After the Elvis Andrus signing there was really only one starting job up for grabs during spring training, but it doesn’t mean there hasn’t been competition for a few roster spots come Opening Day for the White Sox. While the team’s starting right fielder hasn’t been set yet, neither has the bench for first-year manager Pedro Grifol.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn was hyping up 26-year-old Romy Gonzalez as the possible starter at second base about a week before the team’s first spring training game and now Gonzalez may not even be on the roster on March 30, when the White Sox start the regular season against the Houston Astros. With Andrus coming back, Gonzalez was viewed as a solid utility man, getting starts in the outfield, but we’re past the halfway mark of spring training and the right-handed batter has one hit in 17 at-bats. Still, he has speed and has played solid defense.
Veteran Leury Garcia may be comfortable because he’s guaranteed another $11 million from the White Sox over the next two years. Yet, after being one of the worst players in MLB last season, Garcia is still giving White Sox fans plenty of reasons to get furious at him in spring training.
You can make the argument that out of all the players competing for one of the bench roles, Garcia is the only one without one great ability. I mean, I guess he can play multiple positions, so Garcia can at the very least give the White Sox some flexibility on the roster. But he’s been terrible at the plate for years and guess what, there’s a new manager in town.
Then there’s right-handed hitting Jake Burger. He keeps mashing in spring training, now up to four home runs in Cactus League action. He makes it a little tricky for the White Sox because while he does provide an MLB-ready bat, Burger’s limited to the corner spots of the infield that are already locked down with Andrew Vaughn and Yoan Moncada. But the bat definitely plays up in the big leagues.
The uncertainty at the bottom of the White Sox roster has potentially opened the door for 32-year-old Hanser Alberto. The infielder is hitting .474 (9-for-19) with five extra base hits in seven games. Although Alberto struggled with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022, the right-handed hitter does have a .300 average season under his belt in 2019 with the Baltimore Orioles, but maybe even more important, Alberto played for the Kansas City Royals in 2021, when Grifol was the bench coach.
Who knows, maybe Grifol’s familiarity with Alberto will give him an edge for a bench spot.
As for right field, the White Sox aren’t making any declarations in the middle of March, but left-handed hitting prospect Oscar Colas is trying to leave no doubt who should be in right on Opening Day in Houston.
We will be talking about the latest from spring training as well as the White Sox tearing it up at the World Baseball Classic and looking ahead to the regular season on the Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast. Join the stream, live Wednesday night at 8 p.m. CST.
Joining this week’s show is Nick Murawski, host of the Locked On White Sox Podcast and the Good Guys Talk Back White Sox Podcast.
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I was at that game, our whole section was in disbelief at Garcia. Really not sure what he brings to this team. I guess he might be a good clubhouse guy/translator. That Colas bomb was pretty exciting and encouraging though!
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