Top pick Hawkins enjoys first day at Cell

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox first-round draft pick Courtney Hawkins could have done a back flip after the day he had at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday.

But, of course, Hawkins’ days of back flips are over per the instruction of White Sox general manager Ken Williams. Despite the one limitation, Hawkins was given open reign at the ballpark Monday in his first official day as a White Sox player.

“Oh man, it’s been crazy,” Hawkins said during the Cubs-White Sox game.

Hawkins, who was joined by his parents, began with his day with a press conference to sign his pro contract. He and Williams took questions from the media afterward.

Hawkins then went to the White Sox clubhouse, was given a uniform and had a locker for the day next to reliever Matt Thornton. He later stretched with the team, played catch and took batting practice, which included hitting a few balls into the bleachers.

White Sox third baseman Orlando Hudson messed around with Hawkins at the batting cage.

“Orlando had some words for me taking a couple extra swings, but it was fun,” Hawkins said. “[He said] basically, ‘You’re a rookie and don’t be taking my cuts.’ ”

Hawkins made sure to seek out Adam Dunn.

“I’m really close with Brooks Kieschnick, and he actually told me to talk to Adam Dunn because he was fun and crazy,” Hawkins said. “He was right. He gave me a big hug.”

Hawkins also met former White Sox star Frank Thomas and former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen, who along with Hawkins threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

“[Pippen] basically said, ‘Work hard, get here, it’s a fun city,’ ” Hawkins said. “I’m going to do that the best I can.

“This is the ultimate goal of course. This is where every kid dreams on being. I’ll just go out every day, play ball and do the best I can and be here as soon as possible.”

Hawkins will fly out to Bristol, Va. on Tuesday morning and will join the Bristol White Sox for their season opener.

Hawkins said there wasn’t just one moment that would stand out from Monday, but he had been especially impressed by the love he had received from White Sox fans.

“That’s one thing I do have to say, White Sox fans are really loyal,” Hawkins said. “They’re excited to have me. That felt good to know they supported me already, and they love their White Sox.”