White Sox’ Opening Day roster takes shape
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox finalized their bullpen and most likely their Opening Day roster without making it official for another day or two.
Hard-throwing right-hander Jose Ruiz, who had a good camp, was optioned to Class AAA Charlotte on Sunday, leaving these eight relievers to break camp with the team for Opening Day on Thursday in Kansas City: right-handers Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera, Nate Jones, Ryan Burr and Dylan Covey and left-handers Jace Fry, Caleb Frare and Manny Banuelos.
Banuelos, 28, the former prized Yankees prospect who has battled injuries and setbacks, has seven games of major-league experience with the Braves in 2015. Burr, Frare and Fry — who all pitched for the Sox last season — will break camp with a team for the first time.
“Just pure joy,” said Frare, 25, who got the word from pitching coach Don Cooper. “Coop told me, ‘You’re on the team; you earned it.’ I said, ‘Thanks.’ I had to ask him, ‘Are you serious? I’m on it?’ He said, ‘Yeah, you’re on it; you’re going to Chicago.’ ’’
Burr and Banuelos were emotional, too, manager Rick Renteria said, when they got the news.
“There were some tears, but there was joy,’’ said Banuelos, who made six Cactus League starts but will be used out of the pen with veteran Ervin Santana likely taking the fifth-starter spot around April 10. “It has been a very long and difficult path for me.”
Burr said the Sox kept him guessing about his status.
“I had to come in and reopen people’s eyes a little bit, show what I’m able to do,’’ he said.
Renteria said Banuelos and Covey will be used in middle and long relief.
“They’re actually affording us a tremendous amount of flexibility,’’ Renteria said.
Carlos Rodon starts the opener, Reynaldo Lopez gets the second game two days later, and Ivan Nova and Lucas Giolito likely will follow in that order. Lopez lines up for the home opener April 4 against the Mariners.
Santana, 36, a 2017 All-Star limited to five games with the Twins in 2018 because of a middle-finger injury, is not yet on the 40-man roster and could stay in Arizona to build up for his first start. He starts the first of back-to-back exhibitions against the Diamondbacks on Monday at Chase Field.
With 12 pitchers to start the season, that leaves these 13 position players: catchers Welington Castillo and James McCann; infielders Jose Abreu, Yonder Alonso, Yolmer Sanchez, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Jose Rondon; and outfielders Jon Jay, Adam Engel, Leury Garcia, Daniel Palka and Eloy Jimenez.
Dane on Tommy John surgery
Dane Dunning — the Sox’ third-best pitching prospect behind Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease, according to Baseball America and MLB Pipeline — is prepared for “bumps in the road” during his recovery from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent six days ago.
When he suffered a sprained elbow at Class AA Birmingham last season, it was too soon to go the Tommy John route, he said.
“It was a small tear,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s something where your body has a chance of healing on its own. I took that risk. My body could have healed.’’
It didn’t, and Dunning likely will be out 12 to 16 months.
“There was a big gray area with my injury,” he said. “There were a lot of what-ifs. It was really hard to figure it out. But I’m glad with the decision now.”