Let's hope there are plenty of scenes like this on the South Side in 2013.
The Chicago White Sox season opener against the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field is less than one week away. That means final cuts are coming soon, and White Sox manager Robin Ventura has a couple of decisions to make on his 25-man roster.
While there were not many battles this spring for the White Sox when camp began, there were setbacks, injuries and surprise performances that impacted the makeup of the squad that will depart Glendale.
Here is Bleacher Report’s final roster predictions for the White Sox.
The predictions were made with the belief that the team will begin the season with 13 position players and 12 pitchers.
*All spring training statistics are current through Monday, March 25 (courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com).
**Names in bold denote players who will be on the roster Opening Day.
Chris Sale will open the season on the mound for the White Sox.
The starting rotation—headlined by Chris Sale and Jake Peavy—figures to be the bedrock for a winning season in 2013.
This is an area that was impacted by setback, however.
It was hoped when spring training began that lefty John Danks would have recovered sufficiently from shoulder surgery last year to return by Opening Day. And while Danks has made nice strides, he is not quite ready and will likely open the season on the disabled list.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzalez, Dylan Axelrod will take his spot as the No. 5 starter for the White Sox, and Jose Quintana will move up one spot.
Gavin Floyd could end up being the key to the rotation early on. He has had an up-and-down spring thus far. Look no further than his last outing against the Los Angeles Angels, when he had a rough start, yet finished strong.
If he can provide several solid outings to begin the season, momentum could be on the side of the White Sox when (and if) Danks returns.
Look for the starting rotation to shake out like this when the season opens:
1. Chris Sale (L)
2. Jake Peavy (R)
3. Gavin Floyd (R)
4. Jose Quintana (L)
5. Dylan Axelrod (R)
Left-handed specialist Donnie Veal.
The bullpen for the White Sox is a blend of youth and experience.
Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom and Addison Reed are locks as right-handers out of the ‘pen, while Donnie Veal, Matt Thornton and Hector Santiago are sure to be the primary left-handed relievers.
The uncertain variable here is Jesse Crain.
Bothered by a sore right adductor muscle most of spring training, his status for the opener still is unknown. He did throw in a game Monday, but the outing produced mixed results.
From a positive standpoint, he reported no discernible discomfort. On the flip side, he gave up three runs in less than an inning.
If Crain cannot go, the White Sox have options.
While not a whole lot has been said, the front-runner would seem to be Brian Omogrosso. Ramon Troncoso has had a nice spring, though, and could be a surprise addition to the 25-man roster.
Here is how the bullpen will look April 1.
SU: Nate Jones (R)
SU: Matt Lindstrom (R)
SU: Brian Omogrosso (R)
SU: Donnie Veal (L)
SU: Matt Thornton (L)
LR: Hector Santiago (L)
CL: Addison Reed (R)
The White Sox need Big Donkey to have a big season.
Around the horn it will be Jeff Keppinger, Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and a combination of Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn.
That is exactly what everyone assumed when spring training began.
Angel Sanchez was recently named the utility infielder by Ventura and will be an upgrade over last season’s collection of reserves.
The surprise on the infield has to be Conor Gillaspie.
He has been superb so far. While his average has slipped to .268, he has drawn eight walks, scored 11 times and driven in 10 runs while playing both first and third base.
He beats out a surging Steve Tolleson because he is a left-handed hitter.
Tyler Flowers will catch a majority of games, while Hector Gimenez looks like a very nice offensive option for the White Sox.
Look for Dunn and Konerko to get the majority of the designated hitter at-bats.
1B/DH: Paul Konerko (R)
2B: Gordon Beckham (R)
SS: Alexei Ramirez (R)
3B: Jeff Keppinger (R)
DH/1B: Adam Dunn (L)
C: Tyler Flowers (R)
UI: Angel Sanchez (R)
1B/3B: Conor Gillaspie (L)
C: Hector Gimenez (S)
Dayan Viciedo could be in line for a monster year.
Again, no surprises here.
Alex Rios, Alejandro De Aza, Dayan Viciedo and Dewayne Wise are locks to start the season on the 25-man roster.
Rios will look to build off his successes last year and finally become the type of consistent player the White Sox have hoped for.
De Aza needs to avoid the little injuries that caused so many problems last season, but looks to be a legitimate leadoff hitter.
Viciedo appears poised to become the next great White Sox power hitter, but will have to cut down on his strikeout total to do so.
And the White Sox should be able to get one more healthy season out of Wise. If not, Jordan Danks is just a call away.
Offensively, the outfield has the fewest question marks, and they should be just fine defensively.
RF: Alex Rios (R)
CF: Alejandro De Aza (L)
LF: Dayan Viciedo (R)
OF: Dewayne Wise (L)