The White Sox optioned Dylan Axelrod to Triple-A Charlotte and reassigned Brian Bruney, Hector Gimenez, Rey Olmedo, Leyson Septimo and Eric Stults to minor league camp on Saturday, leaving the team with 25 players remaining in camp -- in other words, the Opening Day roster.
Eduardo Escobar officially won the final spot on the major-league bench, which was expected after Dan Johnson and Dallas McPherson were cut earlier in the week. Nate Jones beat out Bruney and Stults for a spot in the bullpen, and Zach Stewart topped Axelrod for the long relief role.
The Bruney-Jones battle was probably the tightest of the spring, as both pitchers were successful in their combined 19 outings. Jones struck out 17 but walked eight while allowing three runs in 10 23 innings. Bruney had a 146 strikeout-to-walk ratio with five runs allowed in 15 13 innings.
But Bruney doesn't have the upside of the 26-year-old Jones, who hasn't pitched above Double-A in his career. That jump past Triple-A may come back to bite Jones in the regular season, although he probably won't see any high-leverage situations early into his tenure. Jones will probably be used as a mop-up man to get his feet wet, and if he succeeds in those spots he could be given a larger role.
Axelrod allowed the most hits of any White Sox pitcher this spring (29), and only Jones and John Danks walked more batters. While Zach Stewart's 94 strikeout-to-walk ratio wasn't eye-popping, he was more successful in his spring outings and does have a better pedigree than Axelrod. The good news is that Axelrod can be stretched out as a starter in Triple-A and would likely be first in line for a call-up if someone in the major-league rotation gets hurt.
Here's how the roster will shake out on Friday in Texas:
Catchers: A.J. Pierzynski, Tyler Flowers
Infielders: Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Brent Morel, Eduardo Escobar, Adam Dunn
Outfielders: Alex Rios, Alejandro De Aza, Dayan Viciedo, Kosuke Fukudome, Brent Lillibridge
Starters: John Danks, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Chris Sale, Philip Humber
Relievers: Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Will Ohman, Addison Reed, Hector Santiago, Nate Jones, Zach Stewart