The Chicago White Sox have difficult choices ahead as they build their opening-day roster.
That’s the way manager Pedro Grifol prefers.
“It’s not going to be an easy decision, which is a good thing for us as an organization,” Grifol said Wednesday. “Easy decisions are not good for any organization.
“Hard decisions mean you’ve got depth and you signed the right guys in the offseason. That’s where we’re at.”
The Sox open the regular season against the 2022 champion Houston Astros on March 30 at Minute Maid Park.
Here’s a Tribune projection of the team’s opening-day roster.
Starting pitchers (5)
- RHP Dylan Cease
- RHP Mike Clevinger
- RHP Lucas Giolito
- RHP Lance Lynn
- RHP Michael Kopech
The rotation is set. Now it’s all about establishing an order.
Grifol said he likely will wait until after the World Baseball Classic to name an opening-day starter.
“Make sure that everybody’s healthy, everybody gets back healthy,” he said last week.
A depth option includes Davis Martin, who made nine starts and appeared in 14 games for the Sox last season.
- RHP Nick Avila
- LHP Aaron Bummer
- LHP Jake Diekman
- RHP Kendall Graveman
- RHP Joe Kelly
- RHP Jimmy Lambert
- RHP Reynaldo López
- RHP José Ruiz
Garrett Crochet continues to progress on the road back from Tommy John surgery. And the Sox anticipate providing an update on Liam Hendriks’ status near opening day. The closer announced in early January that he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The bullpen is filled with familiar faces.
Avila, Keynan Middleton, Franklin German, Gregory Santos and Bryan Shaw are among those new to Sox camp who are looking to make an impact.
“Talking to (pitching coach) Ethan (Katz) and (bullpen coach) Curt (Hasler), we’re happy with the amount of arms that can pitch at this level in the bullpen,” Grifol said. “We feel that we have depth. It’s a good problem to have. Is it going to be hard decisions? For sure, really hard. You’ve got to keep depth and at the same time put a bullpen together you feel can win games in the major leagues. Just good problems to have.
- Yasmani Grandal
- Seby Zavala
Grandal’s offseason work has led to a productive spring. He entered Thursday with a .348 average, one homer and five RBIs. Zavala’s hitting .313 this spring.
“Catchers have been doing a great job,” Grifol said Tuesday. “I’ve been very happy with our catching situation, our depth in that position.”
- 2B Elvis Andrus
- SS Tim Anderson
- UT Leury García
- 3B Yoán Moncada
- 1B/RF Gavin Sheets
- 1B Andrew Vaughn
Andrus has looked sharp making the switch from shortstop to second base. Anderson and Moncada have been coming up big in the World Baseball Classic. Vaughn is moving to his natural position of first base after spending most of his first two big-league seasons in the outfield.
Sheets provides left-handed pop and can play first and right field.
Hanser Alberto and Jake Burger are among the players making a strong impression this spring.
Alberto is hitting .484 with three doubles through his first nine games. He’s played second, shortstop and third base. Burger has four homers and six RBIs, spending time at first and third base. Romy Gonzalez has also showcased his versatility, playing second, short and all three outfield spots.
- LF Andrew Benintendi
- RF Oscar Colás
- OF Billy Hamilton
- RF/DH Eloy Jiménez
- CF Luis Robert Jr.
Colás is doing all he can to earn a roster spot, hitting .364 with two homers and three RBIs entering Thursday. He’s vying for the opening in right field.
Benintendi is in left, Robert center and Jiménez probably aiding the Sox mostly at DH.
Sheets can also play the right field. Hamilton brings speed and a solid late-inning defensive replacement. Options in camp also include Jake Marisnick and Victor Reyes.
Speaking generally of the depth this spring, Grifol said “All those guys bring something to the table that’s really good.”
He added the Sox are looking for the best combination.
“Those guys, they’re not here on scholarship, those guys are elite at something,” Grifol said. “Alberto is elite against left-handed pitching. Hamilton is elite defensive replacement and speed and base running. They all bring something to the table. For us, it’s going to come down to the best combination. How we feel we can give days off and still be in a good position to win a baseball game or late in a game we feel we can run, we feel like we can defend.
“When you take a starter out and you give him a day off, you’re taking a lot out of the lineup. Luis gets a day off, you’re taking a lot out of the lineup. Moncada, TA. We need a combination of four players we feel like, ‘OK if we give a day off to a certain starter, we feel we have this type of player’s that elite at this that we puts us in a position to win a baseball game.’”
Source: Berkshire mont
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