GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox have opted to rip the Band-Aid off early.
Knowing they had a series of tough decisions ahead, the White Sox reshuffled their roster on Sunday morning with five days left before they break camp.
Among Sunday’s five moves, the White Sox released reliever Mitchell Boggs and optioned Matt Davidson and Jordan Danks to Triple-A Charlotte. The team also reassigned pitcher Dylan Axelrod to minor-league camp and optioned reliever Jacob Petricka to Charlotte.
Left in camp are 33 players for 25 spots, including nine relievers for seven roles in the bullpen, though that battle appears to be down to three pitchers for one position. Though each transaction was difficult general manager Rick Hahn suggested the choice to option Danks was perhaps the hardest decision he has made this spring.
“None of these conversations are really easy when you get to this point in camp but Jordan obviously had an outstanding spring,” Hahn said. “Has really done everything we have asked of him over the last couple of years in terms of coming up and being prepared when the opportunity does arise in Chicago. We told him it was a tough decision but one that was affected by numbers and the rest of the roster and that he needs to go down there and keep doing what he’s doing and be ready when the opportunity inevitably arises at the big leagues.”
Danks has known since the offseason he might not make the team no matter how he performed because of a crowded White Sox roster. With four outfielders ahead of him on the depth chart and a shortage of spots, Danks thought there was a chance he could start in Charlotte. But Danks decided to not worry about the big picture and focus on giving the White Sox a difficult decision.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura has called Danks the most improved player in camp this spring. In 45 plate appearances, Danks has a .333/.378/.738 slash line with five home runs and 10 RBIs in 45 plate appearances.
Danks knows he accomplished his goal.
“They’ve just got too many outfielders, but one thing they did say was not to be discouraged about it, that I’m definitely one of the guys that could be helping them on this team, so go down there and continue to hit and like they said, just be ready,” Danks said.
Ventura agrees with Hahn’s assessment that Danks and Davidson are close to, or at, major league ready. But because the club has few spots available Ventura had to have discussions with players that are never easy.
“That’s the tough part,” Ventura said. “If you had extra room or the rosters were bigger you’d probably have them. It’s tough. It’s never easy having that conversation with those guys. But it’s part of our business and you keep going and they have to learn how to deal with it and keep playing and improve and be ready when they’re called upon.”
Both Ventura and Hahn said they requested release waivers on Boggs because they didn’t think the right-hander would be prepared in time. Boggs’ departure along with Petricka and Axelrod heading to the minors clarifies the bullpen situation some. It appears Maikel Cleto, who can touch 100 mph and is out of options, will grab a spot in the bullpen. With Matt Lindstrom, Ronald Belisario, Nate Jones, Donnie Veal and Scott Downs pretty much assured, that leaves rookie Daniel Webb and non-roster invitees Zach Putnam and David Purcey.
“He just ran out of time of getting full strength back of him throwing,” Ventura said. “We don’t have the luxury of staying with it and seeing that all the way through without making this move. Would love to have him back if it pans out.”
The rest of the White Sox opening day roster appears to be contingent on the health of Gordon Beckham, who has only begun to lightly test his left oblique strain as of Sunday. Both Hahn and Ventura have said they’re not certain about Beckham’s status with eight days until the March 31 opener. But they also think they don’t have to rush him back because of the play of Marcus Semien, Leury Garcia and prospect Micah Johnson, who is still in camp but likely to begin the season in the minors.