Four left battling for two spots after Sox make cuts

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Four left battling for two spots after Sox make cuts

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Posted: 2:33 p.m. Updated 4:30 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Prior to Tuesday's game at Seattle, the White Sox made nine roster moves, leaving them 29 players left in major-league camp: 13 pitchers, three catchers, nine infielders and four outfielders.

The White Sox roster cuts narrow competition for two remaining roster spots to just four players: Lastings Milledge and Brent Lillibridge, vying for the team's final bench role, and Phil Humber and Jeffrey Marquez, looking to be the 12th arm in the pen.

Milledge has provided extremes in his Cactus League work--bursts of power that could serve the team well if the 25-year-old is asked to play a bigger role due to injury, but also flashes of the me-first play that's plagued the outfielder through his three prior major-league stops.

Lillibridge has lost most of his leverage as an infielder-outfielder with the likely embrace of Mark Teahen in a similar role. However, Lillibridge is unquestionably team-first, and perhaps more significantly, the speedster is out of options, meaning he would have to clear waivers to be demoted to AAA Charlotte. That's an unlikely development.

The two remaining hitters on the roster will not break camp with the team. Catcher Donny Lucy is merely an extra mask as Chicago slogs through its final week of warmup play, while Dayan Viciedo is recovering from a broken thumb.

READ: White Sox Report Card Version 2.0

Humber and Marquez have both impressed this spring, with the former packing more major league experience and Marquez a more live arm.

If pitcher Jake Peavy is placed on the DL to begin the season (where he would likely join Viciedo), three of the four players in question could remain with the team. With the roster nearly whittled down completely and plenty of innings left to log, it's a safe bet that at least one of Humber, Marquez, Lillibridge or Milledge will falter, lending credence to manager Ozzie Guillen's belief that "the players are the ones who tell you they should be on the team" through their spring training performance.

Final decisions on the roster aren't likely for another week, Guillen has indicated.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Preview: White Sox face the Mariners Thursday on CSN

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Preview: White Sox face the Mariners Thursday on CSN

The White Sox take on the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Thursday’s starting pitching matchup: Anthony Ranaudo vs. James Paxton

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields, White Sox lose to Phillies and snap winning streak

James Shields allowed his fewest runs in a month on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a loss.

Shields yielded two more home runs in six innings and his offense couldn’t keep pace as the White Sox lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 in front of 15,630 at U.S. Cellular Field. Shields gave up four earned runs and seven hits. Dioner Navarro homered in the loss, which snapped a three-game White Sox winning streak.

“We’ve seen better,” manager Robin Ventura said. “(Shields) got to two strikes, two outs and gave up a couple there and that’s tough. The homer to left, that’s just one you get in this ballpark. The biggest one, for him, mistake-wise was the homer to Joseph. I think that’s the one that he wants back. But as far as going out there and getting us to a point, he’s still got room to improve on. But he got through it.”

The six innings pitched marks the most by Shields since July 26.

In between, Shields allowed 28 runs (27 earned) and 33 hits in 14 innings over four turns, good for a 17.36 ERA.

He fell behind 3-0 by the third inning before he settled in and retired nine of 11 batters. The Phillies pieced together a two-out rally in the second inning to go up two runs as Tommy Joseph and Freddy Galvis doubled with an Aaron Altherr singled sandwiched in between.

Cesar Hernandez opened the third inning with a solo homer just inside the left-field foul pole.

Joseph also homered with two outs in the sixth inning to put Philadelphia ahead 4-0.

Shields has allowed 31 homers in 143 innings this season, including 22 in 75.2 innings for the White Sox. Eleven of those have come in his last four starts.

He walked none and struck out six.

“I think the only pitch I made a mistake on was that last one, the home run in the sixth inning there,” Shields said. “The ball kind of slipped out of my hand a little bit and kind of left it over the plate. Other than that I felt good with my location tonight. I was hitting my spots consistently. They were getting hits here and there. That’s part of it. One of the positives things, I didn’t walk anyone and I was getting some swings and misses. But we have to move on and move forward and build off that.”

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The White Sox didn’t have much success against Phillies starting pitcher Jerod Eickhoff, who retired the first nine batters he faced. Avisail Garcia led off the sixth inning with a single and Navarro belted a two-run homer to right to make it a 4-2 game.

Eickhoff limited the White Sox to two runs and four hits in six innings.

Garcia kept the White Sox alive with a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning. But Jeanmar Gomez retired Navarro with runners on the corners to end the threat.

“Until Dio hit the homer there wasn’t much going for us,” Ventura said. “We got one --- I think Adam was the one that breaks it up and gets it going. But (Eickoff) was tough on us. A great curveball. That’s the biggest thing that sticks out. When he got in trouble, that curveball was the pitch for us. After that, it just wasn’t a good night offensively. I don’t think we swung it that well.”

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez felt good in bullpen session

If all continues to go well, Miguel Gonzalez could pitch in a rehab start as soon as Friday.

On the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, the White Sox starter said he felt good during a second bullpen session on Wednesday.

Gonzalez, who is 2-6 with a 4.05 ERA in 19 games (18 starts), threw 30 pitches. He previously threw a bullpen session on Friday and felt some discomfort the following day. But Gonzalez said he has made progress since he received treatment on Saturday.

“A lot better,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t feel anything while I was throwing my bullpen, which is great. I’m happy with the results today and come back tomorrow and we’ll see.”

Gonzalez left an Aug. 11 start at Kansas City in the bottom of the second inning. Though he wasn’t yet sure if he’d head out on a rehab assignment, Gonzalez said he was on the third day of a five-day schedule in which he was supposed to start. But it’s also possible the White Sox could have Gonzalez first throw a simulated game.

“We're going to have him go back out there again and do a little bit more, that looks more like starting in a game where he's going to throw for a little while, sit down, get back up,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Simulate some innings and hopefully after he does that a couple time he can go out for a rehab assignment.”