GM Ken Williams had a list of 11 candidates, including former Florida and Pittsburgh manager Jim Leyland, former Minnesota manager Tom Kelly, former Toronto manager Cito Gaston, former Colorado and Detroit manager Buddy Bell, and former Philadelphia manager Terry Francona. Double-A Birmingham manager Wally Backman, Arizona first-base coach Robin Yount and Yankees third-base coach Willie Randolph reportedly were also on the list.
Williams said he made his mind up just two hours into a four-hour first interview.
"I had some expectations," Williams said of the process. "I surprised myself a little bit. When I began the search, I wanted an experienced manager -- more than anything again, wanted that experience. The surprise came in when I threw all that out the window. By the time that second hour (of the interview) hit, I was convinced he was the guy. He bleeds White Sox baseball. There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to provide something here we desperately need. A jolt, if you will."
SS Jose Valentin had his $5 million club option picked up for next season by the organization, bringing him back for a fifth year on the South Side. The 34-year-old switch-hitter batted just .237 in 2003 but had 28 home runs and has emerged as a team leader in the clubhouse.
RHP Esteban Loaiza was announced as the AL Comeback Player of the Year in the Players Choice Awards on Nov. 5. The right-hander edged Boston third baseman Bill Mueller and White Sox teammate Frank Thomas in the secret-ballot voting, conducted in the middle of September by major league players. "This tells me the players have a lot of respect for me," Loaiza said. "I'm happy and thrilled about it. I have to keep it up for next season."
Loaiza went 21-9 with a 2.90 ERA and led the AL in strikeouts with 207. Only Toronto's Roy Halladay had more wins, with 22. Not only was Loaiza the first 20-game winner for the Sox since Jack McDowell in 1993, he also was the starting pitcher for the AL in the All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field.
Joey Cora, a former All-Star second baseman, was named the third-base coach of the White Sox on Nov. 7. Cora, 38, spent the 2003 season as the manager of Class A Savannah in the South Atlantic League, guiding the club to a 58-80 (.420) record. He was a good friend of Guillen when the two played.
BY THE NUMBERS: 11 -- The season-high number of wins for Esteban Loaiza in seven previous seasons before he won 21 games in 2003. He was rewarded by being named AL Comeback Player of the Year in the Players Choice Awards on Nov. 5.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Frank is Frank. I'm going to need Frank to get where I want to get, and I think Frank is going to need me to get what he wants to get. I have a championship ring. When he does something (wrong) on the field, he's not only disrespecting the team, he's disrespecting himself. Frank doesn't always run the bases. If he doesn't run the bases, he might not get another at-bat and we might fight." -- New Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on what he expects from slugger Frank Thomas next season.