Tyler Saladino and Aaron Bummer may be breathing a bit easier this morning.
The club reassigned lefthanders Xavier Cedeño and Robbie Ross Jr. to minor-league camp, along with infielder Matt Skole.
Both Cedeño and Ross impressed in camp, more so Ross, who was a late Chisox signing. Skole was a bit of a surprise to remain with the big club this long, but he did nothing but hit this March, with a .333 average and 1.054 OPS.
The moves leave the White Sox with 29 players remaining in major-league camp: 16 pitchers, three catchers, six infielders and four outfielders.
It would seem odd to bring a solitary, bigger-money free agent onto the team (Welington Castillo) and then carry two catchers on the roster to back him, so with Skole’s demotion, it’s pretty clear that Saladino has won the last spot on the bench. As an infielder who can play third, short and second, and surely spot up at first or in left field in a pinch, Salad’s inherent value was only bolstered by a solid spring (.303 average, .767 OPS) and omnipresent good vibes in the clubhouse.
The bullpen battle is cleared up on one front. Assuming the White Sox would like more than just two lefty relievers (Hector Santiago and Luis Avilan) on their 13-man staff, the demotions of Cedeño and Ross indicate that young southpaw Bummer will break camp with the club. The 24-year-old has appeared in nine Cactus games, with a 4.00 ERA, 12 Ks and a 1.11 WHIP.
That leaves six right-handed relievers (Connor Walsh, Jeanmar Gomez, Danny Farquhar, Hector Rondon, Gregory Infante and Juan Minaya) for three spots.
It would seem that Gomez and Farquhar are good bets to stick. Gomez has had a strong spring and now appears completely healthy. Farquhar is a valued veteran presence, and is out of options to boot.
On a team valuing past contributions and clubhouse chemistry, as well as a rebuilding club emphasizing young arms learning over older arms carving out effectiveness, the final spot would seem to come down to Connor Walsh vs. Juan Minaya. With Minaya’s prior work in Chicago, including closing at the end of last season, the 27-year-old would appear to have the inside track.