Belle's Winter Workout Helping Spring Numbers

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Byline: Scot Gregor Daily Herald Sports Writer

TUCSON, Ariz. - Few players work harder on their game than Albert Belle, but the White Sox' left fielder said it is the work he's done on his body over the winter that is paying off this spring.

Saying he shed body fat, not muscle mass, Belle reported to training camp at 225 pounds this year, compared to 240 last spring.

"My off-season workout was baseball-oriented, but I was able to lose more body fat," Belle said. "Once you do that, your body balances out."

The balance has carried over to the plate, too.

Last spring, Belle never got in rhythm and he failed to hit a home run in the exhibition season. This spring, Belle has already hit 2 home runs and, after going 1-for-3 in Friday's 5-1 Cactus League loss to Oakland, his batting average stands at .467.

"(Hitting coach) Ron Jackson knows my approach to hitting and we pretty much picked up where we left off last season," Belle said. "I feel really good at the plate right now. My balance is pretty good. Last year, I felt off-balance."

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Ready to go: Roger McDowell is scheduled to pitch 1 inning in an intrasquad game tomorrow.

The veteran relief pitcher, who has not appeared in a major-league game since August of 1996, continues to battle back from three shoulder operations in the past two years and, obviously, he's anxious to throw in a live setting.

McDowell had to be backed off during the first week of training camp when he felt pain in his right shoulder, but he's been making steady progress ever since.

"I'm just trying to take one step at a time and so far, most of my days have been positive," McDowell said. …