Phegley, Rienzo and left-hander Eric Surkamp all were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte, while right-handers Chris Beck and Cody Winiarski, along with infielder Andy Wilkins, were reassigned to minor league camp.
Phegley’s move comes just days after manager Robin Ventura said that Tyler Flowers would be the Opening Day catcher. Instead of using Phegley as the backup, the White Sox want him to get everyday at-bats in the minor leagues so that he can he can be ready if needed.
“I’m going to get my opportunities down the road; I know that, I believe in that,” Phegley told reporters in Arizona. “Today wasn’t a complete shock (after) I heard that Flowers was named the starter. In my heart I believe I’m a starting catcher. I need to get my at-bats and keep getting better. I’m 26 so I feel I have a long career ahead of me.”
The backup catcher job is now down to Hector Gimenez, who started in that role last season, or Rule 5 pick Adrian Nieto, who must be offered back to his former team, the Washington Nationals, if he won’t be on the Opening Day roster.
Rienzo has delivered an up-and-down spring, but ultimately he wasn’t going to win a starting spot and the White Sox weren’t going to use him as the long man out of the bullpen either. Dylan Axelrod seems to be the front-runner for the long-man job, if needed, while Rienzo will stay stretched out as a starter at Charlotte in case he is needed in Chicago.
Surkamp and Beck were outside-shot rotation candidates, but both will both will stay stretched out in the minor leagues in case the White Sox need them later.
Wednesday’s moves mean the White Sox have 38 players remaining in big league camp just 12 days before Opening Day. Of the remaining players, 17 are pitchers, 12 are infielders, six are outfielders and three are catchers.