Spring training storylines: Last Sox bench spot

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Spring training storylines: Last Sox bench spot

Assuming nothing wild like an eight-man bullpen comes to fruition, the White Sox will have four bench players in 2012. Three of those spots are locked up, with Brent Lillibridge, Kosuke Fukudome and Tyler Flowers filling roles.

That leaves one open spot. Enter three players: Dan Johnson, Eduardo Escobar and Ozzie Martinez. Most likely, one of them will win a spot on the White Sox opening day roster. Here are the cases for and against each of them:

Dan Johnson, 1BDH (career line: .235.334.405)

Here's a guy who would've fit perfectly on the White Sox last August when Paul Konerko was hobbled by a bad knee, but as long as Konerko is healthy, Johnson doesn't have much of a place with the White Sox. He's better-served starting the year off in Triple-A and waiting in the wings in case Adam Dunn struggles out of the gate. Of course, a strong spring could make it tough for the Sox to leave him off the 25-man roster.

A note about Johnson, though: His career splits are actually pretty even between facing righties and lefties. He's not a world-beater against each, but his OBP against lefties is actually higher (.337) than against righties (.332).

Eduardo Escobar, 2BSS3B (career minor-league line: .270.315.351)

The 23-year-old doesn't have a high offensive ceiling and he's not a particularly good base-stealer (75 steals in 118 attempts in the minors), but he's a slick fielder who could be a fit on the roster if the White Sox aren't able to trust Brent Lillibridge at shortstop. That he can play third base is a plus, although his defense there almost certainly isn't better than that of Brent Morel. Escobar probably would only play there if the incumbent third baseman needs a day off.

Ozzie Martinez, 2BSS3B (career minor-league line: .261.331.352)

There really isn't much between Martinez and Escobar. Martinez showed better plate discipline in Triple-A than Escobar, but his results were pretty much in line with that of Escobar. Martinez is a more efficient baserunner (60 steals in 88 attempts), although Escobar probably is the better fielder.

It probably will be tough to name a favorite between these two -- both are more likely to make the roster than Johnson -- given how even they are. The decision should come down to factors we won't necessarily see in game action.

Dark horse: Tyler Kuhn, IFOF (career minor-league line: .314.368.428)

Kuhn had a fantastic 2011 with Double-A Birmingham (.341.401.464), although high-average, BABIP-fueled seasons like that rarely carry over to future season and higher levels of the minor leagues. He hasn't graded out well defensively and is somewhat of a player without a position. A few good weeks in Arizona will probably warrant a long look, but ultimately, he needs to prove himself against Triple-A pitching before being considered for the majors.

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