Bartolo Colon made a "shaky" spring debut Monday, though I wouldn't classify it a such. Colon, who is coming off minor elbow surgery, struggled with his control and appeared to be throwing more than pitching, especially with his 2-seamer.
I wish we had some radar readings so we really know what he was bringing, but as of yet I haven't seen any. If I was forced to guess, and right now I am, I would say that Colon's 2-seamer was sitting at about 86-87 with good movement (unfortunately too often to the middle of the plate) while his 4-seamer touched 90. Gonzo says Colon was throwing 89, so our guess seems about right. He also showed a slider and a changeup in his 1.2 innings of work.
Colon isn't exactly known for his work ethic, and he tends to build up to max-effort as spring wears on, sometimes he doesn't roll full-speed until the season is in full swing. At this point we have to remember, there are 3 weeks left of spring training, and 4 weeks before the 5th starters spot would be neccessary. So even though the results weren't exactly pleasing, any outing that Colon pitches pain-free at this point is a victory. We'll look for performance and sharpness at the end of camp, and even then it's hard to imagine Colon getting up for an exhibition game.
Does Egbert Have a Shot?
Jack Egbert is making his case for breaking camp with the Sox. While Jeff Marquez has parlayed a mediocre AAA campaign and 5 spring shutout innings against the Cubs into lock status -- He also served up 3 bombs to the Mariners yesterday -- Egbert has been impressive everytime he has taken the mound this spring.
Entering Monday's game, Egbert had yet to allow an earned run in 9 Cactus League innings. He extended that streak to 10 with a 1-2-3 inning in relief of Mark Buehrle, striking out Alex Gordon on an elevated 4-seamer, but ran into a bit of trouble in his second inning of work. Perhaps the best compliment that can be payed to Egbert was that he still looked like a major league pitcher in yielding his first earned runs of the spring. His fastball appeared to have a bit more zip on it, especially the 4-seamer, and the runs he did allow appeared to be a product of poor pitch selection.
Egbert was never really in consideration for the White Sox rotation openings, but he still might have a shot to claim the last spot in the pen. The Sox are going to carry 12 pitchers, which means 7 members of the pen, 4 of which are locks (Jenks, Thornton, Dotel, Linebrink), while two more (Richard and Carrasco) seem virtually assured. That leaves one spot open to be filled by Marquez/Egbert/Wasserman (depending on Colon and Contreras' health, obviously).
Gordon Beckham, Future Major League Star
When the Sox first drafted Beckham, I was content, not ecstatic. I was a bit concerned about his swing. It had a bit of a hitch, a Fields/Anderson loop during the load phase. But I noted his improvement year-over-year, a trait I love in prospects, as a reason to give the Sox (and Beckham) the benefit of doubt. It appears like that was a wise decision.
Three weeks into spring, Beckham is the star of big league camp. He's spraying doubles all over the field, playing multiple positions with ease, and generally looking like he belongs. Most importantly, his swing has been cleaned up. It's more compact, Micheal Young-like. I haven't seen enough to make any judgements about his defense, but overall he looks like a future major league star.
And that's the take-away we should have from the first half of the spring, that it appears Gordon Beckham will be a very good player in a White Sox uniform. It doesn't have to be this year. It shouldn't be this year. But sometime in the near future the Sox will have a real, live, homegrown up-the-middle All-Star-caliber player.
That's good enough for me. I can wait.