White Sox

Sox Drawer: How Pierzynski almost became a Cub

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Sox Drawer: How Pierzynski almost became a Cub

When you see A.J. Pierzynski take the field tonight for the White Sox, remember the following date:

Nov. 14, 2003.

Its the day in which Pierzynski was a part of an infamous blockbuster trade between the Twins and Giants. Minnesota sent its 26-year-old promising catcher to San Francisco for three young pitchers: Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser. Its a deal that drastically changed the fortunes of the two franchises.

But it came eerily close to forever altering two others:

The White Sox and Cubs.

When I got traded to the Giants, I actually thought I was going to the Cubs, Pierzynski revealed to Comcast SportsNet for the upcoming show Inside Look: A.J. Pierzynski. LaTroy Hawkins had just signed with the Cubs and he called me and said hed talked to Dusty Baker and they were going to trade for me the next day.

The Cubs were prepared to offer relievers Todd Wellemeyer and Juan Cruz for Pierzynski, which would have been one of the greatest steals in Cubs history. Already disliked by White Sox fans while playing for the AL-Central rival Twins, Pierzynski was on the verge of going to the North Side where the hate-meter would have gone off-the-charts.

A.J. was ready to pack his bags for Wrigley. But then...

When I got the phone call from Twins GM Terry Ryan, it was actually to the Giants. I guess they came in at the last minute and sweetened their deal and got it done, Pierzynski said.

So when the phone call came, you thought it was going to be the Cubs?

Yes. Actually I did.

Fates would have changed.

Slightly, yeah. It would have been a little bit different progression to my career if I ended up on the North Side.

A.J. would spend just one year in San Francisco before getting released the following December. It was a turbulent, misunderstood season with the Giants in which Pierzynski explains in great detail in the Inside Look program which will air on Comcast SportsNet in July.

Pierzynski signed with the White Sox in January of 2005 and has since become a South Side icon.

Now in the final year of a two-year contract with the White Sox, Pierzynski is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. He loves Chicago and wants to remain with the White Sox. But if they decide to move ahead with Tyler Flowers, and Pierzynski wants to stay in town, would he consider signing with the Cubs?

I could never say no to that, because as much as I love the White Sox, as much as I would love to be here, if they were the only team that came after me and I wanted to continue to play, how could I say no? You know its one of those situations where, they have a good catcher in Geovany Soto, so I dont think thats gonna happen, but its one of those situations where you can never say no to something.

People never thought theyd see Michael Jordan in another uniform and he was a Wizard, you know its one of those things that you just never know what can happen, andI dont want it to happen. I dont want to leave here, but at the same time, Im in a better place than I was two years ago when I had a horrible free agent year because all I wanted to do was stay here. And I still want to stay here and I want to keep playing, but at the same time, I know that Ive done enough here that Im okay with moving on if I have to.

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

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AP

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”