White Sox pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Glendale, Ariz., on Tuesday and you’re lucky enough to have stumbled upon this article, which will tell you all the important things to pay attention to over the next six weeks. You’re welcome.
The young guys, duh
Duh. We’ve read plenty about all of the White Sox new prospects already, and this will be the first chance to catch a glimpse at the future before the future is frozen in the carbine of MiLB.tv until an undetermined date.
Seeing Michael Kopech face major league hitters or Yoan Moncada face major league pitching in a Cactus League doesn’t mean a whole lot in the long run. Fretting over their numbers during these games does no good. But, dammit, it will be fun to see!
While this will be our first opportunity to see these guys, in all seriousness it’s also the White Sox brass’ first chance to get to work up close with them. And what they see and what they say and what they instruct is just the first step in a long and important process.
Dealing with distractions
I’ve never put much stock in the idea that distractions such as trade rumors has much impact on a player’s performance. But the one thing I do put stock into is the idea that being asked about those rumors constantly is probably annoying as hell.
Some players are probably used to it, and I place no blame on the reporters who are doing their jobs, but while trade rumors can be digested quickly and easily during the winter, Spring Training means Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier and the others will be front and center whenever the next hot piece of juicy gossip comes to the forefront.
Rick Renteria addressed as such when he met with reporters for the first time Monday:
“I think that if there are any obstacles or annoyances that occur, we will do the best we can to kind of minimize those,” Renteria said. “For the most part, I think they are professionals. They know what they have to do.”
Spring Training trades aren’t frequent, and the closer we get to Opening Day the more likely it is that Quintana et al begin the season on the roster. But Rick Hahn has made it clear on multiple occasions that he won’t be afraid to pull the trigger if the right deal comes along. Until then, all we’ll have are the rumors.
Again, nothing earth-shattering here, but while a contending team needs to stay healthy because of how it affects their chances of making the playoffs, health is important to the White Sox for other specific reasons.
The younger players likely the make the 25-man roster, whether it be potential building blocks like Carlos Rodon and Tim Anderson, or more volatile youngsters like Charlie Tilson, Matt Davidson, and Omar Narvaez, need the experience to further marinate. Rodon and Anderson are the two players on the current roster most likely to still be around for the next White Sox contender, and the others at least have slim chances to join them.
The older folks break down into two categories: Trade chips (we covered that above) or warm bodies you need because, well, somebody’s gotta play. While the tradable guys need to stay healthy for obvious reasons, for guys who aren’t as tradable (looking at you, James Shields) health simply means the White Sox aren’t tempted to throw players who need further development into situations they aren’t yet ready for.
So, yeah, health is important. Again, not a revelatory proclamation, but the reasons are different than in years past.
Fun along the way
The arrival of Spring Training is exciting because it means some baseball is here and important baseball is close. The more baseball the better, IMO. But after the first few games you realize none of the games actually matter.
This is a depressing realization, but there are plenty of things to enjoy about Spring Training. Every time a player who will likely never reach the majors, someone without a name on the back of his jersey and a number comparable to an NFL offensive lineman gets a hit at the plate or a strikeout on the mound is worth enjoying in the moment.
Spring Training is long and boring and fun and exciting. Let’s just hope the White Sox get through it without any, ahem, clubhouse controversy.
Lead Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports