GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox will leave Arizona on Wednesday afternoon a little nicked up, and for a team that, on paper, shaped up as one without enough punch, pitching and depth to contend at full strength, that had to hurt.
Carlos Rodon, their No. 2 starter and in the view of many a potential future ace, will start the season on the disabled list. Charlie Tilson, a prospect whom the Sox were giving first crack to in center field, is wearing a walking boot on his right foot. And in the final week here, with everyone ready to go and simply playing out the spring string, there were two more scares when important bullpen right-hander Jake Petricka took a liner off his pitching hand (X-rays were negative) and infielder Tyler Saladino got hit on the wrist by a pitch in a minor league game.
Petricka and Saladino appear to be OK. Saladino is leading off and playing second against the Padres in today’s Cactus League final.
The Sox are rebuilding, anyway, so temporary personnel losses are being taken in stride. Rick Renteria, upon wrapping up his first camp as Sox manager, preached execution, fundamentals and situational hitting on the field while being proactive about team bonding from the top 10 players on the roster to the bottom 10 of the 60 who started in camp.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,’’ Renteria said. “Our approach to the game has kind of improved. We’re trying to situationally play the game better on the offensive side. Our approach is to give a good effort, to hustle — come out of the box and do things you need to put pressure on the defense. [The players are] all coming together in terms of their desire and willingness to play team baseball. And everybody is going about it in a positive way, from the pitchers to the position players.
“We’re just looking for a solid approach to playing the game of baseball which gives us an opportunity to win some ballgames.’’
With a game against the Padres (2:05) to be played, the Sox hadn’t officially set their 25-man roster, but it could look like this: Pitchers – Jose Quintana, James Shields, Miguel Gonzalez, Derek Holland, Dylan Covey, David Robertson, Nate Jones, Petricka, Zach Putnam, Dan Jennings, Anthony Swarzak, Michael Ynoa. Outfielders – Melky Cabrera, Avisail Garcia, Jacob May, Cody Asche. Infielders – Todd Frazier, Tim Anderson, Tyler Saladino, Yolmer Sanchez, Matt Davidson, Jose Abreu, Leury Garcia. Catchers – Omar Narvez, Geovany Soto.
The biggest names gone from last season’s group are Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, dealt for prospects who, to varying degrees, showed enough flashes of potential to bode well for the Sox future. Some in that group, such as Yoan Moncada and Reynaldo Lopez, may be up before mid-season depending on how they fare at AAA Charlotte.
While While Sox fans wait to see them in Chicago, and there is reason to do so with eager anticipation as Moncada is one of the most exciting young talents in the game, Renteria says they have something to be excited about.
“They should be excited,’’ he said. “We’re coming out of the spring playing pretty well [16-5-1 record going into Wednesday’s final Cactus League game]. We’ve used a mix of all the players we have within the roster and the system that are still in camp.
“I believe the future is bright for the Chicago White Sox and that is evident by all the guys we highlighted during the course of the spring. We’re looking forward to fun times this summer. I’m sure we’re going to hit bumps and bruises like any club — good, veteran or young. But we’ll try to play through it, do the best we possibly can, and make the people happy who come out and see a club that gives them a tremendous effort.’’
Here is the lineup for Wednesday’s final game in Arizona: Saladino 2b, Anderson ss, M Cabrera 7, Abreu 1b, Frazier 3b, Delmonico dh, A Garcia, Smith c, L Garcia cf, Covey p.
The Sox play exhibitions Friday night and Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee against the Brewers. Opening Day is Monday against the Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field.