Dye not thinking about contract situation

Dye not thinking about contract situation

CHICAGO -- Jermaine Dye fully understands how Tuesday afternoon could mark his last Opening Day as a part of the White Sox.

But that's not the viewpoint taken by the right fielder as he assumes the fifth spot in the White Sox batting order.

"You know what, I'm going to take a different approach and play it as it's not going to be my last year here," Dye said. "Just take it as I'm going to go out and do what I can and not let anything try to bother me.

"I've experienced this sort of thing before. There's no use coming to the field worrying every day if you are going to be here or not. It's especially true of things like that when a team starts struggling."

Dye, 35, addressed the topic of his contractual situation at the start of Spring Training and probably won't talk much more about it as the season progresses. A $12 million mutual option exists for Dye and the White Sox in 2010, along with a $1 million buyout.

Without a new contract decided upon during Spring Training, Dye simply wanted to move forward, play out the season and worry about his deal at that point in time. It's not as if Dye has something to prove or is looking for his first major deal, not with more home runs and RBIs then any American League outfielder since 2005.

If healthy, Dye knows what he is capable of on the field. So do teams who might have future interest in Dye, including the White Sox.

"I've proven what I can do," Dye said. "As long as I'm out there healthy and playing every day, the numbers will be there. You have struggles, but mentally you have to be tough and fight through it.

"We have a great ballclub and as long as we win, they are not going to break up the team."

These comments from Dye were directed more at the White Sox in 2009 and not really beyond. If the team struggles early, one school of thought is that general manager Ken Williams might try to move a few veterans in the last year of their respective contracts in order to get something of value in return.

Then again, with the competitive nature expected in the AL Central, a slow start that covers even two months doesn't necessarily wipe out any chance for postseason contention. And for the White Sox to contend, a healthy and productive Dye will play a major part as he did in 2008.

"I never really do well in spring, but I feel good," said Dye, who hit just .208 with one home run and three RBIs in Cactus League play. "Basically, you just get your work in and come out healthy. That's everybody's mind-set in spring."

"You give me players in the last year of their contract, and I like that because they have to play well -- especially with the way the baseball world is right now," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "If you are in that situation, you can go either way. You can panic or open the gate and have a tremendous year for your future."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.