MESA, Ariz. — The White Sox have a pretty wide-open competition for the final two spots on their roster with anybody and everybody in consideration.
Even though Adam LaRoche’s retirement leaves the White Sox without a backup first baseman behind Jose Abreu, manager Robin Ventura said his team probably has enough options to handle the workload. The White Sox will consider all options, including a 13th pitcher, as they figure out how to break camp in 11 days.
Chief among the competitors are outfielders J.B. Shuck and Jerry Sands, who homered twice in a 6-2 White Sox victory over the Oakland A’s on Sunday, and infielders Matt Davidson, Carlos Sanchez and Travis Ishikawa. Davidson also had three hits in four trips to raise his average to .483 and Sanchez had two singles and an RBI.
“We are still going through that,” Ventura said. “It does change that quite a bit if you still need the lefty to be a first baseman. (Todd Frazier) has played first base in the past. We have a lot of flexibility as regard to infield positions, what guys can play where. That part just keeps evolving, what you need and we are looking at our schedule. We also don’t have any off days in there. Whether you need another pitcher or are you better off just going with an extra utility guy.”
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Of the five, Sands and Shuck are the only two without options. Ishikawa signed a minor-league deal in February and isn’t on the 40-man roster while Davidson and Sanchez have options left.
Shuck is one of the few lefty bats available and had an .820 OPS off the bench last season. He also is a good defender who can play all three outfield positions in a group with average-or-worse defenders in Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia, which likely has Shuck ahead of the field for one spot.
The White Sox open the regular season with games on their first eight straight days. Though Ventura said a 13th pitcher has been discussed, the idea hasn’t gained much momentum.
Sands also can play first and has an .846 career OPS against left-handed pitchers, though only a .546 OPS against righties.
“He’s been swinging against righties, too,” Ventura said. “He’s very versatile. He’s right in the mix.”
Jose Quintana, who has the No. 2 spot in the rotation secure, threw six scoreless innings in a B game in Glendale, Ariz. on Sunday. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out three.
Both Nate Jones struck out two in a scoreless inning and David Robertson struck out one in a shutout frame also in B game action.
Dan Jennings struck out three in 2 2/3 scoreless innings in the win over Oakland.
Melky Cabrera walked twice and singled in four trips.