The White Sox open spring training on Tuesday and they’ll do so with a new manager, a slew of fresh acquisitions and headed in a considerably different direction than they were a year ago. As they begin camp ahead of the 117th season in franchise history, manager Rick Renteria and the White Sox are in the midst of their first rebuild since 1997. Despite describing the ensuing process as painful and deliberate while trading away stars Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, general manager Rick Hahn has re-energized the fan base by acquiring seven highly-touted prospects.
Here’s a look at what’s in store over the next 6 1/2 weeks.
1. How will the veterans handle the situation?
Hahn has laid it all out for the fans -- while the next few seasons may be fruitful for the long-term view, there’s sure to be trying times ahead in the interim. One area that could very well surface is in how players who aren’t part of the big picture handle their time in limbo. Though there’s the possibility for some awkward moments, Renteria, Hahn and a number of veterans said they don’t expect anything less than to handle the situation professionally.
2. Prospect push
White Sox officials have only had a glimpse of many of their new prized possessions and thus far they’ve been ecstatic. How couldn’t they be as they get their first extended look at a farm system revamped by a pair of franchise-altering trades? Each of the team’s top eight prospects, according to MLB.com, will spend part of the spring in big league camp, which will give the staff and front office a good idea how far along are their prospects.
Renteria and his player-development friendly staff get an early chance to mold the team’s future before they arrive in the majors. He looks forward to familiarizing himself with the team’s newest players.
“We are going to have a vigilant eye for what we recognize in terms of where we believe they are in the process,” Renteria said. “But we have to trust each other.
“We have many voices that can chime in to give us each their individual opinion so we can assess and draw best conclusion at the end.”
3. The World Baseball Classic effect
There aren’t any position players competing in next month’s exhibition, but the White Sox pitching staff features four participants, including Jose Quintana, Miguel Gonzalez, Nate Jones and David Robertson. Pitching coach Don Cooper spoke to all four players in advance of their official selections to have them prepared for the event, which runs March 6-22. Cooper also has a plan in place how to have his pitchers ready for the regular season once they return to camp.
4. What’s next for the young guys?
During a Winter Meetings press conference, Hahn implied that the only Carlos Rodon and Tim Anderson had no chance of being traded. Both men have had success at the major league level, but both are still developing. Anderson is looking to improve upon a very good start in the field and at the plate while Rodon continues to look for consistency with his strike throwing.
5. Filling the vacancies
Though there don’t appear to be many openings on the pitching staff, the everyday lineup has several starting jobs to be determined. Catcher, center field and designated hitter are the spots in question with plenty of potential candidates for playing time.