February 13, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana (62) during spring training at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Actual White Sox baseball, and a shocking realization

Saturday afternoon brings about the first instance of the White Sox playing a baseball game against another professional team. They played each other recently, but apparently it was terrible and Keenyn Walker dropped a pop-up, and it’s better to just forget about it.

The long, interminable wait between the last time the Sox suited up (and since it was an October clash in Cleveland where Dan Johnson hit three home runs in a road gray Sox uniform, it feels like it took place on an alternate universe), lends a feeling of significance to this exhibition game.

Good thing Robin Ventura is doing his best to disavow everyone of such illusions. He’s holding his starters back until March, so Dylan Axelrod is going up against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, and Brent Morel is starting at 3rd base for a sore Jeff Keppinger and batting second, just in case there were any bad memories of one of A.J. Pierzynski’s off-days in April that you had effectively suppressed.

Really, what this should drive home, is that this game is not real. While it’s exciting to hear and see baseballs being thrown by people in the right uniform, with the compelling black and white contrast, this is a practice, where the results– 

–Pipe down, Hector, you’re not helping to put this in perspective. 

Time? Time for what? Why is the ‘i’ capitalized?

Oh God, now there’s no way to reign this back in. Alright, it’s exciting. It is exciting. We know nothing about this team. Nothing. There are established probability levels for every event, and a pre-existing knowledge that 162 games include a lot of randomness and craziness, but very little is known, or established about the identity of this team.

CSN’s David Kaplan was being interviewed at the halftime of the Blackhawks game on Friday, and not even about anything related to the White Sox. Yet he threw out a line that one just throws out ” I was just down at their camp, the White Sox look really good.”

Even that, even that, is enough to introduce the thought in my  head “Wait, maybe Kaplan actually saw something…something tangible” even if Kaplan himself probably didn’t mean to inspire such contemplation. At this stage, just a few bits of evidence that this season can be more than expected weigh more than they do at the end of July.

All this dreaming of low-probability events finally brings me to the realization that initially got all this wide-eyed optimism started. A little over 14 months ago, the White Sox signed two minor league free agents.

In the hierarchy of unheralded signings to get excited about, minor league free agents typically reside below “washed-up veteran looking for another chance” and even behind “former top prospect who never tapped into their potential.” They’ve been bouncing around the minor leagues for more than half of a decade, and their old team decided they weren’t worthy of a 40-man roster spot. Typically not a good sign.

In this case, the minor league free agents were a 27 year-old reliever with a Tommy John surgery in his recent history, and a 22 year-old who was a little too old to provide enthusiasm for his ability to pitch effectively, but not dominantly in High-A. They were Donnie Veal and Jose Quintana, and both are entrenched and locked-in to spots on the 25-man roster for 2013.

There are ways to explain that improbable leap. Both have limited skill sets that they maximized in order to secure somewhat limited roles. But it also serves as a reminder to lessen the confidence I have that the 2013 White Sox season will unfold in a depressingly logical and reasonable fashion.

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

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Tags: Chicago White Sox Dylan Axelrod Jose Quintana

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