White Sox

Todd Frazier: White Sox have 'key cogs' in place

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Todd Frazier: White Sox have 'key cogs' in place

GLENDALE, Ariz. — At the time he was acquired by the White Sox, Todd Frazier had a convergence of significant life moments.

The New Jersey house he lived in was for sale, his wife was pregnant with their second child and the family was about to move into a newly purchased home. And then, of course, there was the little matter of the Dec. 16 three-team trade that brought Frazier to the White Sox from the Cincinnati Reds.

As Frazier described it Sunday morning, he had a “lot of crap going on, a lot of great stuff.”  

Two days later, his daughter was born.

So it wasn’t until a week later that the two-time All-Star third basemen could even begin to research his new team. And with each investigation, Frazier, who has been in White Sox camp for several days, has increasingly grown confident in his new club.

[SHOP: Gear up for the season, White Sox fans!]

“We’ve got the key cogs,” Frazier said. “I did a little homework. I looked online a little bit and saw the capabilities we have with this team. The pitching staff is great, through the bullpen and starters. And I’ve said this all the time, if we’re healthy, if the team is healthy and we’ve got guys who produce and do their jobs, we’ll be fine.”

If Frazier can match what he has done the last four full seasons with the Reds, the White Sox should be much better all around than they were in 2015.

Not only should Frazier provide the offense with a middle-of-order bat — he has averaged 25 1/2 home runs the past four seasons — but the glove is very good, too.

From 2012-15, Frazier produced 5 1/4 Defensive Runs Saved per season and had an average Ultimate Zone Rating of 6.4, according to fangraphs.com.

Last season, White Sox third baseman were 30th among 30 teams in OPS (.611) and 29th in Wins Above Replacement with minus-1.3.

[MORE: Hahn confident offense has improved but won't rule out additions]

“It’s important to have a guy who can play it on both sides of the ball,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s got a track record. That’s the biggest thing, is you’re looking at a guy that when you start looking at what he’s done in the past couple of years, you’re confident he’s going to be able to come over here and do that.”

Frazier is a pretty gregarious guy — “I talk a lot,” he said. But as he tries to get his bearings in a new clubhouse, Frazier intends to operate in a little more of a low-key fashion.

“I’m not going to be as boisterous,” Frazier said. “I’m not going to be crazy. I have to find my little niche.”

Frazier said he doesn’t mind any pressure expectations may bring.

Last week, Fangraphs declared the team’s trade for the 2014 Home Run Derby champion to be the second-best move of the offseason. Even though he’s switching leagues — “I’ve got a lot more homework to do,” he said — ZiPS projects Frazier to produce 3.7 WAR while Steamer has him at 3.4.

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That kind of production would not only provide protection for Jose Abreu, it could help the White Sox turn around an offense that was mired in a slump for much of 2015. If they can get those issues taken care of, the White Sox may just end their streak of losing seasons at three.

“This is a team that is striving to be winners, to make the playoffs,” Frazier said. “That’s basically the first goal there has to be. You’ve got to get to the playoffs. You start off slow. You always have team goals, you always consider them really high, but once we get to the playoffs, then we can do some damage. So let’s start with the division, and then we can go from there.”

After everything that transpired this offseason, this baseball stuff has to be much easier for Frazier. With everything else occurring all at once, he needed a little time to process his livelihood and how it would be affected by the first trade of his career. But now that he’s arrived, Frazier likes what he sees.

“I had so much going on,” Frazier said. “It took me basically, like, a week to calm down and breathe a little bit. I kind of looked online and saw a lineup of the guys we had. I got pretty excited.”

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.”