By Adam Hoge-
GLENDALE, Ariz (CBS) With Opening Day exactly three weeks away, players are getting serious about being in game shape, managers are starting to get a better idea of their regular season lineup and general managers are making tough decisions regarding their 25-man roster.
On the same day he made 10 cuts to the major-league roster, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn took some time with 670TheScore.com to evaluate the spring thus far. He touched on a number of significant topics, including production at third base, finding a power source and replicating Jose Quintana’s success from last year.
Here’s a summary of what he discussed:
On the additions of Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie:
“Not only do they both provide us with some flexibility, but Keppinger’s ability to play third, second, first and even in a pinch, the corner outfield positions, allows Robin to choose based on matchup — whether it’s who’s starting for the other team or even who’s on the mound for us, if he wants to put a defensive lineup out there. He’s has some different alternatives and we do like that.”
Specifically on Gillaspie:
“Gillaspie, obviously we picked him up to give us a little bit of balance from the left side and his versatility helps that. And he’s been great for us since we got here. He has a nice compact, low-maintence swing — the kind of thing that if he’s not playing every day he should be able to maintain and not get himself in too much trouble.
And on Keppinger, who has missed time with various minor injuries:
“With a veteran guy, it’s not like he has to show us how he looks over at third base or what he’s capable of doing at second. We know that. Obviously we’ll want to give him a good week or so of playing time before we break camp, but we still have time to do that.”
On Brent Morel:
“It’s been a good camp for Brent from the standpoint that he’s healthy and he’s moving around well. You see it offensively and defensively. He’s moving without restraint.”
On finding power in the lineup:
“We were fourth in the league in runs scored last year and without A.J. here there’s an offensive void. I do think not only will Tyler (Flowers) provide a fair amount of power behind the plate, I think that Ramirez, who had a down year in terms of his plate discipline and his extra-base hitting, hopefully will revert closer back to that Silver Slugger form that he had a couple years ago. We feel Dayan Viciedo at age 24 is only scratching the surface of his offensive ability. And as good as Kevin Youkilis was for us for about the first six, eight weeks after we got him, we got very little offensive production out of third base over the course of the entire season last year. So there’s room for improvement, not only at third, short and second, but in left as well. And while the power void per say might not be completely matched — we might not fill the exact same total of home runs or surpass it from last year — offensively I think we are going to be pretty well rounded and capable of being in a similar position as we were last year when we were fourth in the league in runs scored.
On Jared Mitchell’s outlook with the White Sox:
“He’s looked fantastic. He’s been great. There was a mechanical thing when we first drafted him in terms of his setup and his balance on his legs that could only get better with repetition, and given his football background, he was a guy who was raw and was probably the last guy who needed to miss a year due to injury because it was so important to get him out on the field. With the injury behind him now, and with some repetitions under his belt, he’s now doing mechanically on a more consistent basis what we hoped he would be able to convert into after the draft. So he’s had a great camp, he looks in fantastic shape, running well, swinging the bat well. The key for him will be when he gets to Charlotte to keep doing what he’s doing here. And if he’s able to put together a solid first half, it’s conceivable he could help us in the second half of this year and certainly he’s on track to help us in 2014.”
On if Jose Quintana can keep up his success:
“He’s an extremely athletic kid with a very quick aptitude for picking up new things. There’s a couple refinements we wanted him to do over this offseason and (Don Cooper) just raves about the fact that in his end of season meeting he gave Jose a couple things he wanted him to work on and he showed up having improved in all categories that Coop laid out for him. And it’s a tribute to the kid’s work ethic and intellect.
“So we have high hopes for this kid. He was very good for us having barely pitched above A-ball a year ago and obviously going way past his single-season innings threshold throughout his career. We expect him to be stronger, we expect him to have a deeper arsenal and basically be without restriction from day 1 in terms of treating him like any other starter, getting the ball every fifth day. So we’re really optimistic about this kid. It’s nice to have a good, young left-handed starter who’s going to be here for a while at the back end of our rotation.”
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, Blackhawks, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.