot of money to this ball club," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We showed the fans we are for real. We want to win this thing. It shows Kenny and (chairman) Jerry (Reinsdorf) have pulled this thing together and showed the people how much we want to win it."

    Chicago landed slugger Adam Dunn with a four-year, $56 million contract and re-signed captain Paul Konerko to a three-year, $37.5 million deal. Also returning is veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski. New faces in the bullpen are Jesse Crain and Will Ohman.

    Dunn hit 38 home runs with 103 RBIs for Washington last season, when he also whiffed 199 times. A career National Leaguer, he'll have to adjust to hitting and sitting as a designated hitter, a move that some players struggle with initially.

    If he does get his swing going — he struggled most of this spring — the White Sox are counting on his powerful, left-handed bat to constantly send balls over the cozy fences at U.S. Cellular Field.

    Konerko batted .312 with 39 homers and 111 RBIs a year ago. With him and Dunn in a lineup that also includes right fielder Carlos Quentin, centerfielder Alex Rios and shortstop Alexei Ramirez — who got a new deal this offseason — the White Sox should have some pop.

    So where does that leave them after all their offseason maneuvering? As the favorite? Konerko said Minnesota is still the team to dethrone

    "The Twins deserve the respect. They earned it last year," Konerko said. "Until someone knows them off, they are the team."

    Veteran Juan Pierre was a steady leadoff hitter in his first season with the White Sox, batting .275 with 68 stolen bases. And at the top of the order, the White Sox will need No. 2 hitter and second baseman Gordon Beckham to emerge from a tough second season and play like he did as a standout rookie in 2009.

    Brent Morel, a late-season call up last year, won the third base job because of his steady fielding, beating out veteran Mark Teahen, whose first season in Chicago was limited to 77 games by a broken finger.

    Omar Vizquel, who filled in mostly at third last season and batted .276 in 108 games, will be a backup infielder. The 11-time Gold Glove winner turns 44 in April.

    The story of the White Sox's spring has been the return of Jake Peavy from a rare surgery to repair a detached muscle in the back of his pitching shoulder. Peavy made great strides but then had a setback not related to the surgery when he developed tendinitis in his rotator cuff that will keep him in Arizona after the White Sox break camp.

    Without Peavy, who has made only 20 starts for the White Sox since being acquired from the Padres at the trade deadline in 2009, Phil Humber could be the fill-in No. 5 starter.

    Mark Buehrle, who has pitched more than 200 innings in every season since 2001, will start opening day in Cleveland on Friday. With a no-hitter and a perfect game in his career, the left-hander can also give up plenty of hits, as he did when he surrendered 246 last season when he was 13-13.

    John Danks, 15-11 last season, Gavin Floyd and Edwin Jackson round out the rotation.

    Among relievers, Crain had a 3.04 ERA in 71 appearances for the Twins last season. Along with Ohman, Tony Pena, Sergio Santos, Chris Sale and Matt Thornton, the White Sox could have one of the most effective bullpens they've had since winning the World Series in 2005.

    Thornton is the new closer after the departure of Bobby Jenks.