The Tribune's White Sox writer answers reader questions throughout the season. This week, Josh Fields' chances of spelling Joe Crede, a scouting report on Aaron Rowand and whether the Sox will show some fire in Minnesota.

Mark, now that Joe Crede's back is worse and his chances of staying with the Sox long-term are even dimmer, what's up with Josh Fields? Is he playing third in the minors, or is he in the outfield? Are there any recent indications he could be Crede's worthy successor? --Danny Kramer, Steamboat, Colo.

With Crede's back still giving him fits, is it time to sit him down for a rest and take a long look at Josh Fields? --Doug, Westwood, Kan.

Mark, would the Sox ever think about bringing up Josh Fields to play some third while Joe Crede is sidelined with his back injury? I cannot help but think he would be an upgrade from Pablo Ozuna defensively and at this point, offensively as well. --Derek, Chicago

The fact that Joe's back is acting up this early isn't a good sign, although he was showing signs of finding his stroke the game before his back started to stiffen in 45-degree weather. I'm not sure Josh Fields, would benefit being on the 25-man roster as an insurance policy or backup, as was the case with Ryan Sweeney and Brian Anderson.

But if Joe's back condition necessitates him being placed on the disabled list, then I'm all for giving Fields a look at the big league level.

As for Joe's future beyond 2007, keep in mind that he cannot become a free agent until 2008. I know there was speculation that Crede was about to be dealt the past two years because he is represented by Scott Boras, but Scott and assistant GM Rick Hahn found some common ground last January and I wouldn't be surprised if this happens next winter, assuming Joe's back condition doesn't get worse.

Fields played shortstop on Monday, but that was because of an "out of our control," issue, according to a team official. I believe it was because of Andy Gonzalez's promotion.

Rowand is not an "exceptional" centerfielder. All you'd have to do is watch last night's game and see him misplay three catchable fly balls. He plays too shallow and lacks the speed necessary to get the ball over his head. Also, his arm is below average. Frankly, he's been awful this season in the field. The Phillies' best centerfielder is their right fielder, Victorino. --Duttch, Philadelphia

Hi Mark, life-long Sox fan living in Philly. I have a partial season plan here and love seeing Aaron and Fredo at Citizens Bank Park. But to the faithful who long for Aaron's return, I say he's not the same defensive outfielder we saw own Yankee Stadium in 2005. His run-ins with the wall and Utley last year have left him noticeably gun shy and he is not getting a good break on line drives this year. I love the guy, but my fellow fans need to live in the present with Erstad. Aaron for Thome was a good trade for both teams. --Paul Aspan, Havertown, Pa.

Thanks to the scouting reports on Aaron. I did see Aaron misplay a ball that resulted in a triple for Miguel Olivo, of all people, last week.

For those of us that actually watch the Sox every day, and don't use websites to form our opinions about players, Darin Erstad has been a great addition to the team. That being said, what are your thoughts on the leadoff spot when Pods returns? Pods was having a good year before the injury, but Erstad is doing a heck of a job as our leadoff man. --Dan, Omaha

Dan, you're the leader for e-mail of the year. I like to use stats to support my case, but I'm mindful of what late scout Lloyd Christopher told a few of us in high school when evaluating players: "Statistics don't mean a thing."

I'd prefer to keep Erstad as the leadoff batter, but keep in mind that he hasn't played a full season since 2005, and he's played a lot of games already. Podsednik, if healthy, could provide a lift with his speed.

What are the odds of the White Sox signing Torii Hunter after this season? I think he's got the talent and grit to finally get people to stop talking about how to get Aaron Rowand back. --Curtis Marquardt, Chicago

Curtis, I was thinking the same thing shortly after Hunter robbed Thome of a homer. If Torii could hit well at the top of the order, he might be worth a look. He has tremendous defensive gifts, and he is one of several options this off-season if he doesn't re-sign with Minnesota.

Thought you'd like a break from the Ozzie-bashing to answer a general baseball question: Do you know why teams don't shake hands after games? It seems as though baseball is the only sport where this doesn't happen. --Ed, Indianapolis

Thanks, Ed. The Los Angeles Dodgers shook hands with the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2004 National League Division Series, but that was the only instance where I saw two teams shake hands.

My guess is that so many teams played each other (as many as 18 times against every league team), so it would get very repetitive. You hear and read about stories where players didn't want to get too friendly with opponents because there would be situations where a player had to slide hard into second to break up a double play, etc.