Introducing your 2022 Chicago Scab Sox: A speculative post for Opening Day 2022

March 31, 2022

Fellow White Sox fans: We’ve finally made it through an excruciating off-season to reach Opening Day.  I don’t think anyone could have predicted the lockout turning into a players strike, but here we are.  With the owners taking the unprecedented step of hiring replacement players for at least the start of the season, clearly anything goes this year.  While this isn’t the team we were expecting to see take on the Twins this afternoon, the final roster cuts have been made and it’s a beautiful day for baseball on the South Side (although cold and potentially rainy).  Let’s take a closer look at the 26-man roster that GM Rick Hahn and the front office has put together to take the field in pinstripes for manager Tony La Russa later today.

Starting Lineup:

Leury Garcia – 2B
Yolmer Sanchez – SS
Courtney Hawkins – LF
Dayan Viciedo – DH
Keon Barnum – 1B
Alejandro De Aza – CF
Willy Garcia – RF
Brent Morel – 3B
Hector Sanchez – C

This lineup is anchored by Leury Legend leading off at 2B.  While he has been chastised for crossing the picket line, Tony LabRussa insisted that he have his star player regardless of his strike status.  He’s joined by another switch hitter in SS Yolmer Sanchez, giving the team a tremendous amount of positional versatility in the middle infield.  Courtney Hawkins makes his long-awaited MLB debut in left field after posting a ridiculous .326/.426/.680 line for Lexington (Independent) over 392 plate appearances last year.  His 1.103 OPS paced the Atlantic League.  Making his return to the states after a successful run in Japan is Dayan Viciedo as the DH batting cleanup.  Viciedo’s plate discipline has come a long way, only striking out 56 times in 526 plate appearances last year with Chunichi while still delivering 17 long balls.  Keon Barnum will play LF and he hit 24 HRs in only 314 PAs for Lexington (Independent) last year while reaching base at a .369 clip.  Alejandro De Aza is the elder statesman of the group at 37 years old, and he still brings above average speed to CF.  De Aza stole 11 bases for Lancaster (Independent) and has added some power to his game, slugging a surprising .516 over 465 plate appearances last year.  RF Willy Garcia spent some time in Schaumburg last year, but had greater success after moving to Tri-City where he posted a solid .811 OPS.  Brent Morel is coming out of retirement to bring a solid glove to 3B, and Hector Sanchez will be trusted behind the dish after hitting .247 with a .819 OPS for Long Island (Ind) in 2021.

Bench:

Adrian Nieto – C
Jake Elmore – IF/OF
Jared Mitchell – OF
Ryan Cordell – OF
Matt Rose – 3B/1B

The White Sox surprised many by going with a five-man bench, but as always there is sure to be some roster churn here during the season.  Adrian Nieto returns to baseball after sitting out the past two years.  In 2019, Nieto got on base at a respectable .336 rate for Sioux Falls (Ind).  Jake Elmore will see time at both middle infield spots as well as LF after being released from the Phillies farm system in August of last year.  Jared Mitchell can play all three OF positions, and he posted a .803 OPS for High Point (Ind) from the left side last year.  Ryan Cordell had a solid end of the year for Gastonia (Ind) with an OPS of .831 after also being released from the Phillies farm system, and Matt Rose was a throw in from the Cubs in the Jose Quintana trade who last played for Schaumburg in 2019 but looked strong at the dish in spring training.

Starting Rotation:

Gio Gonzalez – LHP
Dylan Covey – RHP
Manny Banuelos – LHP
Chris Volstad – RHP
Alex McRae – RHP

Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Ethan Katz are going with the veteran Gio Gonzalez for the opening day start later today.  Gonzalez has not pitched since his release from Miami last year, so he is fully recovered from the nagging injuries which have haunted him in his last few years.  He’ll be followed by Dylan Covey on Saturday.  Covey had a 4.01 ERA over 10 starts with Rakuten (China) last year.  Sunday’s matchup will feature lefty Manny Banuelos on the bump.  Banuelos appeared for three teams last year in China and Mexico, posting a sterling 2.70 ERA over 18 starts.  Chris Volstad did not pitch last year after his 2020 release from the Reds but was able to nail down the fourth spot after a strong spring.  Alex McRae will be the fifth starter after his release from Charlotte last year.

Bullpen:

Caleb Frare – LHP, Closer
Xavier Cedeno – LHP
Jordan Guerrero – LHP
Matt Tomshaw – LHP
Tyler Danish – RHP
Jeanmar Gomez – RHP
Spencer Adams – RHP

Expect that this group will be in flux, as the Sox elected to keep four lefties in the pen to start the season.  Tony La Russa has named one of them, Caleb Frare, as his closer.  Frare posted 12 saves for Sioux Falls (Ind) in 27 appearances last year.  Xavier Cedeno posted a stellar 1.59 ERA in a small sample last year for Santurce (Puerto Rico).  Jordan Guerrero struggled for Union Laguna in the Mexican League last year but has looked much better this spring after a full time move to the bullpen.  Matt Tomshaw narrowly beat out Justin Niccolino for the final spot in the bullpen with a strong spring after a largely forgettable 2021.  From the right side, Tyler Danish will be in the 8th inning role after being released by the Dodgers despite a respectable 3.84 ERA over 70.1 IP last year between AA and AAA.  Jeanmar Gomez and Spencer Adams are both returning after two-year layoffs, and both looked strong in spring training.

Depth:

A lack of depth around the league is apparent, and the White Sox are no exception.  There were a handful of spring training standouts, notably slugging 1B Rein DeBock, toolsy OF Brijesh Patel, high contact C Dave McCrae, hard throwing RHP Mike Carter, and crafty LHP Justin Niccolino.  Beyond those five, there are nothing but question marks.  Head Athletic Trainer James Kruk may end up being the most important piece to the Sox defending their Central Division title.  That title defense starts in just a few hours, so sit back, relax and…well, you know the rest.  Go Sox!

(Photo by Keith Allison)

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White Sox Wade
White Sox Wade
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To Err is Herrmann

I knew we weren’t done with Dylan Covey and Tyler Danish just yet.

burning-phoneix

Dylan Covey beat Chris Sale that one time. I’ll always like him for that.

calcetinesblancos

The only baseball player who makes me hungry.

Trooper Galactus

Dylan Axelrod, Ramon Troncoso, Deunte Heath, Donnie Veal, Brian Omogrosso, Scott Carroll, Hector Noesi….we could have some serious pitching depth for the stretch run here!

Jordan Danks, Tyler Greene, Casper Wells, Andy Wilkins, Jerry Sands, Jason Coats, and Charlie Tilson waiting in the wings for the position side.

calcetinesblancos

Did you know Charlie Tilson went to New Trier?

Red_Hair_White_Sox

If this actually were to happen, would you watch the scabs?

I’d have a sad summer sans baseball

calcetinesblancos

This would be enough for me to inflate the strike rat with a hand bicycle pump.

calcetinesblancos

I’m not sure you’re allowed to call yourself “White Sox Wade” if you mention Courtney Hawkins without inserting a backflip joke somewhere in the post. I’m sending Cusack over to set you straight.

calcetinesblancos

Eh, on second thought maybe the flips are a bad idea; not sure I want to even think about who would replace the replacement player if he was injured during the floor exercise.