White Sox

White Sox unveil Opening Day roster

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White Sox unveil Opening Day roster

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

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Rebuild advice from 3 Houston Astros All-Stars

With the White Sox in the middle of a rebuild, Chuck Garfien spoke with 3 Houston Astros All-Stars who explained how they went from a rebuilding team to World Series champions. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman talk about how they dealt with losing, how they learned how to win, the importance of adding veterans to the young core, and how they kept hope alive during the rebuild.  Then later, Chuck spoke with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain trying to understand how he dominated the White Sox for so many years.

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu didn't come to White Sox looking for leadership role, but he's the face of the franchise on the All-Star stage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jose Abreu didn’t come to the White Sox to be a leader. But that’s what he is as he took his spot among the best in baseball at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Abreu is the face of the South Side baseball club and he’s had a stellar-enough first four and a half seasons in Major League Baseball to earn the distinction of a starter in the Midsummer Classic. But Abreu, unsurprisingly, doesn’t look at himself as one of the best in the game. He looks as himself as a hard-worker.

“I don’t believe that I’m the best,” Abreu said through a team translator on Monday. “I’m just a person who likes to work hard every day and try to do my best.”

That humility is nothing new to folks who follow the White Sox on a regular basis. And neither is talk of Abreu’s work ethic, the admiration of everyone involved with the team and a constant talking point from Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all Abreu’s teammates.

Abreu has become as important for his off-the-field roles as he has for his on-the-field production for this rebuilding White Sox team. He’s been described as a role model for all the young players in the organization, whether they’re on the big league roster right now or coming up through the system.

“None of them have told me that yet,” Abreu joked. “But I know that. It’s definitely a compliment, and I take it as something that makes you feel good, something that makes you keep moving forward and to keep trying to help the guys to improve and get better as a team. You feel like that is a big honor, that people think that way of you.”

As good as he feels to be held in such esteem, Abreu didn’t set out to be one of this team’s leaders when he came to the United States. And to be honest, he might not be in his current position if it weren’t for the team’s rebuilding effort. Abreu is one of the few veterans on this team.

“That was something that happened. I didn’t look for it,” Abreu said. “I was always trying to help people and trying to give advice to help people to improve. But I never tried to be a leader. If people say that because of what I do, that’s good, but that’s not something that I’m trying to force or something that I say, ‘I want to be a leader.’ No, that’s not who I am. I am just the kind of person who likes to help people, who likes to give advice.”

Abreu is seemingly the definition of what the White Sox want their next winning roster to be full of. And whether it’s the special relationship he has with fellow Cuban Yoan Moncada or the role-model status he holds in the eyes of his other teammates, both current and future, he’s helping the White Sox develop those kinds of players.

Oh, and he’s generally — though this season has seen an extended slump and atypical numbers — one of the most consistently productive hitters in the game.

Who wouldn’t want all that as the face of the franchise?

“It’s all a blessing. I can’t ask for anything else,” Abreu said. “I’m a true believer that if you work hard, good things are going to happen. That’s why I work hard every day, I try to do my best, I try to improve every day and just to be a better person. Not just a better player, but a better person.”