GLENDALE, Ariz. – While it was not a given that Jimmy Rollins would make the Opening Day roster when the White Sox signed him to a $2 million minor league contract last week, it was thought his chances were good. At 37, and playing a position that demands a lot, including range and good health, the Sox want to make sure he can still handle it, though.
Manager Robin Ventura, a day before the Sox play their first Cactus League game Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, expects the former National League MVP can.
“I expect him to make the team,’’ Ventura said. “Unless something happens physically where it wouldn’t work.’’
Ventura said Rollins and Tyler Saladino “both bring something to the table” and “complement a certain lineup depending on who you’re facing and what makes sense to put those guys in there.’’
Rollins has always ranked up there in games played, and he participated in 144 with the Dodgers last season. But Ventura said shortstop won’t be manned by one guy in 2016.
“With Jimmy’s age, if he goes on a run you want to make sure you’re not wearing him out,’’ Ventura said.
“You have those conversations about what it’s like to get to that age. It’s a compliment to him, a feather in his cap that he’s got this far at that age still playing shortstop. … you realize you can’t go every day like you used to. So it will be constant communication of how to do that.’’
John Danks will start and go two innings in the Cactus League opener (2:05 p.m. CST, whitesox.com, 890-AM). Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers. Jake Petricka, Zach Duke, Matt Albers, Zach Putnam and Zach Phillips are also on the pitching docket.
Ventura said different batting order combinations have been kicked around, with Melky Cabrera possibly returning to second. But Cabrera “would be pretty good pretty good protection for somebody being a switch hitter behind [Todd] Frazier or [Jose] or [Adam] LaRoche or somebody, Ventura said. Abreu, who hit .295 in the 2-hole last year, isn’t out of the question there again at some point, Ventura said.
Adam Eaton will be the leadoff man again. Beyond that, stay tuned.
“When they’re not all playing together [during spring training] it gets a little jumbled,’’ Ventura said. “You try and use the group you have that day for a good lineup, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the way it’ll be in the season.’’
Give those men a contract
Twenty players agreed to terms on one-year contracts, bringing the entire 40-man roster under contract for the season. The list: Pitchers Carlos Rodon, Jake Petricka, Chris Beck, Daniel Webb, Brandon Brennan, Scott Carroll, Erik Johnson, Tommy Kahnle, Zach Phillips and Michael Ynoa; catchers Rob Brantly and Kevan Smith; infielders Matt Davidson, Leury Garcia, Mike Olt, Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez; outfielders Daniel Fields, Jerry Sands and J.B. Shuck. Jake Petricka’s deal, for $535,000, is the highest among this group. The major league minimum salary is $507,500.
New kid in town
New broadcaster Jason Benetti, who will do play-by-play for most home games in 2016, spent his first day at camp.
“Like the first day of high school and it’s really great,’’ Benetti said. “A lot of new faces, lot of new people. And I brought my backpack. I’m ready to go.”
Benetti and analyst Steve Stone will work all 10 televised Cactus League games as veteran Ken Harrelson takes the spring off. Their first telecast is March 12 (Channel 9) when the Sox visit the Cubs in Mesa.