Kevan Smith

White Sox back to 2017 catching pair as Kevan Smith joins Omar Narvaez while Welington Castillo serves suspension

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White Sox back to 2017 catching pair as Kevan Smith joins Omar Narvaez while Welington Castillo serves suspension

The 2017 White Sox catching tandem is now the 2018 White Sox catching tandem.

Kevan Smith was brought up from Triple-A Charlotte before Tuesday's doubleheader in Minnesota, and he'll once more team with Omar Narvaez to form the 1-2 catching punch on the South Side for, presumably, the next couple of months while Welington Castillo continues to serve his 80-game suspension for PED use.

Catcher was one of the few positions the White Sox addressed during the offseason, and they brought in Castillo with hopes that he'd be able to help develop a young pitching staff and provide some offense after career years both at and behind the plate. Castillo's two-year contract with an option for a third made for the possibility that he could be the catcher when this rebuilding process yields a planned contender.

But all that went pear shaped with Castillo's suspension, and now the White Sox are back to where they were for the next couple months.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Last season, Smith and Narvaez quietly were one of the more consistent offensive catching pairs in the American League. White Sox catchers led the Junior Circuit with a .279 batting average and a .346 on-base percentage. Power was a different story, of course, and they ranked 21st in baseball with a .381 slugging percentage.

It's unlikely that Smith's return will spark Narvaez to life offensively. Narvaez is in the midst of a miserable season at the dish, entering Tuesday's pair of games with a .179/.281/.238 slash line.

Smith, meanwhile, has played just 30 games at Triple-A thanks to multiple DL stints this year. But his numbers there are better than what Narvaez has managed with the White Sox. Smith brings a .268/.331/.411 line up from Charlotte.

Will Smith and Narvaez again quietly lead AL catchers in batting average and on-base percentage? That seems doubtful.

The main hope with Smith returning is that he'll be able to provide some more defensive consistency — Narvaez has one of the highest passed-balls totals in the game with eight — and do a little of the work Castillo was supposed to do with these young pitchers during the latter's absence.

This wasn't how this catching group was supposed to look coming into this season. But here the White Sox are again.

White Sox add Dustin Garneau to help thin catching corps in wake of Welington Castillo suspension

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White Sox add Dustin Garneau to help thin catching corps in wake of Welington Castillo suspension

Is this the White Sox solution at catcher while Welington Castillo serves his 80-game suspension?

The team announced it claimed Dustin Garneau off waivers from the Oakland Athletics just hours after Castillo’s suspension became official. The White Sox simultaneously placed Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day disabled list, freeing up a spot on the 40-man roster for Garneau, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

Garneau, 30, has 87 major league games under his belt thanks to stints with A’s and Colorado Rockies. He split time between those two clubs last season and slashed .188/.272/.313 with a pair of homers and nine RBIs in 126 plate appearances.

The White Sox found themselves with few options Thursday morning, when Castillo was suspended for use of a performance-enhancing drug. Alfredo Gonzalez was summoned from Charlotte to take Castillo’s spot, though he wasn’t the team’s first choice. Kevan Smith, who played plenty at the big league level in 2017, is on the disabled list with an ankle injury. Seby Zavala, who is having a terrific offensive season at Double-A Birmingham, is also injured, though he likely wouldn't have been promoted as he continues to develop into a possible catcher of the future alongside Zack Collins.

The lack of internal options sent the White Sox outside the organization, and while Garneau is heading to Charlotte, he could potentially be up soon to help new No. 1 Omar Narvaez behind the plate while Castillo sits out the next three months.

White Sox set Opening Day roster

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USA TODAY

White Sox set Opening Day roster

The White Sox roster is set for Opening Day.

There weren't any surprises, but we now officially have the 25 men who will begin the season as the White Sox major league club.

The South Siders are carrying 13 pitchers, with an expected rotation of James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer. The bullpen features Luis Avilan, Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Juan Minaya, Hector Santiago and Joakim Soria.

Santiago, who was signed to a minor league deal at the outset of spring training, had his contract officially purchased Wednesday afternoon. He's expected to be the long man and the first option should the White Sox need to fill a hole in the rotation.

As for who will be the closer, Rick Renteria said Wednesday that he has several guys that can do it and that there won't be one set guy with that role. He more extensively talked about Soria and Jones but mentioned Minaya and Infante, as well, among others.

The final unresolved position battle of camp was who was going to backup Welington Castillo at catcher, but that decision was made for Renteria and the White Sox, who put Kevan Smith on the disabled list Wednesday. That means backup backstop duties go to Omar Narvaez.

Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Matt Davidson, Yoan Moncada, Tyler Saladino and Yolmer Sanchez are listed as the team's infielders, while Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia are listed as outfielders. Leury Garcia is somewhat interestingly grouped with the outfielders despite his ability to play all over the field.

In another roster move, the White Sox officially placed Carlos Rodon on the disabled list. He's recovering from shoulder surgery that brought his 2017 season to an early end. His return date remains unknown, though the White Sox were happy with his progress at last update.