MLB: Spring Training-Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers

South Side Spring Training 5: We Have Our First Injury

1. The fact that Micker Adolfo’s UCL injury doesn’t appear as serious as the team initially thought is obviously good news for the young outfielder who’s battled his share of misfortune during his four years in the system. Adolfo had a breakout season in Low-A Kannapolis in 2017, both in terms of production and his ability to stay on the field for most of the campaign, and after the White Sox added the 21-year-old prospect to the 40-man roster prior to December’s Rule 5 draft, it was clear the team still has high hopes for him.

General manager Rick Hahn said Sunday that the injury is such that Adolfo will still be able to hit, and he’s likely headed to Winston-Salem at the start of the season to serve as the team’s designated hitter. While Adolfo is still a long way from the majors, his ability to not lose a year of developmental time as a hitter is important as he’ll be further tested at High-A, a level he’s yet to see.

2. It’s easy to root for Hector Santiago. A 30th round pick in 2006 who came out of nowhere to become a legit mid-rotation contributor, he quickly became a fan favorite before being traded after the 2013 season in a deal that brought Adam Eaton to Chicago. Reports of his offseason efforts in Puerto Rico speak even more to what kind of person he is, and after being brought back to the White Sox earlier this month on a minor league deal, he’s looking to regain the form that say him make the All-Star team in 2015 before injuries and ineffectiveness plagued his last two seasons.

His spring debut on Saturday was nothing remarkable — five hits allowed and one strikeout in two innings of work — but he reportedly flashed higher velocity when working out of jams.

“I’m trying to work on stuff, I’m trying to throw some two-seamers in to lefties and work on arm-side fastballs but I got in a little jam right there and reared back and found a little extra,” Santiago said. “It’s in there, it’s just a matter of trying to get work done and not overdo it too early. We still have a lot of games and innings to throw. Save some but when you need to rear back and get something it’s back there.”

Santiago’s ability to work both as a starter and a reliever, as well as the White Sox lack of pitching depth, make him a good bet to contribute at some point in 2018. Two rough years brought him to the point of accepting a minor league deal, and the odds are stacked against him regaining his previous form, but if a return to health helps bring his velocity back up to speed and he starts missing bats again, he’ll be a surprising and welcome addition.

3. On the subject of veteran pitchers trying to regain previous form, Joakim Soria and his 203 career saves is likely to have a role in the back of the White Sox bullpen, although it’s yet to be determined if it will be as a closer or not.

It’s been eight years since Soria was a fire-breathing dragon anchoring the Royals’ bullpen, but he was effective last season, striking out more than 10 batters per nine and allowing just one home run in 56 innings with Kansas City.  At 33 years old and with Tommy John surgery in his past, one would assume keeping him on the field is the main obstacle toward him being an asset in the bullpen (and maybe at the trade deadline).

4. Michael Kopech will make his first spring appearance Monday when he gets the start against the Oakland Athletics. The White Sox No. 2 prospect and No. 17 on BP’s Top 101 has said he wants to make things difficult for the White Sox, in terms of being promoted to the majors, and this spring the main focus has been on his developing changeup.

“The changeup has been a work in progress for the past couple of years,” Kopech said, “and that seems to be where everyone’s focus is. I came to camp early and started working on it right away, and feel I’ve made long strides just in the past couple of weeks.

“It’s a grip I’ve played around with the last two or three years trying to figure it out. It’s just getting comfortable with it. I think I’ve finally found one.”

As I mentioned Friday, one of the neat things to focus on during an often monotonous spring training is finding out what players are working on and seeing how well they execute. One would imagine we’ll see a hefty supply of changeups out of Kopech on Monday.

5. For those interested in such things, some prospect stats from the White Sox three games over the weekend:

Jake Burger went 1-for-2 with a stand-up triple on Saturday, he was 0-for-3 combined in Friday’s and Sunday’s games.

Luis Robert appeared both Saturday and Sunday and is 0-for-3.

Zack Collins went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a strikeout on Sunday after going 0-for-1 with a strikeout on Saturday.

Eloy Jimenez has seen one plate appearance (Friday) and struck out.

Jordan Guerrero started on Sunday and went 2 IP. He allowed 4 ER, 1 BB, and had 1 K.

Dane Dunning had 1 K, 1 BB, and allowed 1 ER in 1 2/3 innings on Saturday.

Thyago Viera got roughed up for 2 ER on 3 hits in 2/3 of an inning on Friday.

Lead Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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