Many blah returns, but also Jose Abreu
Athletic-looking. // Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Last month, the White Sox traded for OF Adam Eaton and 3B Matt Davidson, agreed in principle with relievers Ronald Belisario and Scott Downs and even reeled in LHP Eric Surkamp.
This month they have brought back Dayan Viciedo, Dylan Axelrod and Brian Omogrosso. And Bobby Jenks is coming to SoxFest.
January, you have and will always be an embarrassment.
Every deal of this type should not only include the phrase “avoid arbitration” in the headline, but perhaps include the disclaimer “Listen, you don’t just release cost-controlled players all willy-nilly just because you’re mad…”
Anything to dispel the perception that Rick Hahn watched tape of Dayan Viciedo’s 2013season and started tabulating the millions he wanted to pay him. Viciedo’s actually receiving no raise upon his 2013 salary with his $2.8 million agreement, which was set at this mark due to the unique nature of the major league deal that lured him out of Cuba.
It almost feels wrong to speak about Dayan Viciedo without focusing on some tiny split of recent performance where he seemed like a decent hitter, but January contract functions are so bereft of intent that this means little besides the White Sox have not completely given up on trading Viciedo for something yet, at least.
At the beginning of October, Brian Omogrosso rejected his assignment to Triple-A Charlotte after being outrighted off the 40-man roster. Now he’s back on a minor league deal three months later.
Omogrosso’s major league numbers (4.52 career FIP) have not impressed at any particular point other than a lucky ERA stretch in 2012. This past season offered some more strikeouts, but also control problems and some really phenomenal pounding at the hands of the Cleveland Indians. Elbow spurs that ended his season could be cited as the problem, but Omogrosso’s injury history is such that he cannot be sufficiently trusted to return clean and healthy.
‘A minor league deal never hurt anybody,’ is how the saying goes
Of course, it might not be the case if the recipient of a minor league deal can be counted on to get more chances than he’ll earn. Generally, Axelrod should be likable since he worked his way back from the Independent Leagues, conducts himself humbly and charitably off the field, and has dug deep to spin a few gems in his White Sox career.
He also used to throw an interesting slider, but coincidentally, his slider was almost completely absent in 2013, and that’s the year he wound up soaking up 20 starts in. Because of that, he’s garnered some understandable scorn.
Felipe Paulino, Andre Rienzo and Surkamp leave the Sox a bit more protected from a long Axelrod stretch than last season, but not a ton, especially if Rienzo becomes relief help. But maybe that’s what Omogrosso is for! Oh wait no, that’s not what we want either…
After working his way back from debilitating back problems, scary surgical mishaps and a related pain-killer addiction, Bobby Jenks will be at SoxFest later this month. As tiresome as his antics grew at the end of his White Sox tenure, his health got very scary, very fast and its comforting to see him putting his life back together.
His trepidation about returning to the White Sox stage is likely unfounded, since his worst conflicts were with the Guillen family (which means he can’t be all bad), and SoxFest is such a perpetual 2005 World Series celebration that cheers will start raining down the moment the emcee introducing him does a mock of the Game 1 World Series gestures.
There’s no specific mention being made about Jenks’ timeline for his planned return to baseball, but if Omogrosso can come back from his 17,000 injuries,why not Jenks?
Jose Abreu reported to a three-day hitter’s camp in Glendale along with a cadre of other White Sox position player up-and-comers (Matt Davidson, Adam Eaton, Josh Phegley, Marcus Semien, Courtney Hawkins, Jared Mitchell, Trayce Thompson and Keenyn Walker) on Tuesday. Beyond general nice feelings that everyone is out ahead getting work in, this quote from Todd Steverson generated the nicest ones:
"“That’s a strong man right here,” hitting coach Todd Steverson said of Abreu. “That’s a big man. He has a nice smooth, compact approach. He didn’t try to do too much with the ball and the ball was flying off his bat. I think he has a nice bright future coming up with him.”"
“Smooth, compact approach,” is the key, since the lack of elite bat speed will require Abreu to make up time in some form while dealing with inside heat.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan