White Sox eager to turn the page on ugly 2013 season
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter February 8, 2014 6:39PM
White Sox manager Robin Ventura isn’t overreacting to the woeful fielding, baserunning and hitting he witnessed last season. | AP
BY THE NUMBERS
$93M The Sox’ projected 2014 payroll, their lowest since 2005 ($75.6 million). The estimate includes a sizable portion of Jose Abreu’s
$10 million signing bonus that is due this year.
$15.75M John Danks’ team-high salary for the third year of his five-year,
$65 million contract. He is followed by Adam Dunn
($15 million), Alexei Ramirez ($9.5 million), Jose Abreu ($7 million, plus bonus) and Alejandro De Aza
99 Number of losses by the Sox last season, their most since 1970.
75-87 Sox’ projected 2014 record, according to PECOTA, a metric system that forecasts player and team performance. That computes to fourth place in the American League Central.
4Number of new starters in the Opening Day lineup if 23-year-old third baseman Matt Davidson breaks camp with the team. First baseman Jose Abreu and outfielders Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia are the others.
24 Where the Sox’ farm system is ranked among 30 teams by Baseball America. That’s nothing to brag about, but numerous rankings had the Sox last a year ago.
Updated: March 10, 2014 6:37AM
White Sox manager Robin Ventura won’t run a boot camp when spring training opens Saturday.
After the woeful fielding, baserunning and hitting demonstration the Sox put on in 2013, some would consider a no-nonsense, to-the-woodshed approach to camp a worthwhile option. But that’s not Ventura style. And it’s probably not necessary.
Ventura’s first camp was similar to his second. The first led to a nice, clean level of play in 2012; the second set the stage for 99 defeats and almost moved fans to wear grocery bags over their heads to the ballpark. The rosters were much the same.
‘‘There will be things that are a little different, but I’m not going to have them coming out at 6 o’clock and running four-minute miles,’’ said Ventura, who thought his bad team actually worked out harder than his good one during spring training. ‘‘We’re starting spring training focused on the things that we have to get done.’’
If the Sox use their bad memories of 2013 as motivation at camp, there’s one thing to go with the third pick in the June draft on the short list of good things to emerge from last season.
With new faces Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton, Matt Davidson, Adrian Nieto, Felipe Paulino, Ronald Belisario, Scott Downs and Mitchell Boggs and inexperienced returnees Erik Johnson, Daniel Webb, Charlie Leesman, Andre Rienzo, Leury Garcia, Marcus Semien, Jordan Danks, Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley (among others) battling for Opening Day roster spots, starting jobs, closer roles and rotation places, the volume of players working hard to get noticed will be high.
Last spring, the lineup, rotation and bullpen were pretty much set. And look what happened. More competition can’t hurt.
Barring a trade, right-handed-hitting Dayan Viciedo and left-handed-hitting Alejandro De Aza face a platoon in left field. Addison Reed was traded for Davidson, so a closer must step forward. Setup man Nate Jones is the leading candidate, but he isn’t a lock with veteran Matt Lindstrom and youngster Daniel Webb having experience in the ninth inning in the majors and minors, respectively.
And at catcher, Rule 5 pick Nieto will be around to give Flowers (.195) and Phegley (.206) a push.
Maybe new hitting coach Todd Steverson can help give those batting averages a lift.
‘‘We feel we have the ability to contend,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said at SoxFest. ‘‘But the most important thing for us is to allow these young guys some room to grow, to allow the new hitting philosophy [Oakland Athletics system guy] Todd Steverson is putting in place . . . a chance to flourish and see what we envision in terms of a young core of the next generation of White Sox players starting to coalesce, come together and grow toward a sustained run of championship success.’’
Saturday: Pitchers and catchers report.
Feb. 20: First full-squad workout.
Feb. 28: First Cactus League game (vs. Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.).
March 21, 27: Sox face Cubs in only spring meetings.
March 31: Opening Day (vs. Twins at U.S. Cellular Field).
April 15-17: World Series champion Red Sox, with Jake Peavy and A.J. Pierzynski, come to U.S. Cellular Field.
May 5-8: Four weeknight games against the Cubs (May 5-6 at Wrigley Field, May 7-8 at U.S. Cellular Field).