Two games into a baseball season is, well, two games into a baseball season. Nothing can really be determined by that small of a sample size. Breakout stars and complete busts will not be labeled, because quite frankly, there is still 160 contests to go. However, it is difficult not to proclaim that the Chicago White Sox have a better bench this year than last year. Now, this is not some prophetic decree that will cause a riot to occur if proven wrong, just a simple observation made after the team’s two victories.
Last season, the White Sox’s bench was pitiful. Manager Robin Ventura would rather keep in struggling lefties *cough* Adam Dunn *cough* than put in a righty off the bench when a left-handed reliever entered the ball game. Tyler Greene and Casper Wells provided next to nothing offensively, .222 and .167 averages respectively, and were not large enough upgrades to be put in as defensive replacements late in games. Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie continued to be penciled in at third, despite their struggles, because there just were not any other options.
One positive of a team in rebuilding mode is that their bench becomes better by default. Usually in the early stages of the movement, above average prospects begin to get a taste of the majors by seeing sporadic playing time. Whether it be a pinch running opportunity or a spot start in the lineup, the youngsters gradually get a chance to prove that they can compete. This season, with the White Sox entering their first full year of rebuilding, some promising prospects have made their way onto the roster. While they are not future Hall of Famers by any means, their raw talent alone makes them an upgrade over what the White Sox had on their bench last season.
Early results have been favorable. In the White Sox’s come from behind, extra inning victory on Tuesday, utility man Leury Garcia went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while also scoring the winning run on a passed ball. Dayan Vicideo, considered a bench player this game due to Alejandro De Aza starting in left, went 1-for 2-on the afternoon. Backup catcher Adrian Nieto‘s base running was key during the ninth inning comeback.
While it was only the second game of the year, the White Sox’s bench players displayed that, unlike last year, they can significantly contribute to a victory. If the Sox have any chance of competing this year, all 25 guys on their roster must contribute when their number is called. There may still be 160 games to go, but it never hurts to be optimistic.