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

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball released a second voting update for All-Star Game starters and three White Sox players are still in the mix.

The top three spots at each position (and top nine in the outfield) are all that matter for now, with those players advancing to MLB’s new Starters Election. James McCann is the only member of the White Sox to sit in one of those spots for now.

McCann is second at catcher behind Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. He is nearly 800,000 votes behind the Yankees backstop.

Jose Abreu was in third in the last update at first base, but has fallen behind Carlos Santana of the Indians. Luke Volt, another Yankee, leads with C.J. Cron of the Twins in second. Santana is just under 43,000 votes ahead of Abreu.

Tim Anderson is still in fourth at shortstop. Jorge Polanco of the Twins and Carlos Correa of the Astros are comfortably in the top two spots. Gleyber Torres, yet another Yankee, is just over 45,000 votes ahead of Anderson for third.

There aren’t any other White Sox within striking distance of the top three. Yoan Moncada remains in eighth among third basemen.

Polls close Friday at 3 p.m. CT.

 

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Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

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USA TODAY

Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

When Eloy Jiménez returned from the Injured List in late May and rejoined the White Sox lineup, he went on the road to Houston and Minnesota and he struggled to the tune of a .148 batting average and .148 on-base percentage, with four hits (three went over the fence), 11 strikeouts and no walks.

For the season, his slashline was .217/.259/.406 with five walks and 36 strikeouts. He was swinging at 49.8 percent of all the pitches he saw (a bit above the 46.7 percent league average); he was swinging at 38.8 percent of pitches outside the zone (quite a bit above the 30.9 percent league average).

He returned to the comfort of Guaranteed Rate Field on May 27 and took a pair of walks. From that point forward, things started to look a lot better… and the results were in line with that observation.

Eloy Jiménez this season:

  PA AVG OBP SLG BB K Swing % Outside zone swing %
Through May 26 112 ,217 .259 .406 5 36 49.8 38.8
Since May 27 71 .297 .366 .594 7 18 45.9 30.8

Not only has he improved quite a bit, but that 30.8 outside the zone swing percentage is second only to Yonder Alonso’s 29.9 percent mark among White Sox with at least 40 plate appearances since May 27. Jiménez hasn’t been chasing nearly as many bad pitches lately.

Those pitches he has been laying off of have for the most part been the low and away stuff, as indicated by his swing charts below. First, his swing rates before getting hurt and then since he came back from injury.

These charts are from the catcher’s perspective, and from what you can see, he has done a much better job of laying off the low and away pitches. Look at the three zones furthest low and away. There’s a big difference.

Start of the year through May 26:

Since May 27:

Through May 26 he swung at 33.8 percent of pitches (51 of 151)  low and away and out of the zone. Since May 27 he has swung at 14.5 percent of those pitches (10 of 69).

It’s only an 18-game sample, so there will certainly be more adjustments made to combat Jiménez, but I believe we’re watching Eloy begin to mature into the middle of the order force as he was advertised.

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