All spring long the White Sox were auditioning No. 2 hitters. First we heard that it was going to be slow-footed A.J. Pierzynski. However, that no longer worked out because manager Robin Ventura decided he wanted to bat Adam Dunn third, meaning he needed a right-handed hitter batting second to separate a pair of lefties.
So, in steps Brent Morel.
Morel is getting the nod as the White Sox’s No. 2 hitter on Opening Day, even though he hit .245/.287/.366 in 413 at-bats last season. He didn’t exactly earn the role this spring either, as he walked all of once in 66 at-bats and finished with a .299 OBP.
Meanwhile, Alexei Ramirez seems to have been dismissed as an afterthought since day one, even though he appeared in 100 games as a No. 2 hitter last year and hit a solid .294/.351/.424. AL No. 2 hitters as a whole batted .268/.331/.414 last year, so Ramirez was well above average there. Yet Ramirez is batting seventh on Opening Day, right behind a fellow right-handed hitter in Alex Rios who hit .227/.265/.348 last year.
Ramirez isn’t spectacular, but he was the White Sox’s third best hitter last year behind Paul Konerko and the departed Carlos Quentin and he’s a good bet to rank right around there again this year (my projections have him with the team’s third highest OPS behind Konerko and Dunn). It really doesn’t make much sense that he’s hitting seventh to start.
CHICAGO — The Chicago White Sox bolstered their rotation, agreeing to a one-year contract with right-hander Mike Clevinger, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was subject to a successful physical.
The 31-year-old Clevinger went 7-7 with a 4.33 ERA in 23 games, including 22 starts, for San Diego this year. He missed the 2021 season after he had Tommy John surgery.
Chicago is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season, when it went 81-81 and finished 11 games back of surprising AL Central champion Cleveland. Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa stepped down in October and Pedro Grifol was hired on Nov. 1.
The White Sox got a big lift from Johnny Cueto this year, but the 36-year-old right-hander is a free agent after going 8-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 25 appearances. Clevinger slots into a rotation that likely will include Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech.
The move puts the 6-foot-4 Clevinger back in the AL Central after he made his major league debut with Cleveland in 2016. He went 42-22 with a 3.20 ERA in four-plus seasons with Cleveland before he was traded to San Diego in a multiplayer deal in August 2020.
Clevinger was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the fourth round of the 2011 amateur draft. He was traded to Cleveland in 2014.
Clevinger is 51-30 with a 3.39 ERA in 128 career big league games. He also has 694 strikeouts in 656 2/3 innings.