GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The lockers of Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay sit side by side in the back-left corner of the White Sox clubhouse at Camelback Ranch, bringing a little 305 flair to the 623.There's an open locker located next to Jay, leaving everyone with one overriding image as White
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The lockers of Yonder Alonso and Jon Jay sit side by side in the back-left corner of the White Sox clubhouse at Camelback Ranch, bringing a little 305 flair to the 623.
There's an open locker located next to Jay, leaving everyone with one overriding image as White Sox pitchers and catchers reported Wednesday morning. Could that locker possibly be saved for Manny Machado, the premium free agent pursued by the South Siders?
"I demand an empty locker next to me," Jay said with a broad smile. "Just kidding. It just worked out that way. That might be one of the perks of being around a little bit longer."
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Alonso and Jay don't have to be in Spring Training camp until Monday, when position players are set to report. As newcomers to the team, they decided to arrive early, get their families settled and begin the bonding process.
But even in this unofficial capacity, they couldn't avoid questions about Machado. Their connection has been talked about time and time again, with Alonso being Machado's brother-in-law and Jay being a close friend.
Both players answered all Machado inquiries coming their way, but it was clear their focus falls squarely upon baseball and preparation for the 2019 season. Alonso last talked with Machado on Tuesday, but he added "100 percent" they didn't chat about baseball.
When asked if Machado was close to a decision, Alonso said he didn't know and that was more of a question for Machado. Alonso and Jay stuck with the principle of giving Machado his space and letting him do what's best for his family.
"I'm pretty far away, 3,000 miles away," Alonso said. "I had my breakfast, I had my lunch and I'm ready to play. I think that's all going to get taken care of. We'll just see when it happens."
General manager Rick Hahn had a little more fun with the Machado questions when he was asked during his first Spring Training press conference. He liked the black-and-white color scheme of Machado's 2019 gloves as released by Rawlings on Tuesday, but then asked if the infielder was signing with the Raiders.
There's not much Twitter or Instagram searching done by the organization to look for wide-ranging clues about Machado's ultimate destination, with Hahn quipping he wouldn't comment on any reports until the two oddly named contributors off a Reddit board who broke news of the José Quintana trade in 2017 chime in.
In taking a more serious tone, Hahn wouldn't speculate on when this situation finally could be resolved.
"Nothing on which I'm going to speculate openly," Hahn said. "We have conversations we like to keep confidential. We try to avoid being swayed by what's out there.
"I'm not going to get into any conversations whatsoever about where things sit with any free agent. It doesn't serve us any good to send messages through the media. We talk directly."
Machado makes any team better, whether he's playing third base, shortstop or anywhere else on the field. But even without him, the White Sox are moving toward their final rebuild destination of contention, and this season could mark a significant step forward.
So it's a balance of maintaining a primary focus on the players who are actually in Arizona, with the one big addition who could still arrive.
"He will do what's best for him and his family," White Sox catcher James McCann said. "Obviously we'd welcome him with open arms. You can't really daydream and then have your heart broken."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.