For goodness sake, Jesse too?
By James Fegan
The White Sox roster is clearly designed to lean heavily on its pitching staff.
Sure, Dayan Viciedo could leap forward, Tyler Flowers could surprise, the old fogies could combine for one last hurrah, but the known and reliable quantities are on the pitching staff.
So it’s particularly discouraging when that side of the roster is already pulling up lame in March. In addition to the Danks news from Wednesday, Jesse Crain looks likely to begin the season on the DL for the second-straight year after his hip abductor gave him discomfort and sapped his velocity during his Wednesday outing.
"“I wouldn’t say pain,” Crain said. “But it was something that was affecting me, wouldn’t allow me to finish my pitches and put as much on it as I normally would. It was frustrating just because it’s been about three weeks, so I’m battling through it and not all the way there yet. Hopefully it’s part of the process of it healing and just got fatigued and just needs to get stronger.”"
For all his control problems, peripheral-defying foibles and his failure to log 50 innings last season, Crain is the White Sox top right-handed set-up man. His absence would throw Matt Lindstrom and Brian Omogrosso into the fire early before Ventura can become comfortable with the matchups they’re capable of thriving in. It also is another entry in the growing ledger of health problems for the 31 year-old Crain in the final year of his contract. That’s certainly something to remember come this November.
At least we don’t have to worry about Keppinger
Jeff Keppinger really dragged out the process of proving he’s fully capable of stepping in and playing third base on Opening Day, but he’s made up for lost time by starting a lot of 5-4-3 double plays and clubbing the ball with wrath of hell since returning.
He’s 16 for 31 in the spring, drilled a home run to left on Thursday and has yet to strikeout in 2013. I’m declaring myself on break from worrying about his health. Let us never express interest in the middle portion of spring training again.
Also back on the field and trotting around in manners that make previous injury concerns seem preposterous–Dayan Viciedo showed no ill-effects from a quad strain Thursday and Alex Rios never actually missed the World Baseball Classic game he was supposed to miss after being stepped on by Angel Pagan. While he was in Thursday, Rios looked every bit the world-beater that finished 15th in AL MVP voting in 2012, roping two doubles and showing great pitch judgment.
Jordan Danks and Blake Tekotte optioned
Fifth outfielders are rare on major league rosters, especially when they are same-handed as the pre-installed fourth outfielder with a redundant, speed-based skill set.
In that regard, Jordan Danks never had a chance against Dewayne Wise‘s guaranteed contract, but it was nice to see him put up a fight. After starting the spring 1 for 18 punctuated with quirky moments in the field and basepaths, Danks has dragged his line up to .351/.429/.595 for the preseason with just a 16.7 strikeout percentage. There may still not be a path to contributing in the majors for Danks this season without a significant injury, but this some fine work to build on.
Blake Tekotte struggled at the plate and pressed in the field–perhaps no more obviously than when he dove for a ball 10 feet away from him and created a triple–and will now start his existence as a rangy speedster stashed in Triple-A.
With the level of success Hector Gimenez has had, and the earlier optioning of Brent Morel, the bench seems set with Wise, Conor Gillaspie, Angel Sanchez and Gimenez.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan