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Spring Swing: Ozzie ready to drive White Sox wherever it takes

David Brown
Big League Stew

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As we have every season since our debut, Big League Stew is hitting the road to cover spring training in Arizona and Florida. Next up, a doubleheader: The Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles share a massive complex in the western suburbs of Phoenix.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Referring to the statistics in scouting reports he requests on occasion, Ozzie Guillen announced that, "Yesterday, I was looking at on-base percentage."

He abruptly stopped, as if ashamed of his admission. "I'm not a computer guy," Guillen said. "I'm not."

C'mon, Ozz. I'm sure some of your best friends are sabermatricians, even if they haven't been outed yet. It might be a stretch to call OBP an advanced or sabermetric stat, but it also seems cause for nerd celebration whenever a manager in Major League Baseball drops it casually into conversation.

"On-base percentage? Of course it’s very important," Guillen continued. "That’s why I ask. I want to know."

What doesn't he want to know?

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"If we face Kansas City every other day, wow, do I need to read a report about [Joakim] Soria pitching? That kind of stuff, I don't buy," Guillen said.

Guillen says he prefers to manage with his instinct, or from what he's learned on the field. Not stuff he reads at desk.

"Who we playing opening day?" Guillen said. "The Indians. I want to know who's the hottest guy in the lineup that week. Because some guy hits .390 and one (other) guy hits .190 then all of a sudden the guy who’s hitting .390 goes 0 for 7. Then the guy who’s hitting .190 is on fire. That's why you’ve got to go with your gut feeling."

Bottom line: This is why it's the general manager's job to stock his roster with as many good OBPs as possible. Let the Ozzie Guillens of the world use their gut. The fewer bad options they are provided, the better their teams will be.

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A long foul ball from the White Sox side of the camp, the Dodgers worked out for new manager Don Mattingly. I kept my eyes on two L.A. relievers, closer Jonathan Broxton(notes) and All-Star left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo(notes).

This past season was a nightmare for Broxton, mostly because of a horrific second half; He allowed hitters a .925 OPS over his final 29 2/3 innings. Broxton, it has been said, lost confidence along the way.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, Broxton has gotten by — even dominated opposing batters — despite being overweight. He doesn't appear to have lost the girth he has carried.

He lagged way behind the other pitchers when running laps and seemed to agonize during the stretching that followed. Guys like David Wells and Bobby Jenks(notes) prove you don't have to be Adonis to succeed on a major league pitching mound. But Broxton is trying to bounce back from the worst stretch in his career. Being in better shape might help.

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Dodgers trainer Stan Conte is trying to explain to Kuo why a cautious approach is better for him. Kuo has had four operations on his left elbow and the Dodgers want him to take it slow in the early days of camp.

Kuo played a vigorous game of catch with Chad Billingsley(notes), getting plenty of zip on his throws, but with Conte watching closely he never really turned it loose — though it appeared he was dying to.

Kuo — who set a team record with a 1.20 ERA in 2010 — is a valuable commodity and a good bet to close games if Broxton's struggles extend to 2011.

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Previous Spring Swing stop: Feb. 18San Francisco Giants.

Follow Dave throughout spring training on Twitter — @AnswerDave — and check out the Stew on Facebook for more coverage.

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