Glendale, Ariz. — White Sox spring training is here! Well, almost here. Pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch on Wednesday. Position players aren’t due until February 17 (although some players like Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez have already arrived).
I’ve been covering White Sox spring training since 2005. This was the first time I actually made the drive from Chicago. It took three days to complete the 1,500-mile trip. We stopped in Tulsa, Okla. the first night, then Albuquerque, N.M., the second night before arriving in Phoenix on the afternoon of the third day.
A shout out to a man named Ralph Teetor. Who’s he? The mechanical engineer who invented cruise control in 1948. Me and my right foot owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
I was hoping to spot Manny Machado or Bryce Harper hitchhiking on the side of the road with a sign that read, “Glendale, Arizona or bust.”
Unfortunately, no Machado. No Harper. But here’s one last winter edition of the Sox Drawer!
Q: When will Sox sign Machado? Or Harper? Or Machado and Harper? You didn't expect that kind of a question, did you? -- @kwiat07
CG: Oh, I did. They came flooding my direction once again. I think I speak for everyone when I say I cannot wait for this Harper/Machado suspense to mercifully come to an end! And hopefully with the White Sox signing one of them. Will it happen? I still believe the White Sox have a 50-50 chance to sign Machado. Harper seems like a longshot.
At some point, both of them will have to make a decision. I’m guessing sometime between when position players are due to report and the first spring training games. That means we “should” know where Machado and Harper are signing in the next two weeks. Expect a big ripple effect of signings (Kimbrel, Gonzalez, Keuchel, etc.) to occur soon after that.
Q: Enough w Machado and Harper questions. Best move the White Sox made this offseason? Include who they got rid of and who they got. -- @RyanPokorny27
CG: I think the best move the White Sox made was one of their first moves: acquiring reliever Alex Colome for catcher Omar Narvaez. Colome has one of the best bullpen arms in the American League. He’s a high strikeout guy who had 47 saves for the Rays in 2017. He was used more as a setup man last season, but figures to be the closer come Opening Day. The White Sox sold high on Narvaez, who was probably going to back up Welington Castillo this year, with Seby Zavala and Zack Collins waiting in the wings.
Q: How come the White Sox haven’t signed Adam Jones yet? -- @courtney883
CG: Good question. I’ve been driving the Sign Adam Jones train since October! The veteran free agent outfielder remains unsigned. I think he’d be a great leader and mentor for the young guys, especially for Eloy Jimenez who told me last year how big of a fan he is of Jones. I spoke to Jones in December when he showed up at the winter meetings looking for a job. By the way, he’s been a longtime teammate of Manny Machado. Just sayin’. What kind of role would he like to play on a team? Here’s what he said:
“At this point, I’m older so I’m going to have to be that veteran presence. I’ve had Manny (Machado) and (Jonathan) Schoop under my wings the last six years, so it’s been great to see that transition and see how players look up to the older players. When I came into the game, I had some very good people to look up to. I just want to be that same influence that the younger generation could look up to.”
Q: Are the White Sox still in the market for a veteran starting pitcher? -- @alabamachuck
CG: Rick Hahn said at SoxFest that they are looking at the veteran starting pitching market. I’d expect you’ll see them sign one or even two of them in the next week or so. Don’t hold your breath for a Dallas Keuchel. They’ll likely sign someone to a low-risk, high-reward one-year deal or minor league deal. Ervin Santana, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez are some possibilities. I’d personally take a long look at Clay Buchholz. The 33-year-old dominated for the Diamondbacks last year (7-2, 2.01 ERA in 98.1 IP). Injuries have been an issue, but when healthy last year, he was really good. He’s someone the White Sox could potentially flip at the trade deadline to make room for Dylan Cease. Or else, they can always sign 45-year-old Bartolo Colon. I won’t object.
Q: Which of our prospects will we see this year? -- @Bed_Hola
CG: It’s tough to say 100 percent, but here’s a list of players who are good candidates to make it to the majors in 2019: Jimenez, Cease, Zavala, Collins, Burdi, Medeiros, Stephens and possibly Dane Dunning, Bernardo Flores, Tyler Johnson, Zach Thompson, Luis Basabe, Joel Booker and Jimmy Lambert. I might have left out a few, but those are the ones that come to mind.
Q: Which starting pitcher will get the most wins for the White Sox and will it be more than 13?? -- @MJK171002
CG: I’m going with Reynaldo Lopez. I’m predicting that he takes a big step forward in 2019. Although I’m not sure if he’ll win more than 13. And don’t look past Ivan Nova.
Q: How was your road trip? -- @vinnyc52
CG: Definitely on the long side, but lots of fun. We drove through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Ate a whole lot of fast food. Best meals: Cracker Barrel and Texas Roadhouse.
Q: What was your favorite part of Oklahoma on your drive here? -- @scottmerkin
CG: The gas prices in Oklahoma City! $1.87?!!!
Q: What SPF do you use? -- @Southpaw
CG: 55. I don’t mess around.
Q: Why doesn’t @Southpaw make the trip to get in game playing shape out in AZ? Why didn’t you let him sit shotgun and be your co pilot... u coulda brought him out this year Chuck! Some of the other teams have their mascots out in AZ, but I guess he is already perfect though -- @scottgarcia35
CG: It would have been great to have Southpaw as my co-pilot! Maybe next year. And I agree with you. Southpaw is the perfect mascot. Although the next time it rains, he needs to bring me a bigger umbrella.
Thanks everyone for your questions! Baseball season is coming!