Nicky Delmonico

While trying to carve out spot in White Sox future, Nicky Delmonico to miss four to six weeks

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USA TODAY

While trying to carve out spot in White Sox future, Nicky Delmonico to miss four to six weeks

Nicky Delmonico will spend a significant amount of time on the shelf during this “prove it” season.

The outfielder with his own fan club will miss the next four to six weeks after getting hit with a pitch in Friday night’s game and suffering a broken bone in his right hand. He'll go on the disabled list Saturday.

It was bad news and a tough break for a guy who was getting regular playing time to show he can be a part of the rebuilding White Sox long-term plans.

Delmonico’s numbers haven’t been great in 2018, certainly not as good as they were during an impressive 43 games at the end of last season, when he slashed .262/.373/.482 with nine homers. So far in 2018, he’s slashing .224/.333/.302 with one homer in 37 games.

The White Sox outfield of the future could be a crowded one considering the hot starts this season by minor leaguers like Eloy Jimenez, Micker Adolfo, Luis Alexander Basabe and Blake Rutherford. Luis Robert, the team’s No. 3 prospect, hasn’t played a game yet as he recovers from his own injury to a digit.

Does Delmonico have a spot among that group? That depends greatly on his performance, and he won’t be able to show anything while he’s on the disabled list.

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018

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USA TODAY

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

Here's a complete list of the 18 White Sox questions for 2018:

— What's Yolmer Sanchez's long-term role?

— Why is Welington Castillo the right man for the job?

— Where does Nicky Delmonico fit in the long-term picture?

— When will Carlos Rodon be back, and where does he stand as rotation of the future gets more crowded?

— Can Matt Davidson keep himself in the long-term picture?

— How many members of the bullpen are long-term pieces?

— How can James Shields help the rebuild?

— Can Carson Fulmer carve out a spot in the rotation of the future?

— Who will be the White Sox closer?

— Will Tim Anderson prove himself the shortstop of the future?

— Will Jose Abreu get a contract extension this year?

— Will Avisail Garcia be on the White Sox by season's end?

— Luis Robert is the center fielder of the future, but how will center field play out in 2018?

— What's next for Yoan Moncada?

How will Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez fare in their first full season in the big leagues?

— When will Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez make it to the South Side?

— Which prospects will be here in 2018?

— Where will the White Sox finish in the AL Central standings?

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Where will the White Sox finish in the AL Central standings?

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AP

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: Where will the White Sox finish in the AL Central standings?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

White Sox fans all in on Rick Hahn’s rebuild aren’t expecting this team to contend for a championship in 2018.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no Opening Day hope.

Plenty of White Sox players, including Nicky Delmonico, who promised that the team would “surprise the world,” and Joakim Soria, who on his first day on the job talked about winning the American League Central, are providing the confidence that maybe the South Side could see a surprise contender in 2018.

But is it really possible for the White Sox to compete with the reigning division-champion Cleveland Indians and the reigning AL wild card Minnesota Twins for a trip to the postseason still so early in this rebuilding process?

This is baseball. Anything is possible.

What if Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez take a big leap in their development and give the White Sox a strong top of the rotation?

What if Avisail Garcia follows up his All-Star campaign from a year ago with a similar performance, providing two strong middle-of-the-order bats with Jose Abreu?

What if the new-look bullpen gets lockdown performances from Nate Jones, Juan Minaya, Luis Avilan and the aforementioned Soria?

What if guys embarking on “prove it” campaigns like Delmonico, Adam Engel and Yolmer Sanchez take the motivation of a spot on one of these teams of the future and excel?

What if Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada form a well-oiled keystone combo in the field and at the plate?

What if Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez join the team midseason and provide the spark so many White Sox fans are hoping they will?

That’s a lot of “what ifs,” of course, and that’s kind of the point. Like any team, a lot has to go right for the White Sox to be a playoff team in 2018. And with the Indians seeming almost like a lock for the division crown and the Twins a trendy preseason playoff pick, that’s some stiff competition.

Hahn has said that 2018 will be a developmental season for players at all levels of the White Sox organization, including the major league team, and that comes as no surprise given where the team is in its rebuilding effort.

That means the playoffs might be a long shot, but don’t expect the White Sox to be an AL Central bottom-feeder. Both the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals begrudgingly embarked on their own rebuilds after last season, and both squads look destined for gloomy campaigns in 2018. So a projected third-place finish for the White Sox is nowhere near out of the question.

There are plenty who would argue that finishing third is almost worse than finishing in last place, hurting draft position and whatnot. But a third-place finish for the White Sox with a record approaching .500 would mean that a lot of things did go right for a team that lost 95 games a season ago.

It would mean positive strides for young guys like Giolito, Moncada and Lopez. It would probably mean another consistently excellent season from Abreu. It would probably mean that at least one of the guys looking to prove themselves worthy of future inclusion did just that. It would mean that the plan is working and that free agents could be attracted to a young team ramping up for an era of contention.

There’s plenty of reason to be excited about the White Sox future. And while the future’s not here quite yet — meaning in all likelihood no October baseball in 2018 — fans and observers will get the opportunity to watch the future unfolding before their eyes this season.