Real, major league baseball has been making isolated appearances in the Eastern hemisphere this week, and the bright lights from the spectacle only serve to put this shoddy Arizona facsimile of the game into unflattering relief. When will all the dingers mean something? When can we start freaking out about Dayan Viciedo for real? What is Ray Olmedo still doing here? Who is Ray Olmedo?
I was thinking of finally sucking it up and just writing the position preview for the bullpen already, even with little idea of what it will be. Then this headline appeared.
Fine. One more day.
There's nothing really to discern from Spring Training pitcher usage other than Ventura and company are taking long looks at the guys they're not sure of. Axelrod and Stewart are neck-and-neck for the team lead in innings, Reed and Santiago had alternating appearances on Wednesday and will continue with more of the same, while Brian Bruney and Nate Jones also rank near the top among relievers in appearances and innings.
Not that any of these figures can be trusted, since Ventura is shifting arms back and forth between big league camp and AAA games liberally, and the statistics for the latter aren't logged on the team website. Santiago and Reed remained locks for the roster while being tested for consistency to determine their role, one of the 6th starters in Axelrod and Stewart figures to make it, and a battle between Nate Jones' inconsistent command and Brian Bruney and Eric Stults' low-ceiling veteran performance will determine the final spot. Beyond that is anyone's guess, and even most of that is just my guess.
Not quite prospects
Terry Doyle made his first return to action as a White Sox on Wednesday after being returned by the Twins. He gave up 6 runs and 2 homers in 1.1 IP. It's easy to see how the Twins became disenchanted with this over time. Before he becomes the new poster boy for not getting worked up about an older player dominating lower-level competition, perhaps the organization that raised Doyle can return him to his old, unsustainably effective ways.
Speaking of players relying on White Sox development, RHP Dexter Carter was released Wednesday. Carter fit into the trade package for Jake Peavy thanks to a dominant stretch in A-ball, and immediately fell to pieces with the Padres.
After he was released by San Diego, the White Sox took a flier on him to see if they could resuscitate his career. It really would have been a feather in the organization's cap if they could have developed Carter into a trade chip, dealt him for Peavy, then re-worked him into a viable pitcher again.
They will not be getting that feather, since Carter is still a mess.
Christian Marerro was traded to the Braves for cash considerations, continuing with the trend of organizational players being shipped out for the thought of money. My condolences to the Reading Room.
Conventional wisdom was that to compensate for his lack of experience, new manager Robin Ventura would fill out his coaching staff with former big-league managers and other similarly well-traveled coaching veterans. Instead, Ventura promoted a couple of minor league guys who were working their way up the ladder, just like a normal manager would!
Now he'll just talk with ex-managers anyway, as the Sox plan to send out Buddy Bell and Jeff Torborg with Ventura on a select number of road trips so that he can seek their counsel as he adjusts to the job. Art Kusnyer and Joe Nossek are expected to provide aid as well.
This is a reasonable compromise between allowing a manager autonomy in picking his coaching staff, and guarding against the possibility that he will face a steep learning curve.
As J.J. chronicled, Brent Morel looks to have slipped back into his light contact-hitting ways. He's hitting .320 for the Spring, but hasn't taken a walk and flashed minimal power. The power absence could simply be written off as a blip if not for the lack of patience, as Morel looking and waiting for pitches to drive was the catalyst to his September outburst.
Weak, contact-hitting is the more likely trajectory for Morel's career, though. Brent has been a free-swinging, hit-for-average type throughout his minor league career, and it is the normal state of affairs he could be expected to return to.
After reviewing the videotape all off-season, Alex Rios has settled on a batting stance he wants to stick to. The "no matter what" quote is a little ominous for anyone who watched him pound 500 groundballs to short last season. Stability will allow Rios to be more comfortable, but without having seen any fruits of that labor yet, excitement is muted.
The White Sox are possibly trying to kill you
New dishes available at U.S. Cellular Field include buffalo wings, Vienna Beef hot dogs covered in pastrami bacon, Cevapcici (some sort Southeastern European dish of grilled meat covered with onions and sour cream...it fits in rather well with the other stuff available). Also for sale will be a batting helmet filled with "Irish nachos"--a pile of french fries, cheese, sour cream, chives, and bacon. This dish was around last year at the least, though admittedly not in this quantity, or served in a helmet that serves to say to passerby and onlookers "Yup, I'm doing this!"
If the guiding principle behind the menu is "What will absorb liquor?", then the White Sox have done rather well. The drawbacks of piles of meat, cheese, and potatoes are more gradual than those of alcohol poisoning.
Tags: addison reed, Alex Rios, art kusnyer, baseball, Brent Morel, brian bruney, buddy bell, christian marerro, Dayan Viciedo, dexter carter, dylan axelrod, eric stults, hector santiago, jeff torbor, joe nossek, nate jones, ray olmedo, Robin Ventura, spring training, terry doyle, U.S. Cellular Field, White Sox, zach stewart