Holland adds character to White Sox clubhouse

Veteran's lively personality could be good for young players

Holland adds character to White Sox clubhouse

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- One by one, Derek Holland listed off his skill set during a Wednesday morning media session at Camelback Ranch.

Nothing from that particular list of attributes had anything to do with baseball.

"Harry Caray, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cleveland from 'Family Guy,' Kermit the Frog," said the upbeat Holland when asked to name the impressions he has among his repertoire.

"Whenever I go to the children's hospital, I do Kermit," Holland continued. "That might be one of my favorites to do just because the kids, you just see their reaction. That's what it's all about, getting them to smile at things they're going through. There's quite a few little personalities that I do, but the main thing is you gotta have fun and enjoy yourself."

The main thing for Holland is getting ready for the 2017 season, with White Sox pitchers and catchers reporting Tuesday. He came aboard via a one-year, $6 million deal as a free agent, ultimately picking the White Sox over the Pirates.

Holland, 30, has made five postseason starts and pitched in 14 playoff games over eight years with the Rangers. That experience won't exactly play into the focus of the '17 White Sox, a team in the formative stages of a rebuild, although it could be enticing as a trade chip for a contender come July.

But the lively personality or character within him will be a definite plus for a young team. His outgoing nature was evident during SoxFest, and in just the short time Holland made calls to season-ticket holders.

It was clearly defined again Wednesday morning. Holland spoke of being paired again with catcher Geovany Soto after working with him in Texas, and quipped about singing the Peaches and Herb classic "Reunited" when he saw him in the clubhouse.

"I didn't really sing-sing," a smiling Holland said. "But yeah, I whispered into his ear to let him know I was here: 'How ya doin?' It was good."

After playing his whole career with the Rangers, Holland caught himself still referring to Texas as part of his present squad. He said learning the new names has been the most challenging part of the switch.

Holland on his new teammates

"I've met a few guys like five times already. Each one has said, 'Derek, we've met before,'" Holland said. "It's a bunch of different faces and at the same time it's a lot of faces I've seen. I'm a social guy. Every time we come to a town, I'm always talking to guys. Todd [Frazier], I've talked to him.

"Trust me, I can meet one of these guys, walk away and see them again and say, 'Hey, what's up? I'm Derek.' And it's like, 'Dude, we just saw each other in the locker room.'"

Getting to 200 innings stands as a 2017 target for Holland, while wanting to be both the starter and closer on the same day when he takes the mound. He's excited by the adjustments already suggested by pitching coach Don Cooper, and while he certainly doesn't want his personality to overshadow a strong work ethic, Holland isn't going to alter his demeanor.

"Obviously I'm going to have a personality. I am who I am," Holland said. "I want to live my life, have fun, enjoy myself and play the game of baseball at the same time."

"He's a happy-go-lucky guy. Very focused. Very intent on his work," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Knows what he wants to do. He's been around. We'll take advantage of it and use it to liven up the clubhouse a little bit."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.