What's Next For Frank?

Sox 1B/DH Frank Thomas has until the end of the week to make a decision on the $6 million option on his contract or pass it off to the organization for an $8 million club option. If both sides say no to the deal, then Thomas can become a free agent.

Thomas has been very quiet about the direction he's leaning, but with the market expected to be rough again for free agents, he will likely stay for the $6 million.

U.S. Cellular Field is going through more changes, with the long-running problems with the upper deck currently being addressed by the White Sox and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA).

The fourth stage of their five-phase renovation project for the 12-year-old stadium began last week, with the top eight rows of the upper deck -- the lowest-priced seats - being removed. These are also the steepest seats; the slope increases as the rows get higher.

With 6,600 seats going from the upper deck (to a possible resale for White Sox charities), the capacity on the South Side decreases to between 41,000 and 42,000. The demolition should cost $1.8 million, and 215 tons of steel and 3,500 tons of cement will be hauled out of the ballpark. Both the current roof and light standards will be replaced during the remodeling. The new roof may closely resemble the overhang at the old Comiskey Park.

The Florida Marlins brought speed and stealing bases back to the forefront in their playoff run, and Ken Williams has taken notice. LF Carlos Lee led the Sox with just 18 stolen bases last season, and Williams is looking to change that by adding speed once the free agent buying spree begins.

The long ball will still power the South Siders, but Williams believes that taking the extra base as opposed to continuously rounding the bases could lead to an appearance in the postseason.

LHP Neal Cotts has been inconsistent in the Arizona Fall League, and it's unlikely that he will get a shot to make the rotation in the spring. Cotts was pressed into action on the big-league roster this season because of injuries, making four appearances and struggling with his control. With LHP Scott Schoeneweis expected to be converted from a reliever to a starter, the Sox won't push Cotts too quickly.

BY THE NUMBERS: .518 - Cito Gaston's career winning percentage with the Toronto Blue Jays. With all that's been made of Gaston by Williams, that .518 winning percentage was just three points higher than fired manager Jerry Manuel's .515 mark.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "When you look in my office, you'll never see players in there. That's because I'm going to talk to them every day -- out on the field, in the hotel, in a bar, in the dugout. You have to communicate. I'm not going to wait for them to come see me." -- Marlins third base coach Ozzie Guillen on his managerial philosophy if he gets the White Sox job.

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