By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — If you’re a young baseball player trying to win a job, there’s no need to apply for a position with the White Sox. When manager Robin Ventura sends his team out to start the Cactus League season on Thursday, the position battles are set across the board.
The only tug-of-war for playing time appears to be at shortstop and catcher. Veteran Jimmy Rollins and second-year infielder Tyler Saladino will duke it out for the everyday job at shortstop. Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila will do the same for time behind the plate.
The other positions are locked in, barring a trade. Melky Cabrera, Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia will man the outfield. Todd Frazier will play third base, Brett Lawrie will play second base and Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche will switch off at first base and designated hitter.
“The catching spot is going to switch around depending on who is pitching,” Ventura said. “Both (shortstops) add a complement to certain lineups. It just depends who you are facing and what makes sense. They both bring something to the table.”
In White Sox camp on a minor league deal, the 37-year-old Rollins is being counted on to add a lot on and off the field. For the first time, Ventura on Wednesday admitted that Rollins will almost certainly make the team out of spring training.
“It’s not going to be one guy starting all the time there,” Ventura said of the Rollins-Saladino platoon. “With Jimmy’s age and he goes on a bit of a run, (you want to be careful) you’re not just wearing him out. We will have those conversations about playing time. It is a compliment to him and a feather in his cap that the has gotten this far at that age. He is still playing shortstop, and having seen guys go through it at that age, you realize you can’t go every day like you used to. This will be about constant communication on how to do that.”
The emphasis in White Sox camp has been to perform the little aspects better this season. More detail on base-running and defense has been hammered home to the players over the first few weeks of spring training.
“We have addressed things differently, and we have different personnel,” Ventura said. “A lot of things go into it. I expect it to be better. I really expect the execution of those things to be better.”
Ventura envisions Rollins being a natural leader on this year’ club, saying he had “it” when referencing Rollins’ leadership style.
“It’s been great having him come over here and quickly get to know everybody,” Ventura said. “He also is setting the tone as well as a veteran guy.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.