It took Paul Sullivan a few days to figure out the registration form on Now that he's finally registered, he's crankier than ever and back to answering your questions.

Has anyone ever told Frank Thomas that it is not a crime to swing at the first pitch? Pitchers constantly groove him fastballs on the first pitch knowing that he will not swing at it. More often than not he then takes a second strike also. Please help him!! --Tim Sweeney, Villa Park, Ill.

A few weeks ago, some e-mailer here asked me to tell Frank to change his swing, which I did. Now you're asking me to tell Frank to swing at first pitches? Please, people, send your batting tips directly to Frank in care of the White Sox. Frankly, I'm tired of being the go-between.

I know you've got to stay fresh with pop culture, and that's a good thing, but with the upcoming Spider-Mania and regarding the April 21 game story, you spelled Spider-Man wrong. Caps and hyphen needed. (Shame on the copy editors). Never mention "clone" and "Spider-Man" together in the same phrase. It's a reference to a terribly confusing story line that cost Marvel Comics several thousands of dollars and readers in the mid '90s. Bad. Really bad. Not a positive reference. Marvel actually filed for bankruptcy during this time. FYI, for you are a humble baseball writer. Bad editor with limited knowledge and scope. And here I was going to ask a Parque/Comiskey attendance/Contreras/fantasy baseball/be nice to the readers question. Shame on me. Can you be sarcastic about the response, something about making fun of comic readers? Thank you. --Ashok Selvam, Chicago

Ashok, I'm picturing you as that comic book store owner on The Simpsons, the guy with the ponytail and Star Wars bed sheets. All apologies to you and all the other Spider-Man fans who were extremely upset about my mention of clones and Spider-Man. I've since turned my focus to Foghorn Leghorn, a cartoon character with which I am more familiar. I say, I say, I say...

FYI, the famous Al Smith photo can be purchased right from the Chicago Tribune gift store at Tribune Tower. I guess you don't spend much time at the office! About $150 if you're a subscriber. Just saw it there last week along with a few other Chicago sports photos. It's a Tribune photo. --Bob Szafranksi, Chicago

No, Bob, I don't spend much time in the Tribune Tower, but thanks for pointing that out to my bosses. Anyone looking for the Al Smith photo, stop on by the Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave.

Hi, Paul, my question is about the fine left-hand pitching in the bullpen. Mike Porzio looks like he needs a one-way trip to A ball. He can't throw strikes and locates the ball into bats when he does occasionally throw a strike. Jim Parque is also a bit of a problem. Little stuff needs to shut his mouth and go to the independent league to work on his stuff against fellow washed up ballplayers. If Kenny Williams and the Sox are so cheap, can't they at least sign some schlep from the speed pitch booth at Comiskey Park? The results would be much better. --Steve Hecker, Bartlett, Ill.

Please try and be a little more polite. That kind of rudeness will not be tolerated here.

With Jose Valentin not hitting well and playing terrible defense, why not put Joe Crede at third? He's always been considered an excellent defender in the minors. Also, he's hitting over .300 in Triple-A and doesn't he merit an opportunity yet? --Douglas Battaglia, Chicago

Valentin is signed through 2003, and he was actually playing good defense until last weekend in Oakland. Valentin is the heart of the team, so it's way too early to give up on him. Crede does deserve a shot sooner or later, but Valentin is a big part to this team and they need his presence in the clubhouse to win it all. A few more hits would help, too.

You mentioned in your last column that you're well-versed in Shakespeare. That thought in mind, are there any Sox players that stand out as modern day Shakespearean characters? I'll start with the easy one - Frank Thomas is clearly the Hamlet of the lot, what with his tortured prince attitude. You can take it from here... --Jon Casadont, Chicago

Kenny Williams as Richard II? Jerry Manuel as Othello? Paul Konerko as Romeo? Jerry Reinsdorf as Julius Caesar? Wallace Johnson as Puck? I could go on and on, but for the sake of the readers, I wont.

Hey, Paul, when Shakespeare wrote, "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions" (Hamlet, IV:5), was he talking about Ophelia's troubles or just the cadre of ineffective lefties in the Sox's bullpen? And don't worry, journalism school is for untalented writers who can't pen anything worthwhile on their own. I mean, Shakespeare never got into the University of Missouri's journalism school either. --Paul Gulezian, Oak Park, Ill.

I'm not sure if Shakespeare was talking about the Sox lefties there, but I do know that Richard II was talking about those outside forces from the negative media when he said: "Rage must be withstood: Give me his gage: lions make leopards tame."

Even though Frank Thomas is one of my favorite players, I think it's time to trade him. Do you agree? If so, whom do you think we could get for him? --Allen Darnall, New Lenox, Ill.

As 10-and-5 guy, meaning a player with 10 years in the majors and five on the same team, Thomas can veto any trade, as he no doubt would do. Since his contract is guaranteed and runs through 2006, I doubt his trade value would be very high in the current economic climate, with 19 teams suffering attendance drops so far this year. Better to keep Frank and hope his mediocre April numbers are an anomaly.

Why are lefties called Southpaws? --Mike Calles, Darien, Ill.

Actually, it stems from the Latin word, "Southpawius," which roughly translates to "left-handed pitcher."