White Sox have roster battles in rotation, 'pen


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CHICAGO — Luis Robert hit a game-winning grand slam. Eloy Jimenez homered in back-to-back March at-bats, including a two-run blast against the Cubs in Mesa, Ariz. Right-hander Michael Kopech reinforced the point of being close to Major League-ready.

But those top-ranked White Sox prospects are more part of the franchise’s exciting future than the present, beginning this campaign in the Minors. Here’s a look at how the White Sox 2018 Opening Day roster could shape up.

CHICAGO — Luis Robert hit a game-winning grand slam. Eloy Jimenez homered in back-to-back March at-bats, including a two-run blast against the Cubs in Mesa, Ariz. Right-hander Michael Kopech reinforced the point of being close to Major League-ready.

But those top-ranked White Sox prospects are more part of the franchise’s exciting future than the present, beginning this campaign in the Minors. Here’s a look at how the White Sox 2018 Opening Day roster could shape up.

Spring Training info

Catcher (2): Welington Castillo, Omar Narvaez
Castillo has spent Spring Training learning about and working with the pitchers, entrenching himself as the No. 1 behind the plate. The backup spot remains a tossup between Narvaez and Kevan Smith, with the left-handed-hitting Narvaez still holding the edge.

First base (1): Jose Abreu
Here’s something qualifying as less than a stunner. Abreu will start at first base for the White Sox and continue to perform as one of the game’s steadier middle-of-the-order presences as well as a clubhouse leader.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Second base (1): Yoan Moncada
Moncada started Spring Training in a 1-for-16 funk, not that great Cactus League statistics portend a Hall of Fame career. But Moncada was 6-for-16 over his last five games entering Tuesday’s off-day, and he seems to have settled atop the lineup.

Shortstop (1): Tim Anderson
Anderson looks to be enjoying pretty much every moment of Spring Training. That aspect is good to see for a player who dealt with a tough personal loss in 2017. He’s also one season removed from his six-year, $25 million extension, and he now has the ability to settle in and play.

Video: CWS@CHC: Sanchez plates Abreu with a single to right

Third base (1): Yolmer Sanchez
Matt Davidson has produced stellar Cactus League results and will get a fair share of time at third base. Sanchez, the original life of the party in the White Sox clubhouse, had a breakout season in 2017 and figures to build on that in ’18. The club is more than comfortable with this duo at third this season over any outside option.

Outfield (3): Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Avisail Garcia
Delmonico suffered a partially dislocated left shoulder during a collision with shortstop Tyler Saladino chasing a fly ball late in Sunday’s Cactus League contest. But Delmonico told reporters on Monday that the MRI results checked out clean and he plans to start hitting on Wednesday.

Video: Delmonico on his shoulder injury after hard collision

Delmonico certainly won’t be rushed back, and if he needs a little more time at the start of the season, look for Ryan Cordell to step in. Cordell, 25, has a .360 batting average this spring and he has played center field, but Engel’s Gold Glove Award-caliber defense leaves him as the favorite at that spot.

Video: CWS@SEA: Engel belts a leadoff homer to left-center

Utility/designated hitter (3): Davidson (DH), Leury Garcia, Saladino, Cordell
The mix of Cordell, Garcia and Saladino gives the White Sox a great deal of versatility, although Saladino is in concussion protocol after the collision with Delmonico. Having Delmonico at 100 percent by the end of Spring Traing could lead the club to break with an eighth reliever instead of the extra position player.

Rotation (5): James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez, Carson Fulmer
The Spring Training numbers definitely have not been desirable for Fulmer, who has allowed four home runs and 20 baserunners over five innings. Hector Santiago could move in as the fifth starter, leaving Fulmer as a long reliever or starting for Triple-A Charlotte, but look for Fulmer to get a chance in the rotation at the season’s outset.

Although it’s not official, Shields should emerge as the Opening Day starter.

Video: ARI@CWS: Lopez on his outing, emergence of Jimenez

Bullpen (8): Nate Jones, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Danny Farquhar, Juan Minaya, Santiago, Aaron Bummer
Santiago, a southpaw, will play a valuable part on this staff. Manager Rick Renteria told reporters he wants a number of relievers to be able to throw multiple innings, so an eighth bullpen arm could factor more on the long relief side. Jeanmar Gomez, Rob Scahill and Robbie Ross Jr. are also in the mix.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk’s Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.