I don’t want to be the typical provincial fan who can’t see beyond his own team and, admittedly, I haven’t done the required research to make the case. But it’s hard for me to believe there’s a bullpen in baseball with as much quality and depth as the White Sox.
After failing to get a sniff of the major leagues as an infielder with five organizations, Sergio Santos is finally a big-leaguer–as a relief pitcher. He earned that distinction with a fine spring and today the 2002 No. 1 draft pick of the Diamondbacks was named to the White Sox 25-man roster heading into Opening Day. And he’s only been pitching since last year.
The other roster question was also answered as Jayson Nix made the team as a utility infielder/outfielder.
The final cuts were infielder/outfielder Brent Lillibridge, outfielder Alejandro De Aza, pitcher Dan Hudson (Charlotte) and hurlers Greg Aquino, Erick Threets and Charlie Leesman plus catcher Donny Lucy (assigned to minor league camp).
The Sox will go into battle beginning next Monday with the following roster:
Pitchers (12): Mark Buehrle, Jake Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Freddy Garcia, Bobby Jenks, Matt Thornton, J.J. Putz, Scott Linebrink, Tony Pena, Randy Williams, Sergio Santos
Catchers (2): A.J. Pierzynski, Ramon Castro
Infielders (7): Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Mark Teahen, Mark Kotsay, Omar Vizquel, Jayson Nix
Outfielders (4): Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones
The dream comes true for Sergio Santos
The truth is that spring training records mean little. Of course any time they’re keeping score you want to win, but getting the regulars ready for the season and the liberal use of secondary players and youngsters to see what they can do is the main purpose. And there is really no proof that a winning record in Arizona or Florida will mean a winning season or vice versa. For the record, the Sox went 14-18 in the spring of 2005.
The Sox brass is reportedly meeting today to make decisions on the 25-man roster. The big issue appears to be whether or not they keep 12 or 13 pitchers or an extra infielder. It seems like Sergio Santos would be the 12th pitcher with Greg Aquino and Dan Hudson vying for the 13th spot. If 13 hurlers go north, it could spell the end of Jayson Nix in a Sox uniform since he’s out of options.
Sox notes of note: Despite yesterday’s two losses, there were some bright spots. In the 10-8 loss to the Royals at Camelback Ranch, Mark Teahen continued his resurgence. He went 2 for 4 with an RBI, lifting his spring average to .277…Scott Linebrink, Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz each pitched a scoreless inning against K.C….The Sox were blanked 5-0 by the Rangers in Surprise, but Paul Konerko‘s two hits brought his spring average to .327 and Gavin Floyd gave up only a pair of runs with six strikeouts in six innings of work…John Danks makes the start tonight at home against the Angels.
* After receiving an alert on my BlackBerry yesterday that Brent Lillibridge (above) smashed a home run in the Sox 5-3 loss to the Padres, it dawned on me that I couldn’t remember the last time a home run was a negative for the player hitting it. There certainly have been times when a home run meant nothing–for instance, in a blowout game–but this was rare. Why? because Ozzie has been preaching to Lilli that he shouldn’t try to be a power hitter and he’s much more suited to play small ball. So, instead of the Sox brass liking what they saw, it very well could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back in Brent’s quest to win a roster spot in his tug of war with Jayson Nix.
* Speaking of Nix, it looks like he’s won the battle. Earlier in the spring Ozzie expressed his disappointment in both Lillibridge and Nix, but in Jayson’s defense he has hit .345 to Brent’s 214. A negative for both is their strikeout totals. Nix has K’d nine times, Lillibridge eight.
* Sergio Santos, the much-ballyhooed “out of options” converted infielder who is making a bid as a reliever on the 25-man roster, had his scoreless spring halted yesterday. He gave up two runs, two hits and a walk in one inning of work. Reading comments from Ozzie, it doesn’t appear this blip will affect Santos’ chances.
* While Santos struggled against San Diego, both J.J. Putz and Scott Linebrink pitched scoreless baseball.
* In the category of small victories, after his two-run homer on Wednesday Mark Teahen doubled against the Padres–hopefully showing he’s on his way back.
* Interesting piece by Scott Merkin on whitesox.com focusing on the mentor-student relationship between vet Jake Peavy and up and comer Dan Hudson. Peavy: “To be as young as he is, he does a great job of just kind of observing and taking in everything…
Huddy has a great idea of what is going on, and I love his makeup and ability.”
* Freddy Garcia and the Sox face the Diamondbacks today at their former spring home in Tucson.
In less than two weeks (Monday, April 5), the White Sox open up the regular season against the Cleveland Indians at U.S. Cellular Field.
Today, the Sox got a bit closer to their Opening Day 25-man roster by sending two players to Charlotte–pitcher Carlos Torres and catcher Tyler Flowers–and five others to their minor league camp. They include outfielder Jordan Danks, first baseman Josh Kroeger, third baseman Brent Morel, second baseman C.J. Retherford and pitcher Ryan Braun. There are now 32 left in the big league camp.
The likely scenario finds two roster spots yet to be filled. The Sox expect to take 12 pitchers north–starters Jake Peavy, Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Freddy Garcia and a bullpen of Bobby Jenks, J.J. Putz, Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink, Tony Pena, Randy Williams and one of the following: Sergio Santos (pictured below), Dan Hudson, Greg Aquino, Erick Threets and Charlie Leesman. The best bet to make it is Santos, who is out of options and has been very impressive this spring.
The other spot, a backup infielder/outfielder, will probably go to either frontrunner Jayson Nix, who is out of options, or Brent Lillibridge. The wild card here is if the Sox decide to go with red-hot outfielder Alejandro De Aza instead of Nix or Lillibridge. Or, they could go with 11 pitchers and take both De Aza and Nix/Lillibridge (pictured below, left to right, under the watchful eye their skipper). One last possibility, admittedly remote, is to take a 13th pitcher instead of the extra position player.