GLENDALE, Ariz. — Bench coach Rick Renteria made the rounds through the White Sox clubhouse Tuesday morning, tapping players on the shoulder and escorting them to manager Robin Ventura’s office to deliver disappointing news.
The Sox optioned third baseman Matt Davidson, infielder Leury Garcia, right-hander Tommy Kahnle and infielder Carlos Sanchez to AAA Charlotte and reassigned outfielder Jason Coats to minor-league camp.
The moves leave 31 players in major-league camp: 15 pitchers, three catchers, seven infielders and six outfielders. Ventura said outfielder J.B. Shuck will make the team, which was expected, and the Sox will open the season with 12 pitchers, which leaves outfielder-first basemen Jerry Sands and Travis Ishikawa as the best bets to make the team as the 25th man. Sands, who is out of minor league options, could be the favorite over Ishikawa, who is not on the 40-man roster.
Sanchez, batted .333 with six doubles and two homers — both in one game Monday against the Rockies Monday. Sanchez made the Opening Day roster last season and hit .224/.268/.326 over .420 plate appearances in 2015.
Davidson, who hit his fifth Cactus League home run against the Colorado Rockies Monday and is batting .419 with nine RBI, was also cut. The Sox are encouraged by Davidson’s hitting after he batted .199 and .203 with 43 homers over two AAA seasons in Charlotte, but want to see him carry the spring success over an extended period in the minors. The Sox traded closer Addison Reed to acquire Davidson two and a half years ago.
With Todd Frazier entrenched at third base and outfielders Melky Cabrera, Avisail Garcia and perhaps Adam Eaton and Jerry Sands potentially rotating into the designated hitter spot, an ideal spot for Davidson didn’t exist. And as good as he was, 46 at-bats in Arizona weren’t enough to warrant an Opening Day job.
Sands, 29, was claimed on waivers from the Cleveland Indians in December after he batted .236/.286/.390 in 133 plate appearances. He has good splits against left-handed pitching, including a .292 career batting average.
Overall, Sands is a career .238 hitter with nine homers and 50 RBI over 132 games in parts of four seasons with the Dodgers (2011-12), Tampa Bay (2014) and Indians (2015). He plays left and right field and has 12 appearances at first base.
Sands is batting .200 with three homers in 45 at-bats this spring.