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White Sox could open with seven starters in rotation

The Sox announced their summer-camp roster Monday, a 44-man list that includes lots of starting pitchers and top infield prospects Andrew Vaughn and Nick Madrigal.

The White Sox have released their camp roster.
The White Sox have released their camp roster.
AP

The White Sox announced their summer camp roster Monday, a 44-man list that includes infield prospects Andrew Vaughn and Nick Madrigal, the third and fourth players taken in the 2019 and ’18 drafts, respectively.

There’s a pretty good chance Vaughn and Madrigal won’t make the 30-man Opening Day roster, but there’s a very good chance seven starting pitchers will. With only three weeks of camp scheduled to begin Friday at Guaranteed Rate Field in advance of a 60-game season, starting pitchers might not emerge ready to cover six, seven or eight innings, even if they’ve been adhering to throwing programs, as All-Star right-hander Lucas Giolito said he has.

With left-hander Carlos Rodon, the 2019 Opening Day starter, and right-hander Michael Kopech, perhaps a future ace, both now recovered from Tommy John surgery, the Sox figure to add them to a starting rotation of Giolito, lefties Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez and righties Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease. Those five were the projected rotation before the coronavirus hit during the spring. Dane Dunning, the strike-throwing righty prospect who came with Giolito and Lopez in the Adam Eaton trade, is also healthy after Tommy John surgery and could warrant consideration in such a mix.

“We do, thankfully, have some arms,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said Thursday.

That could mean (especially early on) that Keuchel and Cease or some other pair share a start, for example — with perhaps an opener mixed in along the way.

Of the 44 players announced, 24 are pitchers: Giolito, Keuchel, Gonzalez, Lopez, Cease, Rodon, Kopech, Dunning, Drew Anderson, Aaron Bummer, Steve Cishek, Alex Colome, Jimmy Cordero, Ross Detwiler, Jace Fry, Carson Fulmer, Tayron Guerrero, Ian Hamilton, Kelvin Herrera, Codi Heuer, Tyler Johnson, Jimmy Lambert, Evan Marshall and Jose Ruiz.

Also named to the camp roster: catchers Zack Collins, Yasmani Grandal, James McCann and Yermin Mercedes; infielders Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Edwin Encarnacion, Leury Garcia, Madrigal, Danny Mendick, Cheslor Cuthbert, Andrew Romine and Vaughn; and outfielders Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Nomar Mazara, Adam Engel, Luis Basabe and Nicky Delmonico.

The pool can be comprised of 60 players, with those players eligible for regular season and postseason games. The 30-day Opening Day roster shrinks to 28 after two weeks and 26 two weeks beyond that.

The Sox generally carry 13 pitchers but probably will open with 16, give or take one. In the fourth year of a rebuild, there finally appears to be some depth among both the starters and the relief corps.

“You suddenly look around at this team and you see we’re in a decent position from a pitching depth standpoint,” general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday.

But it will have to be managed and used wisely, as the Sox plan on doing.

“You will see managers using caution with bullpen arms, especially early in the year to not throw them back-to-back days unless it’s necessary,” McCann said. “It’s going to be an interesting season to see how guys are bouncing back.”

The Sox likely are bringing some of the players, especially top prospects, to camp for the purpose of getting quality training reps and exposure to a big-league experience. That includes first baseman Vaughn, who impressed in spring training but has one season of minor-league experience. Madrigal, a second baseman, is probably in the same boat, although he’s a year ahead and might play this season.

Allowing for flexibility, the Sox will announce additional players who will be invited to join the taxi squad in the coming days. Those players are expected to assemble at another site late next week. Among the notables not named to the summer-camp roster were pitchers Zack Burdi, Matt Foster and Bernardo Flores; outfielders Micker Adolfo and Blake Rutherford; and catcher Seby Zavala, but they can be added.

“The taxi squad initially is going to be viewed as depth and other options for the active roster,” Hahn said.