Strike Three !!!

Excuse Ken Williams if hes about to go Billy Bob Thornton and turn Bad Santa these days.

After all, how many kicks in the stomach can the White Sox general manager endure this offseason?

First, there was losing out on free agent outfielder Torii Hunter on a $90-million bid from nowhere by the Angels.

Then during the Winter Meetings, a package for Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera was trumped by the division-rival Detroit Tigers.

Now, despite bidding more for Kosuke Fukudome than other any team in the running, the Japanese free agent outfielder chose the four-year deal of the cross-town rival Cubs.

According to a source with the Sox, they were told by Fukudomes agent, Joe Urbon, that despite the higher bid by the Sox, the reasoning behind the decision was that Fukudome wanted to be an organizations first Japanese player, as well as his desire to play his natural position of right field.

The Sox had him penciled in as a left fielder, and have already had two Japanese players on their roster in Shingo Takatsu and Tadahito Iguchi. Another factor was that Fukudome is friends with pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who gave him an endorsement as far as Cubs manager Lou Piniella.

So now what?

After hes done punching a few more walls, it would seem that Williams has to have a serious sit-down with free agent outfielder Aaron Rowand and his people.

Money has not been an issue in the preliminary discussions, as much as the number of years. The Sox want a four-year deal, while Rowand wants five.

But with Boston outfielder Coco Crisp still in limbo because of the trade talks for Twins pitcher Johan Santana and the Red Sox, Rowand and the Sox are starting to need each other a lot more than they were two weeks ago.

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