White Sox

With Frasor gone, who's in the Sox bullpen?

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With Frasor gone, who's in the Sox bullpen?

As Jason Frasor makes his way back to Toronto, the White Sox 2012 bullpen currently has four locks: Addison Reed, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton and Will Ohman. That leaves three spots open.
One of those will probably go to Zach Stewart to fill a long reliever role, although Dylan Axelrod could pitch his way into a roster spot if he has a good spring or Stewart tanks in Arizona. Maybe the Sox take both Axelrod and Stewart, although whoever doesn't end up in the MLB pen would be better served pitching out of Charlotte's starting rotation.
So with two spots open, here's a rundown of who could break camp with the Sox in early April:
Hector Santiago: The screwballing lefty fits more as a long reliever if he'll be in a bullpen role, but he's perhaps the most impressive arm the Sox currently could call upon. That being said, the Sox could also elect to put Santiago in Charlotte's starting rotation -- a move that would be worth it, since starting pitching is much more valuable than long relief.

Gregory Infante: Control is still an issue for Infante, who walked 32 with 59 strikeouts in 68 13 innings across Double-A, Triple-A and the majors last year. He has a power arm but not the gaudy minor league strikeout totals to back it up. That being said, he's on the 40-man roster and will be 25 in July. He's also one of the better options the Sox have under their control at this point, which, depending on your point of view, may not be a good thing.
Brian Bruney: The Sox brought Bruney back on a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training after the righty posted a 5.87 ERA with the Sox in 2011. He had some decent results in the majors before regressing hard in his final few games, after which he was designated for assignment. He doesn't have much upside, but at least the Sox will be aware of what they're getting if he winds up in the 2012 bullpen.
Jhan Marinez: One of the players the Sox received from Miami in the Ozzie Guillen swap, Marinez is a power arm with even more control issues than Infante. Over 58 innings in Double-A last season, Marinez walked 42 with 74 strikeouts. It's hard to imagine the Sox going with a guy who averaged 6.5 walks per nine innings unless he blows everyone away in the spring.
Deunte Heath: Another guy with control issues, Heath walked 62 in 102 23 innings splitting time between the rotation and bullpen in Charlotte last year. He did strike out 117 and does have the ability to throw multiple innings, but he didn't walk a batter in just two of his 14 relief appearances in Triple-A last year. And he walked two or more in half of those appearances.
Simon Castro: The righty acquired from San Diego in the Carlos Quentin trade may ultimately wind up as a reliever, but the Sox will almost certainly give him a shot at starting first before dumping him in the bullpen.
Jacob Petricka: He's another guy who may wind up pitching in relief but will get a shot to start next season, albeit at Double-A.
Other less likely candidates: Anthony Carter, Nathan Jones, Donnie Veal
An outside source: Adding a reliever via either free agency or a trade could be a route the Sox go, but if they do, they need to be careful to not overpay for the fourth or fifth guy out of their bullpen -- in other words, someone who won't have as big an impact as Thornton, Crain or Reed.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

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USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.