The Chicago White Sox finished up their 2014 Spring Training slate on Thursday afternoon with a 4-3 loss to their crosstown rivals, the Chicago Cubs. The Sox ended the spring schedule at 9-14 with three ties (two more in split-squad games). The Good Guys will head to Birmingham for a game against their Double-A affiliate and then it’s showtime on Monday afternoon against Minnesota. Although the record doesn’t look pretty, baseball during the spring is more about progression and getting guys ready for the 162-game grind that is the Major League Baseball season.
The Sox began to show a glimpse of their future with the power of Cuban slugger Jose Abreu and the potential of last year’s Southern League MVP, Marcus Semien. Abreu hit .283 (15-for-53) during the spring with three mammoth home runs. Semien, who is projected to start at second base for the Sox on Monday for Opening Day, hit .333 (18-for-54) in 25 games.
The most pleasant surprise of the spring was a resurgent John Danks. Danks struggled throughout the entire 2013 season after shoulder surgery the year prior. During this spring in five starts, Danks went 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 24.1 innings pitched.
CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes summed up Danks and his solid spring:
Need proof John Danks is more competitive this spring? He has completed 24.1 IP. Last spring he got through 11 innings.
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesCSN) March 26, 2014
The Sox are still a country mile away from competing for an American League Central title, but progress was made over the last month-plus in Glendale, Arizona. However, there’s still two issues the Sox are addressing by the day: cutting down the errors defensively and solving the catching mystery.
During last season, only the Houston Astros had more errors the Sox and their 121 errors. The Sox averaged 0.75 errors per game, which was 29th in the bigs (only in front of Houston) again.
Tyler Flowers and Adrian Nieto will start with the Sox to begin the season, but as it has been well-documented all spring long, the catcher’s spot is a key role with this Sox club. When you have two of bright young left-hand arms in the division, a big, hard-throwing right-hander and a change-of-pace lefty with something to prove, the guy behind the dish is vital to their success.
So, as you’re enjoying your delicious “Bacon on a Stick” at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday afternoon, remember that it’s a long season and the 2014 Chicago White Sox will have their share up of ups and downs. But just like spring and the concept of games in Glendale, it’s all about progression and getting this organization heading in the right direction.
(Just for the record, Adam Dunn can still hit baseballs really, really far.)