Williams wants to see more 'Chicago toughness'

Williams wants to see more 'Chicago toughness'

Williams wants to see more 'Chicago toughness'
CHICAGO -- When Ken Williams works to assemble a particular White Sox team, he looks for talented players who are not just tough, but "Chicago tough."

These individuals have the ability to handle the everyday rigors brought about by Major League Baseball, but also can survive the unique set of demands emanating from playing in Chicago.

Williams knows he has that "Chicago tough" permeating the 2011 roster. But through the halfway point of the present campaign, the White Sox don't have that collective necessary edge in Williams' estimation.

"No, we do not," said Williams, who spoke about the team following Wednesday's panel discussion, including White Sox director of player development Buddy Bell and director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann, as part of the Double Duty Classic held at U.S. Cellular Field.

"There are individuals that certainly bring that every day," Williams continued. "But as a whole, I think we are licking our wounds a little bit too much."

Adam Dunn's season-long struggles and Alex Rios' removal from Tuesday's 13-inning loss in Colorado also were addressed by the White Sox general manager when he was directly asked.

The plan for Williams was to pretty much leave Dunn alone as he battles out of the worst three months of an otherwise highly productive career. But Williams was informed of how Dunn felt "really disappointed" as far as what the Chicago fans expected from him and what Williams, in particular, went out and did for him, by signing Dunn to a four-year, $56-million free agent deal.

At that point, Williams sat down with Dunn and reaffirmed his faith in the slugger. The GM also pointed out to Dunn how, when he's on the other side of this horrendous slump -- with 100 strikeouts and a .173 average -- he'll look back at it as simply a tough time.

"Paul Konerko in -- I want to say 2003 - [he] once expressed to me, 'I don't think I'll ever get another hit,'" said Williams of the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player candidate, who hit a career-worst .234 in 2003 and had an average below .200 as late as July 17 that season. "I think he's had a few hits since then.

"You're going to have tough times like this. [Dunn is] in a new place and really trying to impress. At the end of the day, the talent doesn't just disappear. He just has to get it in mind that sometimes you have to go back to Little League and the basics of, 'See ball, hit ball.'"

As for Rios' departure in the seventh Tuesday, Williams said manager Ozzie Guillen has his complete support for taking Rios out when the skipper deemed he wasn't hustling.

"Those kinds of actions actually send a message to everyone else and serve as a reminder," Williams said.

A reminder was issued on Wednesday morning by Williams, who explained how there's a difference between acting patient and actually being patient with his underachieving team. Right now, Williams said he's doing a good job of acting patient.

In order to turn this three-month bout of inconsistency into a potential division crown, Williams wants to see that Chicago toughness return, along with a greater focus on what the team ultimately can accomplish.

"You've got to [get past] whatever you've done up to this point in the season, you've got to wipe [it] away," Williams said. "We have a chance to still win this. The individual numbers at the end of the day might not be what they want them to be, but we still have a chance to have a celebration at the end of the year.

"I'd like the focus to be on that and not the individual numbers. It's hard to look up at the scoreboard and see those numbers you're not used to seeing, or what they're accustomed to them being when you are a player that has achieved quite a bit in this league. I get that.

"What I get also is it's time -- it's time to wipe that away, because we're better than this," Williams said. "Now, I'd like them to band together and start playing a little better too."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.