White Sox

White Sox closer to finalized 25-man roster

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White Sox closer to finalized 25-man roster

GLENDALE, Ariz. — J.B. Shuck is on the team and the White Sox intend to carry 12 pitchers.

Manager Robin Ventura made those announcements Tuesday shortly after the team sent five players, including Matt Davidson and Carlos Sanchez, to minor-league camp.

With Opening Day right around the corner, the White Sox have but one decision to make before the season gets underway. All that’s really left to decide is whether to take Jerry Sands, Travis Ishikawa or perhaps a player from outside as the 25th man. But the White Sox seem likely to take several more days to make up their minds.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“It’s not an easy, clear cut, we’re going to take this guy (decision),” Ventura said. “There’s still some stuff to be looked over, but we’ll get through it before we get to Oakland.”

Shuck has been on the roster the entire way, even after the White Sox signed Austin Jackson earlier this month. The White Sox love that Shuck is accepting of his reserve role, that he plays all three positions and plays with energy. Shuck had an .820 OPS off the bench last season and general manager Rick Hahn said three weeks ago there was still room on the roster for the Ohio-product after Jackson’s signing.

“He brings a lot of different things,” Ventura said. “He’s versatile and he could move around, he can play all three outfield positions, first base in a pinch if you need to. And he wants to pitch, but he won’t.”

[MORE: Matt Davidson, Carlos Sanchez among White Sox cuts]

There had been some thought the White Sox would take an extra pitcher when they head to California on Friday. Mat Latos has yet to complete five innings in a single start with only one more turn to go. The team also opens the season with eight straight games and then plays 19 straight from April 13-May 1. But Ventura confirmed a 12-man pitching staff and said it’s why the team has recently stretched out several of its relievers. Hahn said the team would adjust on the fly if needed.

“It’s important we have multiple guys who can give us some length if the need arises,” Hahn said. “We want to break camp with the right 25 guys. But at the same time, there are going to be roster moves over the course of the season.

“We may well have to make some alterations based on how the team is playing or what the needs are or how taxed the bullpen is at that point. We feel we have some options in house if we need to make some switches on the fly.”

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

Dylan Cease's ERA is still north of 5.75.

He's not a finished product, no matter how much anyone wants him to be one.

"It would be ideal for me — and my ability to sleep — and everyone’s mood if these guys came up and dominated immediately," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. "In reality there is a little bit of a learning process that goes on."

All these results, the ones that have contributed to that ugly ERA and some generally ugly outings over Cease's first couple months in the major leagues, are learning moments. Not convinced on the effectiveness of those learning moments? Just look to Lucas Giolito, who took all the struggles he had in 2018 and turned them into an All-Star 2019 season in which he's blossomed into the ace of the staff.

But, despite the hype, these guys aren't coming up finished products.

Cease, though, has flashed the potential that has earned him all that hype, and in no outing did he flash more of it than he did in Friday night's start against the visiting Texas Rangers.

Following the theme that seems to be developing in Cease starts, he had a pretty lousy inning early in the game, in this case the very first inning, in which he served up a three-run homer. The theme continues, though, that Cease usually uses all that composure and maturity everyone's always raving about to settle down and pitch a decent game. Friday night, he was more than decent. After the first inning, Cease retired the next 11 batters he faced and allowed just two hits (both singles) over five scoreless innings.

Cease, following in the tradition of perfectionist pitchers everywhere, hasn't been happy with previous outings that followed a similar script. This time, he was pleased. Maybe something to do with the career-best nine strikeouts.

"To me, that was just a huge confidence boost right there. Now I just need to not let those big innings happen," Cease said. "That's definitely my best start of the year today, besides that first inning."

"You had a couple of things going on," manager Rick Renteria said. "He had a rough first, we scored some runs, he holds them. We scored some more runs, he holds them. He kept doing that throughout. It's a big push. You see, there's a confidence-builder in that particular outing today. He should be happy how he ended up redirecting himself and righting the ship."

Cease's ability to do just that, right the ship, might give him a bit of a head start on his developmental process at the major league level. After all, Giolito and James McCann talk frequently about that issue plaguing Giolito in 2018. When things went wrong early, Giolito couldn't get back on track. He's been able to this year, contributing to his success. If Cease can do that from the day he hits the majors, that's a plus.

And if that's a tool Cease already has in his tool box, then the next step would be eliminating those early troubles. As good as Cease has looked at times, those numbers aren't lying. He's given up 32 earned runs in his 50 big league innings. He's given up 11 home runs in nine starts and has yet to have an outing without allowing a homer. Walks have been a sporadic issue: He walked just one batter in each of his last two starts but walked five in the outing prior and has three starts this year with at least four walks.

Again, learning process.

"His stuff is — it's electric stuff," Renteria said. "Sometimes you wonder, 'How can they hit him?' or 'How can they do this?' It's just (that they are) big league hitters. You leave something out over the plate or something they can manage, and they're going to do what they can do with it.

"As long as he continues to execute and use that stuff that he has, he's going to be OK."

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Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side

Scott Podsednik and David DeJesus join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago to discuss all things baseball.

They talk Yoan Moncada's comeback, Eloy Jiménez's injury, the Cubs' continuing bullpen struggles and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: