If you happened to miss the first wave of additions to the active roster in September, Robin Ventura made sure you saw them on Friday night. The five players coming up from Charlotte all saw action, and they all made a positive impact. The White Sox still lost 5-1, which gives you an idea of just how poorly everybody else performed.
With plenty of new faces in the dugout and some new roles possible, here's a rundown of what the roster will look like after the its tectonic plates stop shifting.
Johnson's arrival has been long-awaited by some, since he mashed at Charlotte (.267/.388/.492). The problem is that he always mashes at Triple-A, and when he's called up, he always struggles enormously (.168/.282/.336 over 259 plate appearances since 2008). That said, he's played the role of unlikely hero before, and with the usual heroes struggling enormously and Adam Dunn hurting, it certainly would be swell if he could provide some bench magic.
Omogrosso and Heath jumped into the fray immediately on Saturday, and both retired the only batters they faced.
De Aza is off the disabled list, and Ventura will check in with him before putting together his lineup. The Sox played .500 ball during De Aza's absence, and it could have been worse. Fortunately, Dewayne Wise didn't even crack the top five White Sox problems.
Unfortunately, well, Wise's .309 OBP from the leadoff spot wasn't one of the White Sox's top five problems. So, while De Aza may provide a boost from his own position, the hope is that maybe he'll fire up his teammates the next time Herm Schneider brings out the cape.
Hudson was supposed to be the better bat choice for a backup infielder, but Rey Olmedo's string of regularly scheduled singles gives him a 10-point edge in OPS. Likewise, Septimo is behind Donnie Veal on the depth chart, and he restarted his White Sox career with another 3-0 count to the only lefty he'd face. This time, he came back to get a groundout.
Axelrod will be eligible for a return on Tuesday after the completion of Birmingham's season, which means Hector Santiago will make the start on Monday. Theoretically, the next time the need for a starter would arise is Sunday against Kansas City. Axelrod did face them in relief once, but he's never started against him, so the novelty might work in everybody's favor.
With an off day in between, the Sox would also have the option of skipping the fifth starter, though we'll see how Sale and Santiago look in their turns before crossing that bridge.
And then there's Flowers, who may come in handy after this nugget of bad news.
Just got hurt!
It was a little bit odd when the media asked Dunn whether he would need a trip to the disabled list for his strained oblique, because his emphatic response didn't amount to anything when thinking about it:
Dunn insisted he won’t go on the disabled list.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no,’’ he said.
Well, sure -- with expanded rosters, there's no use for putting anybody on the 15-day DL. Over the last two September, the Sox carried Carlos Quentin (shoulder sprain) and Gordon Beckham (bruised-almost-broken hand) on the roster, and neither were close to being able to play.
Also, this fails to inspire faith:
"Obviously Herm has seen a lot of them. He has a good program for this and I'm a quick healer. Hopefully it will be good to go tomorrow.''
You might remember Dunn bragging about Wolverine-like healing skills last April, when he came back from an appendectomy in six days. After the worst season in major-league history, Dunn finally admitted that he wasn't 100 percent when he came back. and it set off a chain reaction which resulted in the saddest 496 plate appearances you'll probably ever see.
Given that Dunn has waited his whole life for meaningful September games, it definitely sucks. The good news is that it's September, which means the Sox have three catchers, which means Ventura can use Tyler Flowers at DH in certain situations. Flowers can't turn around a right-handed fastball the way Dunn can, but he's punishing the slower stuff, especially from lefties. Plugging Flowers into the lineup with a lefty on the mound might result in no perceptible downgrade for that given game, and with 30 games left, "that given game" is what matters most.
Speaking of which, Flowers last faced Verlander exactly one year ago, and Flowers hit the longest White Sox home run of 2011: