MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers

South Side Morning 5: Training Days

1. The day we’ve all been waiting for, that signals the start of another long wait, is finally here. White Sox pitchers and catcher officially report to Spring Training in Glendale, Ariz., on Wednesday, and with it comes pictures and videos of world class athletes doing things like hitting baseballs off tees and playing catch on freshly mowed grass.

We can only smash the “like” button on the tweets with said content so hard until our fingers start bleeding, but the news Tuesday was that a sizable chunk of players were already getting work in a day ahead of schedule. This type of news isn’t exactly irregular anymore, but at the very least it signals the start of actual baseball things we can see and read about and talk about.

2. While the start of spring training is exciting, we still have about six weeks until real, meaningful baseball is played. However, while the White Sox roster seems mostly set, there will be a number of questions that will likely be answered over the next month-plus. Are the White Sox content with Yolmer Sanchez as the everyday third baseman? How about Nicky Delmonico in left field? Who among Adam Engel, Leury Garcia, or Charlie Tilson will emerge in center field? Will a new contender enter the arena in any of those position (or DH) in the form of a free agent? What is the meaning of life? When is Carlos Rodon going to be ready? Who is going to close? Is Scott Merkin on track to return by Opening Day? Who is the next Anthony Swarzak? What’s the bullpen going to look like?

3. None of those questions are likely going to be answered anytime soon, but the most noteworthy development from Tuesday’s pre-report date reporting was news that Nate Jones is throwing baseballs. Jones, as you might recall, missed almost all of the 2017 season after undergoing nerve repositioning surgery in his right elbow, and has pitched a grand total of 100.1 innings over the last four seasons (70 of which came in 2016.

Last season’s injury coupled with Tommy John surgery that cost him almost all of 2014 and 2015 have put Jones in a precarious position, as he continues to be thought of as someone who can provide valuable innings in the back of a bullpen when healthy, but has had trouble, ya know, staying healthy. The fact that he’s already throwing, albeit minimally, in the early days of the spring is a good sign for him to start the season with the major league club.

4. Spring Training also offers a glimpse of White Sox prospects invited to big league camp, such as Michael Kopech, who said he’s more comfortable in his second go-around at big league camp. For players like Kopech or Eloy Jimenez, the fact that they’re so close to the majors make their time in big league camp all the more interesting, as we’ll get a glimpse of them against major league level(-ish) competition in spring training games. Likewise, it will provide us with our first extended looks at players a bit farther away, such as Luis Robert and Jake Burger.

5. Lauren Comitor of The Athletic took an extended look at the roles of women in the front offices of both the White Sox and Cubs, including the Sox hiring of 24-year-old Emily Blady as a baseball operations analyst last month. It’s a great long-form piece that provides some insight into both the growth of women’s roles within the game as well as how far the game has yet to grow in that regard. It’s absolutely worth your time.

Lead Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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