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.

Today on CSN: White Sox square off against Padres

Today on CSN: White Sox square off against Padres

The White Sox are back in action in spring training as they square off against the San Diego Padres. Coverage begins this afternoon at 2 p.m. on CSN!

Probable starters: Jhoulys Chacin vs. Dylan Covey

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White Sox: Jose Quintana pleased with final warmup before Opening Day start

White Sox: Jose Quintana pleased with final warmup before Opening Day start

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana was pleased with his final warmup before Opening Day.

The White Sox Opening Day starter threw 48 pitches (30 strikes) against a Milwaukee Brewers minor league team at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday. Quintana allowed two hits, two runs (one earned), walked one and struck out three in three-plus innings. He next pitches at home on Monday against the Detroit Tigers.

"I finished my preparation on a high note," Quintana said. "I'm heading to the season with good energy and satisfied with all the worked and effort that I put in my preparation.

"I'm absolutely ready for the season to start."

A tweet from USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Tuesday suggested Quintana will start the season as a member of the White Sox despite myriad rumors. Nightengale noted that the Houston Astros refuse budge on what they're willing to pay for the 2016 All-Star. The White Sox have also held firm on their asking price and haven't been motivated by any of the offers they've received to move Quintana.

The team reduced the number of players still in camp to 34 on Tuesday with the trade of Peter Bourjos and by cutting nonroster invitees Cory Luebke and Matt Purke. Luebke, who has been sidelined for six days after he tweaked his hamstring, finished the spring with a 0.96 ERA in 9 1/3 innings. He can opt out of his minor-league deal in May. Purke struck out eight in eight innings and finished with a 2.25 ERA. 

Both had been in the mix for one of two open bullpen spots.

Fellow reliever Jake Petricka looked much calmer on Tuesday than he did after taking a comebacker off his hand Monday. X-rays were negative and Petricka played catch. He hopes to pitch as scheduled this weekend in Milwaukee. 

"This is just one of those you do everything you can do to stay healthy, and its part of the game you can't control," Petricka said. "You never want that to happen, especially this late in camp. "But we dodged a bullet and we're good to go."

The White Sox also had a close call with second baseman Tyler Saladino, who was hit by a pitch in the left wrist in minor league action on Monday. Saladino received treatment and could return to action on Wednesday.

"He's doing good, we're just holding him back today for my well being," Renteria said.

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Renteria said reliever Juan Minaya is improving but still likely to start the season on the DL. Minaya suffered an abdominal tear in mid-March. 

"He has been improving solidly and responding to the treatments," Renteria said.

Yolmer Sanchez went 2-for-2 with an RBI and scored a run in a 7-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Surprise, Ariz. 

Michael Ynoa allowed an unearned run and a hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings. 

Zack Burdi struck out three in a scoreless inning.