The White Sox should have a good idea whether or not their fan-friendly campaign works when individual game tickets go on sale on Thursday morning.
In an attempt to reverse six straight seasons in which attendance has declined -- last season dipped below 2 million for the first time since 2004 -- the team has reduced ticket and parking prices. Tickets start as low as 7 in the upper deck and 20 in the lower deck for all but three of 81 home games when they go on sale at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The same tickets go for as little as 5 in the upper deck and 15 in the lower deck on Sundays. Sunday parking has been reduced to 10.
Tomorrow is going to be a real big test, said Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing. When you think of a family of four from the suburbs who is cash-strapped, they can park and be in the park for as little as 30 on Sundays.
Earlier this offseason the White Sox announced they had completed a fan survey and knew they needed to change direction in order to bring new and old fans back to U.S. Cellular Field. The team reduced the price of season tickets in the bleachers and rearranged its pricing structure, a move owner Jerry Reinsdorf acknowledged in November was needed.
What we did was rebalance it, Reinsdorf said. We raised the prices significantly on the inside seats and weve cut the prices substantially on the outside seats just to get where they ought to be.
White Sox fans can purchase tickets online at WhiteSox.com or at 866-SOX-GAME on Thursday. Tickets go on sale at the box office beginning Saturday.
The White Sox made some adjustments to their 40-man roster ahead of Monday's deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.
Rules stipulate that a player who signed when he was 18 or younger and has played five seasons of professional baseball is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft if he is not on his team's 40-man roster. Because of that, the White Sox — like the rest of the teams in the league — made some moves Monday to protect certain players.
The White Sox announced Monday afternoon that they purchased the contracts of infielder Casey Gillaspie from Triple-A Charlotte, outfielder Eloy Jimenez from Double-A Birmingham, outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and pitcher Ian Clarkin from Class-A Winston-Salem and outfielder Micker Adolfo from Class-A Kannapolis.
Simultaneously, pitchers Chris Beck and Tyler Danish were outrighted to Charlotte.
The most notable name on the list is of course Jimenez, the highly ranked outfielder acquired from the Cubs in July's trade that sent Jose Quintana to the North Side. Jimenez was a no-brainer to be protected after he slugged 19 homers and hit 22 doubles with 65 RBIs in his 89 games in the minors last season, splitting time between Birmingham and Winston-Salem in the White Sox system and Class-A Myrtle Beach in the Cubs' system. Jimenez is ranked as the White Sox No. 1 prospect by MLB.com.
Gillaspie was acquired in the trade that sent Dan Jennings to the Tampa Bay Rays. The brother of former White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie, he hit 15 homers and 20 doubles in 125 games all at the Triple-A level. Gillaspie is ranked as the White Sox No. 11 prospect by MLB.com.
Basabe, the White Sox No. 17 prospect, was in last offseason's Chris Sale trade and hit .221 with five homers and 12 doubles at Winston-Salem. Adolfo, the White Sox No. 14 prospect, was signed as a free agent in 2013 and hit .264 with 16 homers and 28 doubles at Kannapolis. Clarkin, the White Sox No. 22 prospect, was acquired in the seven-player trade with the Yankees in July and posted a 2.60 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 86.2 innings of work at the Class-A level.
The 27-year-old Beck posted a very high 6.40 ERA in 64.2 innings out of the White Sox bullpen last season. Danish made just one appearance with the big league club last season, getting his first major league win in the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.
Only three more months till the White Sox are back in action.
The South Siders announced their spring training schedule Monday, with Cactus League play commencing Feb. 23 out in Arizona.
The White Sox have the unenviable task of opening the exhibition schedule against the defending National League champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers playing hosts to the Pale Hose in Glendale. The White Sox will be the visitors, though they share the Camelback Ranch facility with the Dodgers, so they'll still be in their home ballpark. Their first official home game comes two days later, in a Feb. 25 matchup against the Cincinnati Reds.
The White Sox will face off against the Cubs in three "Cactus Crosstown" games on Feb. 27 and March 10 in Mesa and on March 16 in Glendale.
And in a cool wrap to the preseason, the White Sox will square off against their own Triple-A affiliate March 26 in Charlotte. The game against the Knights should be a fun watch considering all the future White Sox expected to make their way to the big leagues over the next couple seasons. The Knights' roster could be loaded with highly ranked prospects depending on how things shake out.
Here's the full schedule: