With Gillaspie close, decision looms

May, 6, 2014
May 6
10:17
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -– Conor Gillaspie could come off the disabled list for the Chicago White Sox as early as Wednesday, leaving the team with an interesting decision to make.

The White Sox will have to clear a spot on the 25-man roster, and despite his early success, especially on defense and with clutch hitting, Marcus Semien could be on the outside looking in.

[+] EnlargeConor Gillaspie
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsConor Gillaspie hit .302 with 12 RBI in 16 games before going on the DL.
The White Sox could consider sending down guys such as outfielder Jordan Danks or infielder Leury Garcia, but the club might decide that Semien is better off playing every day at Triple-A Charlotte rather than rotating with Gillaspie at third and Gordon Beckham at second base for playing time.

“I’m not going to go into that until it happens,” Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That stuff’s always tough. It’s never good news for somebody. But Conor being close and coming back, we’ll have to make decisions and talk about it and see what fits best.”

Semien entered play Tuesday as the American League leader with 43 strikeouts, so there is plenty to work on, but he has been as clutch as anybody on the team in the late innings. Of his 16 RBIs, 15 of them have come in the sixth inning or beyond.

His latest well-timed hit came in the 12th inning Monday night when his double put the White Sox on top for good in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. But he also had two strikeouts on the night.

“Last year in the minors it was a different story,” Semien said. “I was laying off pitches and getting deep into counts and finding myself with two strikes. Now I want to make adjustments once I get to a 3-2 count and they’re not always going to come right at you with fastballs like they do in the minor leagues. Being able to focus in, lock in and see the ball will turn things around with strikeouts.”

Despite the strikeout totals, Semien has been among the nice surprises when it comes to newcomers, a group that includes Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu.

“There is stuff to work on, but he’s younger and that’s part of it growing into being a player,” Ventura said. “He’s started out at second, now he’s at third so he’s made some big adjustments. You know he’s a good player, but it gets tough and the end of the game and he’s come through. So that’s a bright spot if anything.”

Semien is just one of a number of second-base options the White Sox have in their system, but the time for change hasn’t quite arrived. If the White Sox can get Beckham to start producing he could be packaged in a July trade, perhaps for pitching.

Doug Padilla

Chicago White Sox beat reporter
Doug joined ESPN Chicago in July 2010 and covers the Chicago White Sox for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.17 208 174
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .317
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208