White Sox trim seven from camp
Flowers, Torres optioned to Triple-A; five reassigned
PHOENIX -- The White Sox Opening Day roster for the 2010 season moved another step toward being finalized Tuesday, with seven cuts announced prior to a 6-1 loss to the Giants.And the players surviving the moves stand as intriguing as the ones sent down or sent out. Catcher Tyler Flowers and right-handed pitcher Carlos Torres were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, while right-handed pitcher Ryan Braun, outfielders Jordan Danks and Josh Kroeger and infielders Brent Morel and C.J. Retherford were reassigned to Minor League camp. The move of Flowers erased even the slightest of doubt that the White Sox catching tandem will be made up of A.J. Pierzynski and Ramon Castro, although Donny Lucy remains in camp. Danks, the younger brother of White Sox starting pitcher John Danks, continued to prove he's Major League ready in regard to his stellar outfield defense but will get more time to work on his offense. Retherford and Morel also put their name on the White Sox radar as potential help as early as sometime during this current campaign. Tuesday's moves give the White Sox 32 players in Major League camp and basically nine players fighting for two roster spots. The utility infielder battle, to complement Omar Vizquel, appears to come down to Jayson Nix and Brent Lillibridge, with Nix being out of options. Nix clearly has the edge, and manager Ozzie Guillen wants the extra infielder partly out of respect to Vizquel. "I don't have to, but the only reason I do is because they did it to me. I don't want to put Omar in the game 17-2 because someone needs rest," Guillen said. "I don't want to do that to Omar. I understand that's his job, and if we have to do it, we have to do it. I don't think it's a good thing when you're manager and have a guy with that credentials, to use him that way." But if the White Sox feel they can risk losing Nix, who is hitting .346 this spring and has defensive versatility across the infield and even in left field, they could opt to keep outfielder Alejandro De Aza or a 13th pitcher. The White Sox could keep both Nix and De Aza, going with 11 pitchers at least in the early going, although Guillen has preferred 12 in the past. That 12th pitcher seems to make sense with Bobby Jenks having his spring work limited by right calf soreness and J.J. Putz working his way back from 2009 elbow surgery.
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De Aza, 25, has impressed in all facets of the game during Cactus League action. The left-handed hitter carries a .318 average following Tuesday's loss."I'm just trying to do my job, whatever I can to make the team," De Aza said. "Thank God I'm swinging good." "We like his swing, the mechanics, a lot," said White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker, mentioning how De Aza slumped recently when going to a no-stride hitting approach since corrected. Sixteen pitchers are still in White Sox camp, with Sergio Santos, Greg Aquino, Erick Threets, Charlie Leesman and Daniel Hudson on the proverbial roster bubble. If only one pitcher is selected from this group, Santos figures to have the edge. The converted infielder, who is out of options, not only has consistently thrown in the 97 mph range but also has shown great control with his slider and changeup and the ability to locate his high-velocity fastball, with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Threets would give the White Sox a third left-hander, while Leesman has risen from only one full Minor League season at Class A Kannapolis to the last round of roster cuts in his first big league Spring Training. Hudson is considered a star in the making, but probably will be sent to Charlotte where he can stretch out as a starter and be ready if needed in the White Sox rotation. Basically, the final spot could come down to Santos or De Aza, with the White Sox knowing Santos will be grabbed by another club if he's put on waivers.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.