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Engel wins center field job for Sox

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Sox cut four, including Volstad, Scahill, Cordell — three roster battles remain

Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago White Sox
When the Fly Drops: Engel [left] fought off a hard charge from newcomer Ryan Cordell to take the center field job.
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Six months of rosterbation is finally coming to a close.

Before tonight’s game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Chicago White Sox took the stick to four players in major-league camp.

Center field candidate Ryan Cordell, who made an impressive showing this spring, was shipped to Class AAA Charlotte. Outfielder Luis Robert, and righthanders Rob Scahill and Chris Volstad were reassigned to minor-league camp.

Only Robert, expected out until late May with a thumb sprain, comes as no surprise.

Cordell (along with Engel) was among the White Sox’s offensive leaders in Cactus League play across all categories, and was cited as a “major leaguer” by manager Rick Renteria today. But in the end, Engel’s improved offense and power, and continued stellar outfield coverage, won out.

Volstad was, quite simply, the best reliever in camp this year. However, the veteran could have a seat on the Charlotte shuttle as Chicago’s emergency No. 7 starter. Volstad is not regarded as anything but a placemarker, and thus has a limited ceiling even on the rebuilding Sox.

The 31-year-old Scahill, who spent the 2017 season with the Milwaukee Brewers, is a bit more of a surprise. His Cactus numbers were solid, and he was given a variety of assignments — including finishing games — over eight appearances. He leaves the big club amassing a save and 11 Ks in 10 23 innings, with a 1.03 WHIP in Cactus play.

The cuts leave 32 players in major-league camp, including 18 pitchers, three catchers, seven infielders and four outfielders.

The outfielder competition is over, with Nicky Delmonico in left, Engel in center and Avisail Garcia in right. Leury Garcia will spell Engel in center and Swiss Army his way into some middle infield and left field work.

The rotation is set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer. Hector Santiago will serve as a long man, as well as insurance for any future Fulmer breakdown.

Still, three battles remain.

Infield: In the infield, Jose Abreu is at first, Yoan Moncada will play second and lead off, Tim Anderson plays short, and Yolmer Sanchez mans third base, with Matt Davidson DHing.

Tyler Saladino and Matt Skole still linger on a roster that appears now to have room for one (unless keeping three catchers in the travel party is on the table).

Catcher: Presuming the White Sox break camp with Saladino or Skole, either Omar Navarez or Kevan Smith will go north with the big club as a backup to starter Welington Castillo.

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox
Double Bubble: Minaya appears to be set for the roster, but is sitting in its most precarious seat.
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Bullpen: The more muddled battle remains in the bullpen, where eight arms are in the mix to fill four spots.

With 13 pitchers as part of the Opening Day roster and six in the rotation mix, that leaves seven reliever slots open, with Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan certainly assured of roles.

Connor Walsh, Jeanmar Gomez, Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Xavier Cedeno, Hector Rondon, Robbie Ross Jr., Gregory Infante and Juan Minaya are left, and fewer than half will come north with the White Sox.

The presence of Santiago and Avilan means it’s not guaranteed that the Sox select at least one more lefty, but it’s a safe bet that at least one of Ross, Bummer and Cedeño stick with the club. Cedeño would appear to be the odd man out from the left side.

Six righties remain. Farquhar seems to be a veteran presence appreciated by the club, and is out of options to boot, so he stands as a solid bet to travel north. Rondon could either be cut loose to catch on with another club, or asked to further season himself at Charlotte. Gomez has been hurt and could join starter Carlos Rodon on the DL to start the season.

None of the remaining trio of Walsh, Minaya and Infante have seen a ton of spring work, so its hard to imagine where they stand with the big club; it’s possible that none of the three break camp as White Sox.

Speed round here, for the eight bullpen arms: Santiago, Avilan, Ross, Bummer, Soria, Jones, Farquhar, Minaya, with Minaya on the bubble when Gomez returns from injury.