<
>

White Sox get started on latest changes

8/31/2014
Chris Bassitt gave up five runs on seven hits in his first major league start. AP Photo/Matt Marton

CHICAGO – A sluggish August for the Chicago White Sox has been a reminder that more roster tweaks are needed, even with activity already underway.

Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of a day/night doubleheader was mostly significant for the White Sox because of who wasn’t available. Alejandro De Aza was held out of the starting lineup with a trade in the works and before the fifth inning was complete, he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

The De Aza deal, combined with one that sent Gordon Beckham to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 21, was not unlike rearranging the living room to create space for a potential new piece of furniture.

The second-base spot is first being handed to Carlos Sanchez, and perhaps Marcus Semien as well, over the final month. Micah Johnson will then have a say in second-base matters next spring.

As far as left field, it remains to be seen who the White Sox plant there first, but Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell could see time as potential September call-ups. Perhaps Semien plays in left, too. The White Sox can then decide if they like what they see in one of those options, elect to stay with Dayan Viciedo or go another route.

“There's opportunity there,” Hahn said about the left-field job. “There's opportunity for someone to step up and seize that job, and if not, it's something we'll be looking to explore filling in the offseason.”

By moving Beckham and De Aza before the season was complete, the White Sox also save short of $1 million on each, but combined that isn’t an insignificant amount of money. It makes even more financial sense when considering both were probably going to be cut loose as arbitration-eligible players who might not have been tendered contracts.

Both Beckham and De Aza were headed toward raises over the $4 million-plus each was making. Going off what those salaries are this season, the White Sox have another $8.4 million to work with. Then consider Adam Dunn's $15 million, Matt Lindstrom's $4 million and Paul Konerko's $2.5 million all come off the books for 2015. Ronald Belisario ($3 million) could be a non-tender candidate.

Money to spend is for the offseason, though. This next week is about young players getting their chance to audition for a roster that will have even more reinforcements soon.

“You are going to have some guys up here for those are positions that now have opportunities,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You are going to see some guys in there that are different than what we’ve had for the last couple of years. They are going to get a chance.”

Another player whose audition began Saturday night was right-hander Chris Bassitt, who gave up five runs on seven hits with four walks in 6⅓ innings. Bassitt will remain with the team through the rest of the season and could even get some starts over the final month.

“For a first time up here, I’m sure he’s real nervous, but besides the couple of innings there, he settled down and really kind of gathered it back together,” Ventura said. “It was nice to see -- he had a real live arm. For his first time, it’s intriguing. It’s one of those where you like what you see. He’s pretty young, so he’ll be up here in September, and we’ll see what we do.”

Bassitt not only got his first chance to pitch in the major leagues, but he also saw a major league teammate get traded for the first time, and it wasn’t lost on him that changes are happening, with multiple opportunities available.

“Yeah, I mean definitely,” Bassitt said. “You look at it as pretty much 'go out there and prove your worth from here on out' and just pretty much just try to go out there and compete as much as you can, just to show them that, ‘Hey, I can compete at this level.’ Not only that but, you deserve to be here. You have a little space for them to go and say: ‘Hey, this guy can make us win in the future.’”

Playoff rosters for contenders aren’t due to the league office until Sunday, so the White Sox still have time to make deals. Dunn could even get moved to a contender that needs some left-handed power.

“The deadline's 11 [p.m. CT Sunday], so we're going to have to keep working and exploring some opportunities,” Hahn said.

Another season of change has arrived in earnest.