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White Sox feeling relaxed after strong finish

Former Ray Toby Hall, right, with fellow catcher A.J. Pierzynski, gets into the Trop spirit by ringing a cowbell during practice.

EDMUND FOUNTAIN | Times

Former Ray Toby Hall, right, with fellow catcher A.J. Pierzynski, gets into the Trop spirit by ringing a cowbell during practice.

ST. PETERSBURG — A.J. Pierzynski slept on a recliner as the Brewers-Phillies game droned. Ken Griffey wrestled with his son, Trey, in the corner.

After arriving in their Renaissance Vinoy Resort hotel rooms after 4 a.m. following a flight from Chicago, the White Sox leisurely approached a late afternoon workout at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, bleary-eyed but confident their searing last week would suffice as practice for the American League Division Series.

After overcoming a five-game losing streak that vaporized their Central lead over the Twins, they beat Cleveland in the final game of the regular season Sunday, Detroit in a makeup Monday and the Twins in a one-game playoff Tuesday to win the division.

"Momentum is big," said DH Jim Thome, whose seventh-inning homer enabled a 1-0 win against Minnesota. "If you look throughout the postseasons, the wild-card teams that get in do very well because they've had to play good tight games, they've had to play close games to get to this point. Hopefully that will play in our favor."

BACK AGAIN: C Toby Hall spent seven seasons waiting for the Rays' first playoff appearance. He'll watch it from the Chicago bench. Traded to the Dodgers in June 2006 in a deal that yielded C Dioner Navarro, and signed by the White Sox as a free agent before the 2007 season, Hall has maintained ties with a few coaches and OF Carl Crawford.

"I always believed, every spring training coming in that 'This is going to be the year, this is going to be the year,' " Hall said. "Unfortunately it never was. It's just good to see those guys where they are right now."

ETC.: Chicago will go with a rotation of Javier Vazquez (12-16), Mark Buehrle (15-12), John Danks (12-9) and Gavin Floyd (17-8). … Apparently trying to get in on the mania, Hall rang a cowbell mercilessly during batting practice before lofting it into leftfield so reliever Octavio Dotel could have a turn.

White Sox feeling relaxed after strong finish 10/01/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 2, 2008 6:29pm]
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