- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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The "savvy-veteran" tag won’t exactly qualify when talking about the Chicago White Sox bench this season.
Dewayne Wise, who will serve as the fourth outfielder and main left-handed bat off the bench, actually fits that bill, but it doesn’t really apply anywhere else.
Also in reserve roles this season will be Rule 5 pickup Angel Sanchez as the utility man, recently acquired Conor Gillaspie as the backup at third base and Hector Gimenez as a 30-year-old backup catcher with practically no major league experience.
With just two left-handed hitters in the starting lineup, Wise could see a decent amount of playing time as the fourth outfielder, but not if the starters are producing. At first glance, his best chance to play could come in place of left fielder Dayan Viciedo, who struggled against right-handed pitching last season.
Even though Sanchez can play multiple positions it’s actually Gillaspie that could see more playing time. The lefty-swinging Gillaspie could be used to give third baseman Jeff Keppinger a day off or when Keppinger slides over to second base to give Gordon Beckham a breather.
Sanchez is expected to primarily be used when Alexei Ramirez gets a day off. He better get used to sitting because Ramirez played in 158 games each of the past two seasons.
As a switch hitter Gimenez also gives manager Robin Ventura the potential to get a left-handed bat into the mix every once in a while. He doesn’t figure to play more than once a week, though.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
The challenge with having young players on the bench is getting them the consistent at-bats to keep them fresh and their swings in sync. Since Gillaspie is primarily a third baseman, with the ability to play some first base, getting him some playing time will be challenging for Ventura.
To be frank, not going to the bench much at all means things are going right with the starting lineup. Since Wise is the only true outfielder on the roster outside of the three starters, he becomes extremely important. His challenge will be to seamlessly transition into the outfield if and when the first injury arrives.
That player who can come off the bench and crush a late-inning home run isn’t available. That means the subs will have to contribute in other areas. The offense will be hit and miss, which is understandable, but the defense the bench guys give will have no margin for error. Gimenez figures to have the most defensive weight on his shoulders with the expectation that he gets on the same page with the starting pitcher on the infrequent days he is behind the plate.