GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen sounded Thursday like he is eager to get his 25-man roster squared away.
Guillen, his coaches and general manager Ken Williams and assistant GM Rick Hahn meet Friday to discuss the makeup of the opening-day roster. Expect Brent Morel to get the nod as the starting third baseman over Mark Teahen. And don’t be surprised if Lastings Milledge nails down a reserve outfielder’s job — if he hasn’t already. Whether the Sox take 11 or 12 pitchers will also be discussed.
“I don’t want to make the decision right away, but I have an idea what we have and [I want to] let the players know what their roles are,” Guillen said Thursday after managing the Sox’ 4-0 split squad defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers. “After the meeting, hopefully, we get it done and go from there.”
Morel, the rookie, has been the favorite all along to be the starter over Teahen, the veteran, at third because of his defense. Teahen can also play the corner outfield positions and first base, swings from the left side and has out-hit Morel during spring training. It makes sense to utilize Teahen’s contributions in that way while giving the Sox the steadier glove in the infield to go with a strong middle-infield tandem of Alexei Ramirez (shortstop) and Gordon Beckham.
The Sox have enough depth in their lineup in the first eight spots in the order where anything they get offensively from Morel will be a bonus. They can play Morel at third and still boast a team with power, speed, defense and pitching. And Morel appears to be a capable hitter, anyhow.
“I want to see what Kenny and our coaching staff have in mind,” Guillen said when asked about third base. “What’s the best club we can take out there. I’m not going by who is swinging the bat better and who is not. I’m going by who is the best for the club when we break camp. We have two weeks left. We should have a better idea after (Friday’s) meeting about the ballclub and what we have to see, who we play a little more, who gets the last shot. It’s easier for everyone to have two weeks with the club, having their mind set, what they’re going to do and see what happens.”
Teahen, in the second year of a three-year, $14 million contract, has carried himself like the good soldier in camp, saying he’s willing to accept whatever role he gets. He will likely get plenty of at-bats either way.
“I’ve done that [play different positions] in the past,” Teahen said last week. “I still expect to get plenty of at-bats. But that is in my control, too. I don’t stress about it too much. I mean, I know as long as I am performing, whether it’s at third or somewhere else I will be in there helping us win games.”
Lastings Milledge hit his third and fourth home runs of spring training on Thursday. He has shown a little of everything: speed, good enough defense with the ability to play center field, and power. He probably has an edge over Brent Lillibridge and Alejandro De Aza.
Lillibridge, a valuable utility player who played six positions last season, is also having a good spring and is out of options. He homered on Wednesday and almost got his second home run in the same game. He hasn’t played much outfield in camp, raising the question to Guillen about whether he needed to see more of him out there.
“We know he can play in the outfield,” Guillen said. “In the meanwhile, after (Friday’s) meeting, I have a better idea of what we have. I don’t want to make the decision right away, but I have an idea what we have and let the players know what their roles are. Hopefully, after the meeting, we get it done and go from there.”
If Jake Peavy makes the opening-day roster and the Sox go with 12 pitchers, one spot will be open. The top candidates: Phil Humber, Jeff Marquez, Gregory Infante, Shane Lindsay.
Guillen said two months ago that he planned to use his regulars extensively during the last week or so of spring training, for the purpose of avoiding a slow start. The Sox look to be in that place already. Opening Day is April 1 at Cleveland.