So often battles are more of a question of what the winning party will have to resort to in order to reach their inevitable conclusion.
Take Conor Gillaspie, for example, who did not so much prove to the world his superiority over Matt Davidson and Jeff Keppinger as keep to his business while outside forces claimed both of them. For Keppinger, the saboteur was a throwing shoulder that has provided few encouraging moments since the start of 2013:
As told to Dan Hayes:
“I can’t come forward because it hurts so bad. If I just sit there and throw soft I don’t feel anything. But as soon as I try to put five or 10 percent more on it, it bites sharp like a stabbing pain. (The DL) seems like a no-brainer to me."
For Davidson, it was a front office that for understandable reasons had no great interest in breaking camp with him if it didn't have to. They would like around a while and him starting Opening Day runs counter to that. Rick Hahn's explanation of Davidson's reassignment to minor league camp had a vague apologetic tone.
“'I’m confident if we did need him at this point that he’d be fine at the big league level,' Hahn said. 'But it’s more about making sure he is totally equipped to succeed, and that’s probably not too far off in the offing.'”
Also effectively settled on Sunday was any real bullpen intrigue. Red-hot Jake Petricka was curiously reassigned to the minors before Daniel Webb, Out-of-Options Maikel Cleto was basically affirmed on the basis of being out of options and not terrible, while the Out-of-Options and Terrible Mitchell Boggs was waived despite (or because of) his $1.5 million major league contract.
Perhaps the White Sox are not the most ambitious major league franchise entering the 2014 regular season, but they're not wasting the days enough to carry Boggs--short a few miles on his fastball and fooling no one--on their major league roster just on the strength of his 2011-12 glory days. They can carry Cleto, who just became familiar with the strike zone again, but not Cleto and Boggs.
Meanwhile, Petricka, older and more experienced, is staying South rather than Daniel Webb, which is curious but only as confounding as one reliever being chosen over another reliever who will inevitably be recalled can be. Zach Putnam or David Purcey could be chosen instead of Webb to fill out the pen, but I cannot imagine why.
It's hard to say that the race to be the White Sox backup catcher, or even starting catcher, has ever been a good one since it has involved bad MLB players. But now that it's sunk to the point where the White Sox are pondering how much they really suffer if they have 24-year-old Adrian Nieto serve as the major league backup before seeing a pitch in Double-A, it's at least gotten interesting.
Nieto is behind his developmental schedule due to a PED suspension and mashed (or just walked a lot) in High-A as a 23-year-old last year (.283/.373/.449) Spring Training has revealed no glaring and immediate issues to make contact and apparently he's been a professional long enough (debuted as a 18-year-old) to be competent behind the plate. I wish they were some sane thing that could be said and the Sox would just pay the Nationals some money to avoid the absurdity, but the alternative is Hector Gimenez.
It can seem, at times, that it is not so fun to be Jordan Danks. His most memorable career moment stems from A's manager Bob Melvin thinking so little of him that he allowed side-arming righty Pat Neshek try to finish a clean inning by himself, and during a period of pretty poor White Sox outfield offense and defense, he's whiffed too much to put himself in a position to take advantage of either. As a result, he is about to start his fifth consecutive year in Charlotte. A lot of people there probably call him 'Jordan' as he walks down the street.
Danks is exactly the sort of fringe guy who should get burn during a rebuild, but the Sox have been patient to a fault (at least for Danks) in waiting out deals for Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo. They've created an airtight platoon that not even a 1.116 Spring OPS can break, though it probably doesn't help that Danks still leads the team in strikeouts.
This wasn't supposed to be any kind of competition, but Gordon Beckham's sore oblique--while seemingly minor--is timed just to trigger a seemingly significant Opening Day decision.
Marcus Semien, Leury Garcia, and even non-roster Micah Johnson are all replacements who are still in camp, with Semien being the only one who mounts much of a threat to hit in the mean time.
Even if Semien effectively plugs that hole, Leury Garcia become Gillaspie's platoon partner. Garcia, though fast and young, has been merely terrible against left-handed pitching as a big-leaguer, as opposed to his sub-human results against righties. He's really more the type to play defense, run fast, and try to bunt a few times than a platoon partner.
Then again, these men are trying to swat away the memories of Gordon Beckham and Jeff Keppinger's 2013 offense. They'll probably be ok.
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