Chicago White Sox

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.

Tim Anderson would like to see more fans in 'danger zone' protected by netting

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USA TODAY

Tim Anderson would like to see more fans in 'danger zone' protected by netting

HOUSTON -- Tim Anderson and Rick Renteria lent their support Thursday to extended netting after a foul ball seriously injured a young New York Yankees fan.

The day after a 2-year-old girl was struck in the face by a ball, the White Sox shortstop said he tries to ensure his own family only sits in areas covered by protective netting. That means Anderson’s wife and 1 1/2-year-old daughter rarely sit down the line or behind the dugout. Only 10 of 30 baseball stadiums have netting that extends beyond the home plate side of each dugout as per the recommendation of Major League Baseball.

“I don’t like them sitting above the dugout or down the line -- it’s kind of the danger zone,” Anderson said. “Line drives go down there all throughout the game.”

“You hate to see that happen. Hopefully they’ll be able to extend nets down there to protect kids because there’s a lot of kids that sit that above the dugouts that the parents don’t pay attention to during the game, they’ve got their heads on their phones.”

Prior to the 2016 season, teams were encouraged by MLB to add netting for all seats within 70 feet of home plate.

[MORE: Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

But that still leaves plenty of fans in harm’s way. It’s surprising to see incidents similar to Wednesday’s -- which involved a line drive off the bat of ex-White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier -- don’t happen more often. As Anderson noted, baseball has a lot of downtime and because there isn’t constant action sometimes fans get distracted and look at their phones. That can be a recipe for danger for those sitting near to the field.

“Balls are flying off those bats at high rates of speed,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There is a chance for injury. Fans are consumed with not only watching the game, but they’re also taking care of a lot of different things that are going on. They might not be aware of balls in flight, even though they are warned about it.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to (extended netting).”

The White Sox extended their protective netting from the home plate side of each dugout before the start of last season. A team spokesperson said the club works closely with MLB on the topic.

“No one wants to see any fan injured at the ballpark, and our hearts go out to the young girl and her family in New York last night,” White Sox senior vice president of communications Scott Reifert said. “We felt badly for Todd Frazier as well. The White Sox work closely with MLB to continually review fan safety recommendations and the protective netting question. It's a topic that we regularly discuss with MLB, and it likely will be discussed again on a league-wide basis during the offseason as well.”

Anderson said he would approve a change.

“When you see a line drive go into the stands you definitely hope it doesn’t hit anybody,” Anderson said. “Just want to keep all the fans safe, especially the kids.”

Why Yoan Moncada's hot streak is important for the White Sox confidence and his

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USA TODAY

Why Yoan Moncada's hot streak is important for the White Sox confidence and his

HOUSTON -- Don’t think the White Sox front office isn’t enjoying every second of Yoan Moncada’s tear.

Everyone can breathe a little easier knowing there are fewer questions for baseball’s top prospect to answer headed into 2018. Pleased as they’d been with Moncada’s patient plate approach, the club desired a breakthrough before Oct. 2 for the confidence boost it would provide him alone. Moncada continued a torrid run on Wednesday night that should have him bristling with poise when he arrives in Glendale, Ariz. next February. He homered as the White Sox fell 4-3 to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

“We’ve been looking for him to continue to try and make adjustments,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There was probably a point there where people were a little concerned. Truthfully, when you see some of the talent these kids have, you recognize that their skillset is going to play up, it’s just a matter of getting the repetition.”

The White Sox have been impressed with Moncada’s improved awareness as he gains more experience.

One area in which Moncada has made the most gains is pitch recognition. The book has been that second baseman has had trouble with offspeed since he arrived in 2016, hitting .154 against sliders and .238 against curveballs entering Wednesday, according to Brooksbaseball.net.

But Moncada is trending upward. The first-pitch slider from Astros starter Brad Peacock that Moncada ripped for a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fourth inning was his fifth hit of the trip on a slider or curveball in 11 at-bats. On the trip, Moncada -- who has 189 plate appearances this season -- is hitting .415/.477/.683 with three homers, eight RBIs and 12 runs in 41 plate appearances.

[MORE: Jose Abreu's gift to Yoan Moncada just keeps on giving

Given Moncada’s struggles in a brief 2016 tryout with the Boston Red Sox, having success is certainly helpful as he won’t head into another offseason wondering when it might happen for him. Moncada doesn’t compare the two situations because of playing time -- he was limited to 20 plate appearances over a month in 2016. But he agrees his recent play is good for the psyche.

“It’s important for my confidence, especially thinking about next year,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “With this run, I have been able to have more confidence and believe in myself and my talent, and I think that’s something I can carry into next season.”

“This offseason is going to be different because I’ve been able to play almost every day. I have more confidence in myself. I know the game better. Last season I had an opportunity to be at this level a little bit, but it wasn’t the same. This year is the opposite because I’ve been playing a lot and have been able to handle good and bad stretches at this level.”

While a reduction in strikeout-rate is still needed to be more effective, Moncada has begun to establish himself as a major league hitter. It’s exactly how teammate and mentor Jose Abreu hoped Moncada would spend his time this season.

“He has to get to know a lot of things at this level,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “The game, the pitchers, the culture here -- there’s a lot of little things he has to get to know here. The way you can work through it is give your best every day and try to learn as much as you can and try to use all your knowledge and to pool your knowledge on each play in the game. That’s the only way you can get results and you can build on those results and this experience for the future. I think he’s finally doing it and that’s important for him and for us thinking of the next season and beyond.”

Renteria not only likes the pitch recognition but the way that Moncada has tried to hit through the shift several times against Houston. Though the White Sox never wavered, they’re certainly happy to see Moncada produce the way they thought he eventually would.

“He’s starting to slow it down a little more,” Renteria said. “He’s starting to see more of the landscape and making adjustments in general. It’s been a good run for him. We thought he would show signs of growth at the end of the season and he’s doing that.”