White Sox cut six; Escobar wins bench spot

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White Sox cut six; Escobar wins bench spot

The White Sox reassigned Dan Johnson, Dallas McPherson, Jim Gallagher and Jordan Danks to minor-league camp Tuesday, meaning Eduardo Escobar appears to have won the battle for the final spot on the White Sox bench.

In 17 games this spring, Escobar has hit .471 with no walks, one strikeout and one home run. His defensive versatility also was a likely factor in his triumph, as Escobar can play second, short and third base pretty well.

How Robin Ventura uses Brent Lillibridge in relation to Escobar will be interesting -- Lillibridge has played all over the field this spring, showing signs of improvement, but still a few flaws, in the infield. Lillibridge is the superior hitter to Escobar, no matter what the latter's spring stats may show, but Escobar has the superior glove.

It would make sense for Escobar to be a late-game pinch-runner for, say, Paul Konerko, but he doesn't have experience playing first. Lillibridge, however, has played some first base, so he'd make more sense if the Sox need a pair of legs in the eighth or ninth innings. The same goes for Dayan Viciedo, as Lillibridge has experience in left field. Perhaps the majority of Escobar's pinch-running opportunities will come for Adam Dunn.

While awarding jobs based on spring stats is dangerous, the Sox probably figured all along either Escobar or Ozzie Martinez was the best fit for their bench so long as they didn't look overmatched in March. Martinez was overmatched and was cut pretty early into the process, but Escobar looked far from it. And as a result, he'll make the Opening Day roster.

There does exist a scenario -- albeit, an unlikely one that doesn't involve injury -- in which Escobar doesn't make the Opening Day roster. Given the versatility of Lillibridge, the lack of separation between a few bullpen candidates could lead the White Sox to open the season with eight relievers and only three bench reserves.

But history has shown that carrying an eighth reliever usually doesn't do much, since that pitcher rarely enters games. It's better to have the four-man bench, of which Escobar would be the fourth member.

Josh Phegley and Tyler Saladino were the other two players reassigned to minor-league camp Tuesday.

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