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Inbox: Any surprises in store at SoxFest?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers questions from White Sox fans
January 24, 2019

CHICAGO -- Let's take a look at this week's pre-SoxFest White Sox Inbox.Odds that Manny Machado has signed and they're waiting for a big reveal at SoxFest? -- Matt, @MattACanonIf a deal were already done, I'm guessing the news would have made its way public by now. But how about

CHICAGO -- Let's take a look at this week's pre-SoxFest White Sox Inbox.
Odds that Manny Machado has signed and they're waiting for a big reveal at SoxFest?
-- Matt, @MattACanon

If a deal were already done, I'm guessing the news would have made its way public by now. But how about this purely hypothetical SoxFest scenario: Ozzie Guillen makes his triumphant return, wearing jersey No. 13 -- which has not been given out by the White Sox since he departed as manager after the 2011 season. He presents the jersey to Machado, with a surprise opening ceremony announcement of his contractual agreement Friday evening, only to have Machado switch to a different jersey number as the White Sox announce the retirement of 13 in Guillen's honor.
• White Sox playing waiting game with Machado
Fans at a sold-out SoxFest wouldn't know what to do with themselves at that point. The euphoria would be at a championship level, but if any sort of SoxFest surprise is coming, on any level, it would seem to be news to manager Rick Renteria.
"It would be fun," said Renteria, when asked about a special SoxFest announcement at an event in Chicago on Wednesday. "But not that I'm aware of."
:: Submit a question to the White Sox Inbox ::
For someone who's attending their first SoxFest, what is something I shouldn't miss?
-- Tom, Minneapolis, @tgravesll

Everyone has different goals for SoxFest, a great three-day event at Hilton Chicago to pretty much kick off the baseball season. I would check out some of the seminars over the upcoming three days, as they are always informative and entertaining.
• Bid now on SoxFest sessions
Just on Friday's opening night, there's a town hall meeting with general manager Rick Hahn and Renteria, followed by a seminar on Mark Buehrle's 2009 perfect game with Guillen, executive vice president Ken Williams and Dewayne Wise, owner of The Catch. The evening concludes with a seminar with five Hall of Famers who have White Sox ties: newly elected Harold Baines, Tim Raines, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome and Carlton Fisk. Difficult to top any of those options.
Is there a chance we'll see [Luis] Robert, [Nick] Madrigal, [Dylan] Cease, [Zack] Burdi or [Zack] Collins this year? Or is the plan to, no matter what, keep them in the Minors one more year?
-- Steve, Manhattan, @sox58

The overall rebuild plan will not change, and the top prospects will not be rushed to the Majors. The addition of a player like Machado or Bryce Harper could speed up that process a bit, but let's work under the unwanted assumption that neither one signs. I would think everyone mentioned on your list aside from Robert still has a chance to see the Majors this season. Robert is not too far behind if he stays healthy.
• White Sox Top 30 prospects
If you worked for Brent Musburger, what would be your way-too-early over/under number for Sox wins in '19?
-- Jeff, Indianapolis, @IndyJeffrey

It's definitely way too early. But as the team stands now, 75 to 78 wins makes sense to me.
Carson Fulmer seems to be very confident about the upcoming season. If he and Lucas Giolito could bounce back, how far ahead does that propel the pitching staff for, not just this season, but seasons to come?
-- Mike, Evergreen Park, Ill., @Weoysterfighter

We'll only know about seasons to come when they actually arrive, as a good effort in 2019 doesn't exactly guarantee years of excellence, although it provides a strong foundation. Giolito and Fulmer are talented candidates who are primed for a rebound season in '19, and yes, Fulmer seems very confident coming off an offseason where he's worked as diligently as ever.
Carlos Rodon, Ivan Nova, Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Fulmer as the starting rotation? Is that what you see?
-- Mike, Lake Forest, Ill., @msqboxer

Those first four are pretty clear, and my guess would be Rodon makes his first Opening Day start. As things stand, Fulmer has a shot at the fifth starter's slot, but Manny Banuelos is probably the slight favorite, with Dylan Covey and Jordan Stephens also in the picture. There's still a chance the White Sox add another candidate from outside the organization.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.