Colas, 'pen among lingering roster questions
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The White Sox Opening Day roster should be set in the next 24 to 48 hours, according to manager Pedro Grifol’s comments before the White Sox beat the Reds on Saturday, 9-2.
"We’ll start speaking to some guys today, at some point," Grifol said. "In the next day or two we should have more answers for you.
“And it’s only the right thing to do. Those guys in there, they’ve busted their ass and they deserve some answers.”
With Grifol understandably keeping the decisions close to the vest, here’s a look at what’s still up in the air for the White Sox.
Saturday night’s White Sox lineup featured Yasmani Grandal at catcher and eight others trying to earn a spot on the team’s 26-man roster. Gavin Sheets, who started at first base in the contest, figures to be in good position along with catcher Seby Zavala, who is a lock. But then there are questions.
Are the White Sox ready to secure a spot for Romy Gonzalez, 26, with sporadic big league playing time at this point of his career?
Will the $11 million owed over the next two years to Leury García factor into the final roster decision? García has the ability to play all over the diamond as he begins his 11th season in Chicago.
If the White Sox go with Hanser Alberto as one of their bench spots, do they need someone such as Billy Hamilton or Jake Marisnick as a true extra outfielder and a speed guy off the bench?
Has Jake Burger's impressive Spring Training, following a strong showing with the bat in 2022, earned him a spot with first base added to his third base/designated hitter resume? The answers will come soon.
Nick Avila, a Rule 5 addition, seems to have an edge for the eighth spot. But Gregory Santos and veterans Keynan Middleton and Bryan Shaw remain in the mix.
It would be the surprise move of White Sox camp if the left-handed-hitting outfielder didn’t break as the team’s starting right fielder. But when Grifol was asked about Colas being challenged on Opening Day by facing Houston southpaw Framber Valdez, he didn’t confirm a roster spot -- let alone a lineup spot.
"He first has to make the team for me to think about that,” Grifol said. “He hasn’t made our team yet. He is still competing for a job.”
The rookie has been impressive during Spring Training, and certainly has been worked with consistently by Grifol and his staff. Everything from secondary leads to hitting the cutoff man has been addressed and will continue to be addressed in-season. Barring something completely unexpected, the 24-year-old rookie will play a featured role.
The new White Sox first baseman and former White Sox left fielder has not played in a Cactus League game since March 12 due to lower back stiffness. But he finished 1-for-4 Saturday in his second straight Minor League game and could return to the main field Monday against the Cubs. The worry level was low originally and getting lower by the day.
"We took it slow and I feel like I'm in a really good place,” Vaughn said. “I was glad to be back out there. Just trying to be smart. I'd rather play 162 games than blow out in Spring Training and then not be able to play Opening Day."
After taking a step back at the start of Spring Training due to lat soreness, Bummer is on track to join the White Sox bullpen in Houston as he believed from the outset. The southpaw threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts against Oakland on Friday.
"He came out of that really good,” Grifol said. “He was in good spirits. He was happy. I haven’t heard anything from the training room, so that means we are in a good spot."
Ok, we’re a little ahead of schedule talking about Crochet, who has a mid-to-late May return target from his Tommy John surgery rehab. But the southpaw’s first live batting practice session Friday was a good one.
"His stuff was electric as always,” said Vaughn, who faced Crochet in the live BP. “I'm excited for him to be back. I don't think I could ever deal with being out for 12 months.
"That's tough. But he really worked hard. If you look at him, he's a physical specimen right now. Very excited to see his progress over the next few weeks."