No huge news has come out of the Sox camp thus far, but there have been some productive and interesting activity as we wait on bigger things to come. Those “bigger” things I’m talking about are the decisions around free agents Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, the attempt to get a solid lefthanded hitter (the Cardinals’ Colby Rasmus has been rumored as a target), a move to shore up the bullpen which will impact the futures of arbitration-eligible Bobby Jenks and free agent J.J. Putz, plus various and sundry other determinations.
Here’s a rundown of what’s happened up until now:
Omar Back in Fold
Omar Vizquel‘s signing for another year at $1.75 million is the most positive move so far. He was a godsend this past season and, aside from Konerko, was probably the club’s MVP as a result of his infield wizardry and respectable .276 batting average. With promising third baseman Brent Morel slated for third base, Vizquel provides insurance there and valuable backup at both second base and shortstop.
o Return to Unsettled Bullpen and Catching Situations
Next to the Vizquel deal, picking up the options of All-Star setup man Matt Thornton and Ramon Castro, perhaps the best backup backstop in the game, have provided the most positive news. Depending on what happens with the bullpen, Thornton could be next year’s closer. And Castro, who batted .328 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in only 37 games, gives depth to the catching position, especially if Pierzynski walks.
Konerko’s decision will probably take a while, but word is that there is at least one serious suitor–his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks. Paulie, who lives in Scottsdale and grew up in that area, certainly could be tempted to stay home as opposed to re-upping with the Sox.
Unless something surprising happens, Joey Cora will be back as the White Sox bench coach. Just last week he came in second to Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke for the Milwaukee Brewers managing job.
Peavy on the Mend
Because his shoulder injury is so rare, no one knows when and, frankly, if Jake Peavy will come back close to his Cy Young form. Latest word is that he’s working hard in rehab and it won’t be long until he starts soft-tossing.
Sox Seek New AAA Skipper
The White Sox are looking for a new manager at AAA Charlotte. The previous incumbent, Chris Chambliss, best known for his pennant-winning homer for the Yankees in the 1976 ALCS, is the new hitting coach for the Mariners under new skipper Eric Wedge.
Lucy, Williams Minor League Free Agents
The Sox have outrighted both catcher Donny Lucy and lefty reliever Randy Williams to Charlotte. They are now off the 40-man roster and qualify as minor league free agents.
Rising Stars: White Sox Style
Three White Sox prospects were named to last Saturday’s Rising Stars Game, the Arizona Fall League’s All-Star Game.
Those Sox chosen were standout shortstop Eduardo Escobar (pictured below), right-handed pitcher Anthony Carter and the club’s 2009 No. 1 draft pick, Jared Mitchell.
Thus far, Escobar has been far and away the most impressive of the trio in the AFL. He is hitting .377 with an outstanding OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) while leading the league with four homers along with great play in the field. For the record, he has also added four doubles and four triples.
Carter has recorded two saves while striking out 12 in seven innings of work while Mitchell, sans the gaudy stats, is still making significant progress after missing the entire 2010 season due to a leg injury.
In the Rising Stars Game itself, Escobar and Mitchell were both 0 for 1 and Carter pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning. Their team, the West, nipped the East, 3-2.