Mark Duncan/Associated Press
Paul Konerko is entering his final season on the South Side.
For the most part, everything went according to plan this spring.
As expected, Matt Davidson will start the season at Triple-A. Meanwhile, Adam Dunn is hitting his usual .205, Jose Abreu appears as good as advertised (even better in the field) and Conor Gillaspie is playing above his grade level—yet again. And other than a couple of bad outings throughout camp, the starting rotation seems to be in order.
That isn’t to say that there weren’t a couple of surprises.
First off, Marcus Semien is an animal.
See, even though he rapidly advanced through the minor leagues last year and was impressive—.261/.286/.406, four doubles, two home runs, seven RBI—after getting called up in September, few thought he would dominate Cactus League pitching the way he has.
On the spring, Semien has compiled a .348/.455/.522 slash line and showed his versatility in the field by playing three positions. He delivered exactly the type of follow-up performance that was needed to cement his position at the top of the prospect list.
Another thing that was somewhat surprising was Charlie Leesman’s early assignment to Triple-A. Considering that he pitched quite well—1.69 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, 5 K, 5.1 IP—this spring and is a versatile left-hander, it made sense to have him on the roster. Donnie Veal is out of options, though, so his fate may well have been sealed when camp began.
Steve from South Side Sox correctly noted that making the move early on “will allow Leesman to get innings built up to be a starting pitcher for Charlotte this year.” We shall see what role he has moving forward, but he is probably best utilized as a long-reliever/spot starter.
All told, spring training was an exercise in acclimation. All of the fresh faces had a chance to get comfortable with the coaching staff, and players like Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn were able to get used to their new roles.