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The Bulls/Sox Academy will open a new baseball and softball facility in Glen Ellyn, the organization announced Wednesday. It is scheduled to open by early January in the Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center at 800 St. Charles Road.

According to the news release, this marks the fifth training facility operated under the authority of the White Sox. More than 50,000 players have received instruction through its programs.

We're late posting this, but here's an interesting look at the Hairston family from reporter Mark Sheldon. Jerry Hairston Jr. reflects on hanging out at the old Comiskey Park while his father played for the White Sox:

"Back then, it was great, but now as I'm older, I realize I got a chance to be around Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, Greg Luzinski and all those great players," Hairston Jr. said. "There was camaraderie they had on that team -- the older players with kids, too. Casey Fisk, Ryan Luzinski, my brothers and Doug Rader's kids, we always went out and played.

"My father didn't want us running around wild in the clubhouse. He stressed that the clubhouse was a sacred area. Just make sure you respect everybody. He said, 'I'm your father but you have 24 other guys here that have to get ready to play.' I understood at a young age that those guys were there to do a job."

UPDATE: Cincinnati Enquirer reporter John Erardi has more on the Civil Rights Game and its connection to generations of Hairstons.

Here's one way to stretch your entertainment dollar in the middle of a recession. Even if you're priced out of big-league games, U.S. Cellular Field will open its doors on April 15 for Notre Dame and Northwestern.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at or the stadium's box office. Proceeds from the game will benefit Chicago White Sox Charities. The club hosted a similar event last year when Notre Dame took on Northern Illinois to support a scholarship fund at the DeKalb university.

There will still be several local connections. Scott Lawler, a Naperville Central graduate, is the Fighting Irish associate head coach. Sophomore Mick Doyle, the infielder out of Benet, has started 17 games this season for Notre Dame and is hitting .271.

Geoff Rowan, less than a year removed from his senior season at Neuqua Valley, is trying to find his role at Northwestern. Rowan has made three appearances out of the bullpen and seen time at catcher, his listed position on the team's roster.

Extra Points

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-Ben Johnson, a sophomore midfielder out of Naperville North, will transfer from Western Illinois to play soccer at Saint Xavier, the Chicago university announced Tuesday. The Woodridge native previously played at Missouri State.

-White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper will run pitching camps in Lisle, LaGrange, Barrington, Tinley Park and Schererville, Ind. The Lisle sessions will be Jan. 24-25 for high school athletes and players ages 7-13. For more on the Bulls Sox Academy events, click here.

-Naperville's Centerfield Sports Academy will be running a pitching camp through Feb. 6 for players ages 13-18. The 90-minute sessions will be held three times a week for four-consecutive weeks. For more information, click here.

-Unbeaten Wheaton College (13-0) remains No. 1 in the national Top 25 poll. North Central College (10-3) received votes in the same poll.

The answer's not clear yet, is it?

Sure, by Monday, both the Cubs and the Sox may be out of the playoffs. October may have come and gone without a single postseason victory between either North or South Side ballclub. It's unacceptable.

But then again, football rules in this town. If the Bears pull another 2007 - in other words, they don't make a postseason appearance like their baseball counterparts - then perhaps all is most lost in that regard.

Waubsonsie Valley graduate Michael Bowden will make his major league debut today against the White Sox at Fenway Park. In this well-reported column, Alex Speier of reconstructs how the Red Sox approached Bowden, sharing several insider details about Boston's front office leading up to the 2005 amateur draft.

Ozzie being Ozzie

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Ozzie Guillen has turned the pregame media briefing into a kind of performance art. And it's not just when he generates headlines for some politically incorrect blanket statement about (insert name of opposing player/group of people here).

Day after day, sitting in the White Sox dugout, he patiently answers questions, even the ones that aren't really phrased as questions. He generally seems to enjoy the exchange, and on Monday he riffed for more than 15 minutes.

Guillen said that he doesn't know how many wins the White Sox have, nor does he study the standings all that closely.

"I just check the paper (to see) what they say about me," Guillen said. "As long as we win series, that's all I care."

He's also not reluctant to talk about other teams' players, or break down the Manny Ramirez trade: "With all due respect to Mr. Bay, I'd rather pitch (to) Bay than face Manny. ... Manny might be MVP in two months. He's got a chance."

When a Boston reporter asked for his impressions of Jed Lowrie, Guillen talked about the evolution of shortstops, and how it has changed from a defensive position to an offensive one.

"Thank God I grew up in the 80s," Guillen said. If I was playing right now, I'd be at Triple-A all my life."

Check back later

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Shortly after 11 a.m., during his pregame briefing, Ozzie Guillen was asked if he could ever manage the Cubs. At first the White Sox manager wavered, "No, I don't know man."

Guillen then refocused and joked that he'd have to wait until White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf dies before he'd even consider managing on the North Side.

"Then, I'll take a look at it," Guillen said. "I'd never do that to Jerry Reinsdorf. I'd never do it to (general manager) Kenny Williams."

Draft ETC.

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JOLIET - This was a good week for Highland pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 32nd overall pick in the amateur draft on Thursday, threw seven shutout innings to beat Crystal Lake Central 1-0 in the Class 3A semifinal on Friday and then nailed down the final two outs as the Bulldogs beat Rock Falls 6-2 for the state title on Saturday. Odorizzi (14-0) struck out two batters to earn the save.

Two of Benet's rivals were drafted in the later rounds. Joliet Catholic's John Ruettiger, who shared ESCC player of the year honors with Bryan Roberts, was selected by the Texas Rangers with the 1,053rd pick. Lockport's Steve Sabatino, a Notre Dame recruit who saved the 4-2 win over Benet in the sectional semifinal, was chosen by the White Sox with the 1,260th pick.

For a list of players who consider Illinois home, click here.

Who me?

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JOLIET - Wheaton North senior first baseman Travis Otto got a call Friday night around 7:30 or 8, and it wasn't a telemarketer. The White Sox had selected him with the 1,458th pick of the amateur draft.

"I had no clue that was gonna happen," the 6-6, 190-pound Otto said. "I didn't expect it at all."

Otto later told Sun contributor Eddie Burns that he still plans to attend Illinois Wesleyan...and play golf. Saturday's 4-3 loss to Neuqua Valley marked his final baseball game.

The Red Line is a weekly feature about Chicago baseball, talking about what is going on both at the Addison stop in Wrigleyville and at the 35th Street station on the South Side.

So now that the Toronto Blue Jays have cut Frank Thomas, one has to wonder how the future Hall of Famer will end his career. The career home run leader in White Sox history was given his leave a day after complaining that he was being benched because Toronto didn't want him to get enough at-bats to trigger a $10 million bonus.

Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi said it was more about him hitting .167 through his first 60 ABs this year.

"I told Frank our decision is based on performance," Ricciardi said, "and his decision is based on not being able to be in the lineup.

"It was a mutual agreement. Frank was very professional about it. He thanked the organization for everything and we thank him."

The Jays are still on the hook for roughly US$8-million of Thomas's 2008 salary, whether or not he signs with another team.

Either way, Frank Thomas is available. The Big Hurt has a bat (and $8 mildo of Blue Jay dollars) and he certainly could be an asset for a playoff team despite being nearly 40 years old.



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Sun staff writers take the temperature of sports in Naperville, Chicago and beyond.