The World Baseball Classic could impact the White Sox defense up the middle
The Chicago White Sox representation in the World Baseball Classic is plentiful which could have an impact on the team, especially defensively, before it breaks camp to open the 2023 season.
The success of the United States, Cuba, and Venezuela means positional players Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and Luis Robert along with pitchers Lance Lynn, Kendall Graveman, and Jose Ruiz all have been out of camp for a significant amount of time.
Eloy Jimenez just returned to camp after the Dominican Republic was eliminated from the tournament.
Successful teams have pretty solid defense up the middle of the diamond, yet this is an area of concern for the White Sox.
The Chicago White Sox will be impacted by the World Baseball Classic.
Anderson, Robert, and catcher Yasmani Grandal all missed significant time due to injury last season and Elvis Andrus is moving over to play second base for the first time in his career.
Robert is an outstanding athlete and has a Gold Glove Award on his resume. But he will now be paired with a new left fielder in Andrew Benintendi and, most likely, rookie Oscar Colas in right field.
Unlike the last few years in which both corner positions have seen a revolving door of players take the field, the White Sox now seem set with Benintendi (who won a Gold Glove last year) and Colas as their everyday players at those spots.
Should Colas play near his potential, that will provide a significant upgrade to the team's defense.
However, Robert's penchant to try and track down everything hit into the outfield will need some adjusting.
Benintendi's veteran presence should be of help as he can take pressure off of Robert when he goes to his right but it will be worth keeping an eye on how Robert meshes with an inexperienced Colas and how the two work together to cover that side of the field.
The infield situation will be a focus of interest as Anderson will now be paired with Andrus and the two have had little time to work with each other since Anderson has been with Team USA.
It would be one thing if the White Sox went out and signed an established second baseman in the off-season as it might have made things easier for Anderson to acclimate himself to a new double-play partner.
But Andrus is learning a new position and will be counted on to solidify second base. Without having Anderson in camp, it is going to take some time during the season for the two to get used to playing together and getting the nuances of the shortstop-second base dynamic down.
While Anderson's bat has not been an issue in the lineup, his defense has been an area of concern and to now pair him with someone taking over the position for the first time will be subject to scrutiny if things don't pan out as hoped.
Andrus is a dedicated veteran ballplayer who has embraced the move to second base and is working hard at getting used to playing on the right side of the infield. The hope is things do work out and that the combination of him and Anderson proves fruitful.
Anderson has spent most of his time at second base for Team USA which is interesting considering the thought of moving him to second base with the White Sox at some point seems to be not totally out of the question.
While that may be a subject for another day, the reality is time will tell as to how quickly and how well these players work together as currently set up. Ideally, it would be nice to have them all in camp and get reps in, but that is not the situation due to the WBC.
On the plus side, with the exception of Colas, all are experienced veterans which should help speed up the process of getting everyone on the same page.
The sooner that happens, the better off the White Sox will be.