- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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As big league camp grows smaller, the Chicago White Sox's Opening Day lineup is starting to come into focus.
Not to doubt Beckham's ability to overcome injury, but he is dealing with an oblique issue, which tends to be the trickiest of problems. Even after discomfort subsides, oblique injuries tend to still need a week or more of rest to avoid a setback.
If Beckham starts the season on the DL, his time could be backdated so that he doesn't even have to be out a full week. But somebody will have to start the first few games at second base, leaving the White Sox with the option of Leury Garcia, Marcus Semien and Micah Johnson.
Johnson is the only one of the three not on the 40-man roster so the decision figures to be down to Semien and Garcia. Semien was batting .317 with a .429 on-base percentage, but he has spent most of the spring on the left side of the infield. Garcia is batting .258 with a .361 OPB, but has seen more time at second and could offer a speed element at the bottom of the order at least for a few days until Beckham returns.
The top of the order is set with center fielder Adam Eaton, and even before Beckham was injured, Alexei Ramirez looked set for the No. 2 spot. The heart of the order is where the White Sox have options.
Jose Abreu's ability to hit to all fields mixed with his power potential would make him a solid option in the No. 3 spot, although there remains concern over his lack of experience. Not only has Abreu not played on the major league level, he hasn't taken an at-bat in the minor leagues either.
Manager Robin Ventura also has a decision to make at the designated-hitter spot. The Twins will send right-hander Ricky Nolasco to the mound in the opener so the left-handed hitting Adam Dunn seems to make sense. But this is Paul Konerko's final season and Ventura could go the nostalgic route.
On the back end of the order, if Beckham was available he would likely hit in the No. 8 spot. If Garcia or Semien have to fill in at second base, they would likely bat ninth with Tyler Flowers moving into the No. 8 spot.
The White Sox's projected Opening Day lineup (assuming Beckham doesn't play):
Avisail Garcia would seem to be the better option at the cleanup spot, but by using Dunn there it breaks up the left-handed batters a little better. The left-handed hitting Eaton would be followed by two right-handed hitters, then the lefty Dunn and two more right-handed hitters leading to the lefty Gillaspie.
Like with the decision between Dunn and Konerko, Ventura could go with the left-handed hitting Alejandro De Aza in left field over Viciedo. The sense, though, is that Viciedo will get the first chance to establish himself in left, and if he struggles after an undetermined amount of time, then a platoon could start with De Aza.
What can be expected of the White Sox on offense this season? As far as spring goes, through Sunday's play they were in the upper half of all teams in baseball with a .276 batting average (11th) and a .422 slugging percentage (13th), but are in the latter half in on-base percentage (.325, 16th) and runs scored (117, 18th).
The regular season could tell a different story, but things are at least improved. Last season, the White Sox were 29th in runs scored (598), 19th in batting average (.249), 27th in OBP (.302) and 25th in slugging percentage (.378).
As big league camp grows smaller, the Chicago White Sox's Opening Day lineup is starting to come into focus.One major question remaining: Will Gordon Beckham be ready to take the field on March 31 when the White Sox open against the Minnesota Twins?