Absences will give young Sox outfielders ample opportunity

Absences will give young Sox outfielders ample opportunity
February 22, 2013, 4:30 pm
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox are flush with opportunity with Jordan Danks out and Alex Rios and Alejandro De Aza soon off to the World Baseball Classic.

Their absences and 33 exhibition games will mean plenty of playing time for a group of younger outfielders in camp, including Trayce Thompson and Jared Mitchell.

Mitchell, who enters the season as the No. 9 prospect in the organization, believes there’s ample time for each of the five young outfielders in camp. Blake Tekotte, Keenyn Walker and Stefan Gartrell also figure to benefit for the extra opportunity.

“With the group of young guys we’ve got, it’s more of a chance to get out there and play,” said Mitchell, who had a combined .237/.358/.420 slash line in the minors last season. “Extended time means they get a better look at you so it’s more of an opportunity, a chance to showcase. It’s a good situation. It’s a seize-the-moment-type of thing.”

Thompson is in camp after he was promoted all the way to Triple-A Charlotte before last season ended. Although the son of former Los Angeles Laker Mychal Thompson rose fast in 2012, he knows he’s likely to start the season at Double-A Birmingham. But Thompson -- who had a combined .253/.328/.482 slash line and 25 homers --also knows he’s on the cusp of the majors and hopes to catch the eye of the White Sox coaching staff this spring.

“You’ve just got to make the most of your impression,” Thompson said. “I know I’m not going to break with the team necessarily, but you just have got to make as lasting of an impression as you can.”

De Aza and Rios figure to see a good chunk of playing time in the first week of action as they don’t depart until March 3 for San Juan, Puerto Rico. At that point, the White Sox will be down to eight outfielders in camp -- assuming Danks has returned. Manager Robin Ventura said he looks forward to an extra chance to put eyes on his younger players.

“It gives guys a little opportunity to step up and play and you never know what’s going to happen,” Ventura said.

Thompson has an idea of what will happen; he’s going to get excited for the chance to again play a significant role in spring games. The trick is to make sure he plays relaxed instead of trying to do too much.

Thompson was also in big league camp last season and had previously been brought over from minor-league camp to appear in games.

“They’ve seen me and know what I can do,” Thompson said. “I have to go out and do the best that I can do and have fun and stay loose because it’s easy to get tense playing in these environments, playing with big leaguers and playing in these games. But you just have to stay loose and have fun. It’s really just baseball.”