Viciedo unlikely choice at 3B if Youkilis goes elsewhere

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With the number of teams showing interest in free agent Kevin Youkilis probably nearing a half dozen, the chances of the third baseman returning to the White Sox seemingly get smaller. That hasn’t prompted the Sox to consider moving left fielder Dayan Viciedo back to third base just yet.

“I don’t want to rule out anything because it’s a week before Thanksgiving so it’s foolish to close off any options,” Hahn said Thursday. “We’re exploring a lot of options that we rank ahead of moving Viciedo from the outfield. He’s fully capable. He’s athletic enough to handle it but at the same time we’ve moved this kid around a lot. We’ve asked a lot of him in terms of the role he plays in our offense going forward. But at this time I don’t think it’s in his best interest. We’re not going to rule it out but there are a lot of other options ahead of that.”

Hahn did rule out the long-shot possibility of trying left-handed hitting Dan Johnson, who hit three homers on the last day of the season but has minimal experience there, on that corner. Meanwhile, the interest in Youkilis, whose $13 million option was declined by the Sox after his productive half season in Chicago, is said to have heard from the Indians, Phillies, Dodgers and Mariners – as well as the Sox, of course.

Hahn said he won’t rule anything out after A.J. Pierzynski’s unexpected re-signing two years ago.

“We knew once the free agency period hit it would be more challenging to sign our own guys,” said Hahn, who moved quickly to bring back Jake Peavy for two years and an option year before Peavy could test the market. “It’s a rather thin free agent market in spots — starting pitching among them for Jake and third base for Kevin.

“It’s not a shock that he’s heard from a bunch of teams, that he’s popular or that it will be a challenge to bring him back. But we continue to have dialog with him, and other options, and it’s still early so we’ll see where it goes.”

Hahn said his talks after last week’s general managers meetings have been about equal between agents of free agents and GMs for trades.

“We’ve had some real good conversations, some followups,” Hahn said. “We saw the big trade the other day (Marlins, Blue Jays) and teams are starting to zero in on converting some of their options right now. It may well be not until clubs get to the (winter meetings in) Nashville (Dec. 3-6) that you begin to see the bulk of the activity as you usually do but things are starting to happen. Conversations are getting more substantive, offers are flying back and forth, so something could happen at any time.”

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