In defense of Jake Peavy's shaky spring last year, Ozzie Guillen declared, "No one knows [EXPLETIVE DELETED] about spring-training numbers."
That wasn't true for Peavy, who carried his Cactus League struggles into the first month. That's neither the exception nor the rule, because by and large, for better and for worse, there is no relation between the spring and April. We saw some pretty jarring examples last year, to name four:
Spring: 13 1/3 IP, 9 H, 0 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA
April: 9 2/3 IP, 11 H, 14 BB, 9 K, 4.66 ERA
Spring: 21 1/3 IP, 40 H, 4 BB, 13 K, 10.38 ERA
April: 23 IP, 18 H, 12 BB, 14 K, 5.87 ERA
Spring: .382/.452/.545 in 62 PA
April: .108/.195/.189 in 41 PA
Spring: .288/.382/.441 in 68 PA
April: .235/.315/.321 in 94 PA
That said, some players are still going to have to post numbers across the board to get what they need out of spring training, and other players have individual stats worth watching.
The following players will need to do more than just get their work in, and I've arranged them from most needy to least:
- Lastings Milledge
- Dayan Viciedo
- Brent Lillibridge
- Alejandro De Aza
- Mark Teahen
- Brent Morel
Milledge is the only one of these players on a minor league contract, while Lillibridge and De Aza are out of options. His road to the 25-man roster isn't impossible, but he'll probably have to come close to replicating Pablo Ozuna's 2005, when he forced his way into the picture by hitting .527.
Viciedo, meanwhile, just seems to lack a position on the depth chart. Assuming Morel gets the job done, the Sox are well stocked at the infield corners. He'll probably head to Charlotte and work on his defense, unless he brings the thunder.
Lillibridge and De Aza will be jockeying on the outfield depth chart, and De Aza seems like a much better bet to turn in a solid spring. His game has no fatal flaws. Teahen needs to look a lot better than Morel in the spring to get any real PT headway, and Morel simply needs to not lose the job.
- Anthony Carter
- Lucas Harrell
- Philip Humber
- Gregory Infante
- Nathan Jones
- Jeff Marquez
- Jhonny Nunez
- Non-roster invitees (Jeff Gray, Shane Lindsay, Josh Kinney, etc.)
Can you really call any of these guys sentimental favorites? Infante comes the closest, but Guillen was lukewarm about his ability to throw strikes. With an opening at the back end of the bullpen and a possible need for a fifth starter early on, the guy with the best spring may come away with the job(s). And for a guy like Marquez, in the highly unlikely event that he has a great spring, giving him a Peavy start early on would be the best way to work around his lack of options.
- Jordan Danks
Lillibridge could earn his way onto the roster by hitting .350, but we'll get a much better idea on whether he's matured at all as a hitter by looking at walks and strikeouts. According to The Baseball Cube, Lillibridge had 3 walks and 10 strikeouts in 37 at-bats last spring. Viciedo was similarly hack-happy in his abbreviated stay.
Jordan Danks also belongs in this group. Like Lillibridge, his inability to make contact undermines his entire game, and if he's striking out every three at-bats, we'll know he still has a long, long way to go.
- All of the pitchers mentioned above, but especially Infante, Carter and Jones.
Infante has a tendency to lose the strike zone, as evidenced by his poor showing in the Venezuelan Winter League. He issued nine walks over six innings while just striking out four, and doing that in front of Ozzie Guillen could be disastrous to his future, immediate or otherwise, with the White Sox.
The winter ball Gallant to Infante's Goofus, Carter didn't walk a soul over his 10 innings in the Arizona Fall League. For a longshot like him (and Jones also qualifies), challenging hitters is the key to making a good first impression with White Sox coaches. The resulting ERA might be ugly, but Guillen hates walks more than runs at this point in their careers.
- Jordan Danks
- Gordon Beckham
- Alex Rios
Danks slugged .350 away from compact Knights Stadium last year, which is what makes the massive number of strikeouts even more confounding. I don't think he's capable of doing much more, because I saw a lot of Darin Erstad when he made contact -- opposite-field flies, right-side grounders -- and Erstad's slugging percentages didn't reach .400 most of the time. But at least Erstad made contact, so something's gotta give with Danks if he's going to make any serious headway.
Beckham says his hand is 100 percent, and power is usually a good way to tell. Rios might be an odd choice, but he dropped into the Erstad Zone by slugging .398 over the final four months of the season. I'd like to see a little more explosion from him, although I don't think spring will tell us either way.
Radar gun readings
- Jake Peavy
- Mark Buehrle
Peavy's fastball lagged during spring training and April last year, and as we learned Sunday, that's also when Peavy's shoulder started bothering him (hat tip to KenWo). It further underscores how poor a job everybody on the Sox did in managing him.
Buehrle's there just because, and it sure is weird to see this list without Bobby Jenks' name on it. That's now Terry Francona's problem, and one reason why it's a good idea that he played Henry Kissinger for Jenks and Guillen.