The Chicago White Sox finished out last week by playing four games in four days. Despite being rained out on Friday, the Sox were able to play four games due to having split-squads on Sunday. With my surprising gaining interest of the World Baseball Classic and a busy weekend, I have not been able to write about the Sox recent spring progress. With that being said, here is a look at what happen to end the week.
Thursday, March 7th
Final: Chicago White Sox 8 Chicago Cubs 3
The White Sox took on their neighbors from the north side, and came out on top thanks to their veteran power hitters. Paul Konerko had a huge afternoon by going 3-for-3 with two solo homers and a single, while Adam Dunn went 2-for-3 with a 2-run shot. Both Konerko and Dunn should once again provide plenty of home runs and run production in the heart of the lineup. Other performances of note include Jared Mitchell’s 2-for-3 day and Tyler Flowers’ RBI-double. Mitchell raised his batting average to .438, and is one of the many intriguing outfield prospects for the Sox. On the mound, projected fifth starter Jose Quintana got the start. Quintana was solid during his 3-plus innings of work, allowing just one earned run. The lefty gave up two hits, walked one, and struck out four batters in 3.2 innings. It was believed that Quintana was competing with Hector Santiago for the fifth starters’ spot. However, his solid spring (1.35 ERA) and Santiago still pitching in relief seems to indicate that Quintana has the spot all but locked up.
Friday, March 8th
The White Sox were scheduled to play the San Diego Padres, but were rained out after 3 innings. Jake Peavy was set to pitch, but threw a 60-pitch simulated game instead to stay on his pitching schedule.
Saturday, March 9th
Final: Arizona Diamondbacks 11 Chicago White Sox 9
On Saturday, the White Sox offense tried to bail-out the pitching staff, but ultimately was not able to score enough runs. Paul Konerko was once again one of the main contributors at the plate. Konerko crushed a 3-run homer in the 5th inning off of Matt Reynolds. Top prospect Jared Mitchell continues to impress this spring, and went 2-for-4 with a stolen base. It is nice to see that Mitchell appears to have put a serious ankle injury from 2010 behind him. There were questions if Mitchell would ever fully recover, and although there is no guarantee that he can contribute at the Major League level, this strong spring definitely offers some encouragement. Jeff Keppinger and Alexei Ramirez each added two hits on the afternoon, with Alexei’s hits resulting in a pair of RBIs. It was a good day for the left side of the infield as both Keppinger and Ramirez figure to be entrenched at third base and shortstop respectively. John Danks took the hill for the second time this spring, and the results weren’t all that great. Danks gave up three earned runs on seven hits and walked two during his 2.1 innings of work. Danks struck out two batters, and recorded all of his other outs via the groundball. The most encouraging sign for Danks continues to be his health. Don’t worry about his numbers that much this early in the spring. Danks is coming off of shoulder surgery and has not pitched a lot since undergoing the procedure. As a result, expect Danks to have some bumps along the road to recovery.
Sunday, March 10th
Final: Cincinnati Reds 7 Chicago White Sox 3 (SS)
On Sunday, the White Sox offense was pretty quiet versus the Reds’ pitching staff. Alexei Ramirez and Conor Gillaspie were the only two players to record multiple hits. Both Ramirez and Gillaspie finished the day with two hits and a run scored. Gillaspie continues to contribute offensively since being acquired in the beginning of the spring, and at this point I would be surprise if he doesn’t crack the Opening Day roster. The White Sox sent starter Gavin Floyd to the bump for this split-squad contest. Floyd struggled on the afternoon by allowing four earned runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings of work. Floyd walked one and struck out five batters before exiting the game. Floyd has had a rough spring so far (10.80 ERA), but I wouldn’t worry about him. Floyd is a veteran starter, and the White Sox know what they have in him. While Floyd can be inconsistent at times, he continues to be a reliable member of the Sox starting rotation. Expect Floyd to be a .500 pitcher with an ERA in the low-to-mid 4s while making 30-plus starts this season.
Final: Chicago White Sox 11 Seattle Mariners 7 (SS)
For the other split-squad game, the White Sox offense enjoyed a big afternoon with their bats. Seven of the nine White Sox starters recorded a hit, as the offensive production was well spread out. Highlighting the scoring output were solo homers by Gordon Beckham and Brent Morel. Morel added another hit, and finished the day with two runs scored. It remains to be seen where Morel will be at to start the season, but it looks like his options are either playing third base in Charlotte or being a utility man. The White Sox have even tried Morel at shortstop and first base this spring to see if he could handle the utility role. However, the White Sox appear to still envision Morel as a future long-term option at third base and he needs to get every day at-bats. Therefore, I would be surprised if Morel made the Opening Day roster in a utility role. Dayan Viciedo also had an impressive day by going 3-for-3 with a double, RBI, and two runs scored. Based on Viciedo’s strong first full-season as a regular, I expect him to continue to develop and have a big year. Jared Mitchell added two hits as well, and his name continues to appear at the top of the order while Alejandro De Aza is competing with the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. The White Sox seem to be content with Mitchell as their future lead-off man, possibly beginning as soon as next season. Since it was a split-squad game, the White Sox went with Dylan Axelrod to keep all their regular starting pitchers on schedule. Axelrod’s only blemish in his three innings of work was allowing a solo homer to Michael Morse. That was the only base runner allowed by Axelrod and he recorded one strikeout. Axelrod has a 1.13 ERA this spring and should be a nice asset for the White Sox pitching staff. Axelrod appears to be ready to handle the long-relief role for the White Sox this season, and will likely be called upon to make a few spot-starts along the way.
Up Next: Monday vs. Colorado Rockies at 3:05pm CT (Chris Sale vs. Drew Pomeranz). Interesting side note: Sale (13th overall) and Pomeranz (5th overall) were both drafted in the first round of the 2010 MLB first-year player draft. Sale has had much more success than Pomeranz so far in their careers, but the two were suppose to face each other many times with Pomeranz drafted by division-rival Cleveland Indians. With Pomeranz now with the Rockies, this may be the only time these two ever meet.
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