Starting Friday, the White Sox have six weeks to get it all together before the 2016 season begins.
With another group of new players, the White Sox have plenty of unresolved questions to which they’d like answers before Opening Day April 4 in Oakland, Calif.
Pitchers and catchers will report to camp and hold their first workout on Friday at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.. The rest of the team joins them on Tuesday.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest issues facing the White Sox during spring training.
How long will the new infield take to get on the same page?
Todd Frazier appears set to take over at third, Tyler Saladino looks like the favorite to man shortstop and Brett Lawrie is earmarked for second base. While each player has spent enough time at their designated position to be comfortable, they first must find comfort with each other. Following last season’s slow start, manager Robin Ventura wants to combat another poor April and has suggested he may keep players in games longer during spring in order for them to get a feel for each other.
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Who’s the fifth starter?
What once seemed like an easy answer now is uncertain. Mat Latos is in the mix, meaning the White Sox potentially have seven pitchers competing for five spots. With the four left-handed pitchers all but shoe-ins, Latos is likely the favorite for a spot in a competition with fellow right-handers Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner.
Can Avisail Garcia get comfortable with his new stance?
It’s make-or-break time for the young outfielder, who will employ a new stance this spring. The idea is to help Garcia’s pitch selection. Though they’ve added other bats, the White Sox definitely are in need of better offensive production from Garcia. Outfielders are the one position the White Sox heavily pursued in the offseason and they could still look for a trade throughout the spring if they believe it would improve the club.
How far away from the majors is Tim Anderson?
The expectation is that the team’s top prospect — the guy everyone asked about this winter — starts the season at Triple-A Charlotte with Saladino in the bigs. But general manager Rick Hahn has also made it sound as if the opportunity for advancement is there. Were Anderson to make another strong impression in spring and follow it up with a strong start at Charlotte, he could be in the majors sooner rather than later.
Can they stay healthy?
The White Sox once again had the fewest disabled list days in the majors last season. But the team was hit with several injuries in spring training, including the loss of Chris Sale for all but 10 days at the end. An injury-free spring could play a big role in helping the White Sox get out to the quick start they believe is critical to their success.
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What can they expect from Adam LaRoche?
The veteran first baseman/designated hitter needs to rebound from the worst season of his career in order to give the club a left-handed power bat for the middle of the lineup. Never one to get off to a quick start, Ventura said he hopes to see positive signs from LaRoche, who will have to earn his job. LaRoche hit .196 last spring and followed with a .191 in April. For his career, LaRoche is a .222 hitter in April.
Who fits in the bullpen?
With Matt Albers back, Tommy Kahnle acquired and the rest of the stable healthy, the White Sox have a plethora of relievers for what is likely a seven-man bullpen. David Robertson and Zach Duke are locks, as are Albers and Nate Jones. That leaves Zach Putnam, Jake Petricka, Kahnle, Dan Jennings, Turner, Daniel Webb and Scott Carroll competing for three spots.