Jose Contreras embracing new role with White Sox

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Jose Contreras pitches against the Royals in 2004. (AP)

The White Sox’ expanding club of ambassadors added three more members Friday, including one, Jose Contreras, who in addition to performing customary ambassador-type work is expected to assist Latin players with the sometimes difficult challenge of adjusting to life in a new country.

Contreras, 46, who went 3-1 with a 3.09 ERA and one complete game for the Sox during the 2005 postseason, said he was “almost in shock” when Sox vice president Ken Williams called to ask him about a role Contreras said he feels “absolutely” equipped to take on.

“I lived the experience as a player and I survived that process,’’ said Contreras, a Las Martinas, Cuba native who enjoyed an 11-year career with the Yankees, Sox, Rockies, Phillies and Pirates. “I can tell the young guys to make adjustments more smoothly, to help and put them in the best possible position. I’ve passed through that process, I know how to do it, and that’s why I feel very confident that I can [assist] with those young kids.’’

The Sox have a long line of Cuban influence in their history, starting with Minnie Minoso and continuing today with Jose Abreu and prized prospect Luis Robert. After discussing the offer with his family, Contreras jumped in.

“Baseball is my life,’’ he said. “I’ve been around it for 30 years. To come back to my organization … I’m going to take a lot of pride in this, and I love this organization, I love this city, the fans and all the people all around the White Sox.’’

<em>White Sox pitchers, from left, Jon Garland, Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras, and Freddy Garcia, far right, with pitching coach Don Cooper, second right, holding the American League Champiosnhip trophy after they beat the Los Angeles Angels in Game 5 of t

White Sox pitchers, from left, Jon Garland, Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras, and Freddy Garcia, far right, with pitching coach Don Cooper, second right, holding the American League Champiosnhip trophy after they beat the Los Angeles Angels in Game 5 of the ALCS in Anaheim, Calif. All four pitchers pitched complete games in the ALCS. The Sox went on to the World Series. (AP)

The Sox also named Hall of Fame outfielder Tim Raines and catcher A.J. Pierzynski ambassadors. Pierzynski caught Contreras during the 2005 World Series season and Raines, who played for the Sox from 1995, was manager Ozzie Guillen’s first-base coach in 2005. He was inducted into Cooperstown in July.

Pierzynski announced his new role with the Sox at the Winter Meetings near his home in Orlando, Fla., earlier this week. Raines joined Contreras on a conference call with translator Billy Russo and media Friday morning.

“Being a part of an organization after playing for it sort of giving back to the game, giving back to the players trying to reach their goal of being major leaguers,’’ Raines said.

Five years as a player and “two years as a coach and winning a World Series [provided] a lot of fond memories,” Raines said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of it all over again.’’

Contreras, Pierzynski and Raines join Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, Bo Jackson, Bill Melton, Carlos May, Ron Kittle, Mike Huff, Donn Pall, Dan Pasqua and Mike Squires as team ambassadors who make appearances and serve as team representatives in the community and throughout baseball.

Pierzynski will represent the Sox at the 2018 Draft.

“If Rick Hahn or Kenny picks the wrong guy I can always change it at the podium,’’ Pierzynski joked this week.

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