Taking a giant step back in 2013, the Chicago White Sox mustered just 63 wins and were one loss shy of the century mark. The previous year saw the club post an 85-77 record as they challenged the Detroit Tigers for the A.L. Central Division title. Coach Robin Ventura is hoping for a return to 2012 form, that season he was awarded the American League Manager of the Year Award.
The 2014 White Sox roster is not terribly exciting. The South Siders did land rookie phenom Jose Abreu, who was the Most Valuable Player of the Cuban baseball league in 2011. The Cuban first baseman had his Major League debut on Monday for the White Sox, going 2-4 with a run batted in and a run scored. Replacing the popular Paul Konerko at first, Abreu will have his work cut out for him. Scouts say that the 27-year-old prodigy is hard to pinpoint. It has been suggested that the White Sox rookie could be a great power hitter with a low batting average, a solid batting average guy with modest power, or a fringe player that makes little to no impact for the Sox. If Opening Day was any indication, it looks like Abreu is leaning towards one of the first two options.
Other additions this year for the White Sox are the 25-year-old outfielder, Adam Eaton, and 23-year-old rookie third baseman Matt Davidson. Eaton and Davidson both came from the Diamondbacks this offseason. Eaton is looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2013, which ended prematurely for him with a broken hand. Eaton started in left field for the White Sox on Monday and went 2-4 with a run scored. The third-year pro is always a threat on the base paths, and the Sox hope that he will be their lead-off hitter for quite some time.
Eaton joins mid-season arrival Avisail Garcia in the much improved outfield for the White Sox. The South Siders received Garcia from the Tigers in July as part of the trade that sent Jake Peavy to the Red Sox. Garcia, a 22-year-old right hander, had 49 hits in 42 games for the Sox last season. On Monday he continued this hot streak, going 2-4. Garcia is scouted as a powerful, but undisciplined free swinger that can be prone to slumps. So far he has avoided the dreaded slump while playing for the Pale Hose.
As for Davidson, Arizona’s former top infield prospect did not make the White Sox Opening Day roster. The youngster with a strong glove had abnormally high strike out numbers in the Cactus League this spring, causing Ventura and White Sox management to send him down to Triple-A Charlotte for the start of the season. Ventura still sees Davidson as the club’s third baseman of the future once he gets his strikeouts under control.
The White Sox’ young talent joins the already proven Alexei Ramirez, Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham in a line-up that Ventura is expecting a lot more from coming off a 2013 campaign where his club scored just 598 runs, good for dead last in the American League.
On the other side of the ball, the White Sox’ starting rotation is actually quite solid. The rotation is headlined by ace Chris Sale. The left-hander recorded 226 strikeouts and posted a 3.07 earned run average to lead the club. Unfortunately for Sale and the Sox, though, those steady numbers equated to a 11-14 record in 30 starts for the 25-year-old four-year pro. Sale is joined in the rotation by Jose Quintana, John Danks, Eric Johnson and Felipe Paulino.
Commentary by Jeremy Mika
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Chicago White Sox