With Alex Rios and Alejandro De Aza returning to the White Sox from World Baseball Classic action, the White Sox took away two outfielders from the bottom of the depth chart. After Thursday's sound 8-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, Jordan Danks and Blake Tekotte were optioned to Charlotte.
Danks and Tekotte were the primary beneficiaries of the World Baseball Classic's effects on the Sox roster -- despite being no higher than fifth on the outfield depth chart, Danks (42 plate appearances) and Tekotte (43) received nice, long looks in front of the major-league staff while the starters were away on business.
And boy, Danks used that extra time better than anybody. He was held up by an injury before games began, and then started his spring 1-for-18. But then Tdogg told him to rotate his hips more, and over his last seven games, Danks went 12-for-19 with three doubles, two homers and three walks, while striking out just once.
Overall, he hit .351/.429/.595, teaching two lessons about spring samples in the process.
Tekotte made less of an impact -- .222/.286/.333 with two triples, four walks and seven strikeouts. But outside of occasional overexertion in the form of an ill-advised dive here and a missed cutoff man there, he looked like a capable center fielder. The Sox called him a work in progress -- or a restoration in progress, since they want him to ditch the changes the Padres tried impressing upon him in 2012 -- and so he'll get ample time to try to piece it back together at Triple-A.
Their reassignments cement Dewayne Wise as the backup outfielder, which should surprise nobody. But with nobody behind Wise, it also locks in two backup infielders, which will presumably be Conor Gillaspie and Angel Sanchez. If the Sox need a fifth outfielder, they played Hector Gimenez out there last year, and nobody was killed. Adam Dunn can also slide out to left if he's not DHing, although they can't make the same guarantee of basic safety.
Updating the big board, here's who is left of the non-negligible non-locks:
Position players: Bryan Anderson
Starters: Dylan Axelrod
Relievers: Brian Omogrosso, Leyson Septimo, Ramon Troncoso
Robin Ventura says Axelrod has the inside track to the interim fifth starter job since John Danks will likely start the season on the disabled list, a move everybody was preparing for. This warrants its own separate post, so heads up tomorrow.
But the three listed relievers are also all in play, because Jesse Crain aggravated his strained right adductor after 10 pitches in a minor-league game on Wednesday. He could still be ready for Opening Day in theory, but it doesn't sound like it when he describes his current condition:
"From the first 10 pitches to the last, there's a pretty big difference of velocity," Crain said. "Hopefully, it's part of process of getting it stronger. Maybe it's something that's good for about 10 pitches, and then just got tired.
"I said that a couple of weeks ago, so I don't know. We'll kind of see if it's battling through it and hopefully here very soon I'll be able to go out there and not even think about it. As of right now, (the discomfort) is still there."
Omogrosso has the inside track because he's the most malleable of the three -- he can work multiple innings, he hasn't proven to be excessively vulnerable against lefties, and he has options remaining.
Septimo has no options remaining, but that may not matter, because he might be in the same boat at Crain. He's only pitched twice in March, and most recently on March 7. He left that game with an arm injury, and while Don Cooper said "it doesn't seem to be anything real bad," he hasn't been seen since.
Troncoso is the new guy, but his contract situation works against him. He came to the Sox on a minor-league contract, so he's not on the 40-man roster. He can start the season in Charlotte, but since he's out of options, it might be difficult to return him to Triple-A. So it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have him take Crain's spot, unless 1) they think he's interchangeable with other arms, or 2) they think somebody else isn't long for the roster. The first part could be true, but he's interchangeable with Omogrosso, so that ends there. And it's hard to see any other short-timers on the pitching staff, unless they rotate Axelrod and Hector Santiago based on need. There's no indication that's a plan.
Unless there's an 11th-hour addition to camp, it looks it'll be down to Omogrosso and Troncoso. Which, as options go, are so-so.