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White Sox shaping roster as camp nears end

MLB.com @alysonfooter

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox, a week from Opening Day, are close to finalizing their 25-man roster, manager Rick Renteria said on Wednesday.

Final decisions could be made by the time the team breaks camp Sunday, even if the official roster isn't submitted until closer to Opening Day in Kansas City on March 29.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox, a week from Opening Day, are close to finalizing their 25-man roster, manager Rick Renteria said on Wednesday.

Final decisions could be made by the time the team breaks camp Sunday, even if the official roster isn't submitted until closer to Opening Day in Kansas City on March 29.

"We're in range of being able to make some decisions and clean up where we're at," Renteria said.

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Renteria indicated the club is looking seriously at taking 13 pitchers, which means the White Sox should break camp with outfielder Leury Garcia, catcher Omar Narvaez and infielder Tyler Saladino in reserve. Both Adam Engel and Ryan Cordell have had strong Cactus League performances in the battle for center field, but Engel seems to rate the edge via the Gold Glove-caliber defense he played for the White Sox in 2017. His value is accentuated working behind a staff not full of strikeout pitchers.

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The bullpen locks look to be Nate Jones, Joakim Soria, Juan Minaya, Luis Avilan, Hector Santiago and possibly even Gregory Infante. That configuration leaves Danny FarquharJeanmar Gomez, Aaron Bummer, Rob Scahill, Xavier Cedeno, Chris Volstad and Robbie Ross Jr. competing for the final two spots.

The rotation will feature Opening Day starter James Shields, followed by Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and either Carson Fulmer or Santiago, with Fulmer having the edge to win the job.

Camp battles  

The White Sox could opt for a second long reliever with three young pitchers in Giolito, Lopez and Fulmer making up the rotation, but in the interim, the uncertainty of how much length the club will receive from the rotation likely means job security for Santiago.

Santiago has experience both starting and relieving throughout his seven years in the big leagues, and the Sox may need to lean on him in myriad scenarios.

"He's the guy that could give us a little more length," Renteria said. "Having the lefty behind the righties is an important factor for us. Hopefully we'd have to go to it very little at any point with any of our guys, but obviously, he's available to do that."

Lopez vs. the Padres

Lopez struggled at the start of his outing Wednesday, but the right-hander recovered from control problems to turn in a respectable appearance against the Padres.

Video: SD@CWS: Reyaldo Lopez on regrouping, escaping jam

Lopez recorded two quick outs in the first inning before issuing consecutive walks to Eric Hosmer, Hunter Renfroe and Chase Headley. After a brief mound meeting, Lopez got out of the inning when Cory Spangenberg flied to left.

"I was kind of angry with myself in that situation, but I didn't lose control of the inning, and I was able to not allow any runs," Lopez said after the White Sox 4-3 loss. "I just took a deep breath and tried to keep my focus and tried not to think about the walks. I just tried to think about the next pitch."

Lopez allowed three runs over five innings, striking out three. He'll likely have one more abbreviated exhibition start as a tuneup for the regular season.

Musical interludes

The White Sox clubhouse at Camelback Ranch has all the basic necessities for a modern-day ballplayer: exercise equipment, energy bars, bottles of water, towels, uniforms, caps, gum, ukuleles and drums.

Wait. ... what?

Yes, the White Sox have brought back the ukulele, that quaint little four-string mini-guitar that helped make Don Ho and Tiny Tim famous.

It first appeared weeks ago during a team-bonding exercise that featured five White Sox players putting on a concert for their teammates.

The band, named "Five Guys and a Clarinet," used, among other instruments, a ukulele and a drum. Both have remained in the clubhouse ever since.

The ukulele usually sits at the locker of Saladino, who will occasionally strum out a tune or two early in the morning -- usually when few teammates are around to hear him.

Saladino, whose grandparents are from Hawaii, started playing the ukulele when he was in the Minor Leagues, as a stress reliever.

"Just strumming around," he said. "I don't know too much, just a few chords. It's only four strings. It's not that hard."

The drum sits near Yolmer Sanchez, whose locker is just a few down from Saladino's. This is an ideal setup in case someone needs an impromptu jam session -- as long as they don't make a habit of it.

"He's actually not too bad at it," Saladino said of Sanchez's drumming abilities. "As long as you can get a decent sound from it and a little bit of rhythm, it's all right. It's when there's neither of that when it becomes a little tough on the ears."

Up next

The White Sox will play a night game on Thursday when they travel to Scottsdale to play the D-backs at 8:40 p.m. CT. Right-hander Gonzalez will take the mound to face the D-backs, who will counter with righty Taijuan Walker. Follow the game on Gameday.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

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