GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox pitchers and catchers officially reported to Camelback Ranch for the start of Spring Training on Wednesday, although many players already made their way to Arizona. Year 3 of the rebuild begins with a great deal of optimism, knowing that the plan is starting to turn
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox pitchers and catchers officially reported to Camelback Ranch for the start of Spring Training on Wednesday, although many players already made their way to Arizona. Year 3 of the rebuild begins with a great deal of optimism, knowing that the plan is starting to turn a major corner.
Here's a look at a few of the storylines to check out over the next six weeks:
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Will Manny Machado ultimately pick the White Sox?
Over the past couple of days alone, fans have tried to decipher the deeper meaning of White Sox baby shoes posted on Machado's Instagram account (a gift for Yonder Alonso's family) and Rawlings releasing Twitter images of Machado's 2019 mitts appearing to be made in White Sox colors of black and white. White Sox fans might need this signing as much as the organization, at this point, simply to preserve their baseball sanity.
Rodon's road to No. 1
Carlos Rodón is in line for his first career Opening Day start when the White Sox visit the Royals on March 28. Rodon enters Spring Training at full strength, aside from the southpaw battling a cold at the outset of camp, and he seems poised to become a top-of-the-rotation starter. Rodon showed signs of that ability last year and didn't have to worry about any sort of rehab work during this past offseason, with a focus solely on preparation for 2019.
Top prospects beyond Jimenez
The wait for Eloy Jiménez's big league debut shouldn't be too much longer, with the No. 3 prospect in the game per MLB Pipeline potentially joining the White Sox by mid-April. But don't forget to check out some of these other top prospects, such as outfielder Luis Robert, infielder Nick Madrigal and pitcher Dylan Cease, to name a few, during the upcoming weeks in Arizona. Some who watched Robert last spring described him as a Major League talent at that early point.
Renteria managing expectations
Rick Renteria's first two years serving as White Sox manager were more about developing a specific winning culture throughout the entire organization than wins and losses. In Year 3, that focus won't completely change. But Renteria certainly will have his best chance to win as White Sox manager with the best yet to come for the team.
What a relief
The White Sox bullpen ranked 11th in the American League with a 4.49 ERA during the 2018 season and had 34 saves (13th in AL). The relievers' 253 walks represented the fourth-highest total in the AL, so it clearly was not a strong suit. Many young relievers were relied upon, so it will be interesting to see how hurlers such as Ian Hamilton, Ryan Burr and even Jace Fry benefited from that experience. The additions of Alex Colomé and Kelvin Herrera and the return of a healthy Nate Jones gives Renteria numerous late-inning options to help finish off victories.
Will José Abreu remain a part of the White Sox?
Abreu has been a consummate pro and an extremely solid middle-of-the-order presence during his five years with the White Sox. But the 2019 season represents the club's last year of contractual control over the 32-year-old, leaving the team and Abreu to decide what his future holds.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.