Chicago White Sox: Deunte Heath
Left-handed pitcher Charlie Leesman, who pitched in eight games with the White Sox last season (one start), was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Outfielders Jared Mitchell and Trayce Thompson were optioned to Double-A Birmingham.
Five players were reassigned to minor-league camp: Catcher Miguel Gonzalez, right-handers Deunte Heath and Omar Poveda, left-hander Scott Snodgress and outfielder Keenyn Walker. Those players will have their minor-league teams decided at a later time.
Of the 47 remaining players in big league camp, 23 are pitches, four are catchers, 14 are infielders and six are outfielders.
From the moment pitchers and catchers report to Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 15 the most intriguing battle will revolve around the vacant closer role.
Addison Reed is now a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks after a December trade, leaving Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom as the favorites to win the job. Recent precedent suggests, though, that the favorite doesn’t always end up with the role.
Daniel Webb to the list of candidates, although he admits that including the blossoming right-hander will raise a few eyebrows.
“He throws the ball well too but hell, if I said ‘Daniel Webb,’ everybody would say ‘Who?’” Cooper said at SoxFest last month. “Nobody would know who he was.”
Webb has just nine games of major league experience, all after rosters expanded this past September. While landing the closer role is a long shot, his chance of making the bullpen in any capacity is a good one.
Could Webb end up being the Hector Santiago of 2012? Reed was the young closer candidate that season while Matt Thornton was the veteran choice. Santiago grabbed the job out of spring training but ended up only keeping the seat warm until Reed ultimately snatched it away.
After signing a guaranteed one-year, $4-million deal at the start of the New Year, Scott Downs will be the late-inning left-handed option out of the bullpen. He essentially takes over the role Matt Thornton held since 2006.
It will be the second stint with the White Sox this season for Omogrosso, who had a 5.14 ERA and 14 strikeouts over 11 appearances from May 1-June 6.
In five appearances (7 2/3 innings) this season, Heath posted a whopping 11.74 ERA. In his third and most recent stint with the White Sox he made just one appearance, giving up three runs in two innings Wednesday at Minnesota on three hits and four walks.
Omogrosso will be available out of the White Sox's bullpen Friday for the start of a three-game series at Kansas City. In 10 appearances at Triple-A Charlotte this season, the 29-year old posted a 4.91 ERA with two saves and 14 strikeouts.
Nothing beats a cost-effective young closer like Addison Reed, especially since his low price tag gives the Chicago White Sox the opportunity to spend on other areas of the bullpen.
Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton, the bullpen veterans, will split $10 million between them with there still a little left over to bring in a hard-throwing newcomer in Matt Lindstrom, who will pocket $2.3 million this season. The rest of the relief help falls into the "affordable" category.
The back end of the bullpen appears to be solid, but the White Sox still can't ignore other areas. Finding a quality long man (or two) will be vital, especially with starter John Danks returning from injury and any efforts the club might undertake to maintain Chris Sale's innings.
So far, the only thing the White Sox are saying in regard to Sale is that he will get a later start than others in spring training and no mention has been made on a targeted inning count for 2013. Sale threw 192 innings in 2012.
Addison Reed, RHP: The young talent was far from the only one who dealt with a late-season swoon. It's easy to see that Reed trailed off last season with an 8.00 ERA in September and an opponents' batting average of .351 in the month. Reed's most ardent supporters, though, will point a handful of outings, especially the six runs he allowed May 13, as the reason for his untidy 4.75 ERA. The bottom line is that consistency will be Reed's aim this season and his first full season of experience should help him get there. He plans on using a new cardio program to help with stamina throughout the summer.
Jesse Crain, RHP: A strained left oblique and a strained right shoulder disrupted a 2012 season but the year still wasn't a lost cause. Crain managed to make 51 appearances (48 innings) while posting a 2.44 ERA to go along with four saves and two victories. His 1.08 WHIP was his best since posting a 1.07 mark in his rookie season of 2004 with the Minnesota Twins. He is expected to pitch for Canada in the WBC.
Nate Jones, RHP: In the epitome of a surprise breakout season, Jones managed to skip the Triple-A level entirely by earning a roster spot with a solid 2012 spring training. His 2.39 ERA and 8-0 rookie marks signal that the sky's the limit for the hard thrower from Kentucky. At SoxFest manager Robin Ventura told the crowd that Jones would be able to challenge Reed for the closer spot. Ventura's wink afterward suggested Reed will keep his job, but there is still no mistaking the White Sox like what they have in Jones.
Matt Lindstrom, RHP: If Reed and Jones represent the hard-throwing youngsters, Lindstrom is the older equivalent. He will turn 33 on Monday but still relies on the velocity of his youth. Despite pitching in both leagues last season (with Arizona and Baltimore), he still posted a 2.68 ERA over 48 outings. Finally getting a chance to pick his own club via free agency, Lindstrom says he delayed the process this winter in order to hear from the White Sox. He's right where he wants to be now.
Hector Santiago, LHP: If Danks isn't ready to start the season on time, Santiago could end up getting some early starts. Either way, he should be a key member of the bullpen as a long man, and his ability to rack up innings would help ease the early innings count on the recovering Danks. If Gavin Floyd can't work his way back toward 200 innings, Santiago could be in for a long, grueling season.
Dylan Axelrod, RHP: Also in the competition for any early Danks starts, Axelrod could also help in the long man department. It isn't likely the White Sox carry two long men, but if either Axelrod or Santiago is starting at any point then a bullpen spot would be available for the other.
Donnie Veal, LHP: With Santiago and Thornton in the bullpen, the White Sox have coverage from the left side. But Veal could end up being a lefty specialist like the White Sox tried to do with Will Ohman in recent years.
Other bullpen options include Deunte Heath, Brian Omogrosso and Leyson Septimo, who all saw some action with the White Sox last season. Non-roster invitees to camp with major-league experience include Jeff Gray, who pitched 52 innings for the Twins last season, and Ramon Troncoso, who was a key member of the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen that made back-to-back NLCS appearances in 2008 and 2009.
The Chicago White Sox announced six rosters moves on Saturday.
The White Sox reinstated catcher Tyler Flowers from the paternity leave list, returned infielder Orlando Hudson and relief pitcher Leyson Septimo from their injury rehabilitation assignments and reinstated them from the 15-day disabled list, recalled relief pitchers Deunte Heath and Brian Omogrosso from Triple-A Charlotte and purchased the contract of infielder Dan Johnson from Triple-A.
Flowers was placed on the paternity list on Aug. 30 for the birth of his first child, Mia Therese.
Hudson has been on the disabled list since Aug. 17 with a contusion of the first metatarsal joint in his left foot. He is hitting .182 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 36 games with the White Sox this season.
Septimo has been on disabled list since Aug. 17 with left biceps inflammation. He is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 12 appearances for the White Sox this season.
Heath is making his second stint with the White Sox this season. He did not play when he was with the team from July 4-8. He went 4-3 with a 1.48 ERA in 36 appearances in Charlotte this season.
Omogrosso is 0-0 with a 4.26 ERA in five appearances for the White Sox this season. He was 0-2 with a 4.56 ERA and nine saves in 33 appearances in Charlotte.
Johnson is making his first appearance with the White Sox this season. He batted. 267 with 28 home runs and 85 RBIs in 137 games in Charlotte this season.
The White Sox’s active roster was increased to 31 and the 40-man roster went to 40.
Left-hander Charlie Leesman and right-hander Deunte Heath had their contracts purchased by the White Sox and will both get a look in major-league camp during spring training. Leesman was a non-roster invitee to big-league camp last season.
The moves mean that neither can be taken by other clubs in the Dec. 8 Rule 5 Draft that concludes the winter meetings in Dallas. Without the move to the 40-man they would have been unprotected by the White Sox because they both signed after they were 19 and have been in the club’s system for at least four years.
Leesman went 10-7 with a 4.03 ERA at Double-A Birmingham this past season. The 24-year-old led his club with 113 strikeouts and was named to the Southern League midseason All-Star team.
Heath, 26, progressed from the bullpen to the starting rotation for Triple-A Charlotte this past season. He went 4-7 with a 4.73 ERA with the Knights, recording 117 strikeouts in 30 appearances (16 starts). He also posted a 2-2 record and 2.37 ERA in six starts in the Venezuelan Winter League.
The White Sox’s 40-man roster is now at 36.