Just two weeks into spring training, Manager Ozzie Guillen came out and said that the Opening Day second baseman and leadoff hitter for the 2008 Chicago White Sox would be Pablo Ozuna.
Ozzie justified his answer by saying that Ozuna's career .400 average warranted such an honor. Most experts, and fans alike, agreed.
However, with 28 hours left before the first pitch of the White Sox '08 season, Scott Merkin (beat-writer for the Chicago White Sox) released an article stating what the lineup would be on Monday.
Ozzie's lineup on Opening Day is as follows:
1.) Nick Swisher-LF
2.) Orlando Cabrera-SS
3.) Jim Thome-DH
4.) Paul Konerko-1B
5.) Jermaine Dye-RF
6.) A.J. Pierzynski-C
7.) Alexei Ramirez-CF
8.) Joe Crede-3B
9.) Juan Uribe-2B
For a shock in this lineup, you need not look further than the lead off hitter. Ozzie has announced that Nick Swisher and his .361 career on-base percentage will be leading off on Opening Day.
However, that is not the only shocker coming from White Sox camp this Sunday morning.
While looking at the two through six hitters, no surprises jump out at you.
The number seven spot in this lineup is where the second shock comes up. Rather than going with the defensively-minded Brian Anderson or the injury-prone, power-threat Carlos Quentin, Ozzie has opted to use his "Cuban Missile," Alexei Ramirez in center.
According to Guillen, "[Ramirez] earned the job. We didn't hand it to him—he earned it."
No argument from anyone who saw the Cuban émigré and the way he played out in Arizona.
Ramirez wrapped up the spring batting .364 with 18 RBI (just one behind Thome's Cactus League high, 19) and a couple of home runs.
Merkin summarizes Ozzie by saying that "[Ramirez] won't just start against pitchers who rely on their fastballs such as Sabathia, [Ramirez is] the everyday center fielder over Brian Anderson and Carlos Quentin."
Now, anyone who followed Spring Training at all should find this rather shocking.
With the way that the White Sox brass was talking, it seemed as if Brian Anderson had won back the starting CF job that he had lost in early '07 with his batting average of .118.
The last shock is a simple one. The number nine hitter in the lineup is none other that the displaced SS, Juan Uribe. Uribe played himself into starting contention with batting .382 over the spring.
After being placed on waivers, Juan Uribe played himself into the starting second base job.
The shock is not so much that he is there. It is more that he is there against C.C. Sabathia.
Given Uribe's outstanding .190 batting average against the Indians' ace, Ozuna seems like a much better option. Ozuna would add speed to a lineup that, at this particular time, is incredibly devoid of it, as well as a career .400 average against C.C.
Only so much analysis can be done on any given situation until the actual day comes. The results of Opening Day will be the only thing that will determine how successful this lineup will, or will not, be.