If you're like me, there's been a little bit of football plus pro and college basketball occupying your time lately. So, in case you've been ignoring Hot Stove news, here's the latest from the White Sox:
* One of the feel-good Sox stories of 2012 was the return of outfielder Dewayne Wise, who hit .259 with career highs of eight homers, 30 runs batted in, 31 runs scored and 19 stolen bases in 101 games with the Sox and Yankees. The 34-year-old batted .258 with the Sox, smashing five homers, 22 RBIs, 20 runs and 12 stolen bases in 45 contests. The Sox just signed him to a one-year deal.
* Wise's addition puts the Sox's 40-man roster at 40. Others added were catcher Josh Phegley, outfielder Jared Mitchell, righthanded pitchers Andre Rienzo (a promising prospect who will be pitching for Brazil in the World Baseball Classic), Charles Shirek and lefthanded hurler Santos Rodriguez. All were on the AAA Charlotte Knights roster.
* Twelve players from the White Sox Amateur City Elite (ACE) youth baseball program signed letters of intent to play ball at Division I colleges and were honored this month at U.S. Cellular Field. It's another example of the Sox's commitment to the community, which won them recognition from Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball for the 2011 season. The ACE program has produced 80 athletes who have gone to play in college. A half-dozen have been selected in the first-year MLB draft.
* For Sox fans yearning for the start of spring training in Glendale, AZ, the spring schedule was recently revealed. Mark it down: The White Sox open up with the Dodgers on February 23 at Camelback Ranch, where both make their winter home.
* In another week, Baseball's annual Winter Meetings will begin in Nashville, TN. As frequently reported, the Sox will be looking to fill the third base slot, determine the catching situation and most likely will make a few surprise moves at GM Rick Hahn's first meetings as the GM. At third, Youkilis seems like he will be lured by more money elsewhere and the most likely scenario will see free agent A.J. Pierzynski leaving the Sox with Tyler Flowers and perhaps a lefthanded hitting catcher taking over the backstop duties. One thing to think about regarding third base is that Chone Figgins, a long-time Kenny Williams favorite, was let go by the Mariners after three horrible seasons. Should the Sox take a flyer on Figgins with the hope a change of scenery will return him to his glory years with the Angels? Or, is it not worth the risk?
That's just one thing to ponder as the hot stove starts getting hotter.