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Engel wins starting CF job with Cordell optioned

Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The writing was on the wall the past couple of days, and on Thursday the White Sox made it official as they get closer to finalizing their Opening Day roster: Ryan Cordell will not make the team and Adam Engel will be the starting center fielder.

That was made clear when Cordell was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The writing was on the wall the past couple of days, and on Thursday the White Sox made it official as they get closer to finalizing their Opening Day roster: Ryan Cordell will not make the team and Adam Engel will be the starting center fielder.

That was made clear when Cordell was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.

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"Ryno did a great job. He's going to get down there and get more at-bats," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "... We need him to get more at-bats. He really did a very, very nice job and impressed every single person in camp."

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Cordell hit .317 with a .929 OPS in 41 at-bats this spring but was likely edged by Engel's ability to play Gold Glove-caliber defense at a premium position.

Engel also hasn't hurt himself at the plate. The 26-year-old owns a .364 average, 1.110 OPS and has smacked four home runs in the Cactus League.

But Engel was scratched from the lineup Thursday night -- a 3-1 win over the D-backs at Salt River Fields -- a day after he was held out of a game with a stiff neck.

White Sox Spring Training information

But the White Sox don't expect Engel to be out much longer.

"There's no denying that he has a skill set and the ability to play," Renteria said of the 25-year-old Cordell, who is the White Sox No. 18 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. "We think he's a Major League baseball player. We want to make sure he gets some at-bats down in Triple-A on a consistent basis."

Video: CWS@LAA: Cordell smacks an RBI triple to center

Cordell's chances of cracking the Opening Day roster were hindered by the team's decision to keep 13 pitchers and 12 position players, with utility infielder Tyler Saladino, outfielder Leury Garcia and backup catcher Omar Narvaez making up the bench.

"Any number of guys would have had a chance if you limit the number of pitchers you take," Renteria said. "But that's a hypothetical that really serves me no purpose to kind of extrapolate."

Cordell slashed .284/.349/.506 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs in 68 games for the Brewers' Triple-A affiliate last season before the White Sox acquired him in the deal that sent reliever Anthony Swarzak to Milwaukee.

Renteria, of course, left open the door for Cordell to find his way to the big league team at some point this season for his Major League debut.

Gonzalez closes strong
Using his split-finger fastball heavily, Miguel Gonzalez held the D-backs to four hits and one run in 5 1/3 innings in his final start of Spring Training. The lone run scored after he left the game.

"It was fun to play under that lights again," Gonzalez said. "It's always important to throw out zeros. Now we're ready for the season to start."

Gonzalez struck out five, including D-backs perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt immediately after A.J. Pollock had doubled in the sixth.

"I think guys like that are pretty aggressive, good hitters," Gonzalez said of Goldschmidt. "If you have the ability to change speeds, it's going to be hard for him to adjust to certain pitches. And my split-finger fastball, I was throwing it wherever I wanted today."

Gonzalez finished the spring with a 5.40 ERA, but five of the eight runs he allowed came in two-thirds of an inning in his second Cactus League appearance. In his other three starts this month, he gave up a combined three runs in 12 2/3 innings.

"I'm ready," said Gonzalez, who threw 88 pitches vs. the D-backs and another 10 in the bullpen. "I'm ready for the season to start."

Moncada goes deep
Yoan Moncada crushed a Taijuan Walker curveball way back onto the far edge of the berm beyond the right-field fence that left the White Sox dugout buzzing.

"He got a pitch to hit and he destroyed it," Gonzalez said. "He's a strong kid. Everyone in the dugout was like, 'Hey, this is not a kid, this is a big man.'"

It was Moncada's third homer this spring.

Tweet from @whitesox: Going... going... YOAN! pic.twitter.com/ieG34l04eD

Robert reassigned
Also involved in the White Sox roster thinning Thursday was No. 3 prospect Luis Robert, who was reassigned to Minor League camp along with pitchers Rob Scahill and Chris Volstad.

In limited Cactus League at-bats, the touted Robert was 3-for-10 with a home run and a stolen base. He also impressed in a few "B" games, including doubling off Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen earlier this month.

Video: CIN@CWS: Robert puts White Sox ahead with grand slam

Rodon making strides
Lefty Carlos Rodon, the No. 3 overall Draft pick in 2014, threw 25 pitches Thursday in his third bullpen session this spring after he had arthroscopic shoulder surgery in September.

"He's coming along," said Renteria, who didn't see the session but received a report from pitching coach Don Cooper. "He's still on track for somewhere down the road."

Rodon figures to be back in Chicago in June at the earliest.

Video: Renteria and Rodon talk about Rodon's bullpen session

Injury update
There was nothing out of the ordinary in the MRI results on catcher Kevan Smith's sprained ankle.

"We'll see how he continues to respond," Renteria said.

Up next
Opening Day starter James Shields makes his final spring appearance Friday afternoon, when the White Sox host the Mariners at Camelback Ranch at 3:05 p.m. CT. It will be just Shields' third Cactus League appearance as he's spent most of the spring pitching in "B" games. The game can be listened to on Gameday Audio or watched via an exclusive video webcast.

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com.

Chicago White Sox, Engel Beltre, Ryan Cordell